History

Items that are historically significant in some way. They may be recent history or ancient history, pertinent to local history or something on a grander scale…

February 22, 1974 – The Day Ocean Beach Lost Its Innocence

February 22, 2021 by Frank Gormlie

February 22, 1974 was the day Ocean Beach lost its innocence. It was the day a man – recently released from prison – who was associated with the then network of OB radicals, tried to commit what we today call “suicide by cop.”

Peter Mahone walked up to a San Diego Police officer sitting in his patrol car in the OB Pier parking lot – and pulled out a gun and shot him. Mahone then calmly walked back to his little shack on Abbott and waited for the fusillade. And it came with a vengeance. Police surrounded Peter’s little hole in the wall and poured lead into it.

Miraculously, no one died that day. The officer shot in the parking lot survived – as did Peter Mahone.

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Memories of the Closures and Damage of the Ocean Beach Pier

February 17, 2021 by Frank Gormlie

Pier overflow 12-28-09-sm

With all the discussion about the current state of the Ocean Beach Pier, we thought about all the times over the past 12 years the pier has been forced to close and damaged. Here, then, is a memory tour of many of those moments, and a reminder of how much we all love the OB Pier. (The text and photos are from posts at the OB Rag.)

OB Pier – Monday, December 28, 2009. Photo by Jim Grant.

December 28, 2009 – The big news around downtown OB today was the big waves, number one – which forced the OB Pier to be closed by lifeguards. With large swells arriving up and down the Southern Cal coast, and with a National Weather Service high surf advisory in effect until 10 p.m. on Monday, local lifeguards had to close the pier, while a few top-notch surfers braved the waves – which could have been as high as 8 feet.

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Is This the End of the Ocean Beach Pier?

February 16, 2021 by Staff

By Geoff Page

A recent puff piece in the local weekly newspaper about the Ocean Beach Pier can serve as an illustration of the differences between what readers get in The OB Rag what readers see in the other local paper. What people need to read about are things that matter. The pier doesn’t need a puff piece, it may need an obituary.

The Beacon article asked why “the fuss over a few washed-out railings?” The answer lies later in the piece after a brief bit of history. That history included a colossal mistake and a truly idiotic location chosen for the pier.

First, the railing comment. The article quoted the general contractor that built the pier as saying:

“Those railings are doing exactly what they were meant to do — wash away in high seas, lessening resistance of water hitting the pier,” says the general contractor who built the pier (he prefers we not mention his name for privacy’s sake). “Rails can be easily replaced, though at an expected cost to the city.”

That the contractor did not want his name used is a really mystery.

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The Furry Freak Brothers Are Back!

February 8, 2021 by Staff

You thought you had cabin fever?! The Freaks smoked some super weed 51 years ago and just woke up in 2020.

Here to bring you a much needed laugh in a teaser episode called “Kentucky Fried Freaks”are #woodyharrelson? #tiffanyhaddish? #johngoodman? #petedavidson? and more.

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Did Pickleweed Commit Murder?

February 2, 2021 by Staff

By Kathy Blavatt

The question on everyone’s mind is, “Did the Pickleweed commit murder?”

A gang of suspects covered in green waited until just the right moment to tumble the cliff on three innocent people below.

The January 2020 San Diego Reader cover read “Beach Erosion, Can it Be Stopped?” and laid out the case of possible perps that lead investigators to the culprit being Pickleweed!

Is Pickleweed getting a bum rap, or are they a dangerous plant? The court will soon decide.

Excerpt: January 13, 2020, San Diego Reader – “Will sand save San Diego North County’s bluffs?”: On August 2, 2019, a 30-foot-wide chunk of sandstone came loose at Grandview Surf Beach in Encinitas, beneath a condo development. It fell onto three women, two of them locals, whose children and spouses sat nearby. The three women died. A lawsuit filed by the surviving families calls the poorly maintained bluff “an unnatural, unstable, and unsafe urbanized cliff.”

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Ocean Beach in 1978

January 18, 2021 by Source

Here’s a Channel 8 news report about Ocean Beach in 1978 by reporter Cathy Clark – inside.

It’s a great journey down memory lane for some – those of us who lived in OB that year.

But also, it’s a reminder of the problems OB has had over the decades. Check out the complaints by residents, businesses and visitors – do they sound similar?

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Sustainability 101: The Rebirth of Riding Wood: An Interview with Larry O’Brien and Mike Shourds

December 30, 2020 by Terrie Leigh Relf
Thumbnail image for Sustainability 101: The Rebirth of Riding Wood: An Interview with Larry O’Brien and Mike Shourds

Originally posted August 2012

Nothing says OB more than surf, sweet boards, and social consciousness! In the following interview, OBcean Larry O’Brien, vintage body board collector, cave explorer, and aspiring eccentric shares one of his many passions: Creating boards from found wood and other materials.

Coronadoian “Paipo Mike” Shourds, builder of wooden body boards and recycled junk bikes since 1960, is also a collector and all-around creative person.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What inspired you to create your body boards?

Larry O’Brien: Back when I was in junior high school, carpentry was something taught in school, and sex was something you learned …

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105 Years Ago Charles Hatfield Made It Rain in San Diego. The Problem Was He Couldn’t Make It Stop.

December 29, 2020 by Source

By Allison McNearney / Daily Beast / Dec. 27, 2020

Since the beginning of time, humans have sought to stage-direct our environment. The drama of history may have proceeded through act after act, but the trickster in the story has remained the same: the weather.

Over the centuries, our methods for trying to control the elements have gotten ever more sophisticated, and outlandish. We’ve tried to dance the rain down, blast precipitation from the skies, give the atmosphere an electrical wake-up shock, and seed the clouds with chemicals to bend them to our will.

The pseudo-science of what was later dubbed pluviculture, or man’s attempt to artificially bring about rain, began to develop more rapidly in the early 20th century.

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Democracy and Education

December 23, 2020 by Source

By Thomas Ultican / Tulican / Dec. 19, 2020

Democracy and free universal public education are foundational American ideologies. They have engendered world renowned success for our experiment in government “by the people”. Two new books – Schoolhouse Burning by Derek Black and A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door by Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire – demonstrate that these principles which were integral to the American experiment are shockingly under serious attack by wealthy elites.

After his father Fred died in 1967, Charles Koch took a disparate set of assets – a cattle ranch, a minority share in an oil refinery and a gas gathering business – and stitched them together. Today it is the second largest privately held corporation in the world. In the excellent 2019 book, Kochland, Christopher Leonard states, “Koch would eventually build one of the largest lobbying and political influence machines in US history.”

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San Diego County’s 12 Most Endangered Historic Sites

December 17, 2020 by Source

SOHO Spotlights 12 Most Endangered Historic Sites

Save Our Heritage Organisation, San Diego’s only countywide historic preservation advocacy group, wraps up this year with its 22nd annual Most Endangered List of 12 historic buildings, sites, and landscapes.

The pandemic’s stressors of uncertainty, inequity, and loss underscore the unifying power of our shared multicultural heritage and venerated historic places. The pandemic also threatens historic buildings and places that are not now regularly used, visited, or monitored due to restricted activities.

These threatened sites also reflect and define San Diego’s authentic character, and cry out for preservation before it is too late. Key among these are the vulnerable redwood Red Roost and Red Rest bungalows, which have overlooked La Jolla Cove since 1894. Sadly, a recent fire severely damaged Red Rest and partly burned Red Roost. The pair has appeared on SOHO’s Most Endangered List for more than 25 years, longer than any other threatened historic resource.

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America Attacked?

December 10, 2020 by Source

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Prez of OB Historical Society Shares Memories of the Strand – and Snags Its Old Projector

November 19, 2020 by Source

Editordude: Eric DuVall – the president of the Ocean Beach Historical Society – recently shared some of his memories of OB’s old Strand Theatre, plus gave an account of obtaining its last motion picture projector – which we repost below. In addition, we share more memories of the Strand below Eric’s piece. Hey – add some of your own in the comments.

By Eric DuVall / Pt. Loma OB Monthly / Nov. 18, 2020

The last motion picture projector from the old Strand Theatre in Ocean Beach sat abandoned and forlorn in the Wings Beachwear store for 20 years. Maybe 21. A store employee posted a few lines on Vintage San Diego early last year, mentioning the existence of the old projector and suggesting the store might be interested in its relocation.

Would the Ocean Beach Historical Society be interested in such a thing? We sure would!

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My Breakfast with Tom Metzger

November 18, 2020 by Source

By K-B Gressitt / Excuse Me, I’m Writing

Tom Metzger is dead, and I am relieved.

But memories of Tom rumble through the orderly rows of avocado and citrus trees in my Southern California town, stirring up the dirt of our racist history.

When Fallbrook became my home thirty years ago, I dutifully learned its two monikers: Avocado Capital of the World and Fallbrook the Friendly Village. Both were debatable, given the persistent transformation of groves to tract housing, and Tom Metzger’s presence in town.

Back then, Tom was a Fallbrook fixture. A short and stout strutter, he was known for his TV repair skills, his toupee, and a black Stetson and cowboy boots that gave him an extra few inches. He was also known for identifying as a racial separatist, which, according to him, was not at all hateful. “I don’t hate anyone,” he’d say.

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‘I’ve Reported On Climate Disasters For 38 Years. Here’s What We Need To Do ASAP.’

October 28, 2020 by Source

“You no longer have to travel far to report on a climate disaster, as one will soon come to a neighborhood near you.”

By David Helvarg / HuffingtonPost / October27, 2020

Climate change is now election campaign news as we’re forced to focus on massive wildfires in the West, unprecedented numbers of Atlantic hurricanes, record-high temperatures, plus the impact of a global pandemic and a historic election in which President Donald Trump assures us the climate will soon cool and Joe Biden responds that Trump is a climate arsonist.

I’ve been reporting on the seemingly apocalyptic becoming the new abnormal for some time now.

It was during an interview with Roger Revelle for a San Diego magazine profile in 1982 that he acquainted me with the greenhouse effect caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

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A Statue in Absentia

October 20, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Pete Wilson’s statue near Horton Plaza was removed and I feel a little more at ease with my world.

I mean, for a long time, I’ve been tired of looking at his likeness when I’d be out and about downtown to eat or catch a play, or to just stroll and enjoy a beautiful San Diego day.

Every time I came upon that image of him, standing bronzed, smiling, with his hands in his pockets, like he’s your friend, I’d think back on a day in the mid-70’s when he told me “Make yourself in absentia, Mr. McCray” – after I had laid something out I thought he and his City Council should and could do something about.

His response kind of cracked me up, at first, because I had never been dismissed in Latin, but I was deeply disturbed because the mayor asked me to leave just after I had copped a plea for human decency. I wanted our city to join a movement back then that involved taking a stand against South Africa’s institutionalized racist apartheid system of segregation by divesting from corporations doing business there.

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Love or Hate: The Daisies, Eucalyptus, and Native Plants of Sunset Cliffs – It’s All History!

October 13, 2020 by Staff

By Kathy Blavatt

What do you think of when you think of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park: Daisies, Native Plants, and Eucalyptus Trees?

As I was writing San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs: A History, over the last couple of years, I was surprised that the number one thing people were most passionate about was the park’s plants.

Just telling people I was writing a book about Sunset Cliffs Park’s history seemed to be a trigger to many people when it came to the park’s plants. The impassioned comments I received included: “Why are they taking out the daisies?” “Why did they cut down the eucalyptus trees?” and “The park should be native plants!”

Sunset Cliffs Park and the surrounding community have a unique and extraordinary history of horticulture, landscape, the development of food crops, and the propagation of plants that grow in coastal zones.

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A Review of ‘San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park, a History’

October 13, 2020 by Staff

by Bob Edwards

This month has seen the publication of a wonderful new book, San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park, A History. Published by The History Press, the book tells the complex and interesting history of Sunset Cliffs Park.

Written by Kathy Blavatt, local author, historian, photographer and garden columnist for the OB Rag, the book provides a detailed history of the park and includes dozens of photos, many from the author’s private collection, complemented by additional pictures from the OB Historical Society and family photos from local residents.

The book includes a chapter on the park’s animals, marine life, and habitat. Other chapters discuss the prehistory of the Point Loma Peninsula, the changes once Europeans arrived, and the string of events that followed

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What Was Going On in Ocean Beach 10 Years Ago – October 2010?

October 8, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

jim grant sunset 10-9-10

What was going on in Ocean Beach a decade ago, in October 2010? There was a lot of focus on the upcoming November election and on Halloween. Here is a sampling of local things, people, photos, events and other news of note from October 2010. (Note: some of the first links are 10 years old, so be forewarned.)

OB Bus Routes Detoured Due to Digging Ditches

OB lifeguard part of team honored for dangerous rescue

On Wednesday, October 13, four lifeguards were awarded the Medal of Valor for a dangerous rescue off Mission Bay last November 4th. The San Diego U-T reported: Another honoree, Sgt. Jon Vipond, had reported early to the Ocean Beach station .

Sports Arena bought by San Pasqual Tribe & renamed “Valley View Casino Center”

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The History of the Original OB Seagull

September 29, 2020 by Source

OB seagull decal orig

Originally posted at OB Rag on July 6, 2015

By Bob Sorben – Creator of the Original OB Seagull

Back in the 50’s and early 60’s we all hung out on the beach at the foot of Newport. OB was ruled by the locals and the defense of our beach town from outsiders was almost tribal. We fought with other local communities whenever an occasion arose. Of course, there were always fights amongst ourselves, and some just liked to fight.

The Point was actually broken up into clubs and each had followers, but we intermingled as one. The Sunset Surfers of the 40’s & 50’s and, the Qwiigs Surfing Club, which dated back to the 30’s were the beginning.

The Baron’s, Nobles, Rouges, the Yacht Club Guys and in “Tunaville” The Oaks. The OB Longhorns, an unorganized group of locals grew out of the 60’s era. With a few of our nick names like: The Missing Link, The Crab, The Deviate, Tommy Cuckoo, Monkey, Buttman, The Lizard, (the stories could fill a book).

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Early History of OB Rag Reflected the New Wave of Grassroots Activism in Ocean Beach

September 17, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

As we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Rag, we bring forth some of the early history of the underground newspaper – whose pages reflected what was going on in Ocean Beach in the early 1970’s. From the Save Collier Park campaign to the birth of OB’s “alternatives” to the anti-development movement, the OB Rag reported on the changes OB was going through. A new wave of civic activism and hippie businesspeople.

The volunteer and dedicated staff succeeded in helping to fuel the community organizing in OB during the first half of the seventies, taking on the establishment and giving voice to the burgeoning counter-culture.

The Collier Park Battle

One of the first major issues the OB Rag jumped into wholeheartedly was to join up with a new OB environmental group, OB Ecology Action, and lead a fight to save Collier Park, an urban patch of land in northeastern OB. Ecology Action.

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The Very First OB Rag – Scanned and Unedited … So Brace Yourself … From Sept. 17, 1970

September 17, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

Here it is – the very first OB Ragthe OB People’s Rag – published on September 17th, 1970. Unedited … so brace yourself if you are of tender ears, as of course, the language in the articles was sooo-seventies, a mix of the raw rhetoric and bravado of the campus militant with the casual drawl of the counter-counter, as the staff was a bunch of young twenty-somethings, half still in college and the other half fresh off the campus.

It was four pages – front and back of 2 pages stapled together. We have scanned all four pages – see below – plus we have retyped all of the articles so you don’t have to squint and ruin your eyes. In addition, we have included all of the graphics and most of the hand-drawn headlines.

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Requiem for the Real American Dream

September 16, 2020 by Staff

By Joni Halpern

There is a time in life when all things that once were new and filled with promise become old and worn out, their shiny surfaces dull and scratched, their presence a mere reminder of the past. These things that once fueled our imaginations, set us in pursuit of impossible goals, drove us to creativity, and embodied cherished values must all be bade farewell when their time has passed.

I noticed today that the American Dream is badly worn.

I do not mean the American Dream of Horatio Alger, that rags-to-riches-if-you-work-hard-and-never-give-up dream. No, that one still lives in our hearts and minds. But it is not the true American Dream, for rags to riches is a story that happens all over the world. Truthfully, it has always been more like winning the lottery, even in this country.

But that didn’t matter, because riches have never been the dream of the overwhelming majority of Americans.

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A History of Mexico for Gringos

September 16, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

By Frank Gormlie

Most gringos don’t know too much of the history of Mexico – our southern neighbor – even though Mexico is so much part of the culture of Southern California. U.S. public schools don’t really teach about its history. For instance, September 16 is Mexican Independence Day – the commemoration of the defeat of the Spanish colonialists – akin to our July 4th – when Americans defeated British colonialists and their German mercenaries.

This then is an attempt to bring Mexican history to our readers – it covers Mexico’s story through the Revolution.

Long before the European colonialists landed on the shores, native civilizations flourished in the Americas, building large cities, establishing trade and industry, exhibiting high levels of science, technology and art. By the time Cortes arrived in 1521 to seize land and riches for Spain, the Aztecs ruled over a highly complex society in Central Mexico. Employing the old method of ‘divide and rule’, the Spanish conquered the Aztecs and other peoples

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50 Summers Ago, the People of Ocean Beach Stopped the Jetty

September 15, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

The Jetty is Stopped

Fifty summers ago, the residents of Ocean Beach halted the construction of a jetty the City and the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build- next to what is now known as Dog Beach.

Ostensibly, the project, according to city officials, was to protect OB from flooding from the San Diego River Channel, to prevent the loss of sand from the beach area, and to stop the spread of sand into the Mission Bay entrance.

But, the community didn’t buy it. Many locals viewed the jetty as a prelude to an attempt by the City and developer interests to create a marina and a high-rise resort district at Ocean Beach’s waterfront. Opposition to the jetty was wide-spread, from surfers to elderly retired grandmothers, from young professionals and local businesspeople to the long-hairs.

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Origins of the First OB Rag

September 14, 2020 by Staff

How and Where It All Started

Fresh off the campuses of the University of California, three young friends in their early twenties decided to publish an “underground” newspaper for Ocean Beach, the hippie area of San Diego.

John Lyons and Frank Gormlie – from UCSD – and Bob “Bo” Blakey – from UC Berkeley – had all just graduated and had moved in together in an old house on Etiwanda Street in northeast OB. Gormlie and Blakey had known each other at Point Loma High School and both had been involved in student government; Blakey had been Senior Class President and Gormlie had been President of the Student Body. Lyons and Gormlie had cut their activist teeth on the radicalism at UCSD.
All three had been deeply involved just months earlier in the anti-Vietnam war movement on their respective campuses.

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Celebrate With Us the 50th Anniversary of the Very First OB Rag this Week

September 14, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

Fifty years ago this week, the very first OB Rag was published and hit the mean streets of Ocean Beach. Called “The OB People’s Rag”, the first issue was four pages stapled together and distributed at OB’s main stores at the time, Safeway and Mayfair, on choice OB street corners and in front of Point Loma High School.

So, all this week, we’ll be publishing memories, background, the behind-the-scenes stories and actual articles of the gritty “underground” rag that became the main community newspaper for Ocean Beach for nearly five years. Art Kunkin, the editor and publisher of the grandparent of all underground newspapers, the LA Free Press or “LA Freep”, once called the OB Rag the best alternative, community newspaper in the country.

Online Party Thursday Night, Sept. 17

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Is This the Dawning of the ‘Age of Direct Democracy’?

September 14, 2020 by Source

By Colleen O’Connor

Historians, writers, journalists, astrologers and even amateurs sometimes coin a phrase that perfectly describes an entire epoch. Or a decade.

Many of these “Age of” descriptions come long after the fact. For example, the “Age of Exploration” or the “Age of Empires.”

The truly magnificent titles capture so much than just a decade. Some span centuries. Others end quickly. The “Enlightenment.” “The Age of Reason.” “The Dark Ages.”

And they are defined and remembered in multiple forms; all personal. Literature, sports, music, art, movies, economics and politics.

Take the “Gilded Age” known for the lopsided wealth and extravagance generated by railroads, industrialization, with cosseted nouveau riche existing alongside abject poverty.

Or Edith Wharton’s, “Age of Innocence.” The writing of which, she said allowed her to find “a momentary escape in going back to my childish memories of a long-vanished America… it was growing more and more evident that the world I had grown up in and been formed by had been destroyed in 1914.” And the first “world” war.

Then there are the obvious ones. The “Atomic Age.” The “Industrial Age.” “The Space Age.”

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Labor Day in the Midst of a National Crisis: Dreaming of a Just Recovery

September 7, 2020 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, but how many of us have any idea where the holiday came from or what it celebrates?

The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882 in New York City and was proposed by the Central Labor Union (CLU) at a time when American workers were struggling for basic rights such as the eight-hour day. The CLU moved the “workingman’s holiday” to the first Monday in September in 1883 and urged other unions to celebrate the date as well. The movement grew throughout the 1880s, along with the American labor movement itself with 23 states passing legislation recognizing Labor Day as a holiday. By 1894 Congress followed suit and Labor Day became a national holiday.

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‘ReWild Mission Bay’ Releases Statement on Kumeyaay History of Mission Bay

September 1, 2020 by Source

The group that has been trying for years to enhance and restore wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay, ReWild Mission Bay, has just released an equity statement on the history of the Kumeyaay in the Mission Bay region. We repost it below, followed by their press release. . ReWild Mission Bay is a project of the San Diego Audubon Society.

Equity

The northeast corner of Mission Bay is land that was historically occupied and used by Indigenous communities, Kumeyaay (‘Iipay and Tipai), and represents just one example of our unjust and racially-motivated public lands history in San Diego.

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Kathy Blavatt’s New Book on History of Sunset Cliffs Out Soon

September 1, 2020 by Staff

OB’s own Kathy Blavatt will be soon releasing her latest book – this one is on the history of Sunset Cliffs Park. Arcadia Publishing will be releasing San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park: A History, on Monday, October 12, 2020.

Here are the promos:

About the book

Sunset Cliffs Park meanders along a mile and a half of San Diego’s coastline, beckoning tourists and locals alike. These stunning cliffs inspired Albert Spalding, sportsman and visionary, to create a park in 1915 for all to enjoy.

In the century since, many have left their mark, including the powerful Pacific Ocean. John Mills, an enterprising land baron, restored the original park, only to have it fall into neglect during the Depression and World War II. It became a popular spot for pioneering surfers and divers in the postwar boom, and the park’s colorful landscape attracted artists and children. Join author Kathy Blavatt as she relates the many transformations of this beloved park and looks to us future.

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