GASPAR DE PORTOLA EXPEDITION


The Portolá expedition was the brainchild of José de Gálvez, visitador (inspector general, a personal representative of the king) in New Spain. On his recommendation, King Charles III of Spain authorized Gálvez to explore Alta California and establish the first permanent Spanish presence there. Gálvez was supported in the planning of an expedition by Carlos Francisco de Croix (Viceroy of New Spain), and Father Junípero Serra (head of the Franciscan mission to the Californias).

Gaspar de Portolá y Rovira (1723–1786) was a Spanish soldier and administrator in New Spain. As commander of the Spanish colonizing expedition on land and sea that established San Diego and Monterey, Portolá expanded New Spain’s Las Californias province far to the north from its beginnings on the Baja California peninsula. Portolá’s expedition also was the first European to see San Francisco Bay. The expedition gave names to geographic features along the way, many of which are still in use.