This blog focuses on my travels to visit and learn more about California Historical Landmarks. My goal for 2013-2014 is to visit all the landmark sites in San Diego County, but I will also be investigating other landmarks around the state.
Unlike other marker-spotting sites, or other landmark lists, I will be also adding more contextual information to better appreciate the history of California through the different landmarks featured. Additionally, I will be providing information on how to visit landmark sites.
There are two main parts to a landmark site:
- Landmark plaque (or other monument or marker) – This provides a brief history of the site’s significance, the landmark’s number, and usually some information on when the landmark was designated and who installed the plaque. While most California Historical Landmarks have a plaque on site, some have been lost, removed, or put in storage. Most plaques conform to a standard state look, while some sites might have private markers.
- The site itself – Depending on the landmark, there might be a historic structure or set of structures that are being celebrated with the landmark designation. Or perhaps it is a part of the physical environment that became historically or culturally significant. Sometimes the marker is the only physical reminder of the history of a site, as the site itself has been lost to nature or re-use.
- Official list of California Historical Landmarks (from the California State Parks – Office of Historic Preservation), divided by County, then sorted by number. Each of California’s 58 counties has at least one registered historical landmark, and some have quite a few. For example, the list of San Diego’s landmarks are located on this page. The OHP also has a history of the program, which details how the first several hundred landmarks were designated without standardized criteria. The OHP also tracks other key designations: National Register of Historic Places, California Register, and California Points of Historical Interest (which is a sort of junior-grade landmark). Here’s the full list of all such designations for San Diego County.
- Landmarks Guidebook, published by California State Parks, from 1995. It is essentially the same as the list above, and again is organized first by county, then by landmark number. The back does have a list of all landmarks sorted by name, and a list sorted by number. Sadly it needs a real index. It does have basic maps of each county, though the landmarks are not plotted on the maps. Because it is nearly 20 years old, this printing does not contain landmarks registered more recently than No. 1020.
- Wikipedia also has a list of California Historical Landmarks, again divided by county, then by your choice of sorting criteria (number, name, location). (San Diego County’s page). One of the main features of this list is that many of the sites have geographic coordinates (latitude/longitude) for easier GPS navigation. It also has some photos for different sites.
A few other sites of individuals tracking down California Historical Landmarks:
- David Schmitt’s site: Landmarkquest.com – he’s visited over 750 landmarks, and maps them as well as photographs them!
- Donald Laird’s site (Donald had visited over 900 of the landmarks across the state, though the site has not been updated much in the past ten years)
- Thomas Brightbill’s landmarks site – He’s visited 91 landmarks, mostly in the Bay Area and Northern California)
- Konrad Summers has a collection of photo albums on flickr just for visits to landmarks.
- California Historical Landmarks fan page on Facebook.
- A Flickr group for posting California Registered Historical Landmarks
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.