Palm City, San Diego

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Palm City is a neighborhood in the southern section of San Diego. It neighbors Otay Mesa West to the south and east, Egger Highlands and Nestor to the west, and Chula Vista to the north. It also serves as a gateway to the beach cities of Imperial Beach, and Coronado, by way of the Silver Strand isthmus, due to it being where California State Route 75 meets Interstate 5.[1] Major thoroughfares include Coronado Avenue, Hollister Street, Beyer Boulevard, and Palm Avenue.


Prior to the Mexican–American War the area that is today Palm City was part of Rancho La Punta, sometimes referred to as Rancho Melijo, granted to Santiago Emilio Arguello in 1834. The U.S. Land Commission rejected his claim, opening up the area to settlement; which in turn led to the creation of communities in the area.[2][3][4]

In the 1880s, John J. Montgomery built and designed his own ornithopters and manned glider designs at the Montgomery family Fruitland Ranch near what would become Palm City. His gliders were tested on the surrounding hillsides of Otay Mesa. These flights represented the first of their kind in the nation.[5]

Palm City was established in 1914, and named for the palms lining Palm Avenue.[6] Indeed, the original name for the area was "Palm Avenue", until the post office declared that name unsuitable.[7] That same year, the county opened up a library branch to serve the community.[8] Even a year before it was established, it was the terminus of a small railway, the Mexico & San Diego Railway, that ran to Imperial Beach, and operated two cars.[9][10]

During the 1916 Hatfield flood,[11] the community was temporarily cut off from San Diego, when the waters from the Lower Otay Lake broke through the Lower Otay Dam, and washed away the San Diego & Arizona Railway's bridge over the Otay River.[12]

In 1926, the community was all of 250 persons.[13] Prior to the internment during World War II, the city was home to the Iguchi brothers, who farmed seventy acres in the community.[14] By 1942, the community had grown to a population of 720.[15] With the end of World War II, the community became population concentration area for returning Japanese Americans.[16] Beginning in 1952 the community maintained its own sanitation district; it was annexed by the city in 1963.[17] Palm City, along with other portions of South San Diego, was annexed from San Diego County in 1957.[18]

In 1983, the community experienced damage due to an earthquake, 4.6 on the Richter scale, that occurred ten miles off the coast, in the Pacific Ocean.[19] It was stated by the California Institute of Technology at the time to be the "largest quake to hit San Diego since 1932."[20]

In 2004, using DNA evidence, a convicted felon rapist was found to be responsible for the torture and killing of two boys who went missing in Palm City,[21] near the Otay River, in 1993.[22] He had previously been convicted of a rape that occurred seven months after he had murdered the minors.[23] The felon was sentenced to death, and is housed at San Quentin State Prison.[24]

Camp Lawrence J. Hearn[edit]

Beginning in 1916,[25] the Third Oregon Infantry established the post during its border service.[26] The United States Army, maintained Camp Lawrence J. Hearn, in honor of Major Hearn of the 21st Infantry Regiment, in response to the Mexican Civil War,[27][28] and was manned by the 1st Cavalry Regiment.[29] It was abandoned in August 1920, but re-established by the 11th Cavalry Regiment in October of that same year.[30] Brigadier General F.C. Marshall visited the post just before he died in a plane crash, traveling to Tucson, Arizona.[31] Until 1921, the post had no structures, and consisted of a tent cantonment;[32] soldiers requiring medical care would be sent to Fort Rosecrans for treatment.[33] However, conditions on the post did not improve significantly, and was described by Army Chief of Staff Major General Summerall as being like a "logging camp", composed of "tumbledown shacks".[34] In 1924, cavalrymen from the post assisted local officers, and federal agents in enforcing a 9 P.M. curfew at the international border crossing.[35] It continued to be in use until it was abandoned in 1931.[36][37] Later the former post was considered by the Coastal Artillery Corps for the site of a battery, however this was never built.[38]

Facilities and landmarks[edit]

Palm City is home to two shopping centers, as well as Sunnyslope Park.[39] The community is served by the San Diego Trolley's blue line that has a station within its boundaries.[40] Several landmarks to John J. Montgomery are in the area including Silverwing Park, and the John J. Montgomery Freeway, a portion of Interstate 5.


Sunnyslope Elementary School, of the South Bay Union School District,[41] serves Palm City. Private schools include Midway Baptist Pre-School.[42] Secondary students who reside in this neighborhood, are served by the Sweetwater Union High School District which has Montgomery Senior High School in neighboring West Otay Mesa.[43]


  1. ^ Strong, Kathy (2006). Driving the Pacific Coast California. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-7627-3869-4. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  2. ^ Fetzer, Leland (2005). San Diego County Place Names A to Z. San Diego, California: Sunbelt Publications, Inc. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-0-932653-73-4. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  3. ^ Corona, Antonio Padilla (2004). Paul Bryan Gray (ed.). "The Rancho Tia Juana (Tijuana) Grant" (PDF). The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. 50 (1). Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  4. ^ SWCA Environmental Counsultants (24 November 2004). "Cultural and Paleontological Research Study for the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Trails and Habitat Restoration Enchantment Project San Diego County, California" (PDF). Department of Parks and Recreation. County of San Diego. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  5. ^ Harwood, Craig S. and Fogel, Gary B. Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, University of Oklahoma Press 2012.
  6. ^ Guddle, Erwin Gustav (1974). California Place Names. University of California Press. p. C-235. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  7. ^ Stein, Lou, "San Diego County Place-Names", Rand Editions-Tofua Press, 1975.
  8. ^ News notes of California libraries, Volume 9. California State Library. 1944. p. 563. Retrieved 1 June 11. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ Middlebrook, R.P. (1961). "THE HIGH IRON TO LA JOLLA". The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. 7 (1). Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Construction News". Electric Railway Journal. McGraw Hill Pub. Co. 41 (18): 833. 1913. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  11. ^ Randy Dotinga (31 December 2008). "The Mother of All Floods". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  12. ^ Richard F. Pourade. "CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE RAINMAKER - AND WHO CAUSED THE BIG FLOOD?". San Diego Historical Society. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  13. ^ Herbert C. Banks II, ed. (1998). 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-56311-408-3. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  14. ^ Estes, Donald H. (1978). "BEFORE THE WAR: THE JAPANESE IN SAN DIEGO". The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. 24 (4). Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  15. ^ Economic survey of California and its counties, 1942. California state printing office. 1942. pp. 564–5. Retrieved 1 June 2011. Between here and the Mexican border are the unincorporated communities of Nestor, Otay (275), Palm City (720) and San Ysidro (1900).
  16. ^ Estes, Matthew T.; Estes, Donald H. (1996). "Hot Enough to Melt Iron: The San Diego Nikkei Experience 1942-1946". The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. 42 (3). Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  17. ^ Jon Jamieson (January 2002). "Reflections on the Past". The Bull Sheet. California Water Environment Association. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2011. By 1952, with a population of 5000, Palm City formed a sanitation district on May 27, 1952 to provide sewage service to the local area. Instead, on September 3, 1963 the City of San Diego annexed the community of Palm City and took control of the existing sewerage system and effectively dissolved the sanitation district.
  18. ^ Roberto Hernandez (2006). "Municipal Annexation and Metropalitan Colonialism at the Nation's Fring: San Ysidro, San Diego and the U-S///Mexico Border" (PDF). Institute for the Study of Social Change. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 31 May 2011. In 1957, the City of San Diego annexed the South Bay area consisting of the communities of Palm City, Otay, and San Ysidro. This paper focuses on San Ysidro, as it is the site of an international port of entry
  19. ^ "Undersea Quake Hits San Diego". The Palm Beach Post. 30 June 1983. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  20. ^ <"AROUND THE NATION; Largest Quake Felt In San Diego County". The New York Times. 30 June 1983. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  21. ^ "Man convicted of killing 2 boys to be sentenced July 28". North County Times. 5 June 2004. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  22. ^ Kelly Thonton (30 March 1993). "Two South Bay boys found slain at river". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  23. ^ "Erskine Case to go to Trail". KGTV. 28 January 2002. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  24. ^ John Wilkens (18 April 2010). "Victims' kin know anguish of plea deals". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  25. ^ "Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916" (PDF). U.S. Archives and Records Administration. 1968. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  26. ^ Report, Issues 9-15. Salem, Oregon: Oregon Military Department. 1904. p. 61. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  27. ^ Fetzer, Leland (2005). San Diego County Place Names A to Z. San Diego, California: Sunbelt Publications, Inc. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-932653-73-4. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  28. ^ "Camp Lawrence J. Hearn". The California State Military Museum. California State Military Department. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  29. ^ "The First Regiment of Cavalry, United States Army". The Cavalry Journal. United States Cavalry Association. 31: 182. 1922. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  30. ^ Richardson Jr., Robert (January 1921). "Eleventh Cavalry". The Cavalry Journal. XXX (122): 458. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  31. ^ Bevil, Alexander D. (2005). ""The Service Knows and Will Remember": The Aircraft Crash Memorial on Japacha Ridge" (PDF). The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. 51 (3). Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  32. ^ Army appropriation bill, 1921: Hearings before Subcommittee no. 1 of the Committee on military affairs, House of representatives, Sixty-sixth Congress, second session ... March 25, 1920-April 2, 1920. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1920. p. 330. Retrieved 30 May 2011. Camp Gen Marshall. Those two camps are along the Mexican border in California, at places where the troops suffer inconvenience due to the very unusual weather conditions that prevail at those places. The temperature goes up as high as 112 or 114 degrees and the humidity is very high. They are living in tents with no comforts or accommodations whatsoever.
  33. ^ Annual report of the Secretary of War, Part 1. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1918. p. 444. Retrieved 1 June 2011. The hospital at Fort Rosecrans is in size entirely inadequate. It is used as a base hospital for the troops at Camp Walter R Taliaferro, San Diego; Camp Lawrence J Hearn, at Palm City; the Signal Corps Aviation School and one company of Infantry at Tecate. The hospital is continually overcrowded and many of the patients are being cared for in tents. Estimates for the erection of a 24 bed ward are now being prepared.
  34. ^ "Army & Navy: Super-Magruder". Time. 2007. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  35. ^ "Curfew Ban on Tijuana". The Spokesman-Review. 7 March 1924. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  36. ^ Theresa Muranaka; Cynthia Hernandez. "Time Has No Boundaries". California State Parks. State of California. Retrieved 30 May 2011. From 1916 to 1931, Camp Hearn, established for potential skirmishes with the troops of Pancho Villa, was a military presence.
  37. ^ Ruhlen, George. "Fort Rosecrans, California". The Journal of San Diego History. 5 (4). Retrieved 30 May 2011. A troop of the 11th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Rosecrans from October 1931, following the abandonment of Camp Hearn at Imperial Beach. In August 1932 they moved on to Monterey.
  38. ^ Erwin N. Thompson (1991). "Interlude, 1920-1935". Cabrillo National Monument. National Park Service. Retrieved May 30, 2011. The board chose a site for one battery of 155mm guns at Point Loma near the new lighthouse, and recommended a location 1,500 yards south of Coronado Heights and west of south San Diego, on the former Camp Hearn site, for the other 155mm battery, which was never built.
  39. ^ "San Diego Community Profile: Otay Mesa Nestor". City Planning and Community Investment. City of San Diego. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  40. ^ Dickey, JD (2005). California: the rough guide. Rough Guides. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-84353-049-7. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  41. ^ "Sunnyslope Elementary School". South Bay Union School District. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  42. ^ "Sensitive Receptors" (PDF). South Bay Replacement Project. California Energy Commission. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  43. ^ "San Diego's Palm City Neighborhood". 2009. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2011.

Coordinates: 32°35′2″N 117°4′30″W / 32.58389°N 117.07500°W / 32.58389; -117.07500