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Coronado, also known as Coronado Island, is an affluent resort city located in San Diego County, California, across San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego. Its population was 24,697 at the 2010 census, up from 24,100 at the 2000 census. Coronado lies on a peninsula connected to the mainland by a 10-mile (16 km) isthmus called the Silver Strand (locally, The Strand.) Locals sometimes call Coronado Nado or Coronado Island, and they denote the core living and business area as The Village. In May 2012, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research, ranked Coronado Beach as the best beach in the United States.
Coronado is Spanish for “the crowned one”, and thus it is nicknamed The Crown City. There have been three ships of the United States Navy named after the city, including the USS Coronado (LCS-4).
The town of Coronado was founded in 1885. The land was purchased by E.L Babcock, along with Hampton L. Story and Jacob Gruendike. Their intention was to create a resort community, and in 1886 the Coronado Beach Company was organized. By 1888 they had built the Hotel del Coronado and the city became a major resort destination. They also built a schoolhouse, and formed athletic, boating, and baseball clubs.
In 1900 a tourist/vacation area just south of the Hotel del Coronado was established by John D. Spreckels and named Tent City. Over the years the tents gave way to cottages, the last of which was torn down in late 1940 or early 1941.
In the 1910s, Coronado was connected to San Diego by the Class 1 streetcars and an extensive, accompanying San Diego public transit system that was spurred by the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and built by John D. Spreckels. These streetcars became a fixture of this city until their retirement in 1939.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.7 square miles (85 km2); 20.5 km² (7.9 mi²) of the city is land and 24.7 square miles (64 km2) of it (75.72%) is water.
Originally Coronado was separated from North Island by a shallow channel called the Spanish Bight. The development of North Island by the United States Navy prior to and during World War II led to the filling of the Bight in 1943, combining the land areas into a single body. The Navy still operates Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI or “North Island”) on Coronado. On the southern side of the town is Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, a training center for Navy SEALs and SWCC. Both facilities are part of the larger Naval Base Coronado complex.
On New Year’s Day 1937, during the Great Depression, the gambling ship SS Monte Carlo, known for “drinks, dice, and dolls,” was shipwrecked on the beach about a quarter mile south of the Hotel del Coronado.
In 1969, the San Diego-Coronado Bridge was opened, allowing much faster transit between the cities than bay ferries or driving via State Route 75 along the Silver Strand. The city is currently weighing the options of additional construction on Highway 75 to alleviate congestion as traffic flows to and from San Diego and North Island.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Coronado city had a population of 24,697. The racial makeup of Coronado city was 20,074 (81.2%) White, 1,678 (6.8%) African American, 201 (0.8%) Native American, 925 (3.7%) Asian, 101 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 762 (3.1%) from other races, and 956 (3.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3,354 persons (13.6%).
Tourism is an essential component of Coronado’s economy. This city is home to three major resorts (Hotel Del Coronado, Coronado Island Marriott and Loews Coronado Bay Resort) as well as several other hotels and inns. The downtown district along Orange Avenue with its many shops, restaurants and theaters is also a key part of the local economy. Many of the restaurants are highly rated and provide a wide variety of cuisine choices.
In 2008, The Travel Channel rated Coronado Beach as the fifth best beach in America.
Coronado is home to two live theatre companies – Lamb’s Players Theatre, San Diego’s 3rd largest theatre company, and the Coronado Playhouse. The latter being the oldest community theatre in San Diego County. It was first organized as the Coronado Players in February 1946. Both theatres present a variety of performances throughout the year.
Businesses based in Coronado include Benetrends and Cybernetics Leadership Center.
Coronado was featured in the 1960–1961 syndicated television series COronado 9, starring Rod Cameron as a private detective, Dan Adams, who operated from the San Diego area. COronado 9 refers to Adams’ telephone exchange.
The most popular annual event is the July 4 parade. Coronado Independence Day activities kick off with a 15k Run/Walk at dawn. The day includes a rough-water swim at North Beach, the famous two-hour parade along Orange Avenue, Art-in-the-Park, a concert in Spreckels Park, and culminates with spectacular fireworks over Glorietta Bay.
One of the most popular annual events in this city is the Coronado Flower Show, held usually on the third weekend in April. Since 1925 thousands of visitors have flocked here to see the largest flower show held under tents in the West. Exhibits are placed inside tents surrounding a central gazebo, which becomes the stage for continuous entertainment, announcements and trophy presentations.
Coronado Island Sports Fiesta is sponsored by the local Optimist Club every year. Held in July this sports festival features a combination of competitive races, dives, rough-water swim and other events. Also, the Superfrog Triathlon event is held each year in September.