Push for growth is long time ambition

In most cases—and for better or worse—cities are always growing.

It may be far-fetched to think of them as living organisms but there is an almost sentient quality to them as they adapt to their surroundings and environment around them, fueled by the people within their boundaries.

In National City this week the city council heard presentations detailing updates to Kimball Highland Master Plan, a development project heralded as providing affordable housing and amenities for seniors. A selling point to many is the emphasis on the community’s walkability, with its clinics, amenities and access to transit within walking distance. The project and its components fit what residents, presumably, want.

One hundred years ago this week another call for transformation was taking shape.

After a contract had been awarded for the “dredging and filling of forty acres of tidelands” at the foot of Division Street in advance of a deep water terminal to be built on the site, city boosters were inspired by the possibilities that awaited National City.

“The complete terminal including piers, warehouses pre-cooling plants and up-to-date equipment for the economical handling of freight will represent a vary large investment,” proclaimed a story on the front page of the Feb. 17 1922 edition of The National City News.

In an opinion piece on page 2 of that same issue, F.E. Applegate’s essay was awarded first prize for championing development associated with and independent of the Division Street terminal project.

“Among the things that should be done for National City during 1922 the first and most important is a depot on the San Diego & Arizona railroad should be established,” Applegate wrote. He also advocated for a “better electric car, telegraph and telephone services secured (and) cleanup and repair of the old, abandoned buildings.”

The simple-minded writer also advocated for the “segregation and restriction of the colored race,” a comment that earned a mild rebuke from an editor as “unwise.”

One hundred years later National City—for better or worse— is still growing. More importantly its residents and leaders continue evolving and “unwise” comments are not tolerated. That’s real growth.