Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings
This island was discovered by the Portolá expedition on November 4, 1769. It was used as a base by the Ayala expedition, which in 1775 conducted the first detailed exploration of San Francisco Baydiscovered in 1769. This exploration resulted in official recognition of the bay's merits as a harbor by Spain and its first use as a port. In the early 19th century, the island was used occasionally by Russian and Aleut sea otter bunters, and also by whaling and trading vessels as a fueling and watering place. In 1839, the Mexican Government granted it to Antonio Mario Osio for use as a ranch. In 1863, the U.S. Army utilized it for harbor defense. No surviving structures date from the Spanish or Mexican periods, but much of the island is relatively unspoiled. It is being developed as a California State Historical Park.
This 455,525-acre park commemorates a portion of the route twice followed during the period 1774-76 by Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza, pioneer of the 700-mile overland route from Tubac, in Pimería Alta, now in Arizona, to San Gabriel Mission in California. Three campsites of the two expeditions are identified in the park. The desert in the region is little changed from the days of the pioneering expeditions.
Anza was commandant of Tubac in 1773, when he volunteered to find an overland route to the California missions. Accompanied by 35 volunteers, he left on January 8, 1774. Traveling by way of Caborca and Sonoita to the Yuma villages, where he crossed the Colorado River, he moved on some distance to the southwest and then turned westward into the Colorado desert. He marched south of and roughly parallel to the present international boundary until he struck the mountains on the western edge of the desert, and then turned north to Borrego Valley and traversed San Carlos Pass into the Cahuilla Valley. He then pushed on to near the site of Riverside, and reached San Gabriel Mission on March 22.
Anza's second expedition, which arrived at San Gabriel on January 4, 1776, consisted of 240 settlers, 695 horses and mules, and 355 cattle. The route was closed after the revolt of the Yuma Indians in 1781 for about 45 years, but it was used again during the period of Mexican administration; and it was followed in part by some of the gold seekers and emigrants to California in 1849 and later years.
This pass was a major southeastern gateway into California from about 1830 to 1846. Through it passed the packhorse trail to California known as the Old Spanish Trail, which originated in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Father Francisco Garces, who was attempting to find a California-New Mexico route, was evidently the first European to cross the San Bernardino Mountains, in 1776. He probably used an Indian trail a few miles to the east of Cajon Pass. Starting at the confluence of the Colorado and Gila Rivers, he had gone up the Colorado to the Mojave villages near the present city of Needles before turning westward across the desert.
Jedediah Smith and other American fur trappers apparently used the same Indian trail in 1826 and 1827. However, the trail over the entire distance from Santa Fe to California was not completely effective until William Wolfskill and George C. Yount utilized Cajon Pass. These well-known traders made the trip in 1830-31; they were followed by other traders, as well as by forty-niners and emigrants. The Old Spanish Trail was important, although not as heavily traveled as the more southerly Gila Trail. Cajon Pass has been substantially altered by the construction of a superhighway. The Indian trail, a Registered State Historical Landmark, is 8-1/2 miles northwest of Crestline, on Calif. 2.
This point, overlooking a precipitous 400-foot-high cliff near San Juan Capistrano Mission, is one of many that were utilized in the international hide and tallow trade. Active in this trade, which flourished in the decades just prior to the war with Mexico, were France, Russia, England, various South American nations, and the United States. Mission Indians prepared the hides and bags of tallow at the mission tanneries. The hides were soaked in salt water and brine, scraped, stretched, dried, and beaten to remove all dust. Mission Indians then transported the hides and bags on pack mules and carts to the point, from where they were thrown over the cliff to the beaches below, transported by small boats to the waiting ships, and carried to Boston, London, and other world ports.
The point was named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr., the American author who served for 2 years as a crew member on the Pilgrim, which was actively engaged in the hide and tallow trade. In Two Years Before the Mast, published in 1840, he vividly and accurately describes the trade, especially at this point.
Don José Antonio Julián de la Guerra Noriega, who founded one of California's oldest and most prominent families, built this large, one-story adobe structure about 1826 during his long period of service (1815-42) as commandant of the Presidio of Santa Barbara. Because of his prominence, his home was the center of social life in the Santa Barbara region. Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who visited the home in the 1830's, described in Two Years Before the Mast the colorful ceremonies during the daughter's wedding. The home was built around three sides of a spacious patio, where such occasions as the wedding and state ceremonials often took place. Many of the roof timbers and door and window lintels were constructed of local sycamore, but others were probably brought in by sailing vessels.
An altito, a three-story, tower-like element, used for office and library purposes, has been razed. A group of other white-plastered, tile-roofed structures, which have been built around the old house, make a sizable complex that is now occupied by shops and studios and the offices of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce. The local "Old Spanish Days" fiesta is held annually, the events centering around El Paseo, the "Street in Spain," which adjoins the De la Guerra Adobe.
El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciúnculaor Los Angeles for shortwas established on September 4, 1781, by 4 soldiers, 12 settlers, and their families, who settled on a 17,500-acre tract on the orders of Spanish Gov. Felipe de Neve. During the Spanish and Mexican periods, the population grew slowly but steadily, totaling 1,250 in 1845. Los Angeles was the largest settlement in California when it became a part of the United States.
The present Los Angeles plaza, laid out in 1818, replaced the 1781 plaza. The 1818 plaza survives as a city park, near which are situated two structures dating from the Spanish period; the plaza is surrounded by Main, Los Angeles, Arcadia, and Macy Streets. The adobe Plaza Church (535 North Main Street) was designed by José Antonio Ramírez and built between 1818 and 1822 by Indians under the supervision of José Chapman. Its dimensions were originally 90 by 75 feet. It had a choir loft, deep glassless windows, earthen floor, and tar-covered flat roof. Little remains today of the original structure or design.
The Avila Adobe, just off the plaza at 14 Olvera Street, is the oldest surviving house in Los Angeles. Erected in 1818 by Don José Maria Avila, later mayor of the town, it contained 18 rooms in an L-shape and included a wing extending across present Olvera Street. The sturdy adobe walls were 2-1/2-feet thick, the ceilings 15 feet high, and the flat roof covered with black asphalt from the Brea pits. Restored from a ruinous condition after 1930, the house is now part of the Pueblo de los Angeles State Historical Monument.
El Molino Viejo (The Old Mill), probably constructed during the period 1810-12 for San Gabriel Mission by Father José María de Zaldivéa, was the first water-powered gristmill in California. The only others built there during the Spanish period were at Santa Cruz Mission and at San José Pueblo. Built with massive stone-and-adobe walls, some 5 feet thick, it measured 20 by 50 feet. It was abandoned in 1823, but the ruins provided the basis for a reconstruction in 1929. A private residence until recently, it is now owned by the California Historical Society, which plans to restore it and use it as a southern California headquarters and museum.
While looking in this canyon for stray cattle, in 1842, Francisco López y Arballo first discovered gold, near the surface, in commercial quantities in California. Fortune-seekers swarmed to the area. The placer fields were mainly worked by Francisco García, an experienced miner who brought in other miners from Sonora, Mexico. By the end of 1843, they had mined about $42,000 worth of gold nuggets from nearby San Feliciana Canyon in the San Fernando Hills, as well as an unknown amount from Placerita Canyon. The deposits were exhausted after being worked about 5 years. The canyon is a Registered State Historical Landmark.
Of the 21 Spanish missions in California, this one is probably the most accurately restored and gives the best picture of mission life in Spanish California. Founded on December 8, 1787, by Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, by 1804 it had 1,520 Indian neophytes. It was destroyed by the major earthquakes of 1812, and rebuilt at its present site, 4 miles to the northeast, between 1813 and 1821. Secularized by the Mexican Government in 1834, it quickly went to ruin. During the period 1935-42 the Civilian Conservation Corps, under the direction of the National Park Service, carefully restored most of the buildings, as well as a portion of the irrigation system. In 1941, the mission became a State historical monument, and further reconstruction has been accomplished recently.
NHL Designation: 04/15/70
In the fall of 1780, Padre Francisco Garcés, three other Franciscan friars, and a small band of soldiers founded on the Colorado River two new experimental colonies, combination missions-presidios-pueblos. One colony, which included Purísima Concepción Mission, was situated on the California side near the point where the Gila River enters the Colorado River. The other colony, including the San Pecho y San Pablo Mission, was 12 miles to the south in present Mexico. The experiment in combining religious, military, and civil functions did not work well because of friction among the different factions.
Anyway, not long after a fresh group of settlers arrived in June 1781, the Yuma Indians attacked and destroyed both colonies, killed all but six men, and captured the women and children. The Indians blocked travel to California by the Yuma route until 1826, when the Mexicans established a garrison at the La Purísima Concepción site to protect mail carriers and traders. The U.S. Army constructed Fort Yuma at the site in 1850, for which purpose it utilized some stones from the destroyed mission. No surface traces of the mission remain today.
This is one of the best unaltered examples of the California rancho of the Mexican period. Many of the original outbuildings have survived, unlike those at most other ranchos, and the rural setting in the vicinity is unimpaired. The acreage, however, has been reduced in extent. The original Rancho Guajome grant comprised 1 square league, which in 1852 its two mission Indian owners, Andrés and José Manuel, sold to an American, Abel Stearns. The latter immediately presented it as a wedding gift to his sister-in-law, Ysidora Bandini, upon her marriage to a U.S. Army officer, Cave J. Couts. In 1852-53, this couple built the one-story ranchhouse.
The house is U-shaped. The doors of the approximately 20 rooms open into the inner patio. Sleeping rooms occupy one wing, and kitchen and bakehouse the other; the living quarters stretch across the front of the house. The patio, planted with flowers and orange trees, is closed on the upper side of the U by an outer courtyard surrounded by high adobe walls, which at one time had heavy wooden gates. Within the walls were a blacksmith shop, chapel, school, jail, carriage house, and other farm buildings. The house, which is not open to the public, is now privately owned.
Rancho Los Alamos, in an unaltered rural setting, is probably the finest surviving example of the traditional one-story Mexican ranchhouse in California. The original grant of 1839 to José Antonio de la Guerra y Carrillo consisted of almost 50,000 acres. In an era noted for lavish hospitality, Los Alamos was a favorite overnight stopping place for travelers between Santa Barbara and Monterey. The house, which has been carefully restored, has some American features; it has plank floors, board ceilings, paneled doors, six-paned window sashes, and central heating and electricity. The general appearance of the house, however, has not been changed greatly, and many of the original furnishings are still being used.
The Los Cerritos ranchhouse was probably the largest and most impressive in southern California during the Mexican period, and is today the largest restored adobe house in the region. The 27,000-acre Rancho Los Cerritos was part of one of the first two provisional land grants made in California by the King of Spain in 1784 for ranching purposes. It came into the possession of John Temple, a young New Englander who married a granddaughter of the original owner and later acquired Mexican citizenship. Temple, soon a wealthy rancher, also profited in the hide trade. In the 1850's, he became an important builder in the city of Los Angeles. In 1882, the new owners subdivided the rancho for real estate and town development purposes.
The magnificent ranchhouse was built in 1844 in the Monterey colonial style. The central two-story portion, containing the family rooms, is 100 feet long, and at each end are one-story wings, each 145 feet long. A large patio is enclosed by an adobe wall, which joins the ends of the wings. In 1955, the city of Long Beach purchased the restored adobe structure and now exhibits it as a historic house and museum. The original ranch setting has been destroyed by urban growth and the intrusion of Signal Hill district oil wells.
The headquarters building of the former vast Rancho Petaluma is the largest adobe structure in California. Owner of the rancho was Gen. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, in the 1840's the richest man in California and one of the most powerful politically. The building from which the 67,000-acre rancho was administeredalthough Vallejo actually resided in Sonoma, 12 miles distantwas built between 1835 and 1844 under the supervision of the owner's younger brother, Salvador. Oxen hauled redwood timber some 50 miles from the north, and Indians manufactured adobe bricks on the spot.
The large two-story adobe, in the Monterey colonial style, typically U-shaped, was 200 by 150 feet in size. The walls were 3 feet thick and 20 feet high, and a broad veranda ran around the interior and exterior. Iron grills and solid wooden shutters covered the windows and doors. Living quarters were on the second floor, and storerooms and Indian workshops on the ground floor. The building had fallen into a bad state of repair by 1910, when the Native Sons of the Golden West purchased it and the surrounding 5 acres. In 1951, the property became a California State Historical Monument, and is being carefully repaired and reconstructed.
The picturesque rural setting of this mission has remained almost unchanged since the day it was foundedthe third of the California missions. Father Junípero Serra established the mission on July 14, 1771, and the following year moved it 1-1/2 miles to the present location because of a shortage of water at the original site. At its peak in 1805, it had 1,296 Indian neophytes.
Construction of the present church was begun in 1810 and finished in 1813; other structures on the large adjoining quadrangle were rebuilt during the period 1813-21, including Indian quarters, workshops, walls, and storage areas. The mission's irrigation system, begun as early as 1774, ultimately consisted of several dams, reservoirs, and some 20 miles of open flumes and masonry conduits. In addition, wells dug near the mission supplied water for the orchard, vineyard, and gardens.
Secularized by the Mexican Government in 1834, the property was acquired by the United States Government at the end of the Mexican War, and returned to the Roman Catholic Church in 1862. Of the original buildings, only the church remained; most of the other structures were marked only by the grass-covered mounds into which the adobe structures had crumbled. Restoration, aided by the Hearst Foundation, has been underway since 1948.
The Mexican Government formally established San Diego Pueblo (Old Town) in 1835, although old soldiers of the Presidio of San Diego had begun to build their homes on the flats below Presidio Hill perhaps a dozen years earlier. Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who visited the town in 1836, commented: "The small settlement lay directly below the fort, composed of about 40 dark brown looking huts, or houses, and two larger ones, plastered, which belonged to two of the 'gente de razon.' The town is not more than half as large as Monterey . . . and has little or no business." The population in 1840 was only about 150, but by 1845 it had increased to about 350.
A number of Mexican sites and structures have survived, including:
(1) Old Town Plaza, bounded by Calhoun, Wallace, and Mason Streets, and San Diego Avenue. Formerly the political and social center, it is now a city park, somewhat smaller than it originally was.
(2) Casa de Bandini, 2660 Calhoun Street. This one-story residence was built in the years 1827-29 by a leading citizen, Juan Bandini. The second story and veranda were added in 1869, when the structure began to be used as a hotel and stage station.
(3) Casa de Estudillo, 4000 Mason Street between Calhoun Street and San Diego Avenue. This 12-room, one-story, U-shaped adobe was built in 1827 or 1828 by Prefect Don José Antonio Estudillo. Reconstructed from ruins in 1910, it is now a privately operated museum.
(4) Casa de Carrillo, at Presidio Hill Golf Course. The present caddy house of the golf course includes the greatly altered remnants of what is reputed to be the oldest house of San Diego Pueblo, built perhaps as early as 1824 by Don Francisco Maria Ruiz.
Also of interest are Casa de López (3890 Twiggs Street), Casa de Machado (2545 San Diego Avenue), Casa de Stewart (Congress Street north of Mason Street), and Casa de Pedrorena (2616 San Diego Avenue).
For more than 225 years, from 1542 until 1769, San Francisco Bay escaped the notice of Spanish explorers of the Pacific coastprobably because the Golden Gate is narrow and frequently obscured by fog; and islands and mountains are visible behind the low-lying bay as viewed from the ocean. It was finally discovered in 1769 by Capt. Gaspar de Portolá, whose party set out overland from San Diego for Monterey Bay. Missing that place, it pushed on to the north. Sighting Point Reyes from San Pedro Mountain, Portolá determined to move on to Drakes Bay. From a camp in San Pedro Valley, near present Shelter Cove, he sent out a scouting expedition that returned with news that a large body of water lay over the hill to the east.
The main party later followed the beach to the north and then marched to the northeast into the mountains. From a summit, the crest of present Sweeney Ridge, the men beheld San Francisco Bay, one of the great anchorages of the world. Father Juan Crespi noted in his diary: "It is a very large and fine harbor, such that not only all the navy of our most Catholic Majesty but those of all Europe could take shelter in it." After further exploration of the area in subsequent years, in 1776 the Spanish established the presidio and mission of San Francisco. The discovery site, in unaltered surroundings, is privately owned but is a Registered State Historical Landmark.
This mission was established in 1771 by a band of missionary priests sent from San Diego de Alcalá Mission by Father Junípero Serra. The present rectangular stone church, built between 1791 and 1805, replaced an earlier adobe one that had been destroyed by floods, along with other adobe mission buildings. In 1812, an earthquake severely damaged the church and other new buildings, which were subsequently repaired and restored. Much of the interior of the church is original. The church does not have front towers, like most other California mission churches. The exterior, relatively unadorned, features only the slender buttresses that line the long sidewalls, which rise above roof level to form pointed finials.
San Gabriel Mission was the western terminus of the overland trail that Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza founded from Tubac in 1776, as well as of the Old Spanish Trail and the Salt Lake-Los Angeles Trail. It was also known to Jedediah Smith in 1826-27, to many forty-niners who camped nearby, and to the patrons of the Butterfield Southern Overland Mail. The setting has been considerably altered by urban growth.
San José Pueblo, or village, was the first of three the Spanish founded in Alta California, the other two being Los Angeles and Branciforte. Founded in 1777 by Lt. José Moraga, who led a party of 65 soldiers and settlers, it first consisted of temporary houses of palisaded logs and earthen roofs. The next year, the residents constructed two dams for irrigation purposes. The population grew slowly; it totaled only about 80 in 1790, and about 900 by the end of the Mexican period, in the mid-19th century. About 1797, to avoid winter floods, the village had moved to an area near what is now the corner of Market and San Fernando Streets. Nothing remains today of any Spanish or Mexican house; a school is on the first site of the pueblo.
This mission, named after St. John of Capistrano, was founded in 1776 by Father Junípero Serra. Until 1794, when enlargement of the mission began, a small adobe building served as a chapel. Two adobe granaries and 40 houses for neophytes were built, followed by a cruciform church. The church, a semi-Moorish stone structure, took 9 years to complete and was regarded as the finest in California. It featured a lofty tower, five interior arches of irregular stone, and massive stone walls. In 1812, a major earthquake toppled the tower and killed 40 Indians. Ruined, the church was never rebuilt. Until 1834, when the Mexicans secularized the mission, the congregation used the small adobe chapel for services. The mission participated in the international hide and tallow trade that flourished just prior to the war with Mexico.
Although the great church is in ruins, the chapel, living quarters, corridors, and gardens have been restored. Owned by the Roman Catholic Church, the mission is open to the public. A museum features Spanish and Mexican artworks and artifacts.
Architecturally, this mission is probably second only to Santa Barbara Mission in its design, beauty, and extent of surviving original remains. It was established in 1798 by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuén. The church, built during the period 1811-15, combines Spanish, Moorish, and Mexican elements in a distinguished and picturesque baroque style. Secularized in 1834, the mission was turned over to Capt. Pablo de la Portilla and Pio Pica, who later became Governor.
In 1865, the mission was returned to the Roman Catholic Church by the U.S. Government, which had acquired it at the end of the war with Mexico. When the Catholic Church rededicated it as a Franciscan college, in 1893, the surface remains of the church and other mission buildings were quite extensive. Since that time, a careful program of reconstruction and restoration has been carried forward.
NHL Designation: 04/15/70
The Presidio of Santa Barbara was the fourth and last to be founded in Alta California under Spanish authoritythe others being located at San Diego, Monterey, and San Francisco. Its construction was begun on April 21, 1782, by 55 soldiers under the direction of Gov. Felipe de Neve, Capt. José Francisco Ortega, and Father Junípero Serra; shortly thereafter, Santa Barbara Mission was constructed. Log huts and a stockade 80 yards square were erected first, as well as some irrigation works in preparation for small-scale farming. Next, the temporary wooden structures and walls were replaced by adobe buildings and walls. In August 1793, the fort was finally completed. In 1826, the town, or pueblo, of Santa Barbara was established formally by the Mexican Government. The following year from 60 to 80 one-story adobe houses, each of which had its own garden, were reportedly outside the presidio walls.
The former site of the presidio is now in an area bounded approximately by Garden, Anacapa, Carrillo, and De la Guerra Streets in the heart of the modern city. Only two relics of the presidio have survived, both considerably altered: El Cuartel, 122 Canon Perdido Street, a small one-story, two-room house erected before 1790; and El Canada, 121 Canon Perdido Street, another small pre-1790 structure, that was once part of the presidio wall. In addition to the two relics of the presidio, other early structures in Santa Barbara include the De la Guerra Adobe, State and De la Guerra Streets; Casa Carrillo, 11 East Carrillo Street; and the Covarrubias Adobe, 715 Santa Barbara Street.
NHL Designation: 10/09/60
Sonoma Pueblo was the chief military base of the Mexican Government in Alta California from 1835 to the end of the Mexican period. Established in June 1835 both to check possible Russian expansion from Fort Ross and to control the Indians, it was founded by Lt. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Military Commander and Director of the Northern Frontier and Commandant of the Presidio of San Francisco, who acted under orders from Gov. José Figueroa. Transferring his garrison from San Francisco to Sonoma, Vallejo conducted a series of successful campaigns against the Indians and his force served as a buffer to Russian expansion until the Russians withdrew from California, in 1841. Promoted to colonel in 1836 and general by 1840, Vallejo was one of the most powerful figures in Alta California.
In 1846, Sonoma Plaza was the site of the raising of the Bear Flag, the beginning of the revolt of "Yankee" settlers and others against Mexican authority. It is a Registered National Historic Landmark (relating primarily to the war with Mexico, 1846-48). Near the plaza are a number of interesting Mexican-period restored buildings, including:
(1) Sonoma Barracks, northwest corner at the intersection of Spain Street and First Street East. This large, two-story adobe structure was erected during the period 1836-41 by Vallejo. It is now a part of Sonoma State Historical Monument.
(2) Site of Vallejo's Home, Casa Grande, north side of Spain Street west of the barracks. The home has been demolished, but behind the modern frame buildings still stands a two-story adobe structure that was once the servant quarters.
(3) "Swiss" Hotel, 18 West Spain Street. This two-story, balconied adobe residence was built about 1840 by Vallejo's brother Salvador, whose residence it was until about 1865. It became a hotel in 1881.
(4) Fitch House, southwest corner of plaza (First Street West and Napa Street). Jacob P. Leese built this two-story adobe house in 1841.
(5) San Francisco Solano (Sonoma) Mission, northeast corner of plaza. Founded in 1823, this was the last of the 21 California missions and the only one to be established during the Mexican period. As the northernmost, its purpose was to counter Russian advances. Secularized in 1834 it soon fell into ruins. The present mission "church" is actually the chapel that was built in the years 1840-43 for use as the town church. It and the nearby convento, or padres' residence, have been restored and are open to the public as part of Sonoma State Historical Monument.
(6) Blue Wing Inn, 133 East Spain Street. Built in 1840, this is an excellent example of a two-story adobe hotel constructed in the Monterey colonial style.
NHL Designation: 12/19/60
The Spanish explorers Bruno Heceta and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Cuadra visited Trinidad Bay on June 9,1775, in their vessels, the Santiago and the Sonora. They erected a huge pine cross on the promontory and took formal possession for Charles III of Spain; they named the promontory Trinidad because it was the day following the feast of the Holy Trinity. After briefly exploring the region and replacing a broken mast, they sailed northward. In 1793, the English explorer George Vancouver also visited the bay. The site of the original Spanish pine cross is marked by a massive granite cross, 9 feet high and weighing 2 tons, that was erected in 1913. The cross is near the lighthouse, about 400 feet above the ocean. The rugged coast area has changed little since Spanish times.
Villa de Branciforte was established in July 1797 at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on its east bank by 17 colonists, 9 soldiers and their families. It was the last of the three pueblos, or villas, that the Spanish founded in Alta Californiathe other two being San José and Los Angeles. The site, selected by engineer Lt. Alberto Cordoba, especially because of its advantages for coastal defense, was 1 mile east of Santa Cruz Mission, on the west bank of the river. Branciforte grew slowly, and it absorbed the mission when it was secularized, in 1834. However, in 1912, Branciforte gave up its historic name when the modern city of Santa Cruz annexed it. North Branciforte Avenue, originally about 1 mile long, was the only street in the old village. No remains of original Spanish or Mexican structures are extant in Santa Cruz today.
This pueblo, on San Francisco Bay and not far from the Presidio of San Francisco, developed into the city of San Francisco after California officially became a part of the United States in 1848; its central plaza became Portsmouth Square. The Mexican Government established it in 1835, when a single settler, William A. Richardson, was residing there. After 5 years, the population was still only 50, and by 1846 only 200. By that time, a one-story adobe Custom House had been constructed to accommodate the growing commerce. Nothing remains today of pre-1848 structures. The present plaza (Portsmouth Square), a small city park, replaces one that was destroyed several years ago to permit the construction of an underground public garage.
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005