Kumeyaay History: Presidio Park and the Old Town that we know today has a long history dating back far beyond the colonial days. Before the wooden structures we see presently were ever constructed, Old Town was a Kumeyaay Village known as Cosoy (Kosa'aay) since as early as 10,000 B.C. The village consisted of around 40 families who lived in pyramid-shaped huts made of branches and earth.
In 1769, Spanish explorers landed in San Diego and were welcomed by the Kumeyaay. It is said that the Spaniards came with many gifts for trade, reserving important space for such trade over food and other necessary items. The Kumeyaay provided the weakened men food, medicine and refuge. Only 8 shipmates had survived the journey, most dying of scurvy or malnourishment.
It wasn't long before the Spaniards had regained their health and began claiming their own territories, "less than a musket shot", from the village. The Spaniards erected a hospital camp and fortress on Presidio Hill and occupied the water source of the village.
The camp gradually was fortified and became the San Diego Presidio and the first San Diego Mission. It was from this base at Kosa'aay that Spain's colonization of California and the California Mission Chain were launched.
Once the mission and presidio were established, the Spaniards began sending more of their people across seas to begin colonizing the area. The Kumeyaay people were not equipped to handle the diseases the Europeans brought over and slowly their health and numbers began to decline.
Kosa'aay officially became for the west coast what Jamestown and Plymouth were for the east. Beginning right here in San Diego, from that one village site, the colony that is now known as California was born. Also of importance is that on August 15th, 1769 Kosa'aay was the location of the Kumey'aay nation's first organized resistance to the cultural tyranny of the conquistadors.
Eventually the fort and mission were abandoned as settlers continued to move further inland. George Marston a San Diego businessman purchased Presidio Hill, and built a private park and Serra mission museum in 1907. Ultimately Marston donated all of the property to the City of San Diego. No original historic buildings still exist.
If you choose to visit this area please come with the utmost respect. There are many beautiful hiking trails to take. I do not advise to hike them alone though as the homeless population does go through here. Even though most are harmless and mind their own business, you still never know.