Since the days of its earliest settlers,La Jolla has been famous for its miles of pacific coastline, sandy beaches, and panoramic views of the ocean – especially from the La Jolla cross found atop of Mount Soledad, the highest point in La Jolla. From the tiny park at the crest, viewers are able to see all of San Diego; south to Tijuana and the Coronado Islands, north to Carlsbad, and west to the Pacific’s limitless horizon. Mount Soledad isn’t famous for the view alone, however; it’s truly well known for what locals refer to as The Cross.
100 Years in the Making
A large white cross at the top of Mount Soledad dominates the small summit. Although the cross itself is the object of one of the most famous lawsuits involving the separation of church and state, very few know that the cross has had an interesting history beyond the courtroom.
Three differently-shaped crosses have been constructed on the hill since the early 1900s. The original cross was made of a dark California redwood and erected by locals living in La Jolla and Pacific Beach in 1913 . Just 10 years later, in 1923, the cross was destroyed and stolen by vandals. The second cross was erected in 1934 by a private group of Protestant Christians from the surrounding areas; this sturdier, stucco-over-wood frame cross stood tall for several years until, as luck would have it, a severe windstorm tore it from its base in 1952. It wasn’t until two years later (in 1954) that the La Jolla community put up the 43-foot landmark cross that towers there today.
A Controversial History
The cross dominating La Jolla’s highest point identified La Jolla as a strictly Christian neighborhood; for many years, Jews were actually denied the opportunity to purchase a home in La Jolla. This was enforced by “The La Jolla Covenant,” or “Gentleman’s Agreement” among all local realtors, which was essentially a protected code of conduct that allowed for Jews to be restricted from buying homes, joining country clubs, and owning businesses in La Jolla.
For a while, “For Sale” signs were not even used in La Jolla – making it impossible for Jews to know which houses were available to buy. However, the arrival of the University of California’s campus in the early 1960s (and the help of Roger Revelle) helped to gradually put an end to this residential prejudice; now, La Jolla wonderfully has one of the largest Jewish communities in all of San Diego.
While the ocean view from Mount Soledad is incredible, locals and insiders know that the night view is just as spectacular; you’ll see a dark sky full of stars and the lights from all of San Diego City below. The top of the hill is also the perfect spot to view La Jolla’s famous 4th of July fireworks at the Cove.
There is another spectacular viewing point from the La Jolla Heights Natural Park, off of Brodiaea Way; walk far enough and you’ll find a bench perched just at the edge of the cliffs with a clear view down the coastline. If you’re looking for a bit of folklore and intrigue, don’t miss the myths and secret spots of La Jolla – a few of which lie atop Mt. Soledad!
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