The desolate peninsula lay almost forgotten under Spanish rule until the 1822 Mexican War of Independence brought it under Mexico's province. In 1846, four years before California reached statehood, Coronado was sold to an American settler for $1,000. The barren land again was forgotten, thought to be inhabited only by an unusually large jack rabbit population
In 1885 two Midwestern financiers, seeking relief from their ill health, relocated to San Diego. As part of their daily regimen Elisha Babcock and H. L. Storey often rowed across the bay to hunt jack rabbits. The two soon became enchanted with the abandoned island and devised a plan to build a one-of-a-kind resort. Amid great fanfare, construction began on the Hotel del Coronado in 1887. The grand hotel stands today as the island's premier landmark. Eleven months after construction began, "The Del" opened its doors to thousands who came from around the world to see the unusual, 5 story structure with its distinctive red roofs and luxurious interior. It was hailed as a cultural oasis in the untamed West.
When it was built, the hotel was the largest structure outside New York City to be electrically lighted. Historians say inventor Thomas Edison personally supervised the installation of The Del's lights. Since then the hotel has hosted numerous presidents, heads of state and celebrities, and often has been the backdrop for Hollywood movies. Perhaps The Del's most famous guest was the Prince of Wales in 1920. Sixteen years later, Edward abdicated his throne to marry Coronado socialite Wallis Simpson. The house she occupied with her Naval officer husband still stands in Coronado. Another noteworthy Coronado resident was author L. Frank Baum, who wrote the Wizard of Oz while living here. Baum also authored a poem entitled Coronado, the Ocean of Fairyland, published in 1905.
Coronado's economic mainstays are tourism and the military. It's the home of the North Island Naval Air Station, established in 1912, and the Naval Amphibious Base. In addition to providing aircraft carriers maintenance and a place to park, the NAS base serves as a hub for antisubmarine warfare operations. The NAB provides amphibious training for the Pacific Fleet. In 1927 Col. Charles Lindbergh took off from the North Island station on the first leg of his journey to St. Louis, New York, and Paris.
Coronado residents and visitors enjoy the best of two worlds. Its proximity to San Diego, only minutes away via a two- mile-long bridge, or by ferry allows participation in "big city" activities and amenities. But at the same time, Coronado is a world unto itself. It boasts a generous population, a thriving commercial center, and a year-round resort atmosphere that attracts guests from around the world.
Coronado is accessible from San Diego by ferry, the 2.3 mile long Coronado Bridge, or by the Silver Strand Boulevard.