Rancho Bernardo History
  • Native Americans today known as the Kumeyaay Indians lived in and around the area for thousands of years before Spaniards first arrived in California. There are many pictographs located in the area that were drawn by ancient dwellers.
  • The most expansive European colonization efforts were made by the Spanish. On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his crew entered San Diego Bay--the first Europeans to visit California.
  • In 1769 a band of Spanish soldiers and Franciscan missionaries arrived in San Diego and began the colonization process that resulted in the subjugation of Indian tribes.
  • A number of Spanish Missions established Spanish religious control over the area – San Diego Mission de Alcala (1769, San Diego), Mission San Luis Rey (1798, Oceanside) and Pala Mission (1814, Pala).
  • During the Spanish Era (1769–1821), the Crown retained ownership of the land but granted concessions to the church and permitted private settlement and grazing rights on specific tracts of land.
  • English Sea Captain Joseph Snook arrived here in the early 1800's and set up his ranch house in the area.  He called his ranch Rancho Bernardo.  Snook married into the prominent Mexican Alvarado family and changed his name to Jose Francisco Snook.
  • In the Mexican Era (1821-1846), following Mexican Independence from Spain, the Mexican government gave land grants to prominent landowners and political allies throughout California.  The San Bernardo Land Grant of 1842 awarded 17,763 acres to Jose Francisco Snook in 1842.
  • The United States (US) declared war against Mexico on May 13, 1846.
  • On February 2, 1848, California became a Territory of the United States. Between 1847 and 1849, California was run by the U.S. military.  California was admitted to the Union as the 31st State by the United States Congress, on September 9, 1850.
  • Jose Francisco Snook died childless in 1852, and his heirs in England began the distribution of Rancho Bernardo to several new landowners.
  • For the next century, Rancho Bernardo was a stopping-off point for travelers heading between the north and San Diego.  It was made up of a collection of private ranches, treeless grazing land, farms, and horse trails. 
  • The Daley Family, San Diego ranchers, bought Rancho San Bernardo in 1943.
  • The population of Rancho Bernardo was estimated to be under 500 in 1960.  By 1964, it was 1300; then by 1982, 20,000.  The population today is close to 90,000.
  • In November 1961, developer Harry Summers and business partner W.R. Hawn announced a joint venture with Lawrence and Donald Daley to develop the ranch into a Master Planned Community to be called Rancho Bernardo.
Master Planned Communities
Although Master Planned Communities were known in Greek and Roman times, the concept of designing a community from scratch was little used in the United States until the 20th Century.  Most communities grew organically and increased in size as people moved in or extended families spread out.  Master Planned Community designers, however, thoughtfully implemented grid systems for development, designated parks and open spaces, shopping areas, schools, libraries and civic buildings.  The first true Master Planned Community in the United States was Charleston, SC which was founded in 1670.  Washington, D.C. was also a Master Planned Community when the US Capitol moved from New York in 1790.
In 1928, San Clemente, CA was incorporated by Ole Hansen who designated that all buildings must be approved by an architectural review board in order to retain control over development and building style.  In the United States, suburban growth in the Sunbelt states coincided with the explosion of Master Planned Communities as Americans migrated for jobs and sunny retirement communities.  During the latter half of the 20th Century, Florida, California and Arizona benefited the most from such population shifts.  Today, Master Planned Communities are everywhere as the general desire for community living, strict architectural standards, and defined rules and regulations give members the assurance they need that property in their community will be maintained and value-enhanced.  
 Bernardo Branding Magazine Issues
A community publication from the early years of RB. It ran from early 60's to the mid 70's. As 7Oaks was the first community, much of these issues are about that area. Please select here to access the magazines from the Rancho Bernardo History Museum website. Only   post issues from the '60s due to copyright issues but they are and interesting read or at least browse.