DEL MAR — Children’s games, a family barbecue, music, dancing and a handful of poodle skirts were all part of the July 12 celebration to mark Del Mar’s 50th year of incorporation.
On hand were residents from Del Mar and many neighboring cities, Assemblyman Martin Garrick, County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and several past and present City Council members and mayors, including Coast News columnist Bill Arballo, who held the top post from 1962 to 1963.
Arballo once noted that incorporation didn’t come easy. Slightly more than 1,000 residents participated in the election on July 15, 1959. With many fearing the city would be unable to afford the high cost of providing services, the decision passed by less than 100 votes.
“They clearly chose the right thing to do,” said Slater-Price, a Del Mar resident.
The city’s history can be traced back to 1882, when the railroad tracks from San Diego to San Bernardino went through the area. Theodore Loop, a contractor and engineer who worked on the project, built a tent city on the beach. His wife, Ella, called it Del Mar, a name she took from the poem “The Fight on Paseo Del Mar.”
That same year Col. Jacob Taylor met Loop, who suggested they build a town there. Three years later, Taylor bought 338 acres from homesteader Enoch Talbert for $1,000 and Del Mar was officially founded.
The 2-square-mile city – the smallest in San Diego County – began attracting numerous visitors in 1936 when it became the permanent home to the Del Mar Fair (now the San Diego County Fair). The following year it became the playground for Hollywood’s rich and famous, who came to watch the horse races “where the turf meets the surf.”