John D. Spreckels (1853-1926) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the oldest child of a German immigrant, Claus Spreckels, known as "the Sugar King" because of his vast holdings in both Hawaii and the United States. He became a wealthy man in his own right within a few years after establishing his own businesses in ship building, transportation, and importing. Spreckels first came to San Diego during the boom of the 1880s and began his investments in the area then. During the next thirty years, he became the wealthiest man and single most dominant economic force in the San Diego area, as owner of the Hotel del Coronado, all of Coronado Island, the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune, several office buildings and banks, the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway, the San Diego Electric Railway, and more. Spreckels' holdings were so great that he employed thousands of people in his different enterprises, and at one time paid an estimated 10 percent of all property taxes in the county. He was also the largest individual contributor to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The Spreckels Organ Pavilion, home of the world's largest outdoor organ and site of many local concerts and community events, is named after him. Producer Peter Hamlin and historian Clare Crane discuss with their guests some aspects of the life of John D. Spreckels, and his impact on San Diego's economic development and urban growth pattern during the period 1890-1930. The continuing influence of Spreckels' projects is illustrated by visits to the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, and the Spreckels Theatre. The debate [at the time] over mass transit facilities is discussed by Senator Mills. Dana Basney discusses Spreckels' character and motivations, and the development of his varied business activities, especially in water systems and public transit. Senator James Mills comments on the significance of the San Diego Electric Railway system, and on the difficulties of building the San Diego Arizona and Eastern Railroad. He discusses possibilities for the future use of the railroad right-of-way. Zelma Locker reminisces about riding the streetcars in Depression-era San Diego. Geoffrey Schlaes and Jacquelyn Littlefield talk about the historic Spreckels Theatre and their plans to renovate the facilities. Bob Johnston recalls the "good old days" of live theatre and burlesque performances in San Diego, and the changes that have taken place since the 1920s. Jared Jacobsen plays selections on the Spreckels outdoor organ in Balboa Park, and Lyle Blackington takes us on a tour of the organ's pressure chamber. Richard Pourade comments on the newspaper rivalry between Spreckels' San Diego Union and E.W. Scripps' San Diego Sun. C.J. Stafford shares his memories of what it was like to do business with John D. Spreckels. Other interviewees include: Dana Basney, SDSU student who wrote a Masters Thesis on Spreckels; and James Mills, then President Pro-temp of the California State Senate and former curator of the Serra Museum. Names mentioned during the program include: Wyatt Earp, Elisha S. Babcock, Edward Henry "Ned" Harriman, and William "Bill" Kettner.