View Coronado Island, CA in a larger map
The last story that I wrote for this website was about Mount Dora, Florida, which is not a mountain. This story is about Coronado Island, California, which is not an island. Located in the middle of the San Diego Bay, Coronado Island is connected to the mainland by a ten mile isthmus called The Silver Strand and is the safest area in Southern California, because the crime rate here is zero. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most expensive residential areas in the entire United States. Even the small homes are very attractive and are in the seven figure price range. About 25,000 people live on the island.
|Governor Ronald Reagan opening Coronado Bridge|
The views from the bridge are truly spectacular. It’s like looking down from an airplane as one sees the whole of Coronado, as well as the San Diego skyline. There are no barriers to prevent anyone jumping off the bridge, which is so high above the water that one imagines that the death of any jumper would be inevitable. Indeed, hundreds of jumpers have plunged to their death here. As a venue for suicides, the bridge ranks third in the country.
|Coronado Bridge Suicide Counseling sign|
To discourage potential suicides, there are notices every few yards giving the telephone number of a suicide counselor. Amazingly, a few jumpers have survived and (when interviewed later) they almost always tell of the regrets that they experienced during their descent. In other words, on the way down, they wish that they hadn’t jumped.
|San Diego skyline from Coronado Island|
Coronado is also home to the famous Hotel del Coronado, which was built in 1888, only three years after the town was founded. The hotel has been the location for the shooting of many popular films, including one of my favorites – Some Like it Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. I first saw the film when it was released in 1959. The plot involves two musicians witnessing the St Valentine‘s Day massacre in Chicago and then fleeing to Florida, disguised as females, in order to escape the mob. I was disillusioned to learn that the scenes in Florida, which I so much enjoyed, were in fact filmed at the Hotel del Coronado. However, it remains a wonderful film.
In November 1892, a young woman named Kate Morgan checked into this hotel and was found shot to death in her room five days later. At the time, the death was treated as a suicide, but it now appears that she may have been murdered. Her ghost has often appeared in the hotel since then, accompanied by other curious paranormal events.
|President Bush with Ben Press|
|Gondola rides around Coronado Island|
Yet one man who was in no mood to walk around here was Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly the Atlantic. He flew from New York to Paris, France in 1927 in his plane, The Spirit of St Louis, which was built under his supervision in nearby San Diego. After taking possession of the plane, Lindberg took off from Coronado. He circled the island and flew west for a few miles over the Pacific. Then he made a U turn and headed for St Louis, Missouri, where he landed at Lambert Field.
The next lap of his journey was from St Louis to New York, from where he flew off across the ocean to Paris and into history. But how many of the millions who attended New York City’s subsequent tickertape parade to honor this epic flight knew that the journey began on tiny Coronado Island?
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on January 21, 2013.