Hillcrest, San Diego
Hillcrest, San Diego
The Hillcrest Sign at 5th and University Avenues
|Country||United States of America|
Hillcrest is known for its "tolerance and acceptance," its gender diversity, and locally owned businesses, including restaurants, cafés, bars, clubs, trendy thrift-stores, and other independent specialty stores. Hillcrest has a high population density compared to many other neighborhoods in San Diego, and it has a large and active lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The neighborhood is bounded by Mission Hills to the northwest, Bankers Hill and Balboa Park to the south, University Heights to the north, and North Park to the east. A large ridge overlooking San Diego Bay borders the neighborhood to the west.
Hillcrest is part of the Uptown community planning area, which consists of the neighborhoods of Mission Hills, Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, Park West, and University Heights.
Initially, Hillcrest was a chaparral-covered mesa. Kumeyaay Indians inhabited numerous villages scattered throughout the San Diego region. Spanish colonization brought the first of twenty-nine California missions with the founding of the nearby San Diego Mission. Presidio Park in Mission Hills and Old Town just down the hill are a part of San Diego history.
In 1870, Mary Kearney obtained a deed from the city for the land that eventually became Hillcrest. In 1871 Arnold and D. Choate, two real estate developers, obtained that property. George Hill, a wealthy railroad tycoon, then purchased the land. Real estate development began in 1910 and the area was built out by 1920. During the 1920s and 1930s Hillcrest was considered a suburban shopping area for downtown San Diego.
In the 1910s, Hillcrest became one of the many San Diego neighborhoods connected by the Class 1 streetcars and an extensive San Diego public transit system that was spurred by the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and built by John D. Spreckels. These streetcars became a fixture of this neighborhood until their retirement in 1939.[unreliable source?]
In 1940 the "HILLCREST" lighted sign at the intersection of University and Fifth Avenue was first erected, donated by the Hillcrest Women's Association, a group of local female shopkeepers. After falling into disrepair, it was taken down and rebuilt in 1984.
During the 1970s gays and lesbians began to establish residences, businesses, and organizations in Hillcrest.
1974: Protesting the city's refusal of a parade permit, 200 gays and lesbians marched through the streets of downtown for the first time.
1975: The first city-permitted gay pride parade was held.
1980: The Center for Social Services, founded in Golden Hill in 1973—now called the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, and generally known as "the Center"—moved to Hillcrest.
1984: The Hillcrest Business Association, a business improvement district, was formed.
1985: The Hillcrest Business Association hosted the first CityFest.
1994: A new Vermont Street pedestrian bridge was completed. The span, featuring public art, cost $1.2 million.
2001: Mercy Gardens—formerly the Sisters of Mercy Convent, which housed nuns from 1926-1990—was remodeled for use by the HIV-positive community.
On August 2, 2007, a 100th birthday cake was served to the public, marking Hillcrest's first one hundred years; there were Hillcrest Centennial events throughout the year.
2007: The Hillcrest Town Council was formed to give residents a voice.
2012: The city approved plans for a large, privately funded rainbow flag at the corner of University Avenue and Normal Street. The city also approved a change in a street name from Blaine Avenue to Harvey Milk Street.
The 2000 Census showed that the neighborhood's residents had a median age of 39 and that 49.3% had college degrees.
The 2000 Census indicates median family income in 1999 was $61,741 ($80,011 in 2010 inflation adjusted dollars).
The government does not record sexual orientation, but in the 2000 census, of the ~10% of households headed by unmarried couples in Hillcrest (zip code 92103), 43% were headed by two people of the same sex, an indication that they may be gay or lesbian couples. That indicates that more than 4% of all households in Hillcrest are headed by two unmarried people of the same sex.
The neighborhood is governed by the elected officials of the city of San Diego. It is part of the San Diego City Council's Third district; the current councilmember is Chris Ward, who replaced Todd Gloria in the 2016 election as Todd Gloria moves to the California State Assembly. This makes Chris Ward the fourth consecutively elected openly LGBT representative of District 3 since the election of in 1993.
The Uptown Planners is an elected planning group composed of residents, property owners, and business people from the Uptown area, which includes Hillcrest; it advises the city on land use and other issues.
An ad hoc town council provides a conduit for information from citizens with the government. The Hillcrest Town Council is an organization of local residents that was formed in 2007. It meets monthly. Its mission statement is "To provide a voice & enhance the quality of life for Hillcrest renters & homeowners while supporting actions that benefit our neighborhood."
The Hillcrest Business Association has existed since 1921; in 1984 it became a city-approved Business Improvement District. The association supports most beautification projects in the neighborhood, stewards the iconic Hillcrest sign, organizes street festivals, runs the , and it sponsors the annual "Taste of Hillcrest," which offers food and drink samples from over 50 local bars and restaurants.
In 2012 the Hillcrest Business Association, with the support of many business people, created the HIllcrest Pride Flag.
Hillcrest is a very walkable  neighborhood with cafés, restaurants, and shops near the main residential pockets.
Hillcrest is served by State Route 163 at the University Avenue, Washington Street and Robinson Avenue exits. University Avenue and Washington Street are the major east-west thoroughfares in Hillcrest; Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues connect Hillcrest to Downtown San Diego through Park West and Bankers Hill. There is bus service connecting to Downtown as well as to the Mission Valley trolley stops.
Parking is a major concern in the Hillcrest area. The parking shortage is so acute that the opening of a new 36-space parking lot in June 2010 was front-page news. In an attempt to deal with the parking shortage in Hillcrest, as well as Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, and other uptown areas, the city council in 1997 created a community parking district. It was initially managed by a local nonprofit organization called the Uptown Partnership, which received a portion of the income from area parking meters, amounting to about $700,000 per year. The money was supposed to be used to improve parking availability, traffic circulation, transit effectiveness, and pedestrian mobility. After 12 years and $2.5 million, the Partnership had created only 50 new parking spaces, leading to criticism from a county Grand Jury and calls from the community to abolish it. The Uptown Partnership withdrew from managing the parking district in 2010.
After several years of inactivity, during which revenue was collected but not spent, the Uptown Community Parking District was revived in 2012 with a new board of directors and a new operations manager. In 2013 the parking district introduced a free trolley that runs along main streets on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. There is also a website, AccessHillcrest, which helps people find parking spaces, share rides, or bicycle.
Hillcrest has been traditionally governed by the 1988 zoning plan, restricting high rise buildings within its boundaries. Recently the city planners have revisited this issue, and is moving forward to allow more high density buildings but also have restrictions that parking must be increased and also emphasize first level retail to any residential building. Although this will add to the density of the neighborhood, additional parking would be helpful if made available to the public.
Other regular events in Hillcrest include a weekly farmers market on the grounds of the local Department of Motor Vehicles, a Book Fair and Mardi Gras.
San Diego Pride is an annual celebration each July for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It features the Pride Parade on a Saturday morning, preceded by the Hillcrest Block Party on Friday night and followed by a two-day festival in Balboa Park. It is sponsored by San Diego LGBT Pride and is considered to be the largest civic event in the city of San Diego. The large rainbow flag approved in May 2012 was erected in time for the 2012 Pride Festival.
- Kuhney, Jen Lebron (May 15, 2012). "Huge rainbow flag to fly over Hillcrest". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Croshaw, Jennifer (August 21, 2006). "A day in Hillcrest..." San Diego Union Tribune. Archived from the original on 2007-05-14. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "San Diego Community Profile: Uptown". City of San Diego. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "The Home of the San Diego Historic Class 1Streetcars". Sandiegohistoricstreetcars.org. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- "History of the Hillcrest Sign". HillQuest Inc. Archived from the original on 2010-03-18. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "Hillcrest: From Haven to Home", The Journal of San Diego History 26:4 (Fall 2000) by Michael E. Dillinger
- "Hillcrest History". HillQuest Inc. Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "CityFest". Fabulous Hillcrest. Hillcrest Business Association. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "Hillcrest Town Council". Hillcrest Town Council. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- Census Bureau, US. "Census Data". United States. Retrieved 2011-04-05.
- Census, US. "Census Data". Retrieved 2011-04-05.
- Wockner, Rex (March 6, 2008). "Changing neighborhoods". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "Hillcrest Business Improvement Association". Hillcrest Business Association. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Hillcrest Farmers Market". Hillcrest Business Association. Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- "Hillcrest, San Diego Walk Score"
- Rowe, Peter (June 18, 2010). "Parking in Hillcrest? You bet your asphalt". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- "Uptown Partnership". Uptown Partnership Inc. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- Sanchez, Leonel (May 29, 2010). "Uptown nonprofit spending at issue; Grand jury report cites high expenses". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- Hargrove, Dorian (May 8, 2009). "Taking the Partner Out of Partnership". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "Uptown Partnership website". Uptownpartnership.org. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- Palmer, Margie M. (May 11, 2012). "Uptown Parking District Operations Manager hits the ground running". San Diego Uptown News. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- Guevara, Diana; Grieco, Sarah (March 15, 2013). "Hillcrest Introduces Trolley to Ease Parking". 7 San Diego. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- "Access Hillcrest". Access Hillcrest. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- "San Diego LGBT Pride". San Diego Pride. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
Mission Hills, San Diego
Mission Hills is an upscale affluent neighborhood of San Diego, California, USA. It is located on hills just south of the San Diego River valley and north of downtown San Diego, overlooking Old Town, Downtown San Diego, and San Diego Bay.
The area is primarily residential, with boutique shops and restaurants along Washington Blvd. and in other clusters. The oldest parts of the neighborhood were subdivided according to George Marston's 1908 plan, and still consist mainly of houses from the 1908-1930 period, in vernacular, Craftsman, Prairie School, Spanish Colonial Revival and other styles.
The City of San Diego defines two areas, North Mission Hills and South Mission Hills with Washington Street as the dividing line. North Mission Hills is the area north of Washington Street and:
South Mission Hills is the area comprising historic subdivisions such as Middletown, Middletown Addition, South Florence Heights, Marine View, C.E Seaman, Osborn Hill and others, south of Washington Street and:
- East of India Street and Middletown
- North of Palm Street
- West of Reynard Way and Dove Street
Mission Hills shares the 92103 zip code with Hillcrest and is part of San Diego's Uptown community planning area.
The area was developed in the early 20th century and most of the houses are still from that era, often carefully preserved and restored. Homes there were also often designed by San Diego's noted architects including William Hebbard, William Templeton Johnson, Emmor Brooke Weaver, Nathan Rigdon, Richard Requa, and Joel E. Brown. Master Builders such as the Pacific Building Company, Morris B. Irvin, and Martin V. Melhorn contributed by building in the vernacular architecture.
From 1910 till 1939, Mission Hills was connected by the Class 1 streetcars to the city by the San Diego Electric Railway's line 3, the Fort Stockton line, and the neighborhood bears its influence with classic streetcar suburb development including small clusters of commercial buildings where the streetcar stops once were.
The original historic neighborhood commercial district is around Washington and Goldfinch streets, two buildings (the 1913 Classical Revival style Ace Drugstore and the 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival style Funcheon Building) in which have been renovated as the "Paseo de Mission Hills" complex incorporating a historic "Mission Hills" sign.
Modern homes were built along canyon rims as infill during the 1950s and 1960s by modern masters such as Lloyd Ruocco, Homer Delawie, John Lloyd Wright and Sim Bruce Richards, among others. Ironically, San Diego's most famous architect, Irving Gill, never built in Mission Hills, as by the time this area was being developed he was mainly working in Los Angeles County.
The main business streets are University Ave. and Washington St. Other major streets are Ft. Stockton Dr. and Sunset Blvd. Cross streets are named for birds, in alphabetical order from Albatross to Lark. Streetcar rail tracks were built along the main thoroughfares of the neighborhood, such as Fort Stockton Drive.
Architecture and Historic Districts
Mission Hills contains two historic districts recognized by the City of San Diego:
Parks and culture
Pioneer Park and Mission Hills Park serve as two recreational parks within the neighborhood.
In January 2019, the San Diego Public Library opened the new 14,000-square-foot, Craftsman-style Mission Hills-Hillcrest/Harley & Bessie Knox Library at Washington and Front streets in Hillcrest. This replaced the former Mission Hills/Hillcrest Branch at Washington and Hawk streets.
Two of the neighborhood's many canyons are open to the public for hiking: Robyn's Egg Trail and the Allen Road Canyon Trail.
Public schools in Mission Hills are part of the San Diego Unified School District. The public elementary school is Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School, which has grades K-8. Since there is no public high school in the neighborhood, students are given the choice of attending Point Loma High School or San Diego High School.
Several private and religious schools are located in Mission Hills. The best known is the lower school campus of the private Francis Parker School, founded in 1912. This school was run on progressive ideals by William Templeton Johnson and his wife, Clara. Mr. Johnson designed the original school building and his wife ran the school.
- [City of San Diego, "Uptown Historic Context and Oral History Report" https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/planning/programs/historical/pdf/section34.pdf]
- Pioneer Park history Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
North Park, San Diego
- on the northwest by Park Boulevard and University Heights,
- on the west by Florida Canyon and both University Heights and Hillcrest,
- on the southwest by Balboa Park,
- on the south by Switzer Canyon and the South Park neighborhood, and
- on the east by Interstate 805 and City Heights. The pre-Interstate 805 boundary of North Park was widely considered to be 35th Street, which is now part of City Heights.
It includes the sub-neighborhoods of Burlingame, Altadena, and the Morley Field area (site of the Dryden Historic District). North Park is part of the 53rd congressional district, and San Diego City Council District 3.
The "community" of North Park as defined for planning purposes includes University Heights on the north and Juniper Canyon as the southern boundary, thus including as far southeast as Ceder Park in the officially defined community.
The North Park sign can be seen at 30th Street and University Avenue, and this intersection is often considered to be the heart of the neighborhood.
In the summer of 1893, San Diego merchant Joseph Nash sold 40 acres (16 ha) of land northeast of Balboa Park to James Monroe Hartley, who wished to develop a lemon grove. The Hartley family began the arduous process of clearing the land to prepare the earth for the grove, but providing the fledgling trees with proper irrigation was always a problem. Barrels of water had to be hauled from downtown San Diego up a wagon trail that would eventually be called Pershing Drive.
As the growth of San Diego eventually caught up with the original Hartley lemon grove, it eventually became roughly bordered by Ray Street to the west, 32nd Street to the east, University Avenue to the north and Dwight Street to the south. Hartley deemed his area "Hartley's North Park" - and years later, the name evidently stuck as the City of San Diego referred to the new suburb as "North Park."
In 1911, Hartley's eldest son, Jack, and a relative (brother-in-law William Jay Stevens) developed the plot into one of San Diego's first residential and commercial districts. After first establishing "Stevens & Hartley", North Park's first real estate firm, in 1905, Jack and William built North Park's first "high rise" commercial building, the Stevens building, on the northwest corner of 30th Street and University Avenue (today's "Western Dental" building) in 1912. "Thirtieth & University" became North Park's symbolic place name - and within 10 years, this became the heart of the community.
Later in the 1910s, North Park became one of the many San Diego neighborhoods connected by the Class 1 streetcars and an extensive San Diego public transit system that was spurred by the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and built by John D. Spreckels. These streetcars became a fixture of this neighborhood until their retirement in 1949.
Although North Park 92104 is a neighborhood of mixed architectural styles from many eras, one area of note is the Morley Field area of North Park. Named for its proximity to Balboa Park's Morley Field Sports Complex, this area is lined with turn-of-the-century Craftsman Bungalows and California Bungalows. Because many of the homes were designed by renowned designer and builder David Owen Dryden, the area is the site of the "Dryden Historic District." This historical district includes the homes along 28th and Pershing Streets, both bordered on the south by Upas Street and to the north by Landis Street. North Park Dryden Historic District was approved by Historical Resources Board on June 23, 2011 An application for designation of 28th Street and Pershing Avenue from Upas to Landis Streets as a historic district was filed with the City of San Diego Historical Resources Board in May 2007. In September 2008, City staff requested additional information. The Working Group submitted a Supplemental Application in January 2009. The Supplemental Application discusses why the neighborhood reflects significant elements of North Park's development, justifies the proposed district boundaries and nominates Edward F. Bryans, who built more than a dozen homes in the proposed district, as a Master Builder.
On June 23, 2011, the City's Historical Resources Board (HRB) approved, by a vote of 8-0, establishment of the North Park Dryden Historic District and also approved Edward F. Bryans as a Master Builder. Of the 136 homes in the District, 104 were approved by the HRB as contributing resources to the District.
As evidenced above, interest in the history of North Park (especially its architecture) appears to be growing. Helping to foster this interest and awareness is the North Park Historical Society, a local volunteer civic organization. The North Park Historical Society manages a website which contains many articles about historic sites, people and events; North Park walking tours; and information about committee projects and meeting information. Some of the site's extensive collection of articles on North Park's history were written by Donald Covington - historian, Dryden Expert and North Park enthusiast.
Arts, culture and cuisine
Forbes magazine named North Park as one of America's best hipster neighborhoods, noting that "culturally diverse North Park is home to Craftsman cottages, cafes and diners, coffee shops, several microbreweries, boutiques, and the North Park Farmers Market. The North Park Theater and the Ray Street Arts District are also bastions of creativity in the area" 
The Los Angeles Times writes: "North Park has all the ingredients for the cool school: It's culturally diverse and has art galleries, boutiques, trendy bars with handcrafted cocktails and local brews, and foodie-approved eateries." 
An eclectic and diverse array of restaurants, as well as independent coffee shops, can be found along the main arteries of 30th Street and University Avenue. The area is also dotted with bars and night clubs that cater to a wide diversity of patrons. The Linkery used to be in the neighborhood. Waypoint Public now occupies the same space.
Downtown North Park contains the Ray Street Arts District. Ray at Night is a gallery walk held the second Saturday of every month in North Park. It is the largest and longest running art walk in San Diego's history.
Nearby, the Observatory North Park, a concert venue, occupies the former Birch North Park Theatre, the former home of Lyric Opera San Diego. The historic theater underwent major renovations in 2005. The permanent seats were removed in 2015 for its new use.
North Park has a Farmers Market every Thursday. The market is located on North Park Way between Granada Ave. and 30th Street. The Spring/Summer hours are 3pm-sunset, Fall/Winter 2pm-Sunset. They feature over 35 independent vendors; locally grown produce/flowers; gourmet/ethnic foods; arts and crafts; books; and, often, live music.
The San Diego Music Foundation hosts a large musical festival—North Park Music Thing—in the fall on El Cajon Boulevard, which helps add to North Park's reputation as a great community for the arts in San Diego.
As a tradition every December, North Park holds its annual holiday parade. Formerly known as the North Park Toyland Parade, it is now called the North Park Lions Club Holiday Parade.
Like other urban San Diego communities, North Park has a high rate of pedestrian activity, relative to other regions of San Diego county.
- A recent book, North Park: A San Diego Urban Village, has been published by the North Park Historical Society. It recollects the development of the neighborhood from 1896 to 1946, and includes an array of historic photos of the area.
- North Park Calendars are published by the North Park Historical Society.
- The San Diego Uptown News covers North Park and surrounding communities.
- The North Park News is a local publication, delivered free of charge to North Park residents
- North Park Main Street's website features Once Upon A Time in North Park articles, submitted by various writers from the North Park Historical Society.
Transportation is served by Interstate 805, which is accessible from the University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard exits.
University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard are the major east-west thoroughfares in North Park. University Avenue leads west to Hillcrest and east to City Heights and La Mesa. El Cajon Boulevard leads west to Washington Avenue and Mission Hills and continues east to the city of El Cajon. Florida Street connects North Park to Downtown San Diego through Florida Canyon in Balboa Park to the south, and to Adams Avenue and University Heights to the north. 30th Street connects North Park to Adams Avenue and Normal Heights to the north, and to South Park and Golden Hill to the south. Texas Street heads north directly into Mission Valley.
There is substantial bus service (bus routes 1,2,6,7,10,11, and 215 connecting to Downtown San Diego as well as to the transportation hub in Old Town). The busiest bus line corridor in the San Diego metro region, known as the University Avenue transit corridor (bus routes 7 and 10), traverses North Park.
Government and infrastructure
Chris Ward represents District 3.
- North Park Main Street: North Park's business community is also served by a business improvement district called North Park Main Street.
- North Park Community Association: Residents of North Park are served by the NPCA, an all-volunteer group that hosts free Bird Park Summer Concerts, runs a "Stop Graffiti Now!" campaign, connects neighbors who have common concerns, and promotes local businesses through its Member Discount Program.
- North Park Planning Committee: This organization (NPPC) represents the community in land use and community development issues providing recommendations to the City of San Diego.
- North Park Historical Society: This organization is focused on the History of North Park and features educational and outreach programs, and events (such as an annual car show and walking tours). Their website can be found at http://www.northparkhistory.org.
- North Park: A San Diego Urban Village recollects the development of the neighborhood from 1896 to 1946. Copies of this book are available from the North Park Historical Society and online bookstores.
- https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/1_introduction_np_november.pdf, p.2
- SD MTS history
- San Diego Union, Sept. 22, 2008
- Brennan, Morgan "America's Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods", Forbes, 2012-09-20. Retrieved on 2012-10-23.
- Irene Lochowitzky (13 January 2013). "Food, art and a hipster vibe in San Diego's North Park". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- Terich, Jeff (1 January 2015). sdcitybeat.com. San Diego City Beat http://sdcitybeat.com/article-13829-north-park-theatre-is-now-observatory-north-park.html. Retrieved 1 May 2016. Missing or empty
- This is one of several events that showcases North Park's arts communities. http://www.sandiegomusicfoundation.org/npmt/
- "Post Office Location - NORTH PARK." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
- North Park Main Street
Bankers Hill, San Diego
Bankers Hill, also known as Park West and formerly known as Florence Heights, is a long-established uptown San Diego neighborhood near Balboa Park. It is bordered to the north by Hillcrest at Upas Street, to the south by Downtown (at Interstate 5, the San Diego Freeway), to the east by Balboa Park, and to the west by Interstate 5, Little Italy and the neighborhood known as Midtown. A more constricted definition of the neighborhood sets its eastern boundary as Fourth Avenue and its western boundary as First Avenue.
The area is primarily residential south of Laurel Street and west of Fifth Avenue. There is a small commercial district along First Avenue between Hawthorne and Juniper Streets. Many new construction projects are ongoing as of 2009, creating condominiums along Sixth Avenue facing the park. Locations further west allow an elevated, panoramic view of Downtown, San Diego Bay, the airport, Coronado, Harbor Island and Mount Soledad. Many homes date from the late 19th century, some of which have been restored as offices or bed-and-breakfasts. Architects Irving Gill, William Hebbard, Richard Requa and Frank Mead designed homes in this area. The area acquired the name "Bankers Hill" because of its reputation as a home for the affluent.
- Fetzer, Leland (August 16, 2005). "San Diego County Place Names, A to Z". Sunbelt Publications, Inc. – via Google Books.
- Bankers Hill/Park West | Councilmember Chris Ward (District 3) | City of San Diego Official Website
- Bankers Hill Business Group