Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego

4 out of 5 stars 36 Reviews

Downtown San Diego (619) 233-5227

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  • Alonzo Horton's bedroom at the Gaslamp Museum
    Alonzo Horton's bedroom at the Gaslamp...
    by Jefie
  • Historic building in the Gaslamp Quarter
    Historic building in the Gaslamp Quarter
    by Jefie
  • Ghirardelli chololate and ice cream shop
    Ghirardelli chololate and ice cream shop
    by Jefie
  • travelgourmet's Profile Photo

    Lively day or night in the "Gaslamp Quarter."

    by travelgourmet Updated Nov 30, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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

    Jazz, night and day. Day and night.
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    The Gaslamp Quarter

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 30, 2005

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    This is San Diego's Historic Gas Lamp Quarter district. Hmmm, does that hint around what it use to be around here? Gosh, if the walls could talk in these buildings...or maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea to hear.......LOL!!! Ok, onto the history lesson, this area use to be a notorious area for gamblers and prostitutes, such as Wyatt Earp and Ida Bailey, who founded numerous gambling halls, saloons and brothels. Wow a sight that must of have been. As colorful as our history is, it is still history and they were still people. Now it has become one of trendiest area for so many to frequent and hang out. Loads of restaurants, theaters, clubs and shopping. It is a place where you can see charming Victorian-style buildings constructed between 1880 and 1910 and at night.....Wow....the old-fashioned gas lamps begin to glow along the wide brick walkways illuminating many charming sidewalk cafes. Over 70 restaurants to enjoy or have a late-night coffee and tea at one of the many coffee houses. Here is another tip, park in the underground parking garage where the downtown mall is, buy something at any of the stores and they will validate your parking for free.....Yay!*

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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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    The Gaslamp Quarter

    by lmkluque Updated Aug 15, 2013

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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!

    Comic-Con 2014 During Comic-Con 2913 Welcome to Downtown Comic-Con 2012
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    Gaslamp Quarter-Horton Plaza

    by Dabs Updated Apr 4, 2011

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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.

    Jessop's Clock Jessop's Clock

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    Gaslamp Quarter

    by Dabs Updated Nov 12, 2008

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    The Gaslamp Quarter is a revitalized section of downtown San Diego, like many urban centers it started as the main business district, went through a period of decay, then revitalized with the help of preservationists. The major development of this area started in 1867 when Alonzo Horton started to develop it. It didn't take long though for the seedy elements to move in, by the 1880s the area started attracting prostitutes and gamblers and by the mid 1900s it was filled the urban blight of adult bookstores, X rated theaters and massage parlors. The preservationists rallied to save the historic buildings in the 19070s and now you will find trendy restaurants, clubs and shops in and around the historic buildings.

    The Gaslamp Quarter covers 16 1/2 blocks and has over 90 buildings listed on the National Historic Register. Architecture fans may want to take a tour, the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation gives a guided tour Saturdays at 11 am or Frommer's has a niceself guided walking tour online.

    Photo 1 Yuma Building, built in 1888, it was a brothel in 1912, the 1st to be closed when they tried to clean up the area

    Photo 2 The Keating Building built in 1890 by George Keating who died 1/2 way through the completion, his wife engraved his name at the top of the building

    Photo 3 Louis Bank of Commerce built in 1888, it's been home to the city's first ice cream parlor, an oyster bar visited frequently by Wyatt Earp and the Golden Poppy Hotel, a brothel run by a fortuneteller

    Yuma Building Keating Building Louis Bank of Commerce

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    Visit The Gaslamp Quarter

    by spartan Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Gaslamp Quarter (named for the gas lamps that glowed there in the late 19th century) is Southern California's premiere dining, shopping and entertainment district, where you'll find a truly eclectic blend of food, fun and culture. The charming ambiance of the Gaslamp Quarter is the attraction for both local residents as well as national and international visitors.

    By day, take a walking tour and learn about the Gaslamp's vivid history when legendary lawman Wyatt Earp operated three gambling halls and the Gaslamp Quarter's oldest surviving structure, the restored William Heath Davis House, constructed in 1850. By night as the sun sets, the streets come alive.

    The old-fashioned gas lamps begin to glow along the wide brick walkways, sample the busy happy hours at local pubs and dine at one of over 70 restaurants offering cuisine from around the world. Twice annually the area becomes a Mecca of entertainment during the widely popular Street Scene and Mardi Gras Parade and Celebration.

    Great place to people watch
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  • The Shout! House - Dueling Piano Bar

    by reece422 Written Sep 1, 2005

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    If you are looking for a different, unique & fun alternative to the everyday "club" in the Gaslamp while in San Diego...try hitting The Shout! House. It's a Rock-n-Roll, Sing-a-Long, Dueling Piano bar that combines great music, awesome entertainers and the crowd as part of the show. It gives everyone a reason to sing the songs that they should never sing alone...getting your pals up on stage to embarress them is part of the fun. A great place to take your birthday person or bachelorette/bachelor for 1 last crazy night that won't get them into hot water. They have some fun specialty drinks & Big Ass Beer (a great deal)..you keep the cup it is served in. No cover during the week and only $8.00 on the weekend...a deal in the Gaslamp. It's fun for all ages (must be 21 though).

    Showtime!  Staff & Audience participate
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    The historic heart of San Diego

    by Jefie Updated Nov 4, 2013

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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.

    Historic building in the Gaslamp Quarter Gateway arch on Fifth Avenue Ghirardelli chololate and ice cream shop One of the historic district's information pannels In the Asian-Pacific historic district
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    William Heath Davis House

    by Jefie Written Oct 29, 2013

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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.

    William Heath Davis House in the Gaslamp Quarter Alonzo Horton's bedroom at the Gaslamp Museum Dining room of the William Heath Davis House
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    Horton Grand Hotel

    by Jefie Updated Oct 30, 2013

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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.

    Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego, CA Inside the Horton Grand Hotel In the lobby area of the Horton Grand Hotel Entrance to Horton Grand Hotel on Island Avenue In the inner courtyard between the two buildings
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    Echoes of an Era

    by goodfish Updated Mar 6, 2015

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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.sandiego.org/members/museums/gaslamp-museum-at-the-william-heath-davis-house.aspx

    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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    Gaslamp Quarter-Horton Grand Hotel

    by Dabs Written Nov 12, 2008

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    The Horton Grand Hotel is actually two 1886 hotels that were slated for demolition but fortunately saved, moved here from other sites, renovated and connected by an atrium; the original Grand Horton on the left, the Brooklyn Hotel (aka Kahle Saddlery Hotel) on the right. The Grand Horton building was built by a German immigrant to look like the Innsbruck Inn in Vienna, the Brooklyn Hotel had more of a cowboy flavor, indeed Wyatt Earp resided here for 7 years. This was the only building I went inside while touring the Gaslamp Quarter and it's worth a stop even if you aren't staying here.

    In the lobby you'll find a life size papier mache horse named Sunshine which originally stood in front of the Brooklyn Hotel when the ground floor was a saddle shop. The reception desk is a recycled pew from a choir loft, old post-office boxes now hold guests' keys. In the hotel's Palace Bar, there is a portrait of local madam Ida Bailey, her brothel, the Canary Cottage, once stood a couple of blocks away.

    And what historic hotel would be complete without their own resident ghost, if you stay here in room 309 you may be visited by Roger Whitaker who seems to be a friendly ghost, the theories are that he was either shot by his future father in law and dumped near where the hotels were relocated or that he was a gambler caught cheating at cards at the hotel, ran back to room 309 and was shot through the door.

    There was a sign in the lobby stating that there was a historical tour on Wednesdays at 3:00pm, it didn't specify if you had to be staying there or if there was a charge.

    Reception desk Sunshine Horton Grand Hotel

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    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 (district)

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Visit Gaslamp District in a downtown: great place if you love nightlife, music, food, watching people and so on - just the best place to be especially on Friday evening.

    The Heart of the Gaslamp is Fifth Avenue and on either side Fourth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, however, 5th and 4th are the most popular and active of the three streets.

    Gate to historic heart of San Diego
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