News From the Port
New, Historic Attraction Opens on San Diego Bay
A vital link to San Diego’s maritime history is taking shape at the Port of San Diego’s Spanish Landing Park.
Beginning Saturday, July 9, 2011, the public can watch as the Maritime Museum of San Diego builds a replica of the 16th century Spanish galleon, the San Salvador. The San Salvador was the flagship Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed in when he entered the San Diego harbor, in 1542.
The ship will be built over the next 18-24 months, and the public will have the opportunity to view its construction at the “San Salvador Village,” located at the west end of the park, across the street from the San Diego International Airport (View Map). The village will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
Dr. Ray Ashley, president and CEO of the Maritime Museum, said this project is significant to San Diego for two reasons: the Port’s role as an economic engine for the region and celebrating diversity.
“The Port of San Diego is historically one of the great seaports in all of history,” Ashley said. “It's very important that people understand how important the port is to the overall economy of the region.”
Historians note Cabrillo’s expedition marked the first moment of contact between the native Kumeyaay Nation and the European explorers.
"Building the ship is a celebration of that because it marks our origins as a diverse community and celebrates not only those two peoples but all who have come subsequently to make our community what it is,” said Ashley.
Scott Peters, chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners said the San Salvador project will become an attraction that brings people to the bayfront.
“One of the missions of the Port is to activate the waterfront,” said Peters. “This is an exciting project that will bring thousands of people to the bay. The Port is really happy to host and be landlord to two of the great waterborne museums: The USS Midway Museum, which tells the story of the U.S. Navy, and the Maritime Museum which tells the story of maritime.”
The construction of the San Salvador will serve as a showcase for historic ship construction methods and will include craftsmen demonstrating woodcarving, blacksmithing, sail-making and rigging.
"The whole site will be an outdoor living history theme park, populated with exhibits, activities, artifacts and models,” said Ashley. “All the trades and activities needed to make a ship to go into expedition. So it will be like stepping back into the 16th century.”
Most important, the Maritime Museum wants everyone in San Diego to feel like they are a part of the ship's history, so all visitors will have the opportunity to nail their initials into the wood.
Here are some fun facts about the San Salvador construction project:
Once complete, the ship will reach 80 feet above sea level to the top of her masts.
It will be 24 feet across and 92 feet from bow (front end) to stern (back end).
The vessel will weigh more than 200 tons.
Here are some facts about the voyage:
The galleon set forth from Navidad, Mexico in 1542 to explore the Pacific Coast northwards.
The purpose of the voyage was to establish a route to China, find a Pacific exit from a northwest passage, discover useful ports and, perhaps, to encounter rich civilizations that might profit the Spanish.
Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542 and named the harbor San Miguel.
After construction, San Salvador will remain on exhibit as part of the Museum's fleet of historic and replica ships and will travel along the California coast as an ambassador for San Diego.
The San Salvador exhibit is included in regular Maritime Museum of San Diego admission, and reentry will be granted for up to one year with proof of purchase.
The project site will temporarily displace 42 parking spaces. Parking for visitors will be available in the 58 Spanish Landing Park parking spaces adjacent to the site.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego is a tenant of the Port of San Diego. The Port worked with the museum to find a site suitable for the ship’s construction and is contributing to the cost of leasing the park’s parking lot to the museum.
Learn more about the Port of San Diego: www.portofsandiego.org.