Horton Plaza Park

Coordinates: 32°42′55″N 117°09′41″W / 32.7152°N 117.1615°W / 32.7152; -117.1615
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Horton Plaza Park
Horton Plaza and Fountain.jpg
Plaza and Fountain from above
Horton Plaza Park is located in San Diego
Horton Plaza Park
Location in central San Diego
TypeUrban park
LocationSan Diego, California, U.S.
Coordinates32°42′55″N 117°09′41″W / 32.7152°N 117.1615°W / 32.7152; -117.1615
Area1.2 acres (0.0049 km2)
Owned byCity of San Diego
Operated byWestfield

Horton Plaza Park is an outdoor venue located in the heart of downtown San Diego, which had its grand opening on May 4, 2016. Located on the corner of 4th Avenue and Broadway, the plaza preserves the history and integrity of the original Horton Plaza, while adding key features to enhance the area. In addition to restoring the Broadway Fountain, the park includes an amphitheater for live music acts, retail Pavilions and a new, interactive fountain.[1] The plaza was designated a historical landmark by the City of San Diego on March 19, 1971.[2] The city-owned park was designed by landscape architect Walker Macy and built by Civic San Diego.[3]


The plaza is bordered to the north by Broadway Ave and the U.S. Grant Hotel, former site of the Horton House Hotel. Flanking the east and west are 4th and 3rd Avenues, respectively. Immediately to the south is the Westfield Horton Plaza shopping mall.


1890 – 1960[edit]

Fountain in 1915
The fountain's cupola with official name visible: BROADWAY FOUNTAIN

The area of the park was sold to the city of San Diego in 1895 by its namesake, Alonzo Horton.[4] Originally, the plaza was intended for use by his guests staying at the Horton House Hotel.[5] In 1909, the plaza was chosen as the site of a "weather kiosk" provided by the U.S. Weather Bureau. Park commissioners laid out the plaza in harmony with the lines of the kiosk, according to one source, reserving the center for a fountain.[6] Louis J. Wilde, banker and part-owner of the U. S. Grant Hotel, donated funds to help build a fountain located in the center of the Park. Irving J. Gill designed the Broadway Fountain, which was completed in 1910.[1]

In 1926, a plaque commemorating the western terminus of the Jefferson Davis Highway was installed in Horton Plaza. It has since been moved to the western sidewalk of the plaza following the 2016 renovation.[7][8] Following the Charlottesville terror attack in Virginia, the San Diego City Council removed the plaque on August 16, 2017.[9]

1960 – 1970s[edit]

Throughout the years, the Horton Plaza Park was the backdrop for many notable events. On November 2, 1960, then-Senator John F. Kennedy spoke at Horton Plaza to make a last-minute appeal for votes just six days before the 1960 Presidential Election.[10] On March 19, 1971, the City of San Diego designated the plaza as a historical landmark.

2010 - present[edit]

The park in 2016

In 2011, the San Diego City Council unanimously voted to approve a unique public-private partnership between Westfield and the City of San Diego. This plan involved Westfield demolishing the former Robinsons-May and Planet Hollywood building at Westfield Horton Plaza Shopping Center and transferring the land to the city.[11] The operators of the adjacent Westfield Horton Plaza shopping center partnered with the city in the renovation.

The overall project aims to restore the historic Horton Plaza Park and fountain, re-establishing it as the regional treasure that it was in the early-to-mid 1900s.[12] The aim was for the plaza to host scheduled events such as concerts, movie screenings, and celebrations. The park opened in May 2016.[13]

Broadway Fountain[edit]

The fountain in the middle of the plaza was designed by Irving Gill, which he modeled after the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. Louis J. Wilde, banker and part-owner of the U. S. Grant Hotel, donated $10,000 to help build the fountain,[5] which was completed in 1910.[2] The engraving on the frieze reads "Broadway Fountain for the People."[14]

Cold weather in January 1913 caused the water in the fountain to freeze, an event rare in the region. San Diegans visited the fountain and stood on the thick ice.[15]

The restored Gill fountain is the centerpiece of the plaza, which also has an amphitheater, an interactive pop-jet fountain, and light sculptures.[16]


Spanning over 53,000 square feet (4,900 m2), Horton Plaza Park is composed of three sections: South Plaza, Amphitheater, and Historic Park. Included in the plaza are granite finishes, an interactive pop-jet fountain and 8 Luminaries (23-foot-tall [7.0 m] color-changing light sculptures).[17] There are three food and beverage Pavilions located at Horton Plaza Park including Starbucks and Sloan's Ice Cream. Each Pavilion has adjacent patio seating covered by a trellised overhang.[18]

The onsite ArtsTix Ticket Booth offers tickets to local theaters and other attractions and is operated by the San Diego Performing Arts League. The Park offers recreational, cultural, educational and promotional events for the community, including Park Unplugged, a free ongoing entertainment series, and Plaza Play, an ongoing game series.[19] Horton Plaza Park is available to rent for public or private functions.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Showley, Roger (2016). "Horton Plaza: Historic park reopens in $17M expansion". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Tribune Publishing.
  2. ^ a b "Historical Landmarks Designated by the SD Historical Resources Board" (PDF). City of San Diego Historical Resources Board. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Horton Plaza Park – Walker Macy".
  4. ^ Burnham, Mary Maud (Fall 1974). "SAN DIEGO'S HORTON PLAZA". The Journal of San Diego History. 20 (4).
  5. ^ a b Amero, Richard W. "Horton Plaza Park: Where People Meet and Opposites Collide". Balboa Park History. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  6. ^ Carpenter, Ford A. (1913). The Climate and Weather of San Diego, California. San Diego: San Diego Chamber of Commerce. pp. 97–98.
  7. ^ "J. D. Highway". www.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  8. ^ Gunter, Booth; Kizzire, Jamie. Gunter, Booth (ed.). "Whose heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy" (PDF). Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-16. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  9. ^ Christopher Ward [@ChrisWardD3] (16 August 2017). "This morning we removed plaque in @HortonPlazaPark honoring Jefferson Davis. Monuments to bigotry have no place in…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  10. ^ "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA," November 2, 1960
  11. ^ Showley, Roger (2011). "Horton Plaza park expansion design selected". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Tribune Publishing.
  12. ^ "Horton Plaza Park". Horton Plaza Park. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  13. ^ "Restored Park Opens at Downtown's Horton Plaza". San Diego Business Journal. May 4, 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  14. ^ Coons, Alana. "The Broadway Fountain How it came to be SOHO's logo". Save Our Heritage Organisation. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  15. ^ Pourade, Richard F. (1965). Gold in the Sun (1st ed.). San Diego: The Union-Tribune Publishing Company. p. 170. ISBN 0-913938-04-1.
  16. ^ Hirsh, Lou (March 3, 2016). "May 4 Opening Scheduled for Horton Plaza Park". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Horton Plaza Park". Horton Plaza Park. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  18. ^ Woo, Candice (2016). "Horton Plaza Park Grand Opens Downtown With Sloan's Ice Cream". San Diego Eater. Vox Media.
  19. ^ Showley, Roger (2016). "Horton Plaza Park opening May 4". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Tribune Publishing.
  20. ^ "Visitors". Horton Plaza Park. Horton Plaza Park. Retrieved 6 June 2016.

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