History of the Gaslamp Quarter
Mardi Gras & Year-Round Travel in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter
Mardi Gras in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter
Photo courtesy of McFarlane Promotions, Inc.
Tucked into the west side of town, just off the “waterfront”, and near the zoo and numerous other attractions, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is a 16-block (from Broadway to Harbor Drive between 4th, & 6th Avenues) historic neighborhood renowned for its shopping, dining, annual Mardi Gras celebration, and numerous iconic architectural structures.
A Brief History of the Gaslamp Quarter
In the mid to late 1800s, a series of land developers, determined to improve the San Diego waterfront launched several projects around what today is known as Market Street. One of those developers was Wyatt Earp, who ran three gambling halls. Not surprisingly, the area to the south of the development became a red-light district known as Stingaree.
Later, a series of mission schools and churches settled in the area, helping to revive the neighborhood. And developer Alonzo Horton sold a small tract of land to the city, stipulating that it remain a park forever. As San Diego entered the 20th Century, taxes, foreclosures, and expanding land interests forced most of the red-light businesses to shut down or relocate, and other, less seedy interests moved in as San Diego became a popular liberty town for Navy ships.
Through the early 1900s, the Gaslamp Quarter continued to develop as respectable businesses and residents moved in. But after World War II, Americans developed a taste for the suburbs, and, following suit, San Diego residents fled the Gaslamp for new residential developments outside of the urban core. Once again left the Gaslamp as the home of tattoo shops, massage parlors, pep shows, and other adult entertainment fare.
In the mid-1970s, a group of business owners, property developers, civic leaders, and community organizers came together to revitalize the Gaslamp Quarter. And in 1980, the Gaslamp Quarter was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
For a “proper” historical overview of the area, it’s worth visiting the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. The foundation and Gaslamp Museum are located at the William Heath Davis House (the oldest standing structure in San Diego - at 410 Island Avenue). The museum offers numerous exhibits and walking tours.
Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp Quarter
Mardi Gras in ~San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is far less krewe, float, and parade-oriented than most other major Carnival celebrations. It tends to be more of a street party or pub crawl between watering holes. That said, it is a good time, and there are some floats, and organized activities.
Things to Do In the Gaslamp Quarter
With dozens of restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, and music venues, nearly as many shops and boutiques, and easy access to the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres Major League baseball team) you’d be hard pressed not to find something of interest in the Gaslamp Quarter.
For families and history buffs, the Gaslamp Museum is a great way to prepare yourself for a ramble around the area, or to gain a sense of context about the restored architectural gems you’ve passed during your visit. Families with kids may also enjoy the Kidz Garage or the Chuck Jones shop (featuring work from the animator who brought us Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, The Road runner and Wile E. Coyote).
For adults, bars like Fluxx, Whisky Girl, Tipsy Crow, and Float (the rooftop bar at the Hard Rock Hotel), and many others are great choices for drinks and a night on the town. While Brian’s 24 is an excellent placer to get a drink, but also bridges the gap between drinking establishment and restaurant by offering an extensive menu that runs the gamut form breakfast through late night bar munchies.
For serious eaters and gourmands, the Gaslamp offers everything from Mediterranean fare at Meze, to pub grub at The Field Irish pub. But given where you are, and what’s considered “local” fare, I suggest sampling the tacos and Mexican eats at places such as City Tacos and Don Chico, or the sushi and Asian plates at Kamikaze 7, Bang Bang, and Full Moon.
At one time known as “New Town”, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is now the city’s most lovingly restored and revered historic districts. With countless shops, restaurants, and nightlife attractions, a visit to the Gaslamp Quarter is a chance to unwind, enjoy a meal, a drink, do some shopping, and feast your eyes on the areas stunningly restored architecture.
Sources (and External Links)
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