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Reviewed by:
  • San Diego: An Introduction to the Region, Fourth Edition
  • Carlos Tovares (bio)
San Diego: An Introduction to the Region, Fourth Edition Philip R. Pryde , Editor San Diego, Sunset Publications/ Pearson Custom Publishing, 2004.

San Diego has occupied a fascinating and complex place in the U.S. urban system. It has been the least typical U.S.-Mexican border city, and within California it has been perceived as a fundamentally different form of urbanism than Los Angeles. More recently, San Diego has been increasingly implicated in broader processes of economic restructuring and has seen its economy and population continue to grow. San Diego is California's second-largest city, but the population of the metropolitan statistical area is less than half the size of the San Francisco CMSA. Since 1976, San Diego: An Introduction to the Region has served as a significant resource for people interested in the geography and history of the region. After 12 years, the fourth edition of the book was published in 2004. The new edition includes updated population data using the 2000 census, new photos and illustrations, revised chapter bibliographies, and a new chapter specifically on environmental preservation.

The editor of San Diego, Philip Pryde, is an emeritus professor at San Diego State University. Pryde contributed 6 of the 19 chapters and revised or collaborated with others on 4 additional chapters. The other contributors are current or former San Diego State University professors. The biggest strength of San Diego is the broad range of topics covered by the 19 chapters. Although there is a focus on history, geography, and environmental issues, there are also chapters on the economy, demographics, transportation, urban planning, and the city of Tijuana.

The first chapter is a brief overview of San Diego County's history. Typical of the chapters in the book, it is a detailed and well-written [End Page 122] narrative including figures and photos that complement and inform the writing. Appendices chronicle significant social and ecological events, such as the connection of San Diego to the eastern United States by rail in 1885 and the 2003 fires, and English language translations of Spanish-language place names. The second chapter is about the region's geomorphology, covering the roles of coastal erosion, mountain building, faulting, and folding in the formation of the region's topography. The use of maps provides a good spatial orientation of the county's landforms and topographic features.

The book is not divided into sections, but chapters are grouped together thematically. Chapters two and three focus on the environmental history of the region. Chapters four and five address population issues. The remaining chapters cover a variety of topics. There are discussions of land resources, marine resources, and environmental preservation efforts. The chapter on water discusses long-term precipitation patterns and the efforts to secure a stable water supply. The chapter discusses the building of dams and reservoirs for the supply of water and the control of flooding and runoff. San Diego County has a substantial agricultural sector and it is discussed from geographical and historical perspectives in a separate chapter. Topics examined include current trends in agriculture, including the decline of some crops, such as eggs, tomatoes, and oranges, and the rise of newer products, such as organic fruits and produce.

The urban dimensions of the region are addressed in chapters on the economic base of San Diego, the sizes and characteristics of other cities in the region, and the description of historically significant neighborhoods. San Diego County also has extensive natural areas, including beaches and mountains. Much of the eastern portion of the county is a state park. The chapter on recreational facilities provides extensive information on the locations, sizes, and characteristics of numerous parks and recreation areas.

The chapter on Tijuana by Barbara Friedrich and Alan Osborn is informative and insightful. The authors provide an overview of the city's historical development before and after World War II. The roles of maquiladoras and the North American Free Trade Agreement [End Page 123] in the shaping of Tijuana's landscape are examined, but not at the expense of a broader economic perspective. Friedrich and Olson include a section on cross-border cooperation...


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