Shelltown, San Diego

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Shelltown, San Diego
An image looking southward on 40th Street, Naval Base San Diego in the distance
An image looking southward on 40th Street, Naval Base San Diego in the distance
Shelltown is located in the southeastern area of the city of San Diego
Shelltown is located in the southeastern area of the city of San Diego
Shelltown, San Diego is located in Southern San Diego
Shelltown, San Diego
Shelltown, San Diego
Location within San Diego
Coordinates: 32°24′40″N 117°37′34″W / 32.4112°N 117.626°W / 32.4112; -117.626
Country United States of America
State California
County San Diego
City San Diego
ZIP Code

Shelltown is a neighborhood located within Southeast San Diego, approximately 5 minutes from downtown San Diego by car and 25 minutes by bicycle. It is bordered by National City on the south, Interstate 5 and Barrio Logan on the west, 43rd Avenue (a continuation of Highland Avenue) on the east, and Gamma Court and the neighborhood of Southcrest on the north.[1] Prior to the 1980s the northern border of Shelltown was National Ave and many residents still consider that the northern border.[2]

Due to the predominance of shells in the sandy soil, the neighborhood became known as "Shelltown." Located on a plateau just north and east of the 32nd Street Naval Station, Shelltown was a favorite location of housing for many of the early naval officers. Their ships were visible from their homes and were only moments away in the event they were called to duty[3] The majority of Shelltown consists of residential homes built between 1920 and 1969.[4] The Naval Base San Diego, an industrial park, and some commercial buildings are located just outside the western border of Shelltown along Main Street.

Mexican Americans have a long history in the area and began living in the area as early as the 1910s.

With the great influx of Filipino immigrants joining the United States Navy,[5] especially from the Vietnam War era on to the 1990s, many Filipinos inhabited the Southeast San Diego neighborhoods of Alta Vista, Bay Terraces, Paradise Hills, Shelltown, Skyline Hills, and Valencia Park, both for the relatively affordable housing prices and its close proximity to Naval Base San Diego.[6]

Shelltown/Southcrest contains a large mural, which is one of three by several artists that were done near three Southeast San Diego neighborhood entrances. Local activist and muralist Mario Torero was the lead artist for the Alpha Street piece.[7]

San Diego’s Southcrest Trails Park is located just north of the Shelltown neighborhood within the Chollas Creek floodplain, part of the smallest watershed in San Diego and containing the highest population density. The Park itself is located south of Boston Avenue and west of South 38th Street.[8] The park was scheduled to be completed in December 2012 [9]

An upgrade to the park was started in March 2017 and was completed on Spring of 2018. [10]


Balboa Elementary School was recognized as one of six nationwide winners of the 2007 Intel Schools of Distinction awards, for excellence in math education in an elementary school program.[11][12][13]


The area is served by the San Diego Trolley Blue Line at the Pacific Fleet station and the Route 929 bus via Main Street. The neighborhood also has quick access to Interstate 5, Interstate 15, and Interstate 805.


  1. ^ "Neighborhood profile from". Retrieved 2011-02-09.
  2. ^
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  4. ^ "Shelltown neighborhood in San Diego, California (CA), 92113 subdivision profile - real estate, apartments, condos, homes, community, population, jobs, income, streets".
  5. ^ "Journal of San Diego History". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  6. ^ "San Diego Reader - Their Own Paradise". Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Southeastern San Diego Chollas Creek Enhancement Program | Planning Department | City of San Diego Official Website".
  10. ^ "Groundbreaking Held for 2.6-Acre Park in Southcrest". 14 March 2017.
  11. ^ Tintocalis, Ana. "Balboa Elementary Wins $170,000 for Nation's Best Math Programs", KPBS-FM, May 30, 2007. Accessed June 17, 2007. "A San Diego school gets national attention for having one of the country's top math programs. KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis has more."
  12. ^ "Balboa Named Nation’s Top Math Elementary: Intel’s award goes to Shelltown neighborhood school" Archived 2012-02-08 at the Wayback Machine, San Diego City Schools press release dated June 1, 2007. Accessed June 17, 2007. " Balboa Elementary has been named top elementary school math program in Intel Corporation’s annual Schools of Distinction Award. "
  13. ^ Fabiano, Giovanna. "Bergen Academies wins national math award", The Record (Bergen County), June 16, 2007. Accessed June 16, 2007.

Coordinates: 32°41′12″N 117°6′26″W / 32.68667°N 117.10722°W / 32.68667; -117.10722