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Gaslamp Quarter

About This Beautiful San Diego Neighborhood

The Gaslamp Quarter is a neighborhood in Downtown San Diego, California that extends from fourth to sixth avenue and from Broadway to Harbor Drive. It contains 94 historic buildings, and many of the buildings were constructed in the Victorian Era. These historic buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter are mostly used as shops, nightclubs, restaurants, and entertainment venues. 

The Gaslamp Quarter was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district (Gaslamp Quarter Historic District).

First time visitors in San Diego most times think that the oldest part of the town is the Old Town in The City In Motion. While that is in fact truly the first California settlement, the Gaslamp Quarter, however, is the historic heart of the city of San Diego.

San Diego Festivals Hosted Here

So many festivals and events are held at the Gaslamp Quarter and some of these include the Street Scene Music Festival, ShamROCK – a St. Patrick’s Day event, Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, and Taste of Gaslamp. People of San Diego hardly refer to the place as Gaslamp Quarter but instead call it “the Gaslamp”.

The neighborhood name originates from the old gas lamps in the neighborhood and many of them can still be found on the sidewalks of the main streets. There is, however, more than just the old street lamps to see in the Gaslamp Quarter. The Victorian style historic buildings for instance are also another sight to behold. The Gaslamp Quarter is not only has a rich history, but it also offers plenty of activities to do. The nightlife, theater, live music, etc all make it a vibrant part of downtown San Diego, the City In Motion.

This Vibrant part of Downtown San Diego had a pretty rough start. It was previously referred to as “Rabbitville” because was predominantly inhabited by rabbits as the attempts at early development failed. Later on, in 1850, a merchant based in San Francisco called William Heath Davis began developing the area and then it was referred to as New Town.

However, major developments did not start in the area until Alonzo Horton, a real estate developer purchased 800 acres of land there. Around the 1880s, a red light district called Stingaree was established in New Town. The Stingaree attended to sailors whenever they were on shore and it was full of brothels, saloons, and gambling dens. The city of San Diego started cleaning up the Stingaree when it was announced that the Panama-California Exposition would be hosted by San Diego in 1912. It was during this time that the city police raided the brothels. The ill reputation of the district still continued for over several decades though. Serious attempts to clean up the district’s image and revitalization of the area did not begin until the late 1980s and early 1990s and it was during this time that the area was renamed “the Gaslamp Quarter”, to fit its Victorian-era history and the fact that the streets were once lit up by gas lamps. Later, they installed brick sidewalks and faux gas lamps to add to the bygone feel of the area. Attractions in Gaslamp Quarter include Davis Horton House, The historic buildings along 5th Avenue, Horton Plaza Park and Balboa Theatre.  

Another place of interest: Old Town San Diego State Historic Park