As far as historic landmarks in the amazing city of San Diego are concerned, few are quite as nationally (and even internationally) recognized – and beloved – quite as much as the Great Balboa Park.
A special part of one of the most exciting and popular cities in the country, this amazing piece of architecture and landscaping has been a big part of San Diego ever since it was first established back in 1915, this year marks its 100th anniversary and a variety of different special celebrations have been planned.
If you’ve been thinking about taking a trip to San Diego and need just one more extra excuse to have some fun in the sun, you aren’t going to want to miss out on the Centennial celebration to embrace, honor, and recognize everything that Balboa Park has meant to this great city.
A bit of history regarding Balboa Park
One of the most innovative (especially at its time) areas of public space to be carved out in the middle of the downtown area of San Diego, this park was originally “reserved” in 1835 – making it one of the oldest dedicated public spaces in the United States.
It wasn’t until the 1915/1916 Panama California Exposition that it earned its name after the Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, and obviously important fixture in the history of both Panama and California, as he was the first ever European explorer to have touched the Pacific Ocean from the New World.
The park was completely redone and redecorated to help celebrate this early exposition leading up to 1915/1916, and was then again transformed for the California Pacific International Exposition of 1935/1936.
This overhaul was led by local architect Richard Requa, and is considered to be one of the most successful “repurposing” of public space, ranking right up there with the overhaul of Central Park in New York City and the site of the World’s Fair in Chicago.
During both World Wars, Balboa Park became a critical part of the Department of Navy. It was used as a barracks of sorts, a training ground, and as an extension of the medical center in San Diego. It was even the original site of “Parris Island West”, the West Coast recruitment center for the Marine Corps during this time. Before more permanent facilities were built at Camp Pendleton.
After the world wars concluded, the park was reconverted back into public space, and has become one of the main attractions of San Diego ever since. It’s gone through numerous iterations, reinventions, and the neighborhood around this park continues to develop and redevelop from time to time.
The Future of Balboa Park
According to information published way back in 2000, more than 12 million people visit the park each year – and it’s easy to see why.
One of the most stunning natural landscaped areas in the United States, this park is truly something special. There are plans for a Centennial celebration, a year-long celebration, that would rival both of the exhibitions that were held in 1915 as well as in 1935.
So far, the City Council has been able to supply more than $2.8 million in public funds (combined with private donations far exceeding that figure) to help make sure that this grand spectacle is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
If you’re looking to spend time in San Diego in 2015 through 2016, you’re going to want to make sure that you stop off at Balboa Park. There are going to be a variety of different of events held throughout this year-long celebration, including amazing firework displays, live entertainment, food from around the world, and a whole host of shows and displays of technology, culture, and arts that are true to life once in a lifetime kinds of experiences.
Balboa Park may be 100 years old, but she isn’t showing her age. This is still the central gem of San Diego, is still one of the most impressive stretches of public land in the world, and continues to be a golden representation of everything that this amazing city has to offer the people of the world.
Check out the Centennial for Balboa Park. You aren’t going to want to miss out!