New biography of John D. Spreckels – the first in decades
Now available for the history buff, music lover, or social critic on your gift list.
Here’s the inside story on a cantankerous dad and his five children, among them industrious John Diedrich, the eldest, and his playboy brother Adolph.
This is the family that made sugar a centerpiece of the Hawaiian economy… operated the main steamship line between Hawaii and the US mainland… exerted major influence on the cultural tone and tenor of both expositions that California held in 1915 to celebrate the opening of the Panama canal… and so much more.
The book is called Empire Builder because when John Spreckels first came to San Diego, he was inspired to get busy.
He invested, he planned, and he dreamed. After the 1906 earthquake and fire devastated his home town of San Francisco, he became a San Diegan for good.
By the time John D. donated the great Spreckels Organ to the citizens of San Diego as a centerpiece of the 1915 exposition here, he was paying a significant percentage of the County’s property taxes. By 1915, he had built San Diego’s extensive trolley line, funded the lower Otay dam, developed land and businesses, and was owner and publisher of the San Diego Union morning newspaper.
After San Diego suffered a huge land bust in the late 1880s, Spreckels cash came to the rescue of many an enterprise and could also pick some juicy plums – among them, the Hotel del Coronado, all of North Island (which was later sold to Uncle Sam) and a string of blocks along the south side of Broadway, from Fifth Avenue to the waterfront. You’ll read about it — and so much more! – in this fascinating, breathtaking new biography of a man who had plenty of power and did things with it.
Here’s a link to the book review. The hefty 440-page biography was written by local author and historian Sandra Bonura and released this fall.