How well do you know Del Mar? Take this quiz
Here’s a trivia primer on the little town “where the turf meets the surf” — lovely Del Mar. To test your knowledge of your hometown, answer “True” or “False” to the following nine statements. The correct responses will help you start the new decade off with appreciation and insight for the way things are today!
False. In the 1880s, contractor and engineer Theodore M. Loop, who was working on the first California Southern Railroad project that spanned from San Diego to San Bernardino, built a home north of San Diego along a mesa that he described as “the most attractive place on the entire coast.”
It was Loop’s literary wife, Ella, who named the beach city “Del Mar,” from the title of a popular poem at the time, “The Fight on Paseo Del Mar.” Incidentally, Del Mar does translate from the Spanish, “from the sea.”
True. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided start-up funding for the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which opened on Oct. 8, 1936, with a flood of 50,000 people who enjoyed the exhibits and entertainment. The finishing touch to the fairgrounds would be the addition of the mile-long, oval-shaped racetrack.
False. Marilyn Monroe was never a contestant in this pageant. Barbara Watson was the first winner, crowned Queen of the Fair in 1936. Then during World War II, activities at the fairgrounds were suspended until 1945. The most notable contestant was Raquel Tejada, a La Jolla High School student crowned in 1958. She later gained celebrity as actress Raquel Welch.
True. On July 3, 1937, Bing Crosby would’ve greeted you at the gate for the inaugural Opening Day at his Del Mar racetrack. The legendary Seabiscuit and Ligaroti were in their heyday, and Del Mar was becoming the summer hot spot for Hollywood folks to come and horse around. Today, old traditions are still going strong at the track, and you can still hear Crosby’s scratchy lyrics rolling in the background over the loudspeakers.
The Del Mar racetrack recently underwent a $55 million facelift, transforming the site into one of the most upscale racing facilities in the country.
True. This tree, also called the “Del Mar pine,” a local icon growing 8 to 15 meters tall, is the rarest pine in the United States. The tree lent its name to the Torrey Pines State Reserve, Torrey Pines Golf Course, Torrey Pines High School and Torrey Pines Gliderport.
The edible pine seeds from the Torrey pine were also an important food source for the Kumeyaay tribe of Native Americans.
False. But it did make Time magazine’s “100 Greatest Beaches in the World” list. The 15th Street Beach near Powerhouse Park ranked in the top 10 at No. 4, while Dog Beach made honorable mention.
True. Other celebrity residents include motivational speaker Anthony Robbins; world-renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, who splits her time between London and Del Mar; along with iconic skateboarding champ Tony Hawk.
True. Racing resumed at the track when the war in Europe ended. On Aug. 14, 1945, Pat O’Brien announced to the crowd of racetrack patrons that Japan had surrendered to the allies.
True. The original inhabitants of the site above the San Dieguito River east of Rancho Santa Fe, who settled more than 20,000 years ago, are known as the San Dieguito people. Historians believed they migrated from southern Oregon via the Mojave Desert and Imperial County. The earliest cultural group of inhabitants, the San Dieguito Paleo-Indians, are described as having a “scraper-maker culture,” and trace back to 7,500 B.C.