SDCONDO by Lew Breeze since 2001.

Show/Hide for a brief history of downtown San Diego, California, USA.

[Most of the links in this section will open a new page from a separate website.]

California: About 175 years ago, as the local community grew in the new state of California, government surveyor Andrew Gray (1820-1862) recognized that the best place for a seaside city was by the bay. William Heath Davis (1822-1909), from San Francisco, agreed. Davis and a small group of businessmen purchased one hundred and sixty acres (up to what is now Front and Broadway), for just over two-thousand dollars. They named it New Town (as to differentiate it from Old Town), and planned out fifty-six blocks around downtown's first park, Pantoja Plaza, named for Spanish explorer Don Juan Pantoja y Arriaga, who first surveyed & charted San Diego Bay in 1782. Pantoja Park still remains today, in the Marina District surrounded by condos such as Park Row, Marina Park, The Watermark and Columbia Place. The park is registered as the 7th San Diego Historic Landmark. Davis purchased 14 prefabricated houses, built in New England, and also constructed a wharf and warehouse in preparation of the anticipated residents and shipping opportunities. Unfortunately, an economic depression followed. While events of his day did not permit Davis to achieve his dream, his ideas were a premonition as to what would occur in years to come. Of the original fourteen houses, one still exists at the corner of Fourth and Island, now a museum by the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation.

Alonzo Erastus Horton (1813-1909) purchased 960 acres of New Town within one month of arriving in San Diego. Total cost: $264, or 27.5¢ per acre. Horton created a grid of streets with small blocks, without alleys, allowing for a larger number of (more valuable) corner lots to be sold. The first real estate boom was underway! The price of downtown lots doubled and tripled over and over. New Town was established as the physical, social and economic hub of San Diego. Horton House, built where the U.S. Grant Hotel is now located, was one of the finest hotels of the day. In addition to being president of the first Bank of San Diego, he also donated land for a small town square that became Horton Plaza Park.

San Diego's first electric street lights were installed downtown in 1886, and trolley lines began operating in 1888, with over thirty-seven miles of track. Elegant office buildings dotted Fifth Avenue where the region's business occurred during the day. South of Market Street, however, several blocks of bawdy houses, gin joints, gambling halls and opium dens, known as the Stingaree district, provided the nightlife. The area today is part of the historic Gaslamp Quarter.

With his Tombstone days behind him, Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) showed up in San Diego, investing heavily from 1885 to 1887. Earp owned or leased four saloons and gambling halls; the most famous was the Oyster Bar, located in the Louis Bank Building on Fifth Avenue.

The late 1890s ushered in a difficult period for San Diego. The city's struggling economy owed much of the following recovery to a wealthy businessman named John D. Spreckels, who made his fortune in his father's sugar business in Hawaii. Spreckels came to downtown in 1887 for a visit from his home in San Francisco. He made his visit permanent. In downtown, Spreckels was responsible for a great deal of growth. At one time, he owned most of the acreage south of Broadway. He purchased the streetcar system and changed it from horsepower to electricity. He also bought The San Diego Union and Tribune newspapers (merged in 1992). San Diego's cultural life benefited from his accomplishments as well, including the building of the landmark Spreckels Theatre. He also built the Hotel San Diego (Video: Demolished in 2006), and the Bank of America Building at Sixth and Broadway in 1927, the last building of any significance constructed until the 1970s, when interest in redevelopment in downtown San Diego resumed. Spreckels is remembered as "One of America's few great "Empire Builders" who invested millions to turn a struggling, bankrupt village into the beautiful and cosmopolitan city San Diego is today."

Copy of The New York Times article from May 22, 1988 by Kathy Shocket: Luring Renters to Downtown: Attracting young professionals with rents ranging from $480 to $850 per month!

For another brief write up on our history visit the timeline on Gaslamp's History.

Here is a link to an old Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) Map, listing many of the then completed, planned, and planned but never built projects from the early 2000s, when most of the Internet wasn't as sophisticated as today. It may be interesting to some to view the developer renderings of the buildings.

I hope you enjoyed the above. Now it may be the right time for you to purchase your new home in downtown San Diego with Lew Breeze as your guide! Text or call 619-846-5889 or email Thank you for visiting!

On vacation until June

BROKER LEW BREEZE | Telephone (619) 846-5889
Downtown San Diego 92101 and La Jolla 92037 and Mt. Helix 91941