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San Diego, CA:
San Diego, named for Saint Didacus (Diego de Alcalá in Spanish), is the second-largest city in California and the ninth largest city in the United States .It is located along the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of the United States. According to an estimate by the US Census Bureau the city's population at 1,279,329 as of 2008. This coastal city is the economic center of the San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos metropolitan area.
San Diego has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years by the Kumeyaay Indians. The first European to visit the region was Portuguese-born explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailing under the Spanish Flag, who sailed his flagship San Salvador from Navidad, New Spain. In 1542, Cabrillo claimed the bay for the Spanish Empire and named the site San Miguel. In November of 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent to map the California coast. Arriving on his flagship San Diego, Vizcaíno surveyed the harbor and what are now Mission Bay and Point Loma and named the area for the Catholic Saint Didacus, a Spaniard more commonly known as San Diego. On November 12, 1602, the first Christian religious service of record in Alta California was conducted by Fray Antonio de la Ascensión, a member of Vizcaíno's expedition, to celebrate the feast day of San Diego.
After New Spain won its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, Mission San Diego de Alcalá's fortunes declined in the 1830s after the decree of secularization was enacted, as was the case with all of the missions under the control of Mexico. However, it remains an active Catholic church and is a National Historic Landmark.
In 1847 San Diego was a destination of the 2,000-mile (3,200 km) march of the Mormon Battalion, members of whom established a brickyard and built the city's first courthouse at the corner of San Diego Avenue and Mason Street in Old Town.
The Battle of San Pasqual, a battle of the Mexican-American War, was fought in the San Pasqual Valley which is now part of the city of San Diego. With the end of that war and the great influx of Americans during the gold rush of 1848, California was admitted to the United States in 1850. San Diego was designated the seat of the newly-established San Diego County and was incorporated as a city in 1850.
The original site of San Diego was at the foot of Presidio Hill, in the area which is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The location was not ideal, being several miles away from navigable water. In the late 1860s Alonzo Horton promoted a move to "New Town", several miles south of the original settlement, in the area which became Downtown San Diego. People and businesses flocked to New Town because of its location on San Diego Bay convenient to shipping. New Town quickly eclipsed the original settlement, known to this day as Old Town, and became the economic and governmental heart of the city.
As of 2008, this metropolitan area is the 17th-largest in the United States with a population of 3,001,072. According to Forbes the city of San Diego ranks as the fifth wealthiest in the United States. San Diego's leading industries are manufacturing, the military, and tourism.
San Diego is a college town. Many young adults choose San Diego for it’s educational opportunities and also the bonus warm climate. With schools ranging from San Diego State University (SDSU) to University of Redlands School of Business. With many popular museums, such as the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego is a cultural playground.
San Diego's broad city limits also encompass a number of large nature preserves, including Torrey Pines State Reserve, Border Field State Park, Mission Trails Regional Park. Torrey Pines State Preserve and a coastal strip continuing to the north is the only location where the rare species of Torrey Pine, P. torreyana torreyana, is found. Due to a combination of the steep topography that prevents or discourages building, and some efforts for preservation, there are also a large number of canyons within the city limits that are nature preserves, including Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, and Marian Bear Memorial Park in the San Clemente Canyon, as well as a number of small parks and preserves.
However, most of southern California, the majority of San Diego's current area was originally occupied by chaparral, a plant community made up mostly of drought-resistant shrubs. The chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitats in low elevations along the coast are prone to wildfire, and the rates of fire have increased in the 20th century, due primarily to fires starting near the borders of urban and wild areas.
The San Diego Zoo is and always will be the greatest draw to the city. The San Diego Zoo has been a pioneer in building "cage less" exhibits. The zoo offers a guided tour bus that traverses 75% of the park. There is an overhead gondola lift called the Skyfari, providing an aerial view of the zoo. The Skyfari was built in 1969 by the Von Roll tramway company of Bern, Switzerland.The San Diego Zoo Skyfari is a Von Roll type 101.
Exhibits are often designed around a particular habitat. The same exhibit features many different animals that can be found side-by-side in the wild, along with native plant life. Exhibits range from an African rain forest (featuring gorillas) to the Arctic taiga and tundra in the summertime (featuring polar bears). Some of the largest free-flight aviaries in existence are here. Many exhibits are "natural" with invisible wires and darkened blinds (to view birds), and pools and open-air moats (for large mammals).
The San Diego Zoo is one of the world's few major zoos to have almost all of its major exhibits be open-air; in fact, the only major exhibition building on grounds is the Reptile House.
The cool, sunny maritime climate is well suited to many plants and animals. Besides an extensive collection of birds, reptiles and mammals, it also maintains its grounds as an arboretum, with a rare plant collection. As part of its gardening effort, it raises some rare animal foods. The San Diego Zoo, although relatively small in terms of acreage, has one of the largest and most varied animal collections in the world.
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