Los Angeles gets most of the attention, but for an increasing number of American families, San Diego is the true gem of southern California. As both a border town and a coastal city, San Diego is famous for its fusion of different cultures and lifestyles. It hosts everything from world-class whale watching and surfing to top-secret biotechnology research, and it’s home to students and soldiers alike. However, the dichotomy that truly defines modern-day San Diego is the one between its home country and the one it briefly belonged to.
The city has firm roots in both the United States and Mexico, sharing its southern border — as well as its metropolitan area — with Tijuana. Some international influences are more obvious than others, but it’s clear that the city’s identity belongs to more than one culture.
Keeping the recipes
33 million people visit San Diego every year, and from the moment they arrive, it should be obvious that they’re close to the edge of the United States. Spanish-style buildings dominate the historic streets, and thanks to a variety of authentic enchiladas, quesadillas and burritos, nothing feels more natural than a Mexican restaurant San Diego. But architecture and cuisine are just two examples of the city’s longtime relationship with the country it briefly belonged to.
Bridging the border
San Diego’s connection to Mexico isn’t merely metaphorical. Right now, plans are underway to construct a pedestrian bridge between San Diego and the biggest airport in Tijuana, in an effort to reduce congestion and make the customs process easier. The footbridge will require a toll, but it will also include bathrooms, bilingual staff, parking, patios, stores, and places to eat.
It represents the ultimate show of partnership between the two countries, less than two centuries after they fought over the very same land.
Remembering the history
The Mexican-American War permanently altered the fate — and borders — of the United States, but San Diego was impacted in a unique and lasting way. It started as California’s very first European settlement, and after Spain lost control of Mexico, it became a major port. Naturally, it was an attractive target for Americans, who spent months holding down the pueblo before the territory was eventually ceded.
San Diego made good on its early promise for those enterprising settlers. Brand new parks and revived landmarks are attracting more families than ever, while several major military bases share its coastline with cruise ship ports and whales. As the San Diego economy grows, so does its relationship with Mexico, proving that the cultural union will last well into the next century too.