The Hispanic-American History Timeline
1602 Sebastian Vizcaíno Explores the West Coast
Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino sails north along the Pacific Coast from Acapulco to San Miguel, which he renames San Diego de Alcala -- now the city of San Diego, California.
In search for new trade routes that would improve the economy of New Spain (Mexico), Vizcaino takes three ships -- The San Diego, The Santa Tomas, and The Tres Reyes -- with 200 soldiers and sailors, three Catholic friars and his 13-year-old son Juan.
On his mission to expand Spain's northwestern trading frontier, he follows the shoreline first explored by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo 60 years earlier.
But Vizcaino visits and names many California landmarks, including Monterey Bay, Santa Catalina Island, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Point Conception, the Santa Lucia Mountains, Carmel Bay and the Carmel River.
Before reaching present-day California, Vizcaino had taken possession of the Baja California peninsula and named it Nueva Andalucia. And after returning to Mexico, in 1611, Vizcaino went to Japan, where he led a Japanese delegation that charted and mapped the coastline.
Today, the Royal Presidio Chapel, a National Historic landmark in Monterey, California, commemorates Vizcaino's landing at Monterey Bay.
Vizcaino's story is depicted on the facade of the California Building at Balboa Park in San Diego, California. Quotes from the diary of Vizcaino's journey are on a plaque in the McCoy House Museum, in the old town of San Diego State Historic Park.
By Flor Johnson, Lehman College