On July 20, 1769, Father Juan Crespi arrived in the area known today as the San Luis Rey Valley, which was populated by Native Americans. His glowing report of the area as a possible mission site was responsible for the founding of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in 1798. Three-and-a-half miles from the present site of Oceanside, the mission prospered beyond the dreams of its Franciscan Brothers and came to be known as “King of the Missions”. History and politics were to see the decline of the mission in the 1840′s, but the area’s advantages were common knowledge by this date.
The early California period was the time of massive Mexican land grants. On May 10, 1841, Pio Pico and his brother, Andreas, received a grant of 133,441 acres from Governor Alvarado. Known as Rancho Margarita and Las Flores, this land grant is the present site of the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. The rancho changed hands several times throughout the years. Andreas tired of the quiet life of a California Don sold his share to Pio for $1,000. Pio, in turn, sold his share to his brother-in-law John Forster, an Englishman, for only $14,000.
Forster died in 1882, and Richard O’Neill, a wealthy San Franciscan, purchased the rancho from the Forster estate for $250,000. O’Neill sold half interest in the rancho to the “Bonanza King of California,” James C. Flood. The heirs of O’Neill and Flood held the property until 1942, when it was sold to the United States Navy. About the time O’Neill and Flood purchased the rancho, the California Southern Railway, a branch of the Santa Fe, was constructing a railway linking San Diego with San Bernardino. Completed in 1883, the railway opened the beach area of San Diego County for development and the real history of Oceanside began.
A small town had grown up around the mission in the San Luis Rey Valley. A storekeeper there, Andrew Jackson Meyers, was far-sighted enough to apply for a homestead grant in the area just south of Rancho Santa Margarita. The Federal government granted “Jack” Meyers 160 acres and a former government surveyor, Cave J. Couts, staked-out the claim, which was to become the very heart of Oceanside.
Going to the “ocean side” was a popular weekend retreat for rancho families living in the warmer inland areas. The two words were eventually merged in to “Oceanside”. When Hayes petitioned for a post office, he submitted the name Oceanside and put the small community officially on the map. Early Oceanside grew at a phenomenal rate; on the date of the city’s incorporation July 3, 1888 the population of Oceanside was approximately 1,000. By 1887, the Bank of Oceanside and a grand hotel, the South Pacific, were built.
Oceanside suffered through the Great Depression of 1929 with the rest of the Nation. In spite of economic depression, considerable progress can be measured in the thirties. In 1934 a new city hall was built; City government had its first permanent home since incorporation. That same year, a two-year college was founded. The Depression, however, did nothing to stem population growth; Oceanside’s population grew from 3,508 in 1930 to 4,652 in 1940, according to U.S. Bureau of the Census figures.
World War II saw Oceanside grow from a sleepy little town to a modern city. With the construction of the nation’s largest Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, on her border, the demand for housing and municipal services exceeded supply. The population of Oceanside jumped from the 1940 figure of 4,652 to 12,888 in 1950. In 1952 a special census showed the city’s population exceeding 18,000 as the Marine Base grew with the Korean War and more service-connected families moved into the area.
The 1960′s saw the opening of Tri-City Hospital and the building of the Oceanside Small Craft Harbor. The harbor is a tourist destination and is well used with over 800 boat slips covering 100 acres. In addition to being the homeport of many pleasure boats, the marina harbors several sport fishing boats.
A new downtown transit center was built in 1983 and in September of 1987, the city dedicated its sixth pier, just in time for Oceanside’s Centennial Celebration in 1988. The following year the new Civic Center was constructed and became the cornerstone for downtown redevelopment.
Oceanside is located in northern San Diego County, approximately 35 miles north of San Diego and 83 miles south of Los Angeles. Together with Vista and Carlsbad, it makes up the Tri-City area. The City is just south of Camp Pendleton, the largest U.S. Marine Corps base in the world. The City encompasses approximately 41.6 square miles, of which 2.36% is water.
Oceanside´s economy has traditionally relied on tourism and the proximity of Camp Pendleton. The City, however, currently enjoys a diverse economic portfolio, and, in order to encourage new investment in the City, offers an incentive plan for new commercial, industrial and office construction, as well as having one of the lowest property tax rates in the county.
Not only does Oceanside boast a large sporting and recreational goods manufacturing sector, but also hosts multiple biotech and med-tech companies. San Diego County is a major agricultural producer, and the warm climate of Oceanside makes it ideal for the growing of tomatoes, avocados, citrus fruit, nursery stock, and flowers. The architecture of Oceanside is derived from the archaic styles of Spanish Missionaries. Nearly all of the buildings in Oceanside have arches, Spanish columns, and sometimes bell domes that are totally concealed (with no bells).
Today, Oceanside is a thriving community that provides all the conveniences of a modern city without the disadvantages. Located just 35 miles north of San Diego and 83 miles south of Los Angeles, Oceanside offers a unique combination of outstanding location, well-priced available land and multiple resources. California’s main highway, Interstate 5, runs through Oceanside, as does Highway 78, which provides southeast access to Interstate 15. Highway 76, which runs northeast, also provides access to Interstate 15. With the Los Angeles area to the north and the San Diego/Tijuana area to the south, Oceanside enjoys proximity to all major Southern California destinations, while at the same time maintaining its coastal beauty and autonomy.