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What San Diego looked like in the late 1970s

At the beginning of the 1970s, the population of San Diego was around 696,769. The city was thriving and growing rapidly. Republicans had chosen San Diego to host the 1972 Republican National Convention; then, they announced plans to move it to Miami Beach at the last minute. Mayor Pete Wilson declared San Diego “America’s Finest City” after losing the convention. The San Diego College for Women and the nearby San Diego College for Men merged in 1972 to form the University of San Diego.

After the Vietnam War ended, the Marine Corps opened Camp Pendleton Refugee Camp to care for thousands of South Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. The City of San Diego adopted a tiered growth management categorization system in 1979, which classified the entire city as “Urbanized, Planned Urbanizing, or Future Urbanizing” as part of its ‘Progress Guide and General Plan. By adopting this policy, suburban sprawl northward to North County was initiated, and south bay sprawl began in Otay Mesa from San Ysidro.

Here are some stunning vintage photos that show San Diego in the 1970s by John Margolies.

#1 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

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#2 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

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#3 Storybook Land Golf, Egyptian obelisk, San Diego.

Storybook Land Golf, Egyptian obelisk, San Diego.

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#4 Castle hole, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego.

Castle hole, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego.

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#5 Campus Drive-In, San Diego, 1979

Campus Drive-In, San Diego, 1979

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#6 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

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#7 Barber pole, San Diego, 1979

Barber pole, San Diego, 1979

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#8 Eiffel Tower, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, 1978

Eiffel Tower, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, 1978

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#9 Wheel align sign, San Diego, 1979

Wheel align sign, San Diego, 1979

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#10 Campus Drive-In, San Diego, 1978

Campus Drive-In, San Diego, 1978

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#11 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

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#12 Golden Eagle gas pump, San Diego, 1977

Golden Eagle gas pump, San Diego, 1977

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#13 I.O.O.F. Building, Market Street, San Diego.

I.O.O.F. Building, Market Street, San Diego.

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#14 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

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#15 Tower Restaurant, angle 1, University Avenue and Reno Drive, San Diego, 1979

Tower Restaurant, angle 1, University Avenue and Reno Drive, San Diego, 1979

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#16 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, 1979

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#17 Barber-Levy Shop, San Diego, 1979

Barber-Levy Shop, San Diego, 1979

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#18 Palisade Garden Roller Skating, San Diego, 1978

Palisade Garden Roller Skating, San Diego, 1978

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#19 Campus Drive-In, San Diego, 1977

Campus Drive-In, San Diego, 1977

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#20 Bitter End, 5th Avenue, San Diego.

Bitter End, 5th Avenue, San Diego.

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#21 Gavett Studios, 5512 Adams Avenue, San Diego, 1977

Gavett Studios, 5512 Adams Avenue, San Diego, 1977

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#22 House, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego.

House, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego.

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#23 Golden Eagle gas pumps, 8th & Market Streets, San Diego, 1977

Golden Eagle gas pumps, 8th & Market Streets, San Diego, 1977

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#24 Palisade Garden Roller Skating, San Diego, 1978

Palisade Garden Roller Skating, San Diego, 1978

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#25 Government building, San Diego, 1977

Government building, San Diego, 1977

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#26 Cole Block (1891), angle 2, San Diego.

Cole Block (1891), angle 2, San Diego.

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#27 Palisade Garden Roller Skating, San Diego, California, 1978

Palisade Garden Roller Skating, San Diego, California, 1978

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#28 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, California, 1979

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, California, 1979

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#29 Orchid Beauty Shop, 3586 Adams Avenue, San Diego.

Orchid Beauty Shop, 3586 Adams Avenue, San Diego.

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#30 George J. Keating Building (1890), 5th & F Streets, San Diego, California.

George J. Keating Building (1890), 5th & F Streets, San Diego, California.

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#31 Sombrero Taco Shop, San Diego, California, 1977

Sombrero Taco Shop, San Diego, California, 1977

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#32 The Tower Bowl, overall-angle view, Broadway near Kettner, San Diego, California, 1977

The Tower Bowl, overall-angle view, Broadway near Kettner, San Diego, California, 1977

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#33 Egyptian Garage, San Diego, California, 1976

Egyptian Garage, San Diego, California, 1976

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#34 Sombrero Taco Shop, San Diego, California

Sombrero Taco Shop, San Diego, California

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#35 Cole Block (1891), angle 1, San Diego, California

Cole Block (1891), angle 1, San Diego, California

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#36 Barber-Levy Shop, El Cajon Road, San Diego, California

Barber-Levy Shop, El Cajon Road, San Diego, California

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#37 Sombrero Taco Shop, San Diego, California, 1978

Sombrero Taco Shop, San Diego, California, 1978

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#38 Campus Drive-In Theater, closer view with neon, El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, California, 1979

Campus Drive-In Theater, closer view with neon, El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, California, 1979

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#39 Balboa Theater, San Diego, California, 1979

Balboa Theater, San Diego, California, 1979

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#40 Trading post, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, California.

Trading post, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, California.

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#41 Balboa Theater, San Diego, California.

Balboa Theater, San Diego, California.

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#42 Castle hole, view 2, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, California.

Castle hole, view 2, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, California.

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#43 Tower Restaurant, angle 2, University Avenue and Rene Drive, San Diego, California, 1979

Tower Restaurant, angle 2, University Avenue and Rene Drive, San Diego, California, 1979

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#44 Golden Eagle Gas, San Diego, California, 1977

Golden Eagle Gas, San Diego, California, 1977

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#45 Texaco Gas sign, San Diego, California, 1979

Texaco Gas sign, San Diego, California, 1979

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#46 Entrance, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, California.

Entrance, Storybook Land Golf, Clairmont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, California.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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