|History of San Bernardino, California from Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia
San Bernardino, California was named in 1810. This article
relates to the present-day City of San Bernardino and its surrounding areas.
San Bernardino's earliest known inhabitants were Serrano
Indians (Spanish for "people of the mountains") who spent their winters
in the valley, and their summers in the cooler mountains. They were known
as the "Yuhaviatam" or People of the Pines. They have lived in the valley
since approximately 1000 B.C. They lived in small brush covered structures.
At the time the Spanish first visited the valley, approximately 1500 Serranos
inhabited the area. They lived in villages of ten to thirty structures
that the Spanish named rancherías.
Spanish Military Commander of California Pedro Fages probably
entered San Bernardino valley in 1772. Missionary priest Father Francisco
Garces entered the valley in 1774, as did the Anza Expedition, though not
in present-day San Bernardino.
The traditional (since there is a dispute as to the following
events) founding and naming of San Bernardino is that Padre Francisco Dumetz,
a Franciscan priest, made a trip from the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel
to the San Bernardino Valley on May 20, 1810, the feast day of Saint Bernardino
of Siena (San Bernardino in Spanish) during California's Mission Period.
In 1819, the San Gabriel Mission created an Estancia at
an Indian rancheria called Guachama, the site of which is in modern-day
Redlands, California, and Rancho San Bernardino. A group of adobe buildings
were constructed around 1830. A ditch, called a zanja, from Mill Creek
to site was dug by local Indians for the Franciscans. The site was closed
when Governor Figueroa closed down the mission system in 1834. The site
would later be known as "Old San Bernardino." Today, the site is known
as the (historically inaccurate) San Bernardino Asistencia.
Jedediah Strong Smith entered the valley with 15 trappers
in late November 1826 on the way to Mission San Gabriel.
Kit Carson and a group of trappers went through the Cajon
Pass in 1830. The Cajon Pass was used by many early explorers, settlers,
and traders going to places further West.
The Rancho Period
After the Mission system was dismantled by the Mexican
government, several prominent Southern Californians attempted to acquire
Rancho San Bernardino. In 1837, Antonia Pico and Andres Pico made an application
for the land, but it was rejected. Ygnacio Palomares, applied for the right
to graze cattle in the eastern San Bernardino Valley. Governor Juan Bautista
Alvarado rejected the application. Instead, the governor approved a settlement
plan by Don Antonio Maria Lugo. Lugo's proposal was to colonize the San
Bernardino area,listing 27 prospective settlers.
In 1839, the Lugo's colonization permit was granted for
18 leagues of land. In the same year, the Lugo Family built an adobe house
where the current county courthouse sits today.
The plan for colonization was not successful. In 1841,
Don Lugo prepared another petition. This time, it requested a land grant
in the name of three of his sons, José del Carmen Lugo, José
Maria Lugo, Vicente Lugo, and José del Carmen's friend, Diego Sepulveda.
On June 21, 1842, Rancho San Bernardino was granted to
Don Antonio Maria Lugo, his sons and his nephews, who grazed approximately
4000-6000 cattle in the area. The grant included a large part of the San
Bernardino valley, 37,700 acres (153 km²) in all. Lugo's adobe would
later become Amasa M. Lyman's house. His brother repaired the Estancia
and lived there.
In 1843, Michael White (also known in Spanish as Miguel
Blanco), a Mexican citizen of English origin, was granted the Muscupiabe
Rancho, named after the Serrano village Amuscupiabit, "Place of little
pines." Michael White built a house overlooking the Cajon Pass, but Native
Americans from the desert stole his grazing stock, and he abandoned the
Rancho after nine months.
Mormon San Bernardino
|In 1847, during the Mexican-American
War, the Mormon Battalion of the U.S. Army, led by Captain Jefferson Hunt
was sent to guard the Cajon Pass. The story of the Battalion started in
Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 10, 1846 and arrived in San Diego on January
29, 1847. Company C was dispatched to guard the Cajon Pass. On furloughs,
Captain Hunt and others worked for Rancho de Chino owner Isaac Julian Williams.
After the War, the Battalion mainly went back to Utah.
Mormon Leader Brigham Young saw Southern California as
a supply source for the salt flats of Utah, and as an immigration and mail
stop between Salt Lake City and San Pedro, California. A group of almost
500 Mormons left Utah for California in 1851. They found abundant water
in the valley, along with willows, sycamores, cottonwood and mustard, as
well as the Yucca plant. The Mormon contingent was led by Captain David
Seely (later first Stake President), Captain Jefferson Hunt and Captain
Andrew Lytle, and included Apostles Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich.
They first made camp at the Sycamore Grove, about 1.5 miles southeast of
the present Glen Helen Regional Park. They stayed until the sale of the
San Bernardino Rancho could be arranged.
Drawing of San Bernardino, 1852
In September 1851, Don Lugo sold the Rancho to members
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The Rancho
included most of modern San Bernardino among other areas, though part of
the northern areas of the City were part of Rancho Muscupiabe. The price
for 40,000 acres (162 km²) was $77,000 with $7,000 down.
The Mormons built Fort San Bernardino at the site of the
present county courthouse. Inside the fort, they had small stores, and
outside, they grew wheat and other crops. They later moved outside the
walls of the fort when feared-attacks did not materialize. The Mormon Council
House was built in 1852. It was used as the post office, school, church,
and was the county courthouse from 1854 to 1858.
(later "B" Street, then Mountain View Avenue; Crafton Street(later
"C" Street, then Arrowhead Avenue; Utah Street (later "D" Street); Salt
Lake Street (later "E" Street); California Street (later "F" Street); Independence
Street (later "G" Street"); Nauvoo Street (later "H" Street); and Far West
Street; (later "I" Street). The Mormons also built a road in 1853 to Los
Angeles The Mormons were also responsible for the school system, creating
Warm Springs, a school still in use today, as well as a school at the present
site of Pioneer Park.
April 1865 sketch of the ruins of
the Mormon Elders' residence,
occupied from 1848 until 1857,
when the Utah War forced an
exodus from the Mormon colony.
|On November 7, 1852, Colonel Henry
Washington, deputy surveyor (by contract with the United States Surveyor
General for California) surveyed the San Bernardino Base Line and Meridian
from a point just west of Mount San Bernardino, at an elevation of 10,300
feet, east of present day Highland. The Base and Meridian lines serve as
the initial surveying point (known as the point of beginning) for all of
San Bernardino County was formed from Los Angeles County
in 1853 based on Assemblyman Jefferson Hunt's bill. Captain Hunt was a
leader of the Mormon expedition.
In 1853, The Mormons laid out the current street grid
system, one mile square, which is based upon the grid layout of Salt Lake
City. Each block was eight acres. The plan was laid out by Henry G. Sherwood,
and assisted by Fred T. Perris. The east west streets were numbered, from
First Street to Ninth Street. The north-south streets were named Kirtland
Street (later "A" street, then Sierra Way); Camel Street
The City of San Bernardino was first incorporated on April
1, 1854. Mormon Apostle Amasa M. Lyman (who was later excommunicated) was
the City's first Mayor. Apostle Charles Coulson Rich became the second
Mayor. At incorporation, there were approximately 1,200 residents, 900
of them Mormons. They dominated local politics and forbade drinking and
Mormons created the first timber road to the mountains,
and a flour mill (on Mill Street). In 1855, they diverted water from Waterman
Canyon to Town Creek by means of a flume.
The Mormons created a temple block (but never a temple)
in the center of the newly-laid out town between present-day 5th, 6th,
E, and F Streets. They created a "Public Square," in which they celebrated
the 4th of July. Later, after the Mormons returned to Utah, part of the
land went to the Catholic Church, and part went to Dr. and Mrs. Quinn.
In 1873, Bishop Amat, the Bishop of the Los Angeles and Monterrey Diocese,
granted the northern part of the block to the City. It was later called
"City Park," then "Lugo Park" until 1915, when it was renamed Pioneer Park,
which it is still called today. A Pavilion, a log cabin, and the Municipal
Auditorium (erected in 1921 to honor the dead of World War I were all built
in the park, though the Pavilion and log cabin burnt down, and the Auditorium
was torn down in 1979. The Norman F. Feldheym Library was built on the
site in 1985. The park also contains two Civil War cannons.
The Mormons named the Arrowhead, California, a natural
rock formation above Arrowhead Springs, the "Ace of Spades." On a clear
day, the Arrowhead can be seen from downtown San Bernardino.
A small Jewish community formed in Mormon San Bernardino,
including Lewis Jacobs and Marcus Katz in 1852. Lewis Jacobs was a miner
and a peddler. He co-owned a mountain sawmill, started the original Bank
of San Bernardino, and helped establish the Home of Eternity Cemetery.
Services began in the 1850s, but Congregation Emanuel, still active today,
was not officially chartered until 1891, and its first structure was built
in 1921. The Home of Eternity Cemetery was given by the Mormons to the
Jews. It is the oldest Jewish cemetery in continuous use in Southern California.
Marcus Katz was a merchant and civic leader and the name-sake of the four
story Katz Building (built in the 1890s) at Third and "E" Streets. He died
The Mormons were recalled by President Brigham Young back
to Salt Lake City in 1857. The reason for the failure of the community
cannot be found in just one underlying cause: there was the anti-Mormon
persecution (mostly apostatized members), the short-lived Utah War, the
recall of the two Apostles-Lyman and Rich, but mostly it was the weakness/inexperience
of the mostly new member congregation of the young church to remain strong
among so many nonbelievers. So, Pres. Young called them home to Utah where
they could learn and mature. (Joseph Wood, "The Mormon Church in San Bernardino:
1851-1857," Thesis, University of Utah,1967)
Another possible explanation for the recall was Young's
fear of a rival settlement to Salt Lake in a better location with a better
climate with greater agricultural possibilities. Many Mormon migrants were
expecting to go to California from the beginning. 2. Young was probably
headed there all along as demonstrated by a vanguard shipload of Mormons
organized by Samuel Brannan who had already arrived in San Francisco from
New York and were waiting for the main party there. The Mormon Battalion
was also there, at the expense of the US Government to which Young had
offered the manpower as a way of getting them to California. Brannan met
Young in Utah and tried to convince him to keep going. Young ignored his
advice and stopped at Salt Lake before himself returning east for the winter.
Brannan returned to San Francisco. Young was later interested in California
as a source of resupply and of tithing income from Mormon gold diggers.
He was not happy with the large response in Utah to the Lyman and Rich
call for San Bernardino. He was wary of Lyman and Rich's independence and
feared a mass migration from Utah to California. At one point sentries
were placed around settlements and along the trails to prevent Mormons
from leaving Utah at the risk of being shot. Young, who had authorized
the venture, undermined the San Bernardino operation almost from the beginning
and guaranteed its failure and the financial loss of the investors by calling
them back just before the mortgage was paid off, depressing the value of
the real estate as they all rushed to sell. Many who had already made great
sacrifices for the Church were wiped out again by Young's far from benign
actions. Many were forced to sell their property at a fraction of their
Though some of the Mormons remained, mainline Latter Day
Saint structures were not reestablish until the 1920s. The remaining residents
lacked organization and resources to compensate for the mass departure
of the predominant Mormon population, which devastated the local economy.
The City disincorporated. Among the people remaining was Celia Mounts Hunt,
Captain Hunt's wife. She died on January 28, 1897 and is buried in Pioneer
In 1857, three orange trees were planted in Old San Bernardino.
They were not the Washington Navel Orange that would later achieve great
fame; they came in 1873 from Brazil to Riverside, California, then a part
of San Bernardino County.
The City continued to develop in the Mormon's absence,
largely as a commercial center. Dr. Ben Barton arrived in 1858, erecting
an adobe drugstore/office at 4th and "C" (now Arrowhead Avenue) Street.
Barton also became postmaster, County Superintendent of Schools, and purchased
the Estancia which is today on Barton Road in Redlands, and moved there
with his family. He died in 1899.
The 1860s and 1870s
|California remained in the Union during the
Civil War, however, there were many Confederate sympathizers in the area.
A brief skirmish between Unionists and Confederate sympathizers erupted
in the mountains.
The stagecoaches of Phineas Banning had a stop in downtown
San Bernardino during the 1860s.
Gold was discovered by William Francis "Bill" Holcomb
in the Holcomb and Bear Valleys in 1862. The boom-town of Belleville briefly
threatened to take the county seat away from San Bernardino. San Bernardino
won by one vote.
San Bernardino, 1865
|In 1862, a flood largely destroyed the earlier
settlement of Agua Mansa, settled in the 1830s by New Mexicans in present
day Colton. The Catholic Church there was rebuilt in downtown San Bernardino
in 1865. That wooden church burnt down in 1878 and another was built. The
present church, at the corner of Fifth Street and "F" was built in 1910.
The flood caused severe damage along the Santa Ana River's tributaries,
particularly Lytle Creek. Topsoil was washed away.
Arrowhead Hot Springs, San Bernardino, CA, 1908
In 1864, "Dr." David Noble Smith established a "treatment
house" at the Arrowhead hot springs. By 1868, it had been enlarged to create
a hotel. In 1885, he leased the property to Darby and Lyman of Los Angeles.
Three days after Smith's death on March 17, 1885, the hotel burnt down.
Darby and Lyman incorporated the Arrowhead Hot Springs Company, and rebuilt
a new hotel in 1886 for $150,000. After it was expanded to 120 rooms it
was the largest hotel in the San Bernardino area until it, too, burnt down
on July 4, 1895. The third hotel was built by Seth Marshall in 1905. In
1930, it was purchased by a consortium of Hollywood types. In the days
before air travel, it was marketed to Hollywood stars like Loretta Young,
Mary Pickford, Spencer Tracy, and Humphrey Bogart. A forest fire destroyed
the third hotel in November 1938. The present structure (the fourth hotel)
opened in December 1939 at a cost of $1.5 million. This time, the hotel
was six stories, and the grand opening featured Judy Garland, Al Jolson,
and Rudy Vallee. However, World War II caused the hotel to be taken over
as naval hospital in 1944. After the war, Elizabeth Taylor spent her honeymoon
with Conrad Hilton on the sixth floor. The hotel was purchased by Campus
Crusade for Christ in 1962. It was used as world headquarters until 1991.
It was operated as a Christian Conference Center in 1999. The City of San
Bernardino is trying to annex the property into the City as part of a private
development and redevelopment of Arrowhead Springs. In 1894, Arrowhead
Brand Mountain Spring Water began to be pumped from near the site, as it
is today. However, Arrowhead Brand Water also comes from "natural mountain
sources in the United States and Canada" since it was purchased by Nestle
Waters North America, Inc.
By the 1870s, the City had several large stores and two hotels.
The first permanent
|A young Wyatt Earp and his family
traveled to San Bernardino by wagon train, arriving in 1864. Virgil Earp
later settled in Colton, California, where he became town marshal. Late
in life, in the 1920s, Wyatt became a ceremonial San Bernardino County
In 1866, militia forces from San Bernardino killed Serrano
men, women, and children in a 32-day campaign. Yuhaviatam tribal leader
Santos Manuel (from whom the name "San Manuel comes)led the remaining Yuhaviatam
from the mountains to valley floor.
In August of 1867, the first Chinese immigrants arrived
in San Bernardino. By 1870, there were 16 young males, including Ah Wing
and Jim Kang. They were laundry men, cooks, and houseboys, according to
the Census. During a state-wide depression in 1875, San Bernardino's Caucasian
residents criticized the Chinese for depressing wage rates. The Chinese
were forced to move in 1878 to a Chinatown on Third Street between what
is now Arrowhead Avenue and Sierra Way. By the late 1890s, San Bernardino's
Chinatown had between 400-600 residents. Many of its residents worked in
produce, with farms in what would become the Base Line Gardens tract east
of Waterman Avenue. By the mid 1920s, Chinatown was largely abandoned.
It became the site for Caltrans. When the Caltrans buildings were torn-down,
several Chinese artifacts were found. The site is being prepared for a
parking lot, and is slated to eventually become a new central court building.
Though the first orange trees were planted in the county
in 1857, in 1873 the first Washington Navel Orange tree was planted in
Riverside, then a part of San Bernardino County. The area, like many others
in Southern California, became associated with oranges. An orange still
graces the city seal today, and represents all agriculture in the City.
In 1874, the County established the first permanent courthouse
built for that purpose, a two-story structure.
Rail Wars, Rise to Local Prominence
|In 1873, The Southern Pacific Railroad
(SP) wanted to lay its tracks in San Bernardino, however, the City and
the Railroad could not come to terms, so the SP founded Colton, California
and put its tracks south of San Bernardino. The city's first railroad was
the California Southern, which was built into San Bernardino in 1883. The
California Southern was a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa
Fe Railroad, and was later incorporated into that system. The original
California Southern depot was constructed in 1883 and destroyed by fire
in 1916; it was replaced by the current Moorish-style station in 1918.
The San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad began
serving San Bernardino in 1905, arriving via Santa Fe trackage rights over
Cajon Pass. This railroad, soon renamed the Los Angeles and Salt Lake,
(LA&SL) used as its corporate logo an adaptation of the famous "arrowhead"
natural feature located north of the city. The LA&SL was fully acquired
by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1921.
San Bernardino, 1895
The City thrived as a center of commerce for local agricultural
areas, including the vast orange groves of the area. In 1882, even before
Los Angeles, the Opera House opened at the end of Court Street on "D" Street.
It was a two-story, red brick building. It featured both light and grand
opera, plays, musicians, and touring performances by such people as by
Maude Adams, Lillian Russell, Al Jolson, and Sarah Bernhardt. It seated
between 1,200 and 1,400. After it was remodeled in 1912, it began to show
motion pictures as well. The Opera House was torn down in 1927 to extend
Court Street to the 1927 Courthouse on Arrowhead Avenue.
In May 1886, the City of San Bernardino reincorporated as
a city 5th class (a distinction that is no longer observed by California
The second permanent courthouse, 1910
|A political war regarding the construction
of a new county courthouse in the early 1890s on Court Street, as well
as various attempts to move the county seat, caused the County and City
of Riverside to split off from San Bernardino County. The courthouse was
built on the corner of Court and "E" Street in 1892, replacing the 1874
courthouse. The Courthouse would be demolished in 1928 after building the
current courthouse in 1927 along the extended court street at 351 North
San Bernardino developed a thriving red light district
on "D" Street in downtown, until it was closed in 1941 at the behest of
the War Department. It is said that the building north of the corner of
"D" Street and Court Street, built of brick in the 1880s and known as the
"Wixom Block" was the site of one such brothel; tiny windows are located
at the top as lookouts. The corner of 3rd and D Streets was known as "Whiskey
Point" with a saloon on every corner.
A Chinatown developed on Third Street east of Arrowhead
Avenue, and survived until the 1920s. Its inhabitants grew vegetables which
In the 1891, pursuant to the congressional Act for Relief
for Mission Indians, the San Manuel Indian Reservation was established.
The reservation was and is located in the San Bernardino foothills, originally
on 657 acres (2.7 km²) of steep foothills to the top of Mount McKinley.
The land was not suitable for agriculture and the San Manuels lived in
poverty until the opening of Indian Bingo in 1986, and the later casino
and water bottling plant in the 1990s and 2000s. The reservation has expanded
by federalization of land purchased by or on behalf of the tribe to just
over 800 acres (3.2 km²) today.
The dawn of the 20th Century
By the turn of the century, there were 6,150 residents
in the City of San Bernardino.
By San Bernardino's "Centennial" in 1910, the population
had grown to 12,779.
The National Orange Show was first held in March 1911
in a tent at Fourth and E Streets and later moved to permanent quarters
on Mill and E Streets. Residents often refer to the "Orange Show Curse",
because at least one unusually rainy day happens during every Orange Show.
The City continued to expand generally North and west
of Downtown. By the 1920s, tracts were built north of Highland Avenue and
along Valencia Avenue.
The Pacific Electric Railway reached San Bernardino in
the 1910s, which allowed residents to easily travel to Los Angeles and
The Depression and the Dust Bowl caused a wave of migrants
from Oklahoma and Arkansas to arrive in San Bernardino to work the fields
in and around the City.
Another flood in 1938 caused severe damage.
San Bernardino, California, city and village, 1909
Click Photo to Enlarge
Redevelopment and decline
|World War II and its aftermath
World War II brought an Army Air Corps base later named
after Leland Francis Norton, a local man who died in the war. Camp Ono
was an Army base to the west of the Shandin Hills.
Post-war prosperity, coupled with continued railroad jobs,
civilian and military jobs at Norton, and at Kaiser Steel in Fontana, resulted
in vast housing tracts being built in the City's North central and Del
Rosa areas. At the same time, the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San
Bernardino was formed in 1952 to deal with the Meadowbrook neighborhood
south-east of downtown San Bernardino, Ca.
Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad yard,
San Bernardino, California, 1943
During the 60s, the Inland Center Mall opened, drawing
business away from downtown. Interstate 15 (now I-215) bifurcated the town
in a way the railroad had not. Because of the railroad right-of-way, motorists
could only exit west with great difficulty. Mount Vernon Avenue, which
had flourished as part of the interstate Route 66, started to decay.
Urban renewal in the sixties caused the once center of
town, Third Street to be gutted and replaced with the Central City Mall.
Harris Company, which had opened in 1905, and opened a grand building in
1927 was one anchor, J.C. Penney’s and Montgomery Wards were the two other
Mayor Al Ballard made headlines when he equipped city
fire trucks with shotguns in response to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles,
in which shots were fired at fire trucks extinguishing flames.
California State University, San Bernardino opened in
1965. According to former mayor Bob Holcomb, the city getting the CSU campus
was a concrete outcome of a successful fight with the Metropolitan Water
District (MWD), of which San Bernardino was a founding member. It withdrew
in the 1940s after plans to route the Colorado River Aqueduct through the
Cajon Pass were changed to route the aqueduct through the San Gorgonio
Pass in Riverside County, and was subsequently successfully sued by Orange
County over the amount of water it was using. After convincing the city
that it had enough groundwater to resist political pressure to rejoin the
MWD, Holcomb was appointed chairman of the waterboard in 1949, and Seccomb
Lake was unplugged to prove that San Bernardino had enough groundwater
to sustain further growth. As Hobcolmb said in a 2002 interview,
"...As it got closer and closer to
select a site for the college, the city wasn't even going to... try, and
the Chamber of Commerce, I went to the Chamber of Commerce and asked them
to, you know, for a committee and let's get a college in San Bernardino...
They still said we don't have the water, you know, and this was after the
city had voted down MWD... I said, 'You have plenty of water.' No, so anyway,
my job, I formed my own committee to bring the state college. My primary
job was to convince the state that we had the water and get the water problem
off the agenda so that it wouldn't shoot us down like everyone thought
it would. ...We... got the three or four large land owners controlled all
the land out there... to agree on a very reasonable price for their land
and I got options from them that they would sell, you know, if the state
selected San Bernardino. Got the city to lay out the road system and to
engineer the sewer system and engineer the water system and then so all
this was- and then they did all the testing that you'd normally for a developing
of university- like soil tests. We had all those things done and we had
a private engineering firm do a lot of work that would be normally done
by the state. The board of trustees was meeting, I think was up in San
Jose to, and that would be one of the items on the agenda was to select
a site. So, I went up to the meeting. ...And I said, 'One thing, we have
plenty of water. We can give you all the water you need.' I... showed them
how the water thing was okay... And so the rest of it was slam dunk...
The president of the state- the state college boards was an architect by
the name of, I think, Charles Leckmen... He says, ...there's no competition.
San Bernardino is so far a head of all the other sites that, that we don't
have to worry about how much it's going to cost, we don't have to worry
about where the roads are going to go, and so they voted that day to put
it here- San Bernardino."
In the 70s, Hospitality Lane was first developed in the
southern extreme of San Bernardino south of the Santa Ana River, north
of the 10 freeway. This put additional pressure on downtown, a factor that
continues to today, but allows San Bernardino to compete regionally for
office space and tax dollars.
In 1977, the City was named an "All-America" City.
The Hampshire flood took out forty homes in January 1980.
In November 1980, the Panorama fire devastated the City's northern hills;
in 2003 the Old Fire caused even more damage spanning from the eastern
to the western borders. The San Bernardino train disaster occurred in 1989
when a train derailed on Duffy Street, followed a few days later by an
explosion on a nearby pipe.
Steve Wozniak, the co-creator of Apple Computer, held
the US Festival at the Glen Helen Regional Park (in Devore) in 1982, and
then again in 1983. The County of San Bernardino would later build the
Blockbuster Pavilion (today, the Hyundai Pavilion) at this site.
Norton Air Force Base officially closed in 1994, an event
which caused the loss of 10,000 military and civilian jobs. Coupled with
the recession of the early 1990s, the closing of Kaiser Steel in 1985,
and Santa Fe Railroad's relocation of jobs to Topeka caused San Bernardino's
economy to slide. Civic pride was further wounded when gangs pushed by
LAPD suppression in Los Angeles relocated to San Bernardino. The early
1990s saw San Bernardino's crime rate increase as middle class, especially
those employed at the large employers or in support of their workers, moved
The late 1990s to the early 2000s saw a slight upturn
in fortune for San Bernardino. The City built a minor league ballpark south
of downtown. Arrowhead Credit Union became a regional credit union banking
leader and intended to build its new headquarters in the City. Stater Bros.
Markets, a Fortune 1000 supermarket, began construction mid 2006 on a large
scale distribution plant to replace the existing Grand Terrace location.
Hillwood Corporation helped bring large warehouses, including those of
Mattel, and Pep Boys, to the former base and its environs. The Hub project,
an extension of Hospitality Lane, opened in 2004 and 2005. Live touring
theater returned to the California Theater. Though outside the City and
owned by the County, The Blockbuster (later Hyundai, now Glen Helen) Pavilion
brought national touring acts to San Bernardino.
Judge Patrick J. Morris defeated City Attorney James F.
Penman in a run-off for Mayor in early 2006. Judge Morris instituted a
program called "Operation Phoenix" covering a twenty-block area of central
city. The program was intended to prevent crime in a high-crime area using
suppression and social services.
In June, 2006, the City Council defeated a measure to
fly a large flag purchased after 9/11 on certain legal holidays on City
Hall by a vote of 4-3. The measure had failed on a 3-3 tie (with one councilmember
absent) in May, 2006. The City continues to fly two regular flags in front
of and on top of City Hall.
An initiative circulated by Save Our State leader Joseph
Turner regarding that illegal immigration was sent to the electorate. According
to the impartial analysis prepared by the City Attorney's Office, much
of the initiative, even if passed, would have probably been ruled unconstitutional
or would have been preempted by federal or state law. Later, Superior Court
Judge A. Rex Victor disqualified the measure from the ballot after the
City filed a declaratory relief action based on a challenge by local attorney
Florentino ("Tino") Garza. The court ruled that Turner had not gathered
enough signatures to qualify the measure. Turner, acting on the advice
of City Clerk Rachel Clark-Mendoza, had based the number on the 2001 mayoral
election (in which Judith Valles ran unopposed), instead of the 2005 mayoral
election (which was contested). After the defeat, Turner vowed to bring
a new, harsher measure to the ballot, and he mounted an ultimately unsuccessful
campaign to replace Clark-Mendoza, herself, as City Clerk by arguing that
her alleged incompetence and/or corruption resulted in: uncollected tax
revenues; unlicensed home rentals; and, absentee landlords that were lowering
property values across the entire city.
Historical San Bernardino Today
Vestiges of historical San Bernardino still exist today,
though much has been demolished either through natural progress of smaller
buildings giving way to larger buildings, through urban redevelopment and
renewal, through natural disasters, through code enforcement demolitions,
or through arson. Casualties include the California Hotel (built in the
1920s, demolished for a parking lot in the 1980s); the Stewart Hotel (burnt
in the 1890s, rebuilt, burnt on Thanksgiving Day 1935); the Platt Building
(torn down in the 1990s for the new State Building (aka the "Super Block");
Third Street (the commercial center of town, torn down in the 1960s for
the Central City (later Carousel) Mall, the Carnegie Library; Remaining
historical buildings include Pioneer Cemetery at Seventh and Sierra Way,
the Harris' Company building (built in 1927); the central courthouse (built
in 1926, and currently being seismically retrofitted); the Pioneer building
(modeled after the City Hall of Seville Spain), Superior Court Judge George
E. Otis' house (a Queen Anne Victorian house moved to the "carriage corner"
of 8th and "D" Street); the Arrowhead Springs Hotel (the fourth structure,
built in 1939) and former vaudeville/movie palace California Theater on
Third Street. The San Bernardino County Museum has historical exhibits,
including a model of Fort San Bernardino. The house where the McDonald's
brothers lived while creating their first burger restaurant still sits
on the hilltop on Beverly Drive.