A Dream Comes Alive at the Embarcadero



Nadin Abbott


May 15, 2014 (San Diego) There were plenty of smiles and children screaming in glee. They ran, they cooled down, and they played at the new Embarcadero park built around the County Building, that was inaugurated by President Franklin Delano Rooselvelt in 1938. Back then the building also housed the administrative center for the City of San Diego.


Up to nine months ago, this area was asphalt, and now the parking is underground. The asphalt has been replaced by green, and by green that is drought resistant. The reflecting pools, which are not that deep, can run just as reflecting pools, with jets, or dry. They also used re-circulated water, and that water is treated underground.


During his remarks, Supervisor Bill Horn reminisced about the past of the waterfront, when his uncle was part of “the Westgate Tuna Fleet, which used to park their boats here.” He mentioned that him and his cousins, used to walk down to the boats and play on them. He also remarked at how many changes have happened, and that “I am glad to see the change.”


Among the plants planted were Oak trees, torrey pines, and sage and lavender, as well as drought resistant Mediterranean plants. He also remarked that his grand kids did not want to go to the building, his grandkids are young, they wanted to go to the slide.


“Supervisor’s Dianne Jacob’s commitment to parks is well known,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts. He went on to add that if anybody goes to the East County that she represents, one can see the fruit of her labors. Many parks and other facilities have been opened her tenure, so being committed to this park was a natural.


Jacob, as the master of ceremonies and Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors, said in her remarks that this was a historic day as “we open the largest truly urban park in the history of San Diego County.”


The Supervisors in their various remarks, thanked among others, both Viejas and Sycuan for their assistance in the development of this project.


The last speaker was Mary Roosevelt. She is the widow of James Roosevelt, the son of the President, and a true bridge to the past. In 1938 the President inaugurated the building. In the 1980s his son James came to celebrate the fifty years of the dedication of the building. And now, the daughter in law of the President, and widow of his son, came to help San Diegans celebrate another milestone in the history of the County, and that is the opening the first park since Balboa Park was inaugurated during the 1915 world exposition, which incidentally led to FDR, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, recommending San Diego as a pacific port and the Navy Training Center (NTC). This center has since closed, during the Base Closure and Realignment Commission of the 1990s.  But both Camp Pendleton and the US Pacific Fleet are still based in San Diego.


Mary Roosevelt said in her remarks “I am really honored to be here today, following in the tradition of my Father in Law, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and my husband James. They would have loved this occasion.” She continued, “both FDR and James had very strong connections to San Diego.”


Roosevelt remarked that FDR’s two sons eventually trained at NTC many years after it was established. Roosevelt added that FDR came to San Diego many times. One of them during 1935 to an exposition, that in the President’s words, “establish our hope for the future.”


FDR’s last visit to San Diego was in 1944, during World War Two. It has during wartime so it was a secret visit. It was also the last time the family got together. Both of his sons served during the war in front line assignments. And the President left San Diego aboard a Navy ship with his beloved dog Fallah.


This connection to the past was palpable in the words spoken by Mary Roosevelt. As a couple of the supervisors remarked, including Supervisor Jacob, Mary Roosevelt is a connection to that rich San Diego history. The park is part of the future and it belongs to every citizen of San Diego.


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