Horton Hotel

Throwback Thursday: San Diego in 1870

One of the oldest institutions in our region is the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Founded in the late 19th century, the Chamber is nearly 150 years old. It celebrated its 148th anniversary yesterday.

The Chamber was founded by Alonzo Horton (1813-1909), a civic leader and real estate developer after whom Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego is named? Back in 1870 when the Chamber was formed, the City of San Diego’s population was 2,300 people – less than one percent of what it is today.

According to the San Diego History Center, Horton established the Chamber of Commerce just three years after he arrived in town:

April 15, 1867 the old steamer Pacific brought hither the fifty-four-year-old Connecticut Yankee, Alonzo Erastus Horton. He trod these shored enfolded in a bright vision of creating something from nothing, founding a city on the wide wastes sloping to the rims of these twin bays of San Diego. As if his dream had been infallible prophecy he at once began building New Town.

Alonzo Horton

The same year Horton founded the Chamber, he also opened Horton House Hotel - where the U.S. Grant Hotel stands today on Broadway. He set aside a half block across the street from his hotel as a plaza for his visitors, and that’s how Horton Plaza came about.

Another big milestone that occurred in 1870 was the birth of what would become Balboa Park. According to the San Diego History Center, on Feb. 4, 1870, “San Diego becomes the first city west of the Mississippi to set aside land for an urban park. This 1,440 acre tract becomes the site for City Park, now Balboa Park.”

Woven into the Fabric of the Region

Our company’s history, like the Chamber’s, is woven into the fabric of our region. We are here to serve and empower a bright and clean future.

In 1881 – 11 years after the Chamber of Commerce was founded – five prominent San Diegans would form the San Diego Gas Company (which would later become San Diego Gas & Electric).

Just as this region has grown and evolved, so has SDG&E. Our workforce reflects the local diversity.

  • About 41 percent of SDG&E’s management employees are women.
  • About 8 percent are military veterans.
  • In 2017, we set a company record of spending nearly 45 percent of our vendor budget on diverse suppliers.

More Information

If you are a history buff and want to learn more about San Diego’s past, the San Diego History Center is an excellent source of information. On its website, you can find a timeline of local history.