History of Del Mar

Old Del Mar

On August 14, 1882, the first California Southern Railroad train went over the tracks on its new route from San Diego to San Bernardino. Theodore M. Loop - the contractor and engineer who worked on the project - had taken acreage and built a home on a mesa just North of San Diego, a setting he described as "the most attractive place on the entire coast."

Loop built a tent city on the beach and his wife, Ella, called it "Del Mar" - words taken from a popular poem, The Fight on Paseo Del Mar.

In that same year "Colonel" Jacob Taylor (left) - who had come with his family to live on Rancho Penasquitos - met Loop who suggested that they build a town. Taylor was captivated by the beauty and potential of the area, and in the summer of 1885, he purchased 338.11 acres at the northern end of the mesa from homesteader Enoch Talbert, paying $1,000. Thus the town of Del Mar was officially founded.

Taylor was a dynamic visionary who pictured Del Mar as a seaside resort for the rich and famous. With technical support from family and friends, he designed and built a town whose focal point was Casa del Mar, a hotel-resort. Other town attractions included a natatorium, dancing pavilions, and a bathing pool extending from the beach out into the sea. In 1889, the original hotel burned to the ground, leaving Del Mar without its main attraction.

The Del Mar Store

The first Del Mar Store was located on the north side of Ninth street. It was owned by Henry John Gottesburen and his wife Mary who had moved from Atchison, Kansas to Del Mar in 1884 and opened their first store. Their daughter Mary was the second child born in Del Mar and was affectionately known as "Baby Del Mar."

Today, the old Del Mar Store does not exist any more, but you can visit our Online Store, with its collection of items and pictures reminiscent of the old days.

Building the New Hotel

With many Californians suffering from economic hardships, Del Mar became dormant for about 15 years. But, in the early 1900s, when South Coast Land Company began to develop San Diego County, Del Mar came alive again.

The South Coast Land Company hired a prominent Los Angeles architect, John C. Austin, to draw plans for a new hotel, the Hotel Del Mar. From its elegant opening in 1910, it served as a magnet for Hollywood stars of the silent film days.

The village also offered a pier, bath house, pool, golf course, and its own powerhouse.

Of course the "plunge" and pier were the main attractions. From 1912 to 1920, beautiful new homes soon became landmarks. Home building came to a halt in the late 1930s; however, life in Del Mar went on and a Civic Association was formed in 1931.

The Fairgrounds and The Racetrack

In 1933, a search for a location for the San Diego County Fair began. Ed Fletcher suggested that the 184 acre site in the San Dieguito Valley - just off the main highways and the Santa Fe Road - would be easily accessible and a perfect setting for a fairground.



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