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U.S. Presidents in San Bernardino

The date was May, 7 1903. President Theodore Roosevelt (the first U.S. president to visit San Bernardino), "addressed the remark quoted above to a train attendant in San Bernardino---and he meant it. He was not talking for the public ear but simply stating his convictions" [Extracted from the Daily Sun].

There have been several U.S. Presidents that have visited our great City, including the late great Teddy Roosevelt.


Theodore Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt as they appeared in a souvenir image for the City of San Bernardino in 1903
(Courtesy of the
San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society)

President Theodore Roosevelt stopped at the Santa Fe Depot and spoke in Lugo Park (now Pioneer Park) located between 5th and 6th Streets and E and F Streets.

Theodore Roosevelt is remembered as a big game hunter and a Rough Rider leading the charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. With the assassination of President McKinley, Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President of the United States. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War.

President William Taft was the featured speaker on April 16, 1912, at the San Bernardino
Opera House, located at Court and D Streets.

William Howard Taft
(Photo courtesy of the
U.S. White House)

Taft was appointed a Federal circuit judge at 34 and was Secretary of War during the Roosevelt administration. Following Roosevelt, he served as President from 1909 - 1913. After his one term as President, Taft served as Professor of Law at Yale until President Harding made him Chief Justice of the United States.

President Dwight Eisenhower took the train to San Bernardino many times and transferred to an automobile for the trip to his vacation home in Palm Springs.


Dwight D. Eisenhower
(Photo courtesy of the
U.S. White House)

After serving as a five-star Army general during World War II, Eisenhower became President of Columbia University. He then became the thirty-fourth U.S. President and served from 1953 - 1961.

President Lyndon Johnson, who was a San Bernardino resident for several months in 1925, actually worked as an elevator operator in the Platt Building. In October of 1964, during his presidential election campaign, he returned to San Bernardino as a crowd of 20,000 gave him a warm welcome. The Sun-Telegram reported that while standing on the corner near the Platt Building President Johnson said, "I got plenty of vocational education running that elevator."


Lyndon B. Johnson
(Photo courtesy of the
U.S. White House)


Platt Building (at the corner of Fifth and
E Streets) ) in San Bernardino where President Lyndon Johnson worked in 1925.
(Courtesy of the
San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society)

After giving a speech to an enthusiastic crowd, President and Mrs. Johnson went inside the Platt Building. As the President and Lady Bird entered the lobby, he commented, "Well, I see that the old place hasn't changed much, if at all." After the President and his wife entered the elevator, he placed his right hand on the control lever, closed the door and took the elevator up just as he did when he was 17 years old.


President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson in "his" elevator at the
Platt Building in San Bernardino in 1964.
(Courtesy of the
San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society)

After returning to the ground floor, a happy President said that it ran just fine and "I see that I can still run it, after 40 years."

Johnson was politically inclined even as a youth, and told of how, after working all day at the elevator job, he went out the same evening to hear a speech given by then Vice President Charles G. Dawes at the Santa Fe Depot. Johnson was a lifetime politician. He served six terms in the U. S. House of Representatives, became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and served as John F. Kennedy's Vice President. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as President.

President Ronald Reagan made a presidential visit to San Bernardino on November 1, 1988.


Ronald Reagan
(Photo courtesy of the
U.S. White House)


President Ronald Reagan as he exits the Presidential Helicopter, at
Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino
(Courtesy of the
San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society) in San Bernardino

After two Marine Corps helicopters circled over the National Orange Show crowd of 20,000 the President's helicopter landed at Norton Air Force Base. Mr. Reagan was taken to the Orange Show by motorcade, where after a political speech he asked the crowd to "go out there and win one for the Gipper".


President Ronald Reagan addressing a cheering crowd at the
National Orange Show in San Bernardino, 1988
(Courtesy of the
San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society) in San Bernardino, 1988

The son of a shoe salesman, Ronald Reagan was a construction worker, life guard, radio announcer and actor. After serving in the Army Air Force, he returned to acting, appearing in 53 films. Reagan is the only California governor (1967 - 1975) to become President of the United States (1981 - 1989).

President William J. Clinton spoke at San Bernardino Valley College on February 14, 1995. Earlier in the day Clinton arrived at March Air force Base and then headed to San Bernardino Valley College in the presidential helicopter, landing in a grassy athletic field in a steady rain. After he attended a round-table discussion on education, he entered Snyder Gymnasium for his speech and was greeted by prolonged applause by the young audience. The headline in the Sun newspaper the day after Clinton's speech read, "Community colleges 'key to future' of U. S. economy."


President Bill Clinton in a February 1995 visit to the San Bernardino Valley College
(Courtesy of
San Bernardino Valley College)

Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University and a graduate of Yale University Law School, became governor of Arkansas in 1978. Clinton was first elected President in 1993 and became the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. In 1998, Clinton became the second U. S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He was tried in the Senate and found non guilty.

President George W. Bush met privately with California Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday, October 16, 2003 at Riverside's Mission Inn. At San Bernardino's Radisson Hotel the President addressed a group of VIPs discussing the economy and terrorism.


President Bush Discusses the Economy and the War on Terror on October 16, 2003
at the former Radisson Hotel in downtown San Bernardino
(Photo courtesy of the
U.S. White House)

George W. Bush, the son of a former President, graduated from Yale and Harvard, was an F-102 pilot in the Texas Guard, owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and former governor of Texas before becoming President in 2001.

Future Presidents That Visited San Bernardino
(Photos below are courtesy of the
U.S. White House)

Woodrow Wilson spoke at the San Bernardino Opera House on April 10, 1912. He became President of Princeton University in 1902, was elected Governor of New Jersey in 1910 and was President of the United States from 1913 - 1921.


Richard Nixon spoke at the 50th Anniversary of the San Bernardino YMCA on June 7, 1961. He was then the former Vice-President and later was President from 1969 - 1974. A lawyer and former Naval officer during World War II, he became Eisenhower's Vice President at age 39. After being defeated for President in 1960 and for Governor of California in 1962, he went on to become elected President in 1968. Facing the real possibility of impeachment because of the "Watergate" scandal, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.


Gerald R. Ford, the GOP Minority Leader of the U. S. House of Representatives spoke at the National Orange Show on May 16, 1966. President Nixon's Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned from office in 1973 as a result of scandals in Maryland not related to Watergate. Under the terms of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, Nixon nominated and Congress approved House Minority Leader Gerald Ford as Vice President. When Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, Gerald R. Ford became the thirty-eighth President of the United States (1974 -1977).


Ronald Reagan made many visits to San Bernardino when running for Governor and then while being Governor 1967 - 1975. For example, the headline of the October 24, 1970 edition of the Sun-Telegram reads, "Reagan 'Knocks Them Dead' in Orange Show Appearance". Ronald Reagan is the only California Governor to become President.