History abounds in Coronado, starting with a quest on the streetlights of 9 and Alameda

Excerpt from ACH archives

If you slow down and wander the streets of Coronado, you’ll come across many historic features that enhance the quaint vibe of the village. Some date back to the early, late 1800s, from its origins when Coronado grew rapidly, as illustrated by the fact that it took Elisha Babcock, Jr. and Hampton Story just three weeks to bring workers to start work after signing the agreement. to buy the Coronado Peninsula. Other architectural details have been added over the years, including marked sidewalks, memorable buildings, distinctive artwork, bronze historic designation plaques, antique lampposts, and more. It’s amazing what you can discover if you keep your eyes peeled.

Historic streetlights at the corner of 9th Street and Alameda Avenue

The Coronado Historical Association (CHA) is an invaluable resource for learning about Coronado’s historic past. I started researching the origin of the interesting antique lampposts that seem to greet you on 9th Street from Alameda Avenue. Finding that there weren’t many details in their records on the subject, I contacted several longtime residents who were also stuck on where the streetlights came from. CHA directed me to the streetlights on Ocean Blvd. and felt that those in Alameda were most likely from the same era and used there because it was the outskirts of town in the 1920s. Alameda was previously known as K Avenue and was the last street outskirts of the village, adjacent to where the country club stands today, aptly named for the Coronado Country Club commissioned in 1905 by JD Spreckels. It included a racetrack, tennis courts, golf course, grandstand and an exclusive members’ club. The adjacent Coronado Polo Club was well known for its premier polo events. Interestingly, polo has also spread to the Hotel del Coronado beach, with Charlie Chaplin as one of its most famous players.

How fun to look down and find out what year the sidewalks were created.

When you look up while strolling through the city, you can admire the preserved trees, and when you look down you can find marked sidewalks, with dates dating back to the early 1900s. In recent years, the 90-year-old and longtime resident Julia Viera pleaded with City Council to continue grading sidewalks, which has not always been done, when they are replaced on new construction projects. The council agreed with her to continue to preserve this charming tradition.

There are more than 85 designated historic sites throughout Coronado, and it’s worth noting some of the unique businesses that have come and gone, like the Ostrich Farm on A Avenue, between 8e and 9e streets, which was run by EJ Johnson in 1887 as a tourist attraction and feather source. Most people know the story of Tent City, which was located next to The Del for almost 40 years. But did you know that a major film studio operated here in 1915?

Even the street names of Coronado have some interesting twists. When the residential street grid was established, the first idea was to use Spanish names, including a few like Alameda, but the use of alphabetical streets to the north and south and number streets to the east and the west made it easier to navigate through the village. Orange, Olive and Palm avenues are named after the trees that were planted there at the time. In 1924, the board of directors reappointed 1st “Cabrillo Esplanade” street, but it only lasted three years and was overturned by public petition.

Orange Avenue sidewalk and lamp post from the CHA archives

You can get lost in all the amazing history documented at CHA and they are a great resource as a research center with an extensive photo collection of over 20,000 images that can also be searched online.

Now back to my original quest for the Alameda streetlight backstory. I found out from CHA that in 1913, the city council, sometimes called the “harmonious meeting of the founders of the city”, discussed decorative lampposts spaced about 250 feet apart, for the plaza on Ocean Blvd. Then, in 1916, the council received an offer of $20 each for ornamental cement light poles that look like stone. The council vetoed the proposal, but asked for a plan and cost to install them on Glorietta Blvd as well. In 1924, the council considered streetlights for Orange Avenue from Ninth Street to the ferry landing.

Streetlights at 9th and Alameda

This is just a sampling of the interesting historical facts about Coronado uncovered in my research. If you have any additional information on my original question about the lineage of the three Alameda Avenue streetlights, please contact us and let us know. We’d also appreciate any other little-known historical details that make Coronado unique, so we can share with our readers.

Check out the new CHA GEM Walking App available in the Apple App or Google Play Stores and their website at https://coronadohistory.org/.