Ranch & Coast Magazine

July 2023

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Page 43 of 91

Known to many as "boot camp," Liberty Station was dedicated in 1923 as the San Diego Naval Training Center. e site is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the base closed in 1997 during the military realignment that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. As Mayor Gloria noted, that could have been the end of the story. Instead, a broad coalition of San Diegans came together to preserve the property, which in addition to honoring the site's military history, has quickly become a destination for dining, arts, and entertainment. "What strikes me about Liberty Station is that it speaks to the power of community," said Scott Seligman, one of the property's primary developers, who used the occasion to remember his father, who landed at Normandy on D-Day precisely 79 years and one day earlier. Mayor Gloria highlighted the fact that he is San Diego's first Native American, Filipino, Puerto Rican, and Dutch mayor. "How did that happen? e Navy," he emphasized, referring to his grandparents, all four of whom moved to the region because of the military. As Gloria pointed out, his story is far from unique. ere are thousands of families in San Diego because of the Navy and Marines, and part of the reason is that a century ago, city leaders offered the Navy 200 acres at the north end of San Diego Bay to relocate its West Coast training center from San Francisco. e Navy obliged, and what is now Liberty Station was one of the Navy's first footholds in San Diego. Over the years the base was expanded, and Liberty Station now comprises 361 acres divided into distinct districts, including a retail and commercial district, a hotel district, an office district, a residential district, an arts district, a promenade focused on nonprofit activities, and a park along the boat channel adjacent to the site. e transition is a remarkable example of adaptive reuse and emblematic of San Diego, which even as it has diversified into tech, biotech, tourism, and other industries remains a Navy town. Built to scale, the USS Recruit is two-thirds the size of a World War II destroyer escort. It was commissioned July 27, 1949. Admission is free. 100LibertyStation.com Focus military << ranchandcoast.com 44 JULY 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE Sailors standing in front of the newly finished USS Recruit, July 1949 Liberty Station Community Association Board President Joe Haeussler, Steve Seligman, San Diego City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell, and Mayor Todd Gloria at the opening ceremony of the USS Recruit's public exhibition 1949: PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES – RIVERSIDE, CA. 181-09-024 CEREMONY: PHOTO BY BILL ABRAMS

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