Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego

4 out of 5 stars 4 Stars - 33 Reviews

Downtown San Diego

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  • In the inner courtyard between the two buildings
    In the inner courtyard between the two...
    by Jefie
  • Dining room of the William Heath Davis House
    Dining room of the William Heath Davis...
    by Jefie
  • Gateway arch on Fifth Avenue
    Gateway arch on Fifth Avenue
    by Jefie
  • davesut's Profile Photo

    Evening Dinner

    by davesut Written Mar 22, 2014

    From the beach we headed to the Gaslamp Quarter for dinner. There was certainly a lot of choice. I think that the prices were a tad on the expensive side and it was very busy but I liked the vibe. I think you have to go with the atmosphere in this part of town, enjoy it, embrace it. It may not be for you and I think one evening was enough for us, better with a group of friends I would guess.

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    Echoes of an Era

    by goodfish Updated Jan 28, 2014

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    Most tourists flock the Gaslamp for shopping, bars and restaurants but for visitors with an interest in architecture, this district is a goldmine. Over 90 turn-of-the-century buildings of various styles are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and most of the them have been beautifully preserved and/or restored.

    Today’s Gaslamp was the “new” town which replaced frontier-like Old Town as San Diego’s center of commerce at the tail end of of the 19th century. Real estate developer Alonzo Horton purchased over 900 acres of bayfront property and busied himself over the next 13 years or so building a wharf, hotel, bank and theater, and selling off lots - at a nice profit - to enterprising individuals influenced by Horton’s bright vision of his fledgling city as a major rail and shipping hub. By 1880, business and building was booming - although not necessarily according to plan. Gambling halls, saloons and brothels occupied much of an area south of Market - known as the Stingaree - and eventually the whole thing went bust when speculative industrial growth failed to materialize, and the influx of new arrivals far exceeded the amount of available jobs. Mr. Horton, who once complained that he was "getting tired of handling so much money”, had lost most of his fortune by the time of his death in 1909.

    While the Gaslamp fell into decay, many of the handsome commercial and residential structures thankfully survived. In the 1970’s the city took measures to preserve these architectural treasures, create guidelines regarding the proportion and appearance of new construction, and successfully revitalize the district.

    Historic walking tours are offered by the Gaslamp Museum:
    http://www.gaslampquarter.org/tours-gaslamp-quarter/

    You may also print out this self-guided tour from the Frommer’s website:
    http://www.frommers.com/destinations/san-diego/663527

    My photos are:
    I.O.O.F building, 1882, Classical Revival
    Louis Bank of Commerce, 1888, Baroque Revival
    Yuma building, 1888, Baroque Revival
    Horton Grand Hotel, 1886, Victorian
    Spencer-Ogden building, 1874, French Renaissance

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    • Architecture

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  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    The historic heart of San Diego

    by Jefie Updated Nov 4, 2013

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    Historic building in the Gaslamp Quarter
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    The Gaslamp Quarter was developed in the 1860s. It was then known as "New Town", in opposition to the Old Town area. In its early days, the area's streets were filled with saloons, gambling halls and houses of ill repute - this was, after all, America's Far West. Over the years, the Gaslamp Quarter kept on providing entertainment, but its reputation got increasingly dubious with the apparition of pornographic theaters and massage parlors mostly frequented by sailors. In the 1970s, the Gaslamp Quarter Association was created to preserve the area's history and redevelop the district. Today, the Gaslamp Quarter once again provides entertainment in the more family-friendly form of stores, restaurants and nightclubs. It gets especially busy in the evening and on the weekend. For those who'd like to take a closer look at its history, it's possible to go on a guided tour (Saturdays at 11:00 am, starting at the William Heath Davis House) or go on a self-guided walk of the area. There are some 90 historical buildings on which you can find information pannels - most are located on 4th and 5th Avenue, between J Street and Broadway. It's also possible to buy a map (on sale at the William Heath Davis House for $2) that shows where all the buildings are located.

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    Horton Grand Hotel

    by Jefie Updated Oct 30, 2013

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    Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego, CA
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    When you're walking around the Gaslamp Quarter, it's well worth taking a few minutes to explore this historic hotel dating back to the 1880s. Today's structure actually consists of what used to be two separate hotels: the Horton Grand Hotel, the oldest hotel in San Diego and still one of the finest, and the Brooklyn Hotel, a somewhat more modest place originally built in the Cowboy-Victorian style. Wyatt Earp spent about 7 years at the latter, while the former frequently hosted American presidents and international royalty. The two hotels were joined and entirely renovated in the 1980s. Although they now operate as one hotel, it's still interesting to see the contrast between the two buildings as you walk around the lobby area that has been built to connect the two.

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    William Heath Davis House

    by Jefie Written Oct 29, 2013

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    William Heath Davis House in the Gaslamp Quarter
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    Built in 1850, this is the oldest house in the Gaslamp Quarter. It's home to the Gaslamp Quarter Association, and it's possible to go on self-guided tours of the house. Its 10 rooms are furnished so as to represent the early history of the house and of its different tenants, and it thus makes for a nice, quick introduction to the more historic side of the Gaslamp Quarter. The house is named after William Heath Davis, even though he never lived in it. He was the first man to come up with the idea of developing a new downtown for San Diego but unfortunately, after buying the land he needed to carry out his plan, he was forced to give up on the idea when his wealth and fortune went up in flames (literally!) in the 1851 San Francisco fire. A few years later, Alonzo Horton, one of the house's earliest tenants, picked up the idea and turned it into a successful venture, giving birth to the area we now call the Gaslamp Quarter.

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  • lmkluque's Profile Photo

    The Gaslamp Quarter

    by lmkluque Updated Aug 15, 2013

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    During Comic-Con 2913
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    The Gaslamp Quarter is about sixteen blocks of shopping, dining and nightclubs that offer something exciting for everyone. Day and night it is a vibrant part of the city.

    Downtown San Diego had lost its appeal as more and more shopping malls sprang up in the various communities. Still many people worked downtown, but didn't stay past five. Little by little the streets were taken over by the homeless and some unsavory characters and The fountain in the town square called, Horton Plaza became a place the homeless used to wash up.

    The city "fathers" finally devised a plan to change the pending fate of our sad little town and The Gaslamp Quarter was the result.

    In a few short years--by city development standards--San Diegans had a re-vitalized downtown area that was fun to spend time in, elegant to live in and beautiful enough to be proud of. Even the homeless were hired to walk security detail!

    Now, instead of avoiding this old section of downtown S.D. we are telling everyone who will listen, "The Gaslamp Quarter" is a Must See in San Diego!! Development is still going on and who knows how far it will spread?

    The Gaslamp sign as viewed on Fifth Avenue, looking north from the direction of the Convention Center.

    WELCOME TO DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO!

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    Lyceum Theater

    by lmkluque Updated May 18, 2013

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    Located at front of Horton Plaza. It has two stages and is the home to the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

    Even if you don't have time to go to the theater during your visit to San Diego, just looking at the unique design of this theater is something to see. However, if attending a play is top on your list, you should know that there is a Ticket Master, which offers discount tickets for most plays, concerts and other events going on in the San Diego area, and it is located just up the street from the Lyceum.

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  • travelgourmet's Profile Photo

    Lively day or night in the "Gaslamp Quarter."

    by travelgourmet Updated Nov 30, 2012

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    Jazz, night and day. Day and night.

    Not many areas of a city can let you walk for joy, shop till you drop, smack your lips looking at restaurant menus, listen to cool jazz, dance your "booty" off, or down a beer sitting at an outside, street side table, watch a major league baseball game, and hitting the bed at 2 am. In a 16 block area of San Diego, this all comes alive. You are in the Gaslamp Quarter.

    The Gaslamp Quarter has history as well. It all began when Alonzo E. Horton came to San Diego in 1867. He purchased land and built a wharf at the waterfront of 5th Ave in 1869. By the 1900's the joint was jumping and not to the happiness of the city's elite. Gaslamp Quarter was the honky-tonk, red light district with the Stingaree being the headquarters for prostitution. This area became know as taboo for the clean of heart and a wild area of fun for the military that had many sailors start their tattoo collection in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. But, by the 1980's things were a changin'. Buildings were refurbished. Shops and hotels were built or cleaned up. A giant mall, Horton's was built. Restaurants and nightclubs started to multiply. Today, there is even a Stingaree, but it is an upscale party hardy club. Now, thousands of visitors roam to see a great jazz artist or dine in a gourmet restaurant. The shady past is gone, almost. It still peeks out at you. All in all, it is a great place to party in San Diego

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  • winnietankl's Profile Photo

    Gaslamp Quarter

    by winnietankl Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Gaslamp Quarter is right across the street from the Convention Centre. It is a good place to shop and dine. Horton Plaza is few blocks from Gaslamp and it is an open air shopping mall with 130 stores. Enjoy night time at Gaslamp with lots of nightclubs and fine dining restaurants.

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  • AVG2319's Profile Photo

    Gaslamp Quarter

    by AVG2319 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Gaslamp Quarter is the place for restaurants, bars, clubs, and shopping. This area is filled with late night entertainment. This is a great area to stay in for singles or couples visiting San Diego

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    Gaslamp Quarter-Horton Plaza

    by Dabs Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Jessop's Clock
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    I made a pit stop at Horton Plaza on my walking tour of the Gaslamp Quarter mainly because I knew that there would be a restroom somewhere, it's more or less an outdoor shopping mall, not a top draw on my list when traveling. But on the way to the loo I did come across Jessop's Clock which I had remembered reading about. The clock has a long history in the city of San Diego, commissioned by Joseph Jessop, a local jeweler, it took 15 months to build and finally began publicly ticking in 1907. It's 1st stop was in Sacramento at a state fair, it then moved to 952 Fifth Avenue in front of J. Jessop and Sons. In 1927 it was moved to 1041 Fifth Avenue and finally again in 1984 to Horton Plaza.

    It's said that the clock has only stopped three times, once when a team of horses crashed into the clock, once during an earthquake and on the day of the clock maker's death. That last one sounds like a bit of an urban legend to me but it sure does make a nice story.

    The clock has 20 dials, on one of it's faces there are 12 dials which tell the time in places throughout the world.

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    Gaslamp Quarter

    by apbeaches Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    We walked around the Gaslamp Quarter is Southern California's premier dining, shopping and entertainment district, with n eclectic blend of food, fun and culture all within one of San Diego's most historic areas. Gaslamp's charming Victoria-style commercial buildings wer constructed between 1873 and 1930.

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  • things to go in san diego

    by sdjoe1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    there are a ton of great places. walk down 5th avenue and you'll see plenty of options. if you're looking for a good place to eat you may want to check out food reviews from this magazine: http://www.bizsandiego.com/previous-issues.shtml

    they also have great discussion forums. this one has a bunch of stuff on things to do and places to go: http://www.bizsandiego.com/index.php?option=com_joomlaboard&Itemid=9&func=showcat&catid=13

    hope this helps!

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    Downtown Entertainment District

    by tvdandy Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    see the distinct old fashioned gas lamps
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    The Gaslamp District in downtown is the entertainment district. It is a 6 block stretch of every type of restaurant you can think of and a wide range of clubs, live music venues and pubs. There are also some really cool shops in this area. The action really starts at night, the streets get packed and it is safe. Just don't wonder off. Just to let you know, parking is quite expensive here, and the cover charge isn't exactly cheap. Also, in the heart of this area is Horton Plaza, which is a downtown shopping mall, and in the center of the mall area, believe it or not, is an ice rink, in SAN DIEGO!

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    Gaslamp Quarter

    by cheap_tourist Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Gaslamp Quarter By Day

    Gaslamp Quarter lights up at night--at least, it was quite lively the one Saturday night I was there. It has many bars and restaurants that attract people who appreciate a good beer, a good conversation with good friends, and a good ambiance.

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