Today in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo encountered San Diego Bay for the first time. Cabrillo was on an exploratory mission to discover the Strait of Anian, an imaginary water route spanning the North American continent.
The Strait of Anian was intensely hoped for, to provide a shorter trade route to Asia. During that era, it was not yet understood how large the continent was and how implausible such a water passage was. Cabrillo embarked on his historic journey up the West coast of North America from Mexico in June of 1542. As he traveled up the coast, he investigated any waterway he believed could have been the mouth of the Strait.
San Diego Community Newspaper Group
On September 28, 1542, Cabrillo found San Diego Bay for the first time. One of two naturally occurring bays in California (the other being the San Francisco Bay), San Diego Bay was, sadly, not an outlet for the Strait of Anian.
Cabrillo continued his journey north, mapping many of California's coastal features for the first time. Somehow, he missed San Francisco Bay.
Other explorers followed in Cabrillo's wake, despite his lack of success. The Strait of Ainan and the Northwest Passage remained persistent dreams. They were never found.