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Friday, April 17, 2015

THE BREWSPAPER / Mission Beach: Before Bikini’s and Banned Beer

San Diego’s famed Mission Beach boardwalk completed in 1915, but in 2015 the city banned drinking beer on the beach.  Is this progress, we ask?

RETRO FILES--Enterprising land developers were quick to piggyback and hopefully piggy bank on the City’s big investment in the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition by offering subdivided 20 x 50 ft. lots along Mission Beach.  Earlier, megabuck investors like J.M. Asher, Jr. and John D. Spreckels envisioned the raw dunes, south of La Jolla a new resort area much like Spreckels had turned Coronado prior to 1900.
            But first they had to get the tourists/buyers to the then not-so-famous 2.5 mile long strand.  By 1915, the Bayshore Railway Co. had built a bridge connecting Ocean and Mission Beaches.  The two lane road and trolley tracks brought people to Mission Beach check the property and to stroll along the newly completed wooden boardwalk (pictured here just after completion in 1915).  As a result, after 1915, Mission Beach was the easiest beach to reach via land mass transit.
            Back then, automobiles, horses, dogs, motorcycles and men in straw hats and suits were allowed on the sand.  Driving (legally) on the sand ended by the WWI.  Nowadays, it’s tough to pop open a beer without being cited by the gendarmes.
            Much of Mission Beach was “planned” in the years prior to the 1915 Exposition.  Traffic was no big deal and the tiny east/west streets called “places” were named for California missions (San Luis Rey to Santa Rita Places) while the pedestrian only “courts” were named alphabetically (Aspin to Zanzibar Courts) south to north for resort areas mainly on the east coast.
Because a majority of the 13 wider “places “ were named for Missions, Mission Beach stuck as a name.
And, what happened to the cool bridge joining the People’s Republic of Ocean Beach with Mission Beach?  In 1951 it was demolished by “progress.”  Couple of other reasons for its demise: termites and it was tough to sail a yacht under it.

This article first appeared in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.  Photo courtesy of the magazine and San Diego History Center.

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