Built in 1927, the El Cortez hotel and apartment is the oldest building in San Diego. Today, it is the 28th tallest building in San Diego. However, it once dominated the skyline. It has played host to the nation’s finest like President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bing Crosby.
Following the events of Pearl Harbor, the building was outfitted with an anti-aircraft battery and radar station on its roof. It was also home to the world’s first high-rise glass elevator, the Starlight Express, and the first travolater moving bridge. Both of which have since been removed.
When it opened on Thanksgiving day in 1927, a third of San Diego’s population, 50,000 people were present. The construction of the building cost 2.5 million and was built on the site of Ulysses S. Grant Jr.’s home. The hotel was named after Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes.
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