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PRESIDENTIAL VISITORS AT THE HOTEL DEL CORONADO
President Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893): Eleven presidents have visited the Hotel del Coronado, starting with President Benjamin Harrison, who was touring the country by train and had breakfast at The Del on April 23, 1891 (supposedly he greeted San Diego well-wishers in his dressing robe and slippers from the back of his rail car). This was the first time an in-office president had visited San Diego. The breakfast at The Del was sponsored by a delegation of California politicians, hosted by Governor Henry H. Markham; Baja California Governor Luis E. Torres was also in attendance. When Harrison left Coronado, he received a send-off at the ferry slip, serenaded by the Coronado Band, which a local newspaper reported could “vie with any band in the country in discoursing good music.”
William H. Taft (1909-1913): President William Taft had a sister living in Coronado, whom he visited in April 1900, before becoming president. In 1915, after his presidency, Taft stayed at The Del – all 6 feet and 300 pounds of him – probably to attend the Panama-California Exposition.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932-1945): President Franklin Roosevelt stayed at the Hotel del Coronado on October 1, 1935, for San Diego’s California Pacific International Exposition. During his stay, Roosevelt flew the presidential flag, which made the hotel the official White House for the period he was in residence. The next day, Roosevelt gave a speech to 50,000 gathered in San Diego. Regarding his Hotel del Coronado visit, a local newspaper reported, “the chief executive enjoyed an inspiring view of the broad Pacific, where a goodly part of the Untied States fleet rode at anchor, the lights from the warships shedding their glow over the temporary White House.” Roosevelt had close ties to Coronado because his son John was stationed here during World War II, and both President and Mrs. Roosevelt were frequent guests at The Del.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969): President Lyndon Johnson attended President Nixon’s 1970 state dinner for Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.
Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974): President Richard Nixon hosted a state dinner in the hotel’s historic Crown Room for Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz on September 3, 1970. Among the 1,000 people in attendance were former President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson and Governor and Mrs. Ronald Reagan. Aside from political luminaries, the dinner was also attended by Hollywood celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and John Wayne.
Gerald R. Ford (1974-1977): President Gerald Ford attended an economic conference at The Del in April 1975. He made other visits to the hotel in 1980, 1991, 1992, and 1993.
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981): When President Jimmy Carter attended the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades convention, a reception was given in his honor at The Del on October 11, 1979. Carter also stayed here in October 1989 in conjunction with the Habitat for Humanity project.
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): In 1970, then California Governor Ronald Reagan attended President Nixon’s state dinner. Reagan returned to The Del on October 8, 1982, when he hosted talks with Mexican president-elect Miguel de la Madrid in a private suite, which has since become known as the “Summit Suite.” The hotel’s “Governor’s Suite” is also named in Reagan’s honor, who, along with his family, were frequent guests at The Del before and during his presidency.
George H. Bush (1989-1993): An avid tennis player, President George Bush stayed at the Hotel del Coronado both before and during his presidency.
Bill Clinton (1993-2001): Although President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to land at Coronado’s North Island Naval Air Station, President Clinton (aboard Airforce One) used the airfield many times for numerous visits to the Hotel del Coronado during his presidency.
George W. Bush (2001-2005): President George W. Bush was at the Hotel del Coronado with his wife, Laura, on August 29 and 30, 2005 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of V-Day. This was Bush’s first visit as President of the United States. He is the 11th president to visit The Del. During his stay, President Bush addressed the military stationed at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado before retuning to the White House. Mrs. Bush previously visited the hotel in March 2001.
Vice Presidents, Presidential Mates and Offspring
The first vice presidential guest was Adlai Ewing Stevenson (who served during Grover Cleveland’s second presidency). Stevenson visited The Del in 1893 and had his hair cut in the hotel’s barbershop. Vincent Surr, a bootblack, who during Stevenson’s visit “was occupied by the lower extremities of a senator or two,” had only vague memories of Mr. Stevenson. “My recollections of the great man are rather mixed and consist principally of a figure swathed in a barber’s sheet, from which some kind of a head emerged.” Surr had a clearer view of Stevenson’s private secretary or valet, “What made him a conspicuous figure was his remarkable likeness to Uncle Sam, as depicted in the comic papers.” More than 50 years later, Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (grandson of the first Adlai Ewing Stevenson) visited The Del in 1952.
Other vice presidential visitors have included Spiro Agnew, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Dan Quayle, as well as Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Gore.
In addition to the family members referenced above, presidential offspring also include Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower, Steve Ford, Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., Robert Todd Lincoln, and James Roosevelt.