Del Mar celebrates 50 years of ‘cityhood’


Mayor, Del Mar

Del Mar has not always been an officially recognized “city.” As a community, the region’s rich history dates back to the late 19th century when the wife of a railroad contractor called the temporary tent city on the beach “Del Mar.” Later Colonel Jacob Taylor purchased 338.11 acres of land, and, in 1885, the plat map of Del Mar was recorded with the county recorder. Throughout its history, the area has been home to residents who shared a love of its natural beauty - the sandstone bluffs, the beach and the lagoons.

Because of that beauty, Del Mar has enjoyed being the destination of the rich and famous and was for many years the playground of Hollywood stars. Some of the attractions at that time included a hotel-resort, a natatorium, a dancing pavilion, and a bathing pool that extended from the beach out into the sea. In 1936, the Del Mar Fair opened, in 1937 the Del Mar racetrack opened, and in 1938 Bing Crosby recorded the song “Where the Turf Meets the Surf.”

In the late 1950s, citizens concerned about protecting the village atmosphere and lifestyle began campaigning for the incorporation of our small seaside town. An election held on May 26, 1959, was very close: 565 votes were cast in favor of incorporation and 470 votes were cast against becoming a city.

The first elected City Council included Thomas S. Douglas, Clayton G. Jack, Elwood K. Free, H. C. Billings and John V. Barr. Officially, the city of Del Mar was incorporated as a general law city in the County of San Diego on July 15, 1959. Later, in 1960, citizens voted in favor of becoming a charter city.

The 15th day of July 2009 will mark the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Del Mar. In keeping with the “Del Mar way,” a citizens committee working under the auspices of the Del Mar Foundation has planned a wonderful Happy 50th Birthday Del Mar celebration and invites all residents to join in the fun.

A Picnic at the Powerhouse Park is planned for July 12, beginning at 4:30 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. The celebration includes games for the kids, a ‘50s-style dance contest, a barbecue dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. and musical entertainment. Reservations for the dinner, including the famous Del Mar Lemon Cake, are available until noon on July 5 through the Del Mar Foundation’s Web site at

  1. A limited number of dinners will be available after 6 p.m. on the day of the event at a higher price. See you on July 12.