City of San Marcos
Population : 84,391 (2010)
Median Income: $ 51,999 (2009)
Elevation : 581 ft (177 m)
Land: 23.8 Square Miles
Water: 0.1 Square Miles
Area Code: 442, 760
Zip Code: 92069, 92078, 92079, 92096
Highest: 74-63 *F
Lowest: 55-43 *F
John Wayne Airport: 64.4 Mi.
LAX Airport : 102 Mi.
Ontario Airport : 84.4 Mi.
San Marcos is a suburb of San Diego in the North County
section of San Diego County, California. As of 2010, the city had a total
population of 84,391. Outside the San Diego region, it is best known as the home
of California State University, San Marcos. The city is bordered by Escondido to
the east, Encinitas to the Southwest, Carlsbad to the west, and Vista to the
According to historical legends, the San Luis Rey Mission
flocks were robbed by a small band of Indians one named santo and the other
named scuanto, in the late 18th century. Fleeing the Spanish troops, the Indians
escaped to the hills. While pursuing the Indians, the Spaniards came upon a
fertile valley in 1797 which was named Los Vallecitos de San Marcos (Little
Valleys of Saint Mark) to honor the day of discovery: April 25, “St. Mark’s
Day”. On April 22, 1840, Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted Rancho Vallecitos de
San Marcos to his relative, Jose María Alvarado. Jose Alvarado was killed at the
Pauma Massacre in 1846, and the land was left to his wife; she then sold the
land to Lorenzo Soto. In the late 1850s, Soto sold part of his land to Cave
Couts and his family was soon raising livestock. Although Cave Couts owned the
land, Major Gustavus French Merriam from Topeka, Kansas made the first permanent
settlement. Merriam homesteaded 160 acres (0.65 km2) in the north Twin Oaks
Valley and began wine and honey production.
After Major Merriam’s settlement, German and Dutch immigrants
began moving into the area in the early 1880s. Then in 1883 a few miles south of
the settlement, John H. Barham founded the first town in the area. By 1884, the
town of Barham had a post office, blacksmith, feed store and a weekly newspaper.
In 1887 the San Marcos Land Company bought almost all of the San Marcos land
formerly owned by the Couts family and promptly divided the land into tracts.
Soon the beautiful hills began attracting home-seekers.
The original town of San Marcos was at the intersection of
what is now Grand Avenue and Rancho Santa Fe Road. In 1887 the Santa Fe Railroad
announced that it was going to lay tracks going through the valley, but to the
disappointment of the citizens, the tracks were laid one mile (1.6 km) away from
the center of the town. By 1896, San Marcos was a community with its own stores,
post office, blacksmith and railroad depot. In 1903, the town appeared to be
going downhill so the people of San Marcos picked up their homes and moved along
the railroad tracks to what now are Mission Road and Pico Avenue. In 1905, the
town had every convenience, including rural mail delivery and telephone service.
The first school in the area, which had started in Barham in 1880, was moved in
1889 to San Marcos. Later that same year, the Richland School was built, being
the second school in San Marcos. The main business in San Marcos in the 19th
century and early 20th century was farming. Then in the mid-20th century,
dairies and poultry production became a big part of the business in the town.
San Marcos experienced a period of growth from 1956 onward,
when the first water from the Colorado River arrived. Several small businesses
were founded and the population rapidly increased to 2,500. San Marcos became an
incorporated city on January 28, 1963. In the 1970s, San Marcos was flourishing
as the third fastest-growing city in the state with a population of 17,479 by
1980. The population continued to boom over the next two decades, reaching
33,800 in 1990 and 82,743 in 2000.