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El Cajon ( el kə-HOHN, American Spanish: [el kaˈxon]; Spanish: El Cajón, meaning "the box") is a city in San Diego County, California, United States, 17 mi (27 km) east of downtown San Diego. The city takes its name from Rancho El Cajón, which was named for the box-like shape of the valley that surrounds the city, and the origin of the city's common nickname "the Box". == Name == El Cajón, Spanish for "the box", was first recorded on September 10, 1821, as an alternative name for sitio rancho Santa Mónica to describe the "boxed-in" nature of the valley in which it sat. The name appeared on maps in 1873 and 1875, shortened to "Cajon", until the modern town developed, in which the post office was named "El Cajon". In 1905, the name was once again expanded to "El Cajon" under the insistence of California banker and historian Zoeth Skinner Eldredge.