Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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  • History of the Gaslamp Quarter
  • What to see in the Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego is certainly one of the most sought after destinations on the West Coast, but it is not just a city of sea, sun and fun. In fact, it is a place rich in history and with a particularly fascinating past.

About 15 blocks from downtown you can meet the quaint Gaslamp Quarter, which is perhaps the most picturesque and vibrant area of ​​San Diego. In spite of what you think, the real historic center of the Californian metropolis is not the Old Town, but the Gaslamp Quarter.

Around the neighborhood you should definitely walk along 5th Avenue, the most important street of the suburb, where you can go shopping or eat something on the fly.

Here the historic buildings alternate with restaurants, bars and shops and in the evening there is always a very cheerful nightlife. Let's go and find out more about the Gaslamp Quarter and the best attractions not to be missed.

History of the Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter stretches from Broadway to Harbor Drive and from 4th to 6th Avenue, encompassing all around 15 blocks.

Its name derives from the use of old gas street lamps, some of which have survived to this day and you can see them on the sidewalks of the main streets. You can also admire the large arched sign nearby which reads Gaslamp Quarter at the southern end of 5th Avenue.

In reality, in the district there are not only old street lamps, as modern skyscrapers mix with buildings of great historical value, many of them built in full Victorian style.

As for the neighborhood's troubled and controversial history, it all began in 1867, when the entrepreneur Alonzo Horton buys this large piece of land with the aim of erecting a new city center that is closer to the bay.

The suburb was therefore known in the beginning as New Town to differentiate itself with the Old Town, place of the first settlement in San Diego.

From a commercial area known for gambling, the Gaslamp Quarter witnessed a redevelopment process that between the XNUMXs and XNUMXs led to evident urban decay.

Only in the Eighties and Nineties did it continue an obvious effort to give it new luster and it is in this period that it is given its current name.

Today the area is registered as historic district on the National Register of Historic Places and welcomes every year many events and manifestations such as the Street Scene Music Festival, the Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, the Taste of Gaslamp and the ShamROCK, festival held on St. Patrick's Day.

Tour in segway del quartiere Gaslamp

What to see in the Gaslamp Quarter

Despite a rather stormy past, the Gaslamp Quarter has become over time one of the most popular and vibrant suburbs of San Diego and offers a wide selection of good food, shops for shopping and entertainment venues.

Let's see what are the most important things to visit.

Historical buildings

As anticipated, the 5th Avenue it is the main street of the Gaslamp Quarter, which you can take as a reference to orient yourself. However, the suggestion is to also explore other side streets such as 4th Avenue, 6th Avenue e Market Street.

Most of the buildings of historical interest are concentrated on 5th Avenue and right here are the most impressive ones.

For example, you will notice it Yuma Building at number 631. It is a building that dates back to 1882 and is recognizable for its wonderful red brick structure that mixes Victorian style with art décò.

Spread over 3 floors, it certainly does not go unnoticed with the two spiers and protruding windows. The name comes from the place in Arizona where the person who ordered its construction had worked. The Yuma Building has changed its intended use several times over the years and currently hosts cultural events.

Equally interesting is the Nesmith-Greely Building which stands at number 825. Also red in color, it was built in 1888 and is one of the flagships of the Gaslamp Quarter. In this case, however, it is not accessible to the public as there are only private apartments.

The architectural style is more inspired by the Romanesque and striking are the windows with a white outline that each have a different shape.

Next to the Nesmith-Greely Building there is the building of the Louis Bank of Commerce, dating from the same year, but devoted to a more baroque design. The outward appearance is more elaborate and in particular you can see two turrets on the top.

Also along 5th Avenue you can meet the Chuck Jones Gallery, at number 232. It is an art gallery that exhibits prints, sketches and drawings by Mr. Jones, the creator of many Looney Tunes cartoons such as Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and Duffy Duck.

In the neighborhood, however, there are other elegant historic buildings that you can observe on 5th Avenue:

  • Bijou Theater
  • Old City Hall
  • Spencer Ogden Building
  • Hubbell Building
  • Casino Theater
  • Samuel I. Fox Building
Scooter tour of Downtonwn and Gaslamp neighborhoods

Horton Plaza Park

Horton Plaza Park is the main square of the neighborhood or rather, the only one. On one side it has a small public garden surrounded by tall palm trees.

Nearby there is also a fountain with spectacular water games and an outdoor bar where you can stop for a drink.

The other part of the square is composed instead of a large space that hosts concerts, shows and public events of all kinds.

Davis Horton House

Davis Horton House is the oldest house in the entire San Diego district and can be found at 410 Island Avenue. The palace was built in 1850 and inside there is the headquarters of the historic foundation of the district.

Entering the building you can get an idea of ​​what life was like in the city at the end of the XNUMXth century. Indeed, there are volunteers wearing period clothes that tell old stories and curiosities.

The house is jokingly called a saltbox as its exterior shape vaguely resembles the salt boxes of yesteryear. The entrance time is from Wednesday to Saturday, by 10: 00 17 to: 00. The ticket costs 8 dollars and there is the possibility to book guided tours.

Balboa Theatre

The beauties of the Gaslamp Quarter don't end on 5th Avenue. It is no coincidence that the splendid is on 4th Avenue Balboa Theatre. It is a theater built in 1924 with the aim of hosting the local cinema.

In 1934 it was refurbished and films and films produced in Mexico began to be shown. During the Second World War the upper floors were transformed into accommodation for sailors and in the XNUMXs the theater it risked being demolished.

Luckily it was rescued by the Russo family who then sold it to the city in 1986. The Balboa Theater subsequently remained closed for almost twenty years and only in 2002 did the municipality decide to keep it as a public good.

In 2008 the theater finally reopened and since then there has been growing public success at the state and national levels.

For more information on restaurants, parking lots, shops and scheduled events, we recommend that you visit the official portal del Gaslamp Quarter.

Tour in segway del Balboa Park
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