Coronado and North Island

Coronado has a very rich aviation history which goes back over 100 years to when Glenn Curtiss started an aviation school there and trained the Navy's first pilot, Lt. Theodore Ellyson.  At that time, what we know as Coronado was actually two Islands, Coronado Island and North Island, and Curtiss' school was on the uninhabitated North Island.  Because the Navy's first pilot flew there, North Island is known as "the Birthplace of Naval Aviation".  

The two photos above show the two islands that make up present day "Coronado".  The top photo appears to have been taken circa 1920 and shows the causeway constructed in 1914 over the "Spanish Bight" that seperated the two islands.  The photo on the bottom does not show the causeway, so it was taken before 1914.  The photographer of the bottom image H.A. "Jimmy" Erickson, would be known as the "Flying Photographer" and would take thousands of aerials of San Diego.

This photo take in the 1990s shows a unified Coronado, after the Spanish Bight was filled in during World War Two.

One of the most recognizable landmarks on Coronado is the famed Hotel del Coronado.  The majestic hotel has hosted more than 10 presidents and celebraties such as Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin and Bette Davis.  

These two images of the Hotel Del Coronado were taken about 100 years apart, and while trees and buildings have sprouted up around it, the main hotel building appears mostly unchanged! 

The SDASM archives has thousands of images that document the rich military history of North Island, that has thrived for over 110 years.  Below is just a sample from our collection.

During World War One, North Island was a hotbed of Military activity, as this image from 1918 shows.

North Island was seperated between Rockwell Field, operated by the Army, and the Navy's Air Station, as illustrated by these two photos. The top image was taken in the 1920s, and the bottom is from 1933.

In 1939 the Army left North Island, yet the Navy remained.  These photos show how much NAS North Island changed during World War Two.  The top photo was taken in 1939, while the bottom is from 1947.

North Island in 1990. My how you have grown! 

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San Diego Air & Space Museum

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