Gaslamp Quarter Walking Tour, San Diego (Self Guided), San Diego

Gaslamp Quarter is a historical neighborhood established in 1876. It features 16 blocks of wonderful buildings, unique shops, amazing galleries and a wide range of restaurants. This tour highlights some of the most important tourists attractions in San Diego.
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Gaslamp Quarter Walking Tour, San Diego Map

Guide Name: Gaslamp Quarter Walking Tour, San Diego
Guide Location: USA » San Diego (See other walking tours in San Diego)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Balboa Theater
  • Louis Bank of Commerce
  • Keating Building
  • Old City Hall
  • Gaslamp Museum
  • San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
  • San Diego Convention Center
1
Balboa Theater

1) Balboa Theater

The historic Balboa Theater is a real gem of the downtown San Diego area. Its address is 868 Fourth Avenue. It was built in the 1920s, during a time in American history when people loved grandiose style movie houses. It has a seating capacity of 1600, which is almost unheard of in modern style theatres. Just try and find an IMAX that big.

During WWII, the building was converted into temporary housing for the United State Navy. After the war, the theater did not do well, and almost fell into disrepair by 1959. Local attempts were made during the 1970s to bring some attention to the old theatre by listing it on the official City list of historic locations. It was opened for a few years as a movie house, but then had to be closed again for lack of sufficient business. In 1985 though, the City of San Diego purchased the building and restored it. It completed that process in 2008, and reopened the location for live musical events and concerts. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, during the City’s attempts to restore and preserve the location.
2
Louis Bank of Commerce

2) Louis Bank of Commerce

This four story building started out as the official headquarters of the Louis Bank of Commerce. It was used for this purpose until 1893, when the famous entrepreneur Isidor Louis put an oyster bar in here that used to be frequented by such famous people as Wyatt Earp.

In fact, there has been some speculation through the years as to how involved Wyatt may have been in the local operation of a business here. The upper floors were turned into what used to be known as the Golden Poppy Hotel, which was a famous house of ill repute that was ran by fortune teller and psychic Madame Cora. Part of what made the location so famous was that the girls would wear dresses that matched the color of the room they used to service their clients.

The building is a classic example of Baroque Revival architecture. The ornate nature of the trim work is what sets it apart. The twin towers that rise about the location are well known. It also represents the first building in town that was made of granite. You will also want to note the ornate architecture of the window trim and fascia of the structure. You won’t see many better examples than this.
3
Keating Building

3) Keating Building

The Keating Building is an old historic structure located in the old Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. You can find it at the corner of 5th Avenue and F Streets. If you are looking for it on the Gaslamp Quarter Historic Buildings Registry, you will find it listed as number 31.

It was built by Fannie Keating. Her husband, George, was one of the principle owners of Smith and Keating, which was a famous farm equipment supply company of the late 19th Century. Keating died in 1888, and his wife started the construction of the location as a tribute to her late husband.

The architectural firm was Reid Brothers, who were well known as the designers of the Hotel Del Coronado. It is five stories tall, and is a classic example of Romanesque Revival style. It had all the modern conveniences for the time, like steam heat, an elevator, and large spacious offices. Around the turn of the century, the San Diego Trust and Savings Bank used the building, and you can still find the old steel vault. In today’s time, it is a small luxury hotel and proud member of the historic district.
4
Old City Hall

4) Old City Hall

In the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter is the Old City Hall. It is located at 664 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of Fifth and G Streets, and is a part of the downtown sector of San Diego, California. You will find the building listed as number 46 on the Gaslamp Historic Buildings Registry.

This old beauty is a classic example of Florentine-Italianate architecture. Back in the 1860s, when Italy still had many city states, the city of Florence developed its own style of building artwork, and this location captures that well. The two story structure was built in 1874, but thirteen years later two more stories were added. The City of San Diego purchased the property in 1891, and turned it into the governmental offices. The Police Department took up most of the first floor. Upper floors were used by the Mayor and staff.

In the current time, the Old City Hall is privately owned and is home to a restaurant and bar, some retail locations, and loft apartments on the top floors. The building was made more earthquake proof in 1995 with a total structural reinforcement project.
5
Gaslamp Museum

5) Gaslamp Museum (must see)

The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House is a grand old historic home in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego. It was constructed in 1850 and is the location where the concept for the “New San Diego” began. The idea was the brainchild of Davis and Alonzo Horton, who is widely known as the founder of downtown San Diego.

It takes about an hour to tour the location, but in that time you can see exhibits that retell the story of the formation of the downtown area. Take a look at the model of the New Town, as it will show you what the dream was to be for San Diego. There is a lower level gift shop that will allow the shopper in the group a chance to enjoy some unique gifts also. You will want to take home a memento of your visit.

Tip:
It's really worth taking the 90-minute walking tour of the Gaslamp District offered by the museum – you will learn about San Diego history and hear many fun facts!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 10am-4:30pm; Sun: 12pm-3:30pm
6
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

6) San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum is a one of a kind in town. It tells the story of the people who came here in the 1800s to work in gold mines, fish for tuna, and build railroads. It is located in the Marina District of the downtown sector of town.

The original Chinatown started in and around Third Avenue, which was south of the current location for the museum. By the Exposition of 1915, many of the original Chinese immigrants were already on their way back to China. Only the most prosperous folks remained. The museum does a great job, though, of telling the story of all the people. While there, you can also take a tour of the Asian Pacific Historic District. The Chinese Historical Museum is the landmark of that walk, and gives you the best flavor of the area.

The Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. It is open on Sundays from noon to 4:00 p.m. The location is closed on Mondays. Admission is a real deal also, as it only costs $2.00. So this can be a real cost saver on a tight vacation to the area.
7
San Diego Convention Center

7) San Diego Convention Center (must see)

The San Diego Convention Center is the largest and most used facility of this kind in the city. You will find the complex in the Marina District of town, within walking distance of Gaslamp Quarter, at 111 West Harbor Drive. It is managed by the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.

It was constructed in 1983 on land that is owned by the Port Authority of San Diego. Upon entering, you may be amazed by the 615,000 square feet of space that constitute the building. It is the 24th largest such complex in North America. The designers were the Canadian architectural firm of Arthur Erickson. There is room for up to 125,000 people to attend an event here.

Take a look at the Sails Pavilion while there. The roof is made of Teflon coated fiberglass sails which pay tribute to the maritime history of the city. In 2011, a new bridge will connect the facility to other neighborhoods across the Harbor, and should make for quite a view of the city.

Why You Should Visit:
Great to be here for an event and good dining and hotels all around the area.

Tip:
You can take a long walk along the waterfront, or have a serious workout running its hundreds of steps!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-9:30pm; Sun: 10am-6pm

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