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.