The Plaza de las Armas, also known as the “Washington Square,” is a significant historical site located within the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park in San Diego, California. It played a central role in the early development and history of San Diego. Here’s a brief overview of its history:
Spanish Settlement: The area where the Plaza de las Armas now stands was settled by the Spanish in 1769. It was chosen as the site for the first permanent European settlement in what is now California. The Spanish established a presidio (fort) nearby, which served as a military outpost.
Mexican Era: After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, San Diego became a part of Mexico. The plaza continued to serve as the center of the community’s social and civic life.
American Influence: In 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico, leading to the Mexican-American War. As a result of the war, California became a territory of the United States in 1848. The plaza, renamed Washington Square, began to experience changes influenced by American settlers.
Decline and Neglect: By the late 19th century, Old Town San Diego saw a decline in its prominence as the city began to develop further south. The Plaza fell into neglect and disrepair, and many of the original buildings in the area were lost or demolished.
Restoration: In the early 20th century, preservation efforts began to restore and revive the historic importance of Old Town San Diego. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) initiated restoration work in the 1930s, which included reconstructing several of the historic buildings, including the Casa de Estudillo.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park: In 1968, the State of California designated Old Town San Diego as a State Historic Park. The Plaza’s original name was brought back into use, reflecting its earlier role as a typical Spanish plaza. Today, the plaza and its surrounding buildings are part of the park, offering visitors a glimpse into San Diego’s early history.
The Plaza de las Armas serves as a gathering place for various cultural events and celebrations, showcasing the rich heritage of San Diego. It stands as a reminder of the city’s Spanish and Mexican origins and its transformation over the centuries.
Hours – Daily, 10am-6pm
Phone – (619) 220-5422
Address – 4098 Mason St, San Diego, CA 92110
Website – www.parks.ca.gov/oldtownsandiego