History of San
Originally named Santa Catalina by Hernando de Alarcón and Domingo
Castillo who created the first recorded map of the area in 1535 and 1536.
With little or no activity in the area it lay dormant from activity until
1721 when Father Eusebio Kino explored the area. Father Ferdinand Konšcak
arrived twenty-five years later and formally named the bay San Felipe de
In the late 1700s it was designated a port with ships venturing in and
out. At the same time a land route between San Felipe and Ensenada was
established to enhance transport in the area. Travel by land or sea was
slow and the port saw little activity.
In the early 1900s local fisherman camped in the area and harvested
limited amounts of fish and shrimp. Enough to establish the area as home.
The Mexican government took interest in 1925 and during the administration
of General Abelardo L. Rodríguez, territorial governor, San Felipe
began the process of incorporating with a skeleton structure of governing
entities. Fish camps were established and the government organized the
first sub-delegation and school. Appointed sub-delegate Octavio Vega
Ruiz was charged with organized growth during his administration from
1926 to 1942.
Sea transportation of both people and cargo helped San Felipe establish
as a township. In the late 1920s, San Felipe was a growing community
nearly 100 residents. By 1940 the census report documented 287 inhabitants.
In 1947 plans were under way to build an international tourist center
in San Felipe. Between 1948 and 1951 the Mexicali-San Felipe highway
was built. This gave American travelers easy access to the quaint
fishing village of San Felipe. This additional traffic paved the way
and tourist activities. The 1960s brought electricity and running
water to the town and the tourist traffic continued to grow. The 1970s
infrastructure of the city government develop plus a sewer system
and the fishing village grew into a town. Bars, restaurants, gas stations,
boat anchorage, and the marina, and other tourist-related business
to meet the demands of American travelers.
During the thirty-year span of time from the 1940s to the late 1970s
many hotels opened. Including Hotel Augies, Villa del Mar, Trucha Vagabunda,
Las Palmas Inn, motel El Cortés, Hotel Riviera, El Pescador, Arnold's
del Mar and Arco Iris. During the early 1980s to the early 1990s the
first four-star hotel, the Playas de San Felipe, and then the Fiesta
Hotel, the La Hacienda and the Marina Resort and Spa were constructed
to meet travelers demand.
Tourism is the primary source of income for the San Felipe area. Real
estate sales are growing and with it the home construction industry.
Shrimping and commercial fishing still contribute to the local
economy, but on a much smaller scale. In the early part of the 2oth century
was the primary source of income for the area.