Between 1890 and 1914, the nation was interested in Pacific naval affairs, seen in the Spanish-American War of 1898. San Diego's location was strategic and its mission was to become "the Gibraltar of the Pacific". Civic leaders and leaders of the Chamber of Commerce worked to make San Diego a major location for marine, naval and air bases. During World War I the U.S. armed forces were eager to help. In 1920, the Navy had already built seven bases in San Diego that cost about $37 million. When the naval spending went down in 1990, the Chamber decided to focus on tourism and conventions. San Diego seemed to become a metropolis thanks to the weather and the harbor. However, it was shadowed by Los Angeles and San Francisco. The U.S. Navy presence started in 1901 when the Navy Coaling Station in Point Loma was established. Naval Base San Diego and the San Diego Naval Hospital were built in 1922. Twenty years after, the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton was set up 45 miles north of the city, becoming the first Marine Division that took care of South Vietnamese and Cambodians refugees.
Many factors contributed to the growth of the city, but especially the expansion of the naval and army aviation, as well as the fact that there was enough money to improve San Diego's infrastructure. The Pacific Fleet assembled with 48 warships, 400 naval aircraft, 55,000 sailors and 3000 officers to demonstrate the importance of the city and to exhibit to the rest of the world America's interest for the Pacific. This exposition attracted visitors that could understand the city's prosperity. The population went from 210,000 to 290,000 in a decade (1930-1940), and it grew even more since then.
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