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History of Ensenada

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The name means “sea inlet”. This place was originally named San Mateo, as it was discovered on September 17th, 1542 (four days before Saint Matthew’s day, celebrated on Septembre 21st on the catholic calendar) by Spanish navigators under the orders of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. 60 years later, General Sebastián Vizcaíno, arrives at this bay and named it “Ensenada de Todos los Santos”. By that time, only the Kumiai tribe scarcely populated the area. Around 1774, the missions started expanding their way up north.

By the turn of the 19th century this area is left in charge to Commander José Manuel Ruiz (as actually the city’s main street bears his last name). In October 1824, Commander Ruiz takes posession as the Californias governor, leaving in charge Sgt. Francisco Xavier Gastélum (his son-in-law), in the beginning of a series of family sucessions of these lands.

During the rest of the 19th century, Ensenada became the most important seaport in the north of México (due to the loss of San Diego and San Francisco during the war with the United States in 1848). In years afterwards the city resisted pirate invations.

One of the factors helping the town grow back in those years was a gold rush around the 1850s that made miners from California come down all the way to Ensenada looking for the precious metal. By 1875, the port had a population of 1,500.

Around those days, the state’s capital was moved to Ensenada, which became the entrance for mining hardware and equipment from San Diego and San Francisco. In the 1880s, President Porfirio Díaz first allowed foreign inversionists into the area to help develop infrastructure, so Ensenada started having telephone lines, docks, commerce, telegraphs, hotels and steam cruisers connecting Ensenada with San Diego in a regular basis. A few years later, American companies left this development to the English and in 1917, President Venustiano Carranza cancelled this concession due to unfullfilment of contracts. Around this time, district capital had already moved to Mexicali, since there was a motion promoting that no state capital should be at sea-range from any foreign armed forces.

Then in 1952, when Baja California becomes a state after being just a Territory, Ensenada became a municipality, the largest of its kind in all of México. Ensenada remained being one of Mexico’s most important entry ports for industry and commerce as well as for tourism. Its large territory has desert, beaches and it’s even part of the Northern Hemisphere’s wine region, producing the best Mexican wines. With the passing of years Ensenada has developed into a very prominent city ready to receive tourists as well as it has industry and science developments.