Mission Valley San Diego, from Settlements to Shopping

San Diego was the city that gave birth to modern day California, and Mission Valley was its birth canal.

Mission Valley was inhabited by the indeginous Kumeyaay Indians for more than 10,000 years until 1769 when Spanish missionaries arrived to set up a Christianising mission in the area – the Mission of San Diego of Alcala. The missionaries built a town around the area. However the San Diego story differs from many other cities because the original settlement was considered a relative failure due to its lack of access of water and farming land.

Mission San Diego of Alcala was the first of 21 missions set up by the Franciscan Friars from Spain in California, almost all of which gave birth to the major cities in California that we know of today – San Francisco (Mission San Francisco de Asis), Los Angeles (Mission San Gabriel Arcangel) and San Jose (Mission Santa Clara de Asis & Mission San Jose).

For that reason, even though Mission Valley was at the centre of the establishment of present day San Diego, it did not undergo significant development until more recently. Not much was done to Mission Valley for almost two centuries though, being the first doesn’t always make something the most important, the area only began to see change from its farming past after World War II, as San Diego city experienced a development boom. The majority of Mission Valley was converted into hotels called in a whole area called Hotel Circle.

The Days Inn San Diego, a hotel in Hotel Circle (source)

To give the hotel dwellers something to do, shopping centres were built such as Fashion Valley (which frankly reminds me of a factory outlet in Johor Bahru, Malaysia). These malls are not new, Fashion Valley Mall for example was completed in 1969 with the stated intention of being the foremost shopping mall in the San Diego area.

Fashion Valley Mall

Because of the expense of land Mission Valley soon became the major shopping district in San Diego, and competition meant that the best and shopping malls were all found in this area. A major competitior of Fashion Valley Mall is another one called the Westfield Mission Valley. All these places stock high end shops and brand name fashion labels. It has become a veritable Jerusalem of shopping.

I wonder what Father Junipero Serra would have thought about his Mission Valley today.

Cover Image Source



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