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.
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
As I Remember…Growing up in Esc.
BBG and building the San Salavador
Belle Goodson (Ruth Collings story)
Clifford "Gavvy" Cravath
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 Public Library Development
The College on the Hill (Ruth Collings)
Escondido Fire Department
Flood Control Channel
Flood of 1916 (January)
Flying Machines (Ruth Collings)
Geology of Escondido
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 W. Putnam
Hist. District (evolution of a neighborhood)
Historic Rock Springs
History of the Escondido Historical Soc.
Ideas for the future
Industrial Park Lake
Judge Oliver Witherby
Kit Carson Park (dedicated 1969)
Lake Hodges, the Beginning
North County Fair opening (Jan)
Oak Hill Cemetery
Origins of the Esc. Public Library
Ted Cyr: Drag Racing Pioneer
The Bandy Blacksmith Shop
The Flood of 1916
The History of the Railroad into Esc.
The Oaks Adobe by Ruth Collings
The Repository for Germinal Choice
Tom Thumb Wedding
Wild Animal Park
William D. Harkins
William H. Baldridge
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.