Gaslamp Quarter Downtown San Diego
The Gaslamp Quarter is a 16 1/2 block district listed on the US National Register of Historic Places since 1980. The neighborhood is named after the gas lamps that used to line the streets. Four such new gas lamps revive the spirit of the past at the intersection of Market Street and 5th Avenue. This beautiful area includes 94 historic buildings, many of which are from the Victorian Era, all built between 1873 and 1930. The majority of them are still in use, featuring some 100 restaurants, 100 shops and over 30 nightclubs, offering a truly eclectic mix of culture, food and fun. The Quarter has emerged in the early 1900s, as the town's red light, especially due to the busy military port. Along the years it has had different names, including Rabbitville, Davis' Folly, Flea Town, Chinatown, Stingaree, New Town San Diego and many others, depending on its main residents.
After the decline of the industry, the neighborhood becomes concentrated with pornographic venues, bookshops, theaters and massage parlors from the 50s until the 70s. The bad reputation of the district is maintained until the 1980s, when public interest is shown towards the preservation of the buildings in the historic downtown. The Quarter starts to benefit from the redevelopments and slowly becomes a charming national historic district that attracts thousands of visitors.
The Historic Gaslamp, one of San Diego's most famous and infamous neighborhoods dating back to the late 1800's, was once called the Stingaree District. This neighborhood was the center for gambling halls, opium dens, and bawdy houses. Gamblers, prostitutes and revelers, such as Wyatt Earp, Ida Bailey, ''in port' sailors, and Chinese Railroad workers were some of the original visitors of the 1880's. San Diego remained a popular navy port until 1912 when city officials cracked down on prostitution, effectively shutting down the lively neighborhood. Today, the Gaslamp's unique architecture is a testament to its heyday between the 1880 and 1910 before it suffered economic and social decline throughout the 1900s.
The Redevelopment Agency in 1976 drew upon the historic character of the Gaslamp, in order to bring new life to the city while preserving the distinctive character of the original architecture. The initial redevelopment activity of the Gaslamp was fueled by the completion of Horton Plaza in 1985. The Gaslamp, which encompasses a 16.5-block neighborhood, is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places with 94 historically or architecturally significant structures. The Gaslamp today houses over 70 restaurants and nightclubs, shops, movie theaters, galleries, lofts, and offices. Over the next two years, 95,500 square feet of retail, 334 hotel rooms, and 364 residential units are planned for development all in the midst of the events of the Gaslamp, including:: Street Scene, the Mardi Gras Celebration, ShamRock, Taste of Gaslamp, and Cinco in the Gaslamp.
Among the many changes, the Gaslamp Quarter starts to be lit only with mercury vapor lamps instead of those with flickering gas for a better preservation of the historic area. Some of the buildings of San Diego's Chinatown can still be admired, along with a beautifully adorned double-towered edifice which once served as a brothel, the famous Wyatt Earp museum and shop, and dozens of bars and underground clubs. Today the Quarter hosts various popular events such as Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Taste of Gaslamp and ShamROCK, organized on St. Patrick's Day.