Presidio Park is a city historic park in San Diego. It is the site where the San Diego Presidio and the San Diego Mission, the first European settlements in what is now the western United States, were founded in 1769.
In 1773 the mission moved a few miles upriver while the fort remained on Presidio Hill. The Presidio had been established to protect against Indian attacks or foreign invasions. As the need for such protection disappeared, people preferred to live in Old Town at the foot of the hill, and the fort was gradually abandoned. It was in ruins by 1835.
In 1907 George Marston, a wealthy department store owner and civic leader, bought Presidio Hill with the aim of preserving the historic site. Unable to attract city funding, Marston built a private park (planned by architect John Nolan) including the Serra Museum (designed by architect William Templeton Johnson) in 1925. Marston donated the park to the city in 1929.
The park encompasses about 40 acres (16 ha). Visitors to Presidio Park enjoy sweeping views of the city, the San Diego River valley, and the Pacific Ocean. The grounds are open for picnics and play. The facilities can be used for weddings and other special events.
Lucy the White Deer: Apparitions of the beloved white deer, Lucy, still haunt the back-trails of Presidio Park. Lucy was an albino deer that lived in Presidio. When the highway was put in, her life became threatened. As an attempt to relocate her, she was tranquilized for transporting. Unfortunately she was overdosed and died.
Some see her white tail disappear into the bushes, or they find their garden flowers eaten. Motorists sometimes are startled by a fleeting image that is similar of a deer. Joggers will regularly glimpse the sight of a white deer scampering away into the bushes.
Rapes & Murders: There is a bench that is also a hotspot for paranormal sightings which has claims of a guy stabbing his girlfriend to death. In 2011, a former San Diego police officer was accused of raping a prostitute in Presidio Park while on duty. He originally threatened to take her to jail if she didn't have sex with him and then proceeded to rape her.
Ancient Burial Ground: in 1769, shortly after the arrival of Father Serra, over 60 men were buried in the hills of Presidio Park. This burial ground was known as "El Jardin Del Rey" (The King's Garden). The burials were recorded but during an Indian raid in 1775, the book was burned.
Between 1882 and 1887, fill dirt needed for work on the Derby Dike was sourced from The King's Garden. Unfortunately, the job was done carelessly and burial remains were dumped in the San Diego River.
Even though people began moving off Presidio Hill and settled in Old Town, burials still took place within the Presidio walls. These burials included early settlers as well as Mission Indians. The last recorded burial in this location was Henry Delano Fitch who died in 1849, the same year as the first burial at El Campo Santo in Old Town. Fitch's coffin lid, unearthed in an excavation, was outlined with brass nails, two hearts, and the letters "H.D.F."3 Burials have also been found at the bottom of Presidio Hill. Although it was no longer used by Europeans, the Indians continued burying their dead on Presidio Hill through the 1870s.
Personal Experience: This is one of my favorite areas in all of San Diego to explore. This is the birthplace of the city afterall and is brimming with history! The hiking trails are beautiful year-round but if you only go once, try to go in early spring!