Exhibition Closed

Image credited by San Diego History Center

Naval growth

If San Diego had always been a naval town, the twentieth century’s increasing military focus on the Pacific rather than the Atlantic ocean heralded a significant growth in the US Navy’s local presence. And that day that forever lies in infamy, Pearl Harbor, cemented San Diego’s strategic importance as a hub for the Western defence of the nation.

World War 2 had a huge effect, and between 1940-42 the population had already grown by 50% to 300,000, with much of the dock areas converted to military functions. New housing sprung up to cater for these new San Diegans and industry related to the military located nearby, boosting the city’s economy and its population further. The residential growth was mostly in the north and east of the city, fueling a suburban expansion that would, for a while at least, come at downtown’s loss.