Almost everyone has either read the books or seen the classic film The Wizard of Oz. What less people know is that the inspiration behind Oz is right in our very own backyard! Author L. Frank Baum spent much of his time vacationing from his home in Chicago while writing the Oz series. He spent his winters in Coronado from 1904-1910 to escape the harsh cold in his hometown. Basking in the much-appreciated sunshine, he dreamed up the magic that would one day become one of the most famous films of the century.
Baum published the following poem in the San Diego Union:
CORONADO: THE QUEEN OF FAIRYLAND
by L. Frank Baum
And mortals whisper, wondering:
“Indeed, ‘tis Fairyland!
For where is joy without allow
Enjoyment strange and grand.”
And tired eyes grow bright again,
And careworn faces smile;
And dreams are sweet and moments fleet,
And hearts are free from guild.
To this day, tiny secrets of the book/film and fragments of his past connections to this town can be found scattered around. Let’s learn some of them, shall we?
1. Hotel Del Coronado (1500 Orange Ave) The Hotel del Coronado is said to have been Baum’s inspiration for the Emerald City. He oftentimes resided there for months at a time. In a 1905 poem about Coronado, Baum wrote: “And every day her loveliness, shines pure, without a flaw; new charms entrance our every glance, and fill our souls with awe!” Another fun fact though is that the Grand Crown Room’s crown-shaped chandeliers were actually designed by him!
2. L. Frank Baum’s historic Coronado home (1101 Star Park Circle). This adorable yellow home was rented out by Baum while he wrote three books in his Oz Series: “Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz,” “The Emerald City of Oz” and “The Road to Oz.” I actually had the pleasure of speaking with the current owners who filled me in on an another amazing fact: this home still has its original electrical wiring which was done by Alexander Graham Bell!
There are a lot of fun details decorating the front of the house:
3. Coronado Museum of History and Art (1100 Orange Avenue) holds three First Edition books by Baum. The best part is this museum is free to visit! Beyond these books you will find many historic relics that helped shape Coronado to what it is today.
4. Emerald City (1118 Orange Ave) is a surf and skate shop in the heart of Coronado’s shopping district with a name inspired by Oz.
5. Coronado Public Library (640 Orange Ave) has 9 large glass panels created by artist Brenda Smith. Each painting depicts scenes in the movie, including Dorothy, the cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Glenda the Good Witch, Munchkins and more!
Know of any other fun Wizard of Oz secrets we should include on this page? Please share!