State Research Guide: California
2/1/2006
Find your familia in the Golden State.
It's a rare feat today to travel through a California city that doesn't feature boulevards named El Camino Real or Camino de la Reina. Those street names remind us of the state's heritage.

Fifty years after Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo — a Portuguese sailor sent by Spain — and his flagship San Salvador sailed smack into one of the world's most beautiful natural harbors. Cabrillo christened it San Miguel.

Before long, the settlement was renamed San Diego, and the name stuck — even if the Spanish flag didn't. In 1846, American settlers changed the course of history when they proclaimed independence from Mexico and established the California Republic — complete with a flag displaying a bear and a single star.