By Joan Fudala
It’s July in Scottsdale … time to head to San Diego!
If you’re a “Zonie” (what San Diegans call summer visitors from our sizzling state), then you are continuing a long tradition begun by our founders and forefathers. Over the decades, there have been many historic connections established between Scottsdale and San Diego that reach beyond a vacation week at the beach. Despite the 362 miles between us, the two metro areas share many commonalities, including tourism, golf and a thriving bio-medical research industry.
Enjoy these historic links and similarities between our two destinations:
• Founders and namesakes of places and streets in San Diego and Scottsdale date back to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Mexican-American War and the Civil War in the 1800s. Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell (namesake of the McDowell Mountains, Fort McDowell, McDowell Road, etc.) and Maj. Gen. Rosecrans (namesake of San Diego’s Fort Rosecrans and Rosecrans Boulevard in Point Loma) both attended and taught at West Point during the 1830s-1840s, and both were battle commanders during the Civil War. Gene. Kearny, namesake of Kearny Boulevard in San Diego and the old Camp Kearny (now part of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station), earned his reputation in what is now Arizona during the Mexican-American War circa 1846. Scottsdale’s founder Winfield Scott served as an infantry captain during the Civil War. Arizona Canal builder W.J. Murphy likely served under Gen. Rosecrans in the Civil War battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga.
• Frontier marshal Wyatt Earp, who left the Arizona Territory after the famed shootout at the O.K. Corral in 1881, eventually moved to San Diego, where he was a gambler, race horse owner and self-described capitalist. According to Garner A. Palensky’s 2011 book, Wyatt Earp in San Diego: Life after Tombstone, Earp and his wife, Josie, “visited Coronado Beach frequently during their time in San Diego. And they viewed the pouring of the foundation of the great Hotel Del Coronado in approximately March of 1887.”
• Scottsdale’s founder and namesake, Maj. Winfield Scott, and his wife, Helen, made an annual trek across the desert to the coast in their senior years (circa 1900-1910) to visit their daughter Minnie Albright and her husband, a U.S. Army brigadier general stationed in San Diego. Reverend Scott started a Baptist congregation in the Normal Heights neighborhood of San Diego, and Helen took up the project to get the church built after Scott died in October 1910. The church was called Scott Memorial Baptist Church until 2007, when it was renamed Grace Church San Diego. Although he died while living in Scottsdale, Winfield and Helen Scott are buried in the Grand Army of the Republic (the Civil War veterans group) section of the Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego, beside their daughter and her husband, Gen. Albright.
• No one ever seems to be in a hurry to get from the balmy beaches of San Diego back home to fiery Scottsdale, but there was actually a “San Diego to Phoenix Road Race” in October 1912. Sanctioned by the auto club, Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood was the celebrity starter, and Ed Fletcher posted the best time, 19.5 hours between the two cities (long before I-8 was completed to Yuma in 1971).
• Although he was identified as “Mr. Arizona” throughout his life and political career, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater and his family were life-long Zonies. His memoirs describe adventurous car trips across the desert with his mother, Josephine, at the wheel.
• During World War II, John Swope was the field manager of Thunderbird II airfield, now the Scottsdale Airport and Airpark. He was the son of the then-chairman of General Electric (Gerard Swope), a talented Life magazine photographer and right-hand man to Hollywood producer Leland Hayward, who was the chairman of Southwest Airways and operator of the four wartime airfields in the Phoenix metro area. Swope was married to actress Dorothy McGuire; during the war they lived in Scottsdale’s Cattle Track neighborhood. After the war, the Swopes moved back to Southern California, and, together with Gregory Peck and Mel Ferrer, they founded the now-famous La Jolla Playhouse in 1947.
• Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams, the “Splendid Splinter,” was born and raised in San Diego and played in the Pacific Coast League’s San Diego Padres starting in 1936. He was a star player with the Boston Red Sox between 1938 and 1960. He played his last two spring training seasons with the BoSox at Scottsdale Stadium in 1959 and 1960, delighting fans at the stadium and at watering holes around town, like the Pink Pony. It was rumored after his death in 2002 that he was cryonically preserved at a facility in the Scottsdale Airpark.
• Jack Stewart Jr.—son of Camelback Inn founder Jack Stewart Sr.—worked at La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel and the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, where his parents often stayed with other Scottsdale and Paradise Valley friends during the summers when the Camelback Inn used to be closed. Jack Sr.’s daughter Helen attended the private Bishop’s School in La Jolla.
• Bing Crosby was a regular in both areas. In Scottsdale, he came for the Phoenix Open golf tournament and to go bird hunting; he was a founder of the Del Mar race track in the San Diego area (“Where the Surf Meets the Turf…”).
• For several years, Scottsdale’s Sunburst Resort (now FireSky) was part of San Diego-based Atlas Hotels, which included five resort hotels in the San Diego area.
• Frank Lloyd Wright married Olgivanna in Rancho Santa Fe (north of San Diego). Although Wright himself did not design any structures that were actually built in San Diego, his son John did. Wright’s legacy is also evident throughout San Diego in projects designed by Taliesin-trained architects.
• Torrey Pines Golf Course, opened in 1957, was designed by architects William P. “Billy” Bell and William Francis Bell. If those names sound familiar, Billy Bell also designed Encanto Park, Arizona Biltmore, Mesa Country Club and Papago golf courses here in the Valley. Two of Bell’s best courses—Torrey Pines and Papago—shared a similar phenomenon, which some called “the Line.” As generally affordable municipal courses, tee times have been highly prized by residents of San Diego and Scottsdale/Phoenix, who have often queued up in their cars well before dawn in order to get on the courses. Famed golf course architect Rees Jones renovated the Torrey Pines South Course in 2001, followed by numerous upgrades before Torrey Pines’ South Course hosted the U.S. Open in June 2008.
• Both San Diego and Scottsdale have laid claim to golf great Phil Mickelson. He grew up in San Diego, and his family lives there. He attended Arizona State University, played on ASU’s golf team, and considered Grayhawk Golf Course his home course during the late 1990s (Grayhawk’s bar is named Phil’s Grill in his honor). Mickelson and a partner also acquired the operating rights to McDowell Mountain Golf Club in 2011 and oversaw numerous property enhancements.
• Many Scottsdale-area residents entered the military via boot camp at the former Naval Training Center (now a mixed use area called Liberty Station) or the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot (which still graduates a class of new Marines just about every Friday). Others have served at the myriad of U.S. Navy or Marine bases in the San Diego area, from the Naval Amphibious Base and Naval Air Station on Coronado Island, all the way north to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside.
• Coronado Island is a summer destination for scores of Scottsdale residents. Isn’t it a coincidence that famed resort Hotel Del Coronado opened in 1888, the very year that Winfield Scott homesteaded Scottsdale?
• Both Coronado and Scottsdale had visits from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The 26-year-old Prince of Wales, accompanied by Lord Mountbatten, stopped at a social event at the Hotel Del in 1920, enroute to a tour of the Pacific. At the time, Wallis (the future Duchess of Windsor) was married to naval aviator Lt. j.g. Win Spencer, who was stationed at the Coronado Naval Air Station; they lived near The Del. After becoming King Edward VIII, then abdicating to marry “the woman I love,” the Duke and his Duchess of Windsor spent many vacations in the United States. In the late 1950s, the famous couple stayed at the Arizona Biltmore, where the Duke played golf and they both visited Henry and Clare Boothe Luce. The royal couple came to Scottsdale to dine at the Lulu Belle restaurant on the northeast corner of Main Street and Scottsdale Road.
• Over the years, Scottsdalians have participated in San Diego events such as the annual Over the Line tournament on Fiesta Island, the Rock and Roll Marathon, the Holiday Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl. D-backs fans travel to PETCO Park to see their team play the Padres; Padres fans come to the Phoenix area in March to attend Padres’ spring training.
• Scottsdale restaurants that have found success in San Diego include Fox’s True Foods and Paul Fleming’s P.F. Chang’s and Fleming’s steakhouse. Valley-based My Sister’s Closet upscale consignment stores now has two locations in the San Diego area.
So as you enjoy a few days at the beach or browsing the museums of Balboa Park this summer, consider your own list of what our two fine cities have in common.
Joan Fudala is a Scottsdale-based community historian and author who annually enjoys long summer escapes to San Diego. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.