Chapter 5: San Diego's Mexican Community, 1850-1910
9. When did the Mexican Barrio develop and why?
By 1910, the date of the commencement of the Mexican Revolution, San Diego's Mexican population was still relatively small: about 2200 in the county and 1222 in the city.
Old town remained a small enclave of Mexicans, most of them native born. Scattered throughout the city were pockets of Mexican immigrants who had migrated to the city prior to the revolution in search of jobs. As yet, Logan Heights had not become a barrio.
A review of the manuscript returns for San Diego in 1910 illustrates some of the characteristics of Mexican residences in San Diego. The Mexicano residents in 1910 San Diego were distributed throughout the city in small neighborhoods with the largest concentration being in Old Town. Most of the Mexicanos appear to have been part of the laboring class. Most rented their homes, spoke some English while still speaking Spanish. The nucleus of the Mexican colony, Old Town, had been reduced to a tiny forgotten and isolated neighborhood. Mexican laborers lived scattered throughout the city and in small colonias in the countryside.
In 1850 they had been vastly outnumbered by the native American population. In 1910 they were surrounded by a much larger Anglo American, English speaking population, of more than 72,000 people. Overwhelmed demographically, completely forgotten culturally and ignored politically, the Mexicans of San Diego had no idea that the twentieth century would end with their resurgence to prominence and importance. The catalytic event that began this transformation was the Mexican Revolution.