San Bernardino

San Bernardino

History of San Bernardino: Sam Bernardino's history began in the early 19th century with the settling of the Spanish missionaries at the base of the beautiful mountain range.  In 1819, the mission San Gabriel was established and assisted the well-being of the native Indian population.  By 1834, the missions were ordered to close by the California governor and thus, the mission period came to and end.  San Bernardino quickly became vacant land, but not for long - it became an important trading route along the Spanish Trail.  Haciendas were soon built to house the Spanish landowners and the town flourished.  In 1860, gold was discovered and men from all around came to the area to try their luck. By the end of the 19th century, railroad companies such as Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific found their way to San Bernardino, making it the hub for Southern California operations and creating the land boom of the 1880s.  By the mid-1900s, the automobile became a popular means of transportation and better roads were needed.  In 1926, Route 66 was created and would eventually connect Los Angeles to Chicago. 

Year Incorporated: 1854

Population: 216,089 (2020 census)

Historical Landmarks in San Bernardino: San Bernardino is home to many historical landmarks, many along the famous Route 66.  Historical landmarks include the Original McDonalds, which was once a family owned BBQ that turned into the fast food chain that it is today, the Wigwam Motel, and numerous vintage gas stations and diners, which were once common stops along travelers' journeys.  San Bernardino is also home to the Arrowhead geological monument as well as the historic San Bernardino Depot.  

Oldest Building in San Bernardino: The oldest known building in San Bernardino was a church that was built in 1865, which burned shortly after, but was rebuilt in 1878.  That church was also destroyed, but again rebuilt in 1910 and is still standing to this day.

Famous People That Have Lived in San Bernardino: San Bernardino was the host of pioneer trailblazers such as Jedidiah Smith and Kit Carson (1827).  The city of San Bernardino was also visited by four US Presidents - Theodore Roosevelt (1903), William Taft (1912), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953), and Lyndon Johnson (1964).  

If I Only Had One Day to Spend in San Bernardino, What Should I See or Do? Travel the stretch of Route 66 that is home to so many historic landmarks.  Be sure to visit the historic Santa Fe Depot, the Arrowhead geological monument, the vintage motels and service stations, the Camp Cajon Monument, and even a visit to the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest!

Does a Passenger Train Run Through San Bernardino? The historical Santa Fe depot is a hub for Metrolink and Amtrak lines, transporting passengers throughout Southern California.  This historic depot is a must see on your trip to San Bernardino! 

What is the Best Time to Visit San Bernardino? Anytime is a good time to visit Southern California!  While the weather can be warm during the day in the summer months, the cooler evening are a wonderful host to evening summer events!  Spring and Fall are wonderful times to enjoy all the sites San Bernardino has to offer, without the heat.


Would you like your city or town featured on this page?  Please email Christine Esser in our administrative office at [email protected]!


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commented 2021-07-02 13:25:06 -0700 · Flag
never been there. Anxious to see as much as I have time for.
commented 2021-05-19 20:26:50 -0700 · Flag
Very nice summary. Next time I am in the Berdoo area, I’ll take more time to focus on Old Highway 66, which I remember from ~1948 when as a 14-yr old, remember the family driving from Chicago to LA in our first car, a ’48 Plymouth. We then headed north up north on Hwy 99. This was our entree into CA, and we probably spent a night there in some Hwy 66 motel. The canvas water-bag was carefully attached to the front bumper for the desert crossing. My, how time flies! RJS
published this page in City-County Highlights 2021-05-19 10:08:16 -0700