Cultural Capital: Oceanside, California

Cultural Capital

Oceanside, California is rich in culture grounded in its history, present day demographics, and environment. Culture is difficult to unravel, as much of what can be perceived is only surface level. This depiction of culture in Oceanside, California will create the basic framework for community life and interaction.

The Luiseno people first inhabited the land that is now Oceanside, California. In 1769 the Spanish missionaries arrived in the area and in 1798 the founding of the San Luis Rey Mission began. In 1821 Mexico won its independence from Spain and claimed the region and the law of secularization came into effect (History – San Luis Rey, 2016). After the Mexican American war in 1848, California became a part of the United States (, 2009). This is a community deeply rooted in a mix of cultures often clashing in values, from Luiseno, Spanish, and Mexican people. Today 32.4% of the Oceanside-Escondido CCD, San Diego County total population identifies as Mexican, 22% of the total population identify are foreign born, and 13% of the total population are born in Mexico (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). This large Mexican population, whether American born or born in Mexico is deeply reflected in customs, the Spanish language, and delicious food.

After World War II, the largest Marine Corps base, Camp Pendleton was constructed on the north border of Oceanside (City of Oceanside, 2016). This fostered a huge population boom over time. Currently Camp Pendleton CCD, San Diego County has a total population of 39,017 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). There is a certain respect held for military members in the community, assumption of political preferences, and is reflected in patriotism.

In recent years the city has adopted the phrase “Onward Oceanside” with an image of the city’s iconic wooden pier (City of Oceanside, 2016). This attempt to rebrand is rooted in its beach culture. The pier was first built in 1888, and due to its iconic and economic significance in the community it has been rebuilt on a number of occasions since (City of Oceanside, 2016). The pier is a representation for the beach and its many associations with its seafood restaurants, variety of fusion cuisines, surf competitions, music concerts, and the sunset market. These events in themselves reflect the unity of the many different and prominent community cultures that make up the City of Oceanside as a whole.



City of Oceanside, CA. (n.d.). History. Retrieved October 1, 2016, from Staff. (2009). Mexican-American War. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from


History – San Luis Rey. (n.d.). Retrieved October 01, 2016, from


U.S. Census Bureau. (2014). 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from