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Chula Vista City

Chula Vista City Hall is located at 276 Fourth Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910; phone: 619-691-5041.

Beginnings [1]

With the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, California became a territory of the United States. With the discovery of gold, the Gold Rush brought over 100,000 people to California. When California became a state in 1850, the previous land grants were allowed to continue as private property under American law. In 1854, the U.S. Lands Commission confirmed the National Ranch land grant to John Forster, who continued to operate the ranch for approximately another decade until selling it to another interest, who in turn sold it to the Kimball Brothers in 1868 for $30,000.

The Kimballs acquired water rights on the Sweetwater River and made plans to construct a dam to provide water for their planned development. They also reached an agreement with the Santa Fe Railroad and plans were finalized in 1880 to build a railroad from National City to Barstow. While the dam was under construction, the National City and Otay Railroad was incorporated in 1886 and construction of a rail line connecting Chula Vista to National City and San Diego began in 1887. This rail line laid the foundation for the development of the San Diego Land and Town Company's 5,000-acre Chula Vista tract, planned by professional town planner Colonel W.G. Dickinson, as residents could commute to San Diego and reach other areas of the South Bay and businesses could transport their produce to market. James D. Schulyer suggested the name "Chula Vista" for the town, roughly translated in Spanish as "beautiful view." Land sales in Chula Vista started in 1887, and by the end of the year many new homes were under construction. Citrus groves and other types of produce were planted on hundreds of acres surrounding the new homes, creating an orchard community. The most successful crop proved to be citrus trees, and for a period of time Chula Vista became the largest lemon-growing center in the world.

On October 17, 1911, a successful election was held in Chula Vista to incorporate as a city, which was approved by the State of California.

In 1916, the Hercules Powder Company's kelp processing plant was constructed. The plant, located on the 30-acre bayfront site now known as Gunpowder Point, produced potash and acetone to make cordite, a smokeless gunpowder used to make military munitions that was used extensively by the British military during World War I. World War II ushered in changes that would affect the City of Chula Vista forever. Rohr Aircraft Corporation relocated to Chula Vista just months prior to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the entrance by the U.S. into World War II. At the height of its wartime production, Rohr employed approximately 9,000 workers, contributing significantly to the tripling of the City's population from about 5,000 in 1940 to approximately 16,000 in 1950. The presence of numerous military installations in the county contributed greatly to the population growth of Chula Vista and other communities in the region following World War II, as many veterans from other parts of the country chose to live and raise their families here.

  1. City of Chula Vista California, Chula Vista Vision 2020: Chula Vista in Perspective, 2005, www.chulavistaca.gov, accessed August, 2012.
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