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Where California Began

By Linda Tancs

One of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego, California, the Junípero Serra Museum stands atop the hill recognized as the site where California began. Indeed, at that site in 1769 a Spanish Franciscan missionary, Father Junípero Serra, with a group of soldiers led by Gaspar de Portolá, established Alta California’s first mission and presidio (fort). Alta (Upper) California was a region comprising California and other states that was ceded to the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. The missions of Alta California were founded for the purpose of Christianizing the American Indian population in those vicinities. Using Spanish Revival architecture, the museum was built to resemble the early missions that once dominated the landscape of Southern California.

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