Escondido has a rich and fascinating heritage. The Escondido History Center is proud and pleased to be tasked with preserving our city's history by word, artifact, and photograph.  Our plan is to use the technology of the Internet to document and share our history with the community in the most easily accessible way.  As we are able to, we will continue to grow this section of our website, creating an "Escopedia" of our unique history. We hope that you both enjoy and find it useful.

History Center

Newsletter Articles

from the Past


We look forward to linking the titles to the articles on the website in the near future. In the meantime, become a member to receive future newsletters, each containing fascinating stories from Escondido's past. Click here for membership information.

Adobe Construction, A Strong Tradition

Agriculture development

Andy Andreasen

As I Remember…Growing up in Esc.

BBG and building the San Salavador

Belle Goodson (Ruth Collings story)

Billy Beven

Central School

Charlotta Hotel


Citrus Industry

City Halls

Clifford "Gavvy" Cravath

Daley Ranch

Dr. Anna H. Searing

Early City Ordinances

East End Club

Escondido Brick (Ruth Collings)

Escondido High School

Escondido History Center 60th Anniversary

Escondido Village Mall

Escondido Water Story

Escondido’s Backyard Astronomer

Escondido’s Incorporation

Escondido Public Library Development

The College on the Hill (Ruth Collings)

Escondido Exchange

Escondido Hotel

Escondido Times

Escondido Fire Department

Flood Control Channel

Flood of 1916 (January)

Flying Machines (Ruth Collings)

Geology of Escondido

Grand Ave.

Grape Day Festival (narrow focus)

Grape Day Forever

Grape Day Park (Its evolution)Wendy B

Hank Henry, Race Car Builder

Harold Meziere (Wendy Barker)

Henry Timkin

Henry W. Putnam

Hist. District (evolution of a neighborhood)

Historic Rock Springs

History of the Escondido Historical Soc.

Ideas for the future

Industrial Park Lake

Jim Londos

Judge Oliver Witherby

Kit Carson Park (dedicated 1969)

Lake Hodges, the Beginning

Mary Bankhead

Max Atilano


Moon, A.R.

Moosa Massacre

Native Americans/Felicita

Newsletter Stories


North County Fair opening (Jan)

Oak Hill Cemetery

Origins of the Esc. Public Library

Patio Playhouse

Percy Cox

Police Department

Public Art

Rock Springs

Rockledge Sanitarium

Rube Nelson

Samual Brannin

Samuel Brannin

Sikes Adobe

Sophie Cubbison

Ted Cyr: Drag Racing Pioneer

The Bandy Blacksmith Shop

The Flagpole

The Flood of 1916

The History of the Railroad into Esc.

The Oaks Adobe by Ruth Collings

The Repository for Germinal Choice

The Teepee

The Tepee

Tom Thumb Wedding

Wild Animal Park

William D. Harkins

William H. Baldridge

WPA Projects

Escondido - A Timeline

1000 BC - 1700 AD First people in area were the Kumeyaay Indians

1769 Missions established by the Spanish

1843 Governor Micheltorena granted Escondido Valley to Juan Bautista Alvarado, who named the 12,653 acres El Rincon del Diablo.

1846  Battle with Mexico fought at San Pasqual, Dec. 6, 1846

1847  Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

1850 California became a state

1855 After Alvarado died, his defendants started selling off his land and Judge Oliver Witherby of San Diego began buying portions of El Rincon del Diablo. It took him 10 years to purchase the entire ranch. Witherby established a gold mine southwest of the present intersection of El Dorado and Bear Valley Parkway.

1868 Witherby sold Rancho Rincon del Diablo to John, Josiah, and Matthew Wolfskill and Ed McGeary for $8,000. They raised grain and sheep.

1868 Nate Harrison, a free slave, homesteaded on the side of Palomar Mountain.

1870 Zena Sikes built adobe home (across from today’s Westfield Shoppingtown, North County)

1874  Peter Cassou bought 320 acres in the valley.

1875  Major G. F. Merriam homesteaded 160 acres.

1883  Valley purchased by the Stockton Company, a group formed by 15 men from Central California.  They planted grapes next to the Escondido Creek. It rained 50 inches which was too much for the grapes.

1884  Post office name changed from Apex to Escondido.

1885  Many people came to California. Among them were the Thomas brothers. Four of the brothers, Jacob Gruendike, and seven others formed the Escondido Land and Town Co. and purchased the 12,814 acre valley for $102,042. The sale was completed March 1.

1886  Construction began on the Escondido Hotel, a 100 room hotel on the east end of Grand Ave.  The University of Southern California, with its Methodist backing, was given land to build a church on Grand Ave and a seminary at 3rd and Hickory. Graham & Steiner opened the first store in town. The Escondido Times, a local newspaper, began weekly publication. The Board of Trade was founded, renamed the Chamber of Commerce in 1895.

1887  Escondido Land & Town Co. invested in the railroad. Construction was started in March 1887 and completed January 1888 of the Oceanside to Escondido line. A load of wheat was the first freight to leave Escondido. The Lime Street School, in what will later become Grape Day Park, opened. The first stage travelled between San Diego and Escondido.

1888  The city of Escondido was incorporated on October 8. It consisted of 1854 acres.

1890  Population: 541. Escondido Irrigation District proposed a $450,000 bond issue to build a reservoir.

1891  Grand Avenue, downtown, had at least 12 oil lights. The Advocate, the second newspaper in town, started publishing.

1893  50,000 fruit trees were planted.

1894  Construction of Bear Valley Dam began. USC’s seminary became Escondido High School.

1895  Bear Valley Dam completed. Water became available. City’s first library was built.

1898 Escondido Land & Town Company packed 262,000 lbs. of raisins.

1900 Population: 755.  Grove owners formed the Citrus Union within the decade.

1901 Street lights were changed from oil to gas.

1905 The water bonds were paid off October 31. Grand Avenue got sidewalks.

1907  It snowed 2” in February and again in April. A movie theater opened. Escondido High School students hand dug the “plunge,” a pool, next to the school.

1908  The first official “Grape Day” was held on California Admission Day, Sept 9.

1909  Giant eucalyptus tree was planted in what will become Grape Day Park. The Escondido Times and The Advocate, local newspapers, merge into The Times-Advocate.

1910  Population 1,334. The first electric service in town was available on March 5 from sundown to 10:00 p.m. The Lime Street School, the city’s first, was torn down. Escondido Women’s Club was organized. Carnegie Library replaced city’s first library.

1911  Gas became available. In December, William Alexander bought the Escondido Land and Town Company.

1912  Grand Avenue was fully paved.

1914  Palm trees were planted on Grand Avenue from the train station to Maple Avenue.

1915  Hotel Charlotta opened. Escondido Humane Society was organized.

1916  “Hatfield’s Flood,” 24.1 inches, ruins railroad tracks. No trains in or out of Escondido for a month.

1917  San Diego Gas & Electric purchased the Escondido Utilities Company and provided 24 hour service.

1918  Lake Hodges Dam was completed.

1920  Population: 1,789. Prohibition started, banning manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol while thousands of acres of grapes are being grown in Escondido.

1921  First service station in town.

1922 A 20-man volunteer fire department was established.

1923  Escondido Hotel, built in 1886, is torn down. Escondido Hospital, the first in town, was opened on Grand Avenue by six doctors.

1924  Escondido Dam and Lake becomes Lake Wohlford. Kiwanis and Rotary clubs form.

1927  Escondido High School moved into new building, at the corner of Hickory and 4th. Masons erected a flag pole in the middle of the street on Grand at Broadway. The Felicita Pageant debuted.

1928  Escondido Fruit Growers divide into Escondido Lemon Association and Escondido Orange Association. First commercial avocados planted.

1929  A. L. Houghtelin constructed a 50’ diameter wooden tepee, a local landmark for nearly 50 years. First Escondido High School burned down. Lemon packing house opened.

1930   Population: 3,421.  Post office began home delivery of the mail. Many street names changed to expedite mail delivery.  The city’s Board of Trustees changed their name and became the City Council.

1931  Lake Hodges overflowed for the first time.

1936 WPA built an adobe band stand in Grape Day Park.

1938 Escondido celebrated its first 50 years. The second City Hall, built of adobe, opened at Grand and Valley.

1940 Population: 4,560.

1941 Troops camped in Grape Day Park.

1944  Flagpole on Grand Avenue at Broadway was removed.

1945  Local lemon production reached a peak, with 1,159,039 field boxes. Railroad passenger service to Escondido from Oceanside was discontinued.

1947  Escondido High School had its first night football game.

1948  Palomar Observatory was completed. Palomar Hospital District was formed.

1949  Highway 395 opened through town.

1950  Population: 6,544. Highway 395 to San Diego was opened. Palomar Hospital opened with 10 patients. Cora Swingle was the first woman elected to serve on City Council.

1951  The first annexation added 8.7 acres to the city.

1952  Kay Owens started Escondido’s only radio station, KOWN.

1955  After a construction flaw in Escondido High School was discovered, the student body was divided up, with some attending a new campus on North Broadway. The rest were taught in temporary classrooms on the original campus.

1956  New library at 3rd  and Kalmia replaced the Carnegie Library. The Escondido Historical Society was established.

1959  Entire student body attended Escondido High School together again at the North Broadway site.

1960  Population:16,377.  Lemon packing house closed.

1962 Orange Glen High School opened.

1964 Escondido Village Mall was built on East Valley Parkway.

1966  Medians were added to Grand Avenue. The first Escondido Drive-In opened in 1966.

1967  It snowed 4” in December. Patio Playhouse opened.

1969 Kit Carson Park was dedicated.

1970 Population: 36,792.

1971  Dixon Dam and Lake were dedicated. City’s first library building was moved from Grand Avenue to Grape Day Park.

1972  San Pasqual High School opened. San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park opened.

1974  Lorraine Boyce became the first woman to be elected Mayor.

1976  New Police Headquarters was built at 700 W. Grand.  Heritage Walk was established in Grape Day Park.

1977  Dixon Lake Recreation Area was dedicated.  Escondido Auto Park was built. The Tepee, a large wooden structure and local landmark for nearly 50 years was blown down by the wind.

1980 Population: 64,355.

1981  Current library at Broadway and 2nd Avenue was built.  Escondido Auto Park opened. Escondido National Little League All-Star team played in the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania.

1982  Rube Nelson’s Country Corner grocery store closed.

1984 Santa Fe Depot was purchased from the Santa Fe Railroad Company and moved to Grape Day Park.

1986 North County Fair Shopping Center (currently Westfield North County), a regional shopping center, opened.

1988  Escondido celebrated its centennial. City government moved into a new City Hall at the corner of Broadway and Valley Parkway. Downtown Street Faire began.

1989  Downtown Farmers Market began in October

1990 Population: 108,635 . Transit Center opened on West Valley Parkway

1994  California Center for the Arts, Escondido opened.

1995  East Valley Community Center opened. First Night alcohol-free New Years Celebration was first held. Escondido Arts Partnership was established.

1996  Grape Day Festival and Parade were revived. City purchased Daley Ranch. Lights were installed on Grand Ave palm trees

2000  Cruisin’ Grand started.

2001  Escondido Humane Society in Kit Carson Park burned down. Escondido Children’s Museum opened on Grand Ave.

2003  Queen Califia’s Magical Garden by Nikki de Saint Phalle opened in Kit Carson Park. In October, firestorms raged. Mingei International Museum Satellite opened downtown. Escondido Humane Society opened new facility on East Valley Parkway.

2004  Escondido Children’s Museum moved to Studio One at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. “Vinehenge,” a new playground in Grape Day Park, opened.

2006  Escondido Historical Society celebrated their 50th anniversary with a name change to Escondido History Center

2007  Witch Creek Fire destroyed homes and caused two deaths. President Bush landed at San Pasqual High School to tour burned areas and to talk to firefighters staged at Kit Carson Park. Paramount Condominiums, under construction on Escondido Boulevard, burned down, the largest structure fire in the City's history.

2008 Sprinter light rail system began running between Escondido and Oceanside.

2009 Final stage of the Amgen Race of California brought thousands of bicycle enthusiasts downtown.

2010 Population: 133,875 California State Polytechnic University, Pomona developed plan for “Revealing Escondido Creek” to create a linear park to ultimately replace most of the flood control channel.

2012 The new Palomar Medical Center on the west side of Escondido was opened.

2014 Voting for City Council Members changed from voting at large to districts.

2015 After more than 50 years, the Palomar Medical Center downtown campus closed down completely.  The Roynon Museum of Earth Science and Paleontology opened to the public on Grand Avenue.

2017  Talone’s meat market and slaughterhouse, vacant for several years, burned down.