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Hi, Matthew

When was the first time San Diego appeared on an official map? This summer in Europe I bought a late-1700s French print depicting the North American hemisphere. It is quite detailed, but sunny San Diego isn't there! Even Los Angeles is not there (but we do not care about this), and San Francisco is Port de Francois Drake.

-- Maruizio, the Net

According to the San Diego Historical Society, our bonnie burgh appears on a map created on Vizcano's visit, dating from 1602. We're called Puerto Bueno de San Diego. Cabrillo was here before then, but his maps haven't survived. Besides, on Cabrillo's we'd be called San Miguel, since that was the name he gave us. But your question goes a little wrong assuming there was such a thing as an "official" map. The Spanish tried to create one in the 1500s, the top-secret, carefully guarded Padron Real in Seville. Mariners funded by the crown were ordered by law to report back and add their details and discoveries to this master map, which was continually updated. And to a plundering captain, a captured map was almost as valuable as pirated gold. All this did was create a black market in New World charts, and eventually Spain's project was scrapped.

Mapmaking in those days was very political, which probably explains why an 18th-century French map touting Sir Francis Drake would ignore anything Spanish. Drake was British and helped defeat the Spanish Armada, and the French at the time were no friends of Spain. Your map is likely commemorative or decorative rather than a practical item to be used for navigation. By the way, the Port de Francois Drake isn't San Francisco, it's a harbor in Marin County. Until the late 1700s, San Fran was called Yerba Buena, and Drake never saw it anyway.

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