San Diego Riverview exhibit at Serra Museum.

The history of human activity beside the life-giving San Diego River can be viewed from the outdoor terrace of the Junípero Serra Museum.

The museum’s scenic San Diego Riverview exhibit helps visitors visualize the where and when of various important developments in the area. Historical images from the San Diego History Center Photo Collection can be compared to present-day sights in nearby Mission Valley and beyond.

I walked up Presidio Hill today to check out this relatively new exhibit.

As I write this, I can still remember my first visit to the Junípero Serra Museum. The landmark building stands high atop Presidio Hill overlooking Old Town and the west end of Mission Valley. Revisit those old photographs here.

Years ago I also posted a blog about climbing Presidio Hill, where Europeans first settled in California. See that here. Since then I’ve walked around Presidio Park many times and have shared all sorts of photographs. You can find many of them by using this website’s search box.

A plaque by the outdoor terrace acknowledges those who helped with the Serra Museum’s recent restorations.

Look for several of these signs outside the Junípero Serra Museum.

Interstate 8 runs through Mission Valley just below Presidio Hill.

Historical photos and information await visitors at the northeast corner of the Serra Museum’s outdoor terrace.

If you peer to the west beyond some trees, you can see San Diego Bay, which explorer Cabrillo discovered for Spain in 1542.

Survey of the San Diego River and San Diego Bay, 1853.

The Native American Kumeyaay lived in a village called Cosoy at the base of Presidio Hill near the San Diego River.

Derby Dike was built in 1853 by Lt. George Derby of the Army Corps of Engineers. The dike altered the course of the San Diego River, which periodically flooded Old Town, into False Bay–now called Mission Bay.

To see a historical plaque which marks the approximate location of old Derby Dike, click here.

Believe it or not, dike engineer Lieutenant George Horatio Derby was also a humorist who inspired Mark Twain! His pen name was Squibob. You can still see where he lodged while working in San Diego. Read about that here!

Photo of rebuilt Derby Dike in 1931.

Mission Bay can be spied to the northwest. The natural marsh and tidelands were enlarged by dredging from 1949 through the 1960s.

By looking from the Serra Museum’s terrace beyond nearby trees, you can glimpse La Jolla’s Mount Soledad to the northwest.

Photo of Old Town bridge washed out in 1916 flood. Rainmaker Charles Hatfield was both credited and blamed for the 20 day downpour!

The San Diego River in Mission Valley has been a source of food and water for the Kumeyaay, Spanish, Mexicans and Americans over the years. Before its urban development, many dairy farms could be found in Mission Valley.

Photo of Mission Valley from 1915.

Display concerns efforts for environmental preservation, and the history Mission San Diego de Alcalá. In 1774 the Spanish mission moved 6 miles inland from its original 1769 location on Presidio Hill.

On a very clear day you can barely see the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east. That’s where the San Diego River begins.

Mission Valley’s development began in earnest in the 1950s, with the construction of Atlas Hotels and May Company Shopping Center. San Diego Stadium arrived in the 1960s.

Over the centuries, many people from diverse cultures have contributed to the history of this dynamic place. At the center of it all runs the San Diego River.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark and swing on by occasionally!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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