This week’s 100 centennial seconds is about the 60s. The decade began with President Eisenhower visiting Chula Vista making his entrance by marine helicopter to a crowd of 25,000 people made up of Chula Vistans, dignitaries from Tijuana, and Inter-American Congress delegates. Schools were closed for the day and the bands from Chula Vista and Hilltop High Schools, the only high schools in Chula Vista, joined to play the national anthem for the ceremony.
The South Bay Power Plant opened in the 60s, and no longer operates today. City Council met, Congressional Towers opened as did the short-lived Shangri-La on G Street.
The 1950’s were an exciting time of transition and development: Chula Vista had doubled in size following 63 annexations. New houses grew alongside lemon orchards. One lemon orchard was sold to become the new City Hall.
Third Avenue in the 50s was finally complete. The last remaining lot became a Bank of America. The center of downtown was located on the corner of Third Avenue and F Street, marked to this day by a clock tower outside Security Trust and Savings Bank.
The 1940’s is our focus today, excerpted from the upcoming book that celebrates our history, Chula Vista Centennial: A Century of People and Progress.
The 1940s brought major changes to the city. Rohr Aircraft Corporation built a large plant on the bayfront to manufacture aircraft engine power units, just as the war in Europe was revving up and war defense housing was built at Hilltop Village and Vista Square and at several other areas.
Today we visit the 1930’s in an excerpt from our soon-to-be released book Chula Vista Centennial: A Century of People and Progress.
The Great Depression closed industries, but agriculture thrived. Lemon exports grew to nearly $1 million a year. Dairies flourished in Castle Park and Proctor Valley. Stafford and Chino organized the Celery Association, and the Vegetable Exchange opened on K Street.
Lima bean crops were introduced in the eastern valleys.
Chula Vistan Emily Fenton Hunte, recalled that during the Depression, her father Henry G. Fenton, who had planted 3,000 acres of lima beans and barley on Rancho Janal, “would turn the fields over to the needy, once the harvest had been completed. There still were thousands of lima beans lying on the ground, and people would flock to the ranch by the hundreds to scoop them up into sacks to take home.”
Henry also grew tomatoes, declaring in 1937 that his were the best ever, “some as big around as a saucer!”
Chula Vistans have a history of reinventing themselves in tough times, as well as taking care of each other, and growing healthy local produce. As we celebrate this Centennial Year of Service, you can continue to take part in these traditions at our Farmer’s Markets’ on Mondays on Main St., Tuesdays at Otay Ranch Town Center and Thursdays at Center and Third Avenue downtown. And while you’re there, buy three sacks of lima beans and tomatoes and share two with your neighbors.
Today’s 100 Centennial seconds focuses on Third Avenue, and before I go any further, let’s take a quick look at a video produced by Channel 4 in 2010 featuring Chula Vista librarian Donna Golden.
On Saturday July 9th, the Third Avenue Village Association (TAVA) invites families and friends to join the first annual Village Hunt from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event starts and finishes at Memorial Park. Participants will receive a Hunt Packet, race number bib, an official Village Hunt T-Shirt, and are invited to partake in an after party and awards ceremony.