Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego

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Gaslamp Quarter Historic District
Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego is located in California
Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
Location Bounded by RR tracks, Broadway, 4th, and 6th Aves., San Diego, California
Coordinates 32°42′42″N 117°9′33″W / 32.71167°N 117.15917°W / 32.71167; -117.15917Coordinates: 32°42′42″N 117°9′33″W / 32.71167°N 117.15917°W / 32.71167; -117.15917
Area 38 acres (15 ha)
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Late Victorian, Art Deco
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 80000841[1]
SDHL # 127
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 23, 1980
Designated SDHL June 2, 1978[2]

The Gaslamp Quarter is the historic heart of San Diego, California. It is a 16½ block historical neighborhood in Downtown San Diego and is the center of downtown night life. The Quarter is home to many events and festivals, including Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Street Scene Music Festival, Taste of Gaslamp and ShamROCK, a St. Patrick's Day event. PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres is located one block away in downtown San Diego's East Village.

The area is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places as Gaslamp Quarter Historic District. Its main period of development began in 1867, when Alonzo Horton bought the land in hopes of creating a new city center closer to the bay, and chose 5th Avenue as its main street. After a period of urban decay, the neighborhood underwent urban renewal in the 1980s and 1990s, and is today an energetic business and entertainment district.

The Gaslamp Quarter extends from Broadway to Harbor Drive, and from 4th to 6th Avenue, covering 16½ blocks. It includes 94 historic buildings, most of which were constructed in the Victorian Era, and are still in use with active tenants including restaurants, shops and nightclubs.


Corner in the Quarter

When development of the area began in the 1860s, the area currently known as the Gaslamp Quarter was known as New Town, in contrast to Old Town, which was the original Spanish colonial settlement of San Diego. The name "Gaslamp Quarter" is a reference to the gas lamps that were common in San Diego in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Four new gaslamps have been installed at the intersection of Market Street and 5th Avenue to evoke that time.

The Gaslamp Quarter features a pedestrian scramble at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Market Street.


1850: William Heath Davis buys 160 acres (0.65 km2) in what will eventually become the Gaslamp Quarter. Despite heavy investment from Davis, little development happens in this period.[3]

1867: Real estate developer Alonzo Horton arrived in San Diego and purchases 800 acres (3.2 km2) of land in New Town for $265. Major development begins in the Gaslamp Quarter.[4]

1880s to 1900s: Now known as the Stingaree, the area was home to many saloons, gambling halls, and bordellos.

1950s-1970s: The decaying Gaslamp Quarter became known as a "Sailor's Entertainment" district, with a high concentration of pornographic theaters, bookshops and massage parlors.

1970: Public interest in preserving buildings downtown starts, especially in Gaslamp Quarter.

1976: The city adopted the Gaslamp Quarter Urban Design and Development Manual, aimed at preserving buildings in the area, and the redevelopment of Gaslamp Quarter as a national historic district.

1982: Gaslamp Quarter became the major focus of the redevelopments in downtown by the city of San Diego.


The Gaslamp Quarter draws a cosmopolitan populace to its streets. While the Quarter itself is largely devoid of sky scrapers and high rise buildings, the architecture is sophisticated and reflects a period of Victorian-style development in the city. The name sake of the Quarter, gas lamps line the streets of the Quarter on all blocks of the area. The abundance of dining venues reveals international aspects of the city that provide people with a variety of dining options reflecting global cuisine.

Shopping venues abound in the Quarter. While numerous clothing stores occupy storefront locations in the Quarter, adjacent Horton Plaza is the larger shopping center accommodating numerous stores.


Panoramic view of the Gaslamp Quarter from the San Diego Convention Center, with the Hilton Gaslamp Quarter in the center and Petco Park and the Metropolis at the Omni San Diego Hotel to the far right.

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