Tag Archives: Gaslamp Quarter San Diego

Gaslamp History in San Diego California

Namesake of Horton Plaza, Alonzo Horton develo...

Namesake of Horton Plaza, Alonzo Horton developed “New Town” which became Downtown San Diego. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Night shot profiling the Colors and L...

English: Night shot profiling the Colors and Lights of the Downtown Sky. Night Shot, Long Exposure. San Diego, California. Français : Vue de nuit du quartier d’affaires de San Diego, Californie (USA). Exposition longue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter (Photo credit: Erik Pitti)

The Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, Calif...

The Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yuma Building

Yuma Building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Westfield Horton Plaza in San Diego, California.

Westfield Horton Plaza in San Diego, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Westfield Horton Plaza, in San Diego ...

English: Westfield Horton Plaza, in San Diego Español: Centro comercial Westfield Horton Plaza, en San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Westfield Horton Plaza in downtown Sa...

English: Westfield Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego. Photographed by user Coolcaesar on February 18, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William Heath Davis (1822-1909), early settler...

William Heath Davis (1822-1909), early settler of San Diego California. Noted author, associated with Lieutenant Gray in abortive effort to found new town, frequently called Davis’ Folly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The history of the Gaslamp Quarter is San Diego can be traced to William Heath Davis. In 1850, San Franciscan William Heath Davis began developing land near Market Street.  

Davis was the original founder of “New Town” San Diego; he wanted to build a community closer to the Bay.

Old Town San Diego, which you can still visit, is more that a mile from the water.

Alonzo Horton
Along came Alonzo Horton. In 1867, Alonzo Horton,  arrived in San Diego from San Francisco and decided to develope land by the waterfront. He purchased 800 acres for about 33 cents an acre. This land became known as Horton’s addition.

San Diego Gaslamp

San Diego Gaslamp

San Diego Mardi Gras 2014 033 San Diego Mardi Gras 2014 028 San Diego Mardi Gras 2014 062 San Diego Mardi Gras 2014 048 San Diego Mardi Gras 2014 060

In 1867, Horton requested a public city park; eventually, this became Balboa Park.

Alonzo Horton statue

Alonzo Horton statue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Read more about: Alonzo Horton and the Gaslamp Quarter Renaissance

Horton's Wharf

Wyatt EarpIn the prosperous 1880’s, San Diego attracted prostitutes and gamblers to the area that we know as the Gaslamp. The area south of Market became a redlight district known as “Stigaree”.
In 1980, The Gaslamp Quarter was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Gaslamp Quarter extends from Broadway to Harbor Drive, and from 4th to 6th Avenue. In this area you will find about 94 historic buildings. Most of these Victorian Gems have been converted into bars and restaurants.

Here’s a list of all of the National Register of Historic Places in San Diego:

In 1991, The Gaslamp Quarter Archway sign was dedicated. The Gaslamp Quarter Archway was designed by Harman Nelson, architect, and built by Roy Flahive of Pacific Sign Construction Company.

“The sign is significant in that it uses neon, incandescent and flourescent light fixtures to present a beautiful, vibrant display.  The Gaslamp Quarter Archway was symbolic as a declaration that the City of San Diego was committed to continuing the redevelopment of Downtown.  It serves as an icon for other cities to look to the Gaslamp Quarter as an example of successful redevelopment.”

San Diego

San Diego

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Learn more about the Gaslamp Quarter Archway refurbishment in 2013: http://www.gaslamp.org/archway

The Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, California.

The Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Gaslamp Quarter is where all the party animals come when they visit San Diego. It is brimming with great restaurants and you can always find an interesting Happy Hour opportunity!

San Diego

San Diego

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For more information about the history of the Gaslamp Quarter visit the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation’s web site at www.gaslampquarter.org

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ http://www.vino-con-vista.com

Gaslamp Quarter, Downtown San Diego, Californi...

Gaslamp Quarter, Downtown San Diego, California (San Diego, Historical Centre) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The original Chinese Mission School opens in rented facilities at the First Presbyterian Church at 8th and D (now Broadway). The Mission becomes a social center and a catalyst for interaction between Caucasians and Asians in San Diego. It also provides an opportunity for Chinese, and later Japanese, immigrants to learn English and receive religious instruction.

Feisty, red-haired call girl Ida Bailey takes up residence at a house of ill repute in the Stingaree. Here you can find 350 prostitutes working in 120 bordellos. The Stingaree’s 71 saloons boast names such as the Turf, Oasis, First and Last Chance, Saloon, Old Tub of Blood and Legal Tender

San Diego’s 1880s real estate boom ends. By the end of the decade the population has dropped from 40,000 to 16,000.

Horton Hotel & Park1894
Alonza Horton makes a deal city fathers can’t refuse: he sells them a valuable half-block of land for $10,000, stipulating that it must remain a park forever. Under the agreement, the city agrees to pay Horton $100 a month with no interest and no down payment. In the event of Horton’s death, the city would acquire the property outright. The city fathers underestimated Horton’s endurance. In April 1903 a spry, 89-year-old Horton cashed the final payment. Today Horton’s park fronts Horton Plaza and has been renamed Horton Plaza Park.

Madame Ida Bailey opens up her own fancy parlor house at 530 4th Avenue called the Canary Cottage. In the pale yellow house set behind a white picket fence, she and her girls “entertain” downtown’s well-groomed gentlemen with fat wallets, including the mayor and chief of police.

Having lost most of his properties through tax sales and foreclosures, Alonzo Horton dies at the Agnew Sanitarium. On his 95th birthday he tells a newspaper reporter, “It’s the most beautiful place in the world to me, and I had rather have the affection and friendly greeting of the people of San Diego than all the rulers in the world.”   Ironically, the same year in San Leandro, California, William Heath Davis also dies financially impoverished.

Influenced by a wave of citizen morality, police raid the Stingaree and arrest 138 prostitutes operating out of sleeping rooms on the upper floors of the district’s buildings. One hundred thirty-six promise to leave the city; two agree to reform their ways. The next morning, however, one changes her mind. The other was found to be insane.

With the red lights of the Stingaree officially turned off, San Diego becomes unpopular as a liberty port for the Navy. Seven hundred ninety-seven men aboard several warships vote for San Francisco as their favorite liberty port. San Diego gets only 17 votes.

Ah Quinn1914
Ah Quin, Labor contractor for the California Southern Railroad, comes to a tragic end when he is struck and killed by a motorcycle at 3rd and J.  He dies one of the wealthiest Chinese in Southern California.

The Chinese Benevolent Society is founded to protect the interests of all Chinese citizens in San Diego. The Society is housed in the building at 428 3rd Avenue, in front of which Chinese holidays are traditionally celebrated.

San Diego Train Station The old Santa Fe Depot.

San Diego Train Station The old Santa Fe Depot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Post World War II to the early 1970s

Following World War II, the suburbs outside of Downtown San Diego experience an influx of new residents and businesses, leaving the Gaslamp Quarter as the home of tattoo parlors, seedy bars, pawn shops, and locker clubs.  Adult businesses, including peep shows, massage parlors, and adult bookstores, continue to converge on the Gaslamp for the next 20 to 30 years.

gaslamp-history- 5th Ave1974
Business and property owners band together, under the leadership of former City Councilmember Tom Hom, petition the City Council to aid in revitalizing of the Gaslamp Quarter.  The San Diego City Council provides $100,000 to rehabilitate the Gaslamp Quarter, as well as to develop design guidelines to preserve the district’s historic aesthetic.  One of the first buildings to be restored was the Buel-Town Company Building (current home of the Old Spaghetti Factory).  Restorations to the Pacific Hotel and the Keating soon followed.


The Gaslamp Quarter Urban Design and Development Manual is adopted by the City Council.  The guidelines gained acceptance and the the City of San Diego adopted a Planned District Ordinace for the Gaslamp Quarter, which established design and use guidelines for the redevelopment of the Gaslamp as a National Historic District.

Developers and restoration experts are encouraged to continue restoring the Gaslamp’s Victorian buildings, leading to one of the most profound joint urban preservation efforts in San Diego history.  Business and property owners form a Business Improvement District (BID) named the Gaslamp Quarter Association in an effort to protect the historic district.

The idea of the Gaslamp Archway on 5th Ave. and L St. is first conceived.

The Gaslamp Quarter Archway is installed and funded by redevelopment funds overseen by Centre City Development Corporation.

Gaslamp Archway

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