Look Up, San Diego! A Walking Tour of Downtown
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of San Diego - Downtown from is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
The San Diego Presidio was the first European settlement on the Pacific Coast of present-day America, founded as a military post by Gaspar de Portola in 1769. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the location provided a fine defensive position but the town that grew up around the bluff was four miles away from one of the finest natural harbors on the coast. During the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s thousands of potential settlers stopped in San Diego but few stayed.
In 1850, months before California would be admitted to the Union, William Heath Davis was one of the first to move out of the developed part of town and attempt to take advantage of that harbor. Despite spending an estimated $60,000 on the project his wharf was crudely built and in 1853 the steamer Los Angeles barreled into it and the damage was never repaired. Davis was long gone by 1862 when the United States Army dismantled his wharf and used the timber for firewood.
There would not be another settlement effort until 1867 when Alonzo Horton gobbled up 900 acres of what would one day be downtown San Diego for $265. Horton energetically laid out streets, sold lots and encouraged development. Within twenty years “New Town” was THE town. Horton always had an eye on the bottom line so he created small town blocks that gave him more corners to sell
Today many of the Victorian buildings from these early boom years of the 1880s and 1890s remain in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter. There are 94 designated historic buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter and our walking tour will spend a good amount of time among the fanciful two- and three- and four-story buildings but we will also explore the towers around the fringes and thanks to Alonzo Horton’s short blocks it will seem like we are covering quite a bit of ground...
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