1542 – The Portuguese-born sailor, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, becomes the first European to explore California, landing at San Diego on September 28, 1542. He went on to discover the Catalina Islands, the sites of San Pedro, Santa Monica and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.
1579 – Sir Francis Drake landed North of San Francisco Bay and claimed the territory for England.
1665 – José de Gálvez arrives in Mexico as Visitor General of New Spain. He launched a program of colonizing Alta California.
1767-1770 Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola led an expedition from Mexico to make settlements in Alta California. He would eventually found San Diego and Monterrey.
1769 Junipero Serra built the first California Mission called San Diego de Alcala
1820 Early in the nineteenth century, ships from Boston began to visit the Spanish towns and missions along the upper and lower California coast.
1846 The United States invades Mexico from the east, reaching San Diego in December.
1848 California becomes a U.S. possession with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War.
1849 James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s sawmill in Coloma, along the south fork of the American River, thus kicking off the famous Gold Rush of 1849 from where the term “49ers” was born.
1850 California was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850.
1860 – The Pony Express, a mail service between St. Louis, Missouri and Sacramento is established.
1869: The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad enables Americans from the eastern states to pack up and move to California. Thousands upon thousands of settlers head for the “Golden State.”
1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire virtually destroys the city.
1911 Hollywood’s first film studio opened.
1937 The Golden Gate Bridge was completed and was opened to pedestrian traffic.