Point Loma (Spanish: Punta de la Loma, meaning “Hill Point”; Kumeyaay: Amat Kunyily, meaning “Black Earth”) is a seaside community within the city of San Diego, California. Geographically it is a hilly peninsula bordered on the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, the east by the San Diego Bay and Old Town, and the north by the San Diego River. With the Silver Strand / Coronado peninsula, the Point Loma peninsula defines San Diego Bay and separates it from the Pacific Ocean. The term “Point Loma” describes both the neighborhood and the arm. Point Loma has an estimated population of 47,981 (including Ocean Beach), according to the 2010 Census. Point Loma is historically significant as the landing place of the first European expedition to come ashore in present-day California. The peninsula has been described as “where California began.” Today, Point Loma houses two major military bases, a national cemetery, a national monument, and a university, in addition to residential and commercial areas.
Loma is the Spanish word for hill. The original Spanish name of the peninsula was La Punta de la Loma de San Diego, translated as Hill Point of San Diego. This was later anglicized to Point Loma. The original Kumeyaay name was ‘Amat Kunyily,’ meaning “black earth.” There were no permanent indigenous settlements on Point Loma because of a lack of freshwater. Kumeyaay people probably had a seasonal village remembered by them as Totakamalam and visited Ocean Beach periodically to harvest mussels, clams, abalone, and lobsters. Europeans discovered point Loma on September 28, 1542, when Portuguese navigator Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (João Rodrigues Cabrillo in Portuguese) departed from Mexico and led an expedition for the Spanish crown to explore the west coast of what is now the United States. Cabrillo described San Diego Bay as “a perfect enclosed port.” Historians believe he docked his flagship on Point Loma’s east shore, probably at Ballast Point. This was the first landing by a European in present-day California, so Point Loma has been described as “where California began.”
The best-known landmark in Point Loma is the Old Point Loma lighthouse; an icon occasionally used to represent the entire city of San Diego. Perched atop the southern point that creates the bay entrance with Coronado, the small, two-story lighthouse was completed in 1854 and first lit on November 15, 1855. At 422 feet (129 m) above sea level at the bay entrance, the seemingly good location for a lighthouse soon proved to be a poor choice, as fog and cloud within the marine layer often obscured the beam for ocean-going vessels.
Address: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA
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