"When you're alone and life is making you lonely you can always go... downtown." When Petula Clark was singing that hit song in the 1960s, she sure wasn't talking about Downtown San Diego. It was quite seedy back then — full of tattoo shops, adult bookstores, and other evidence of a downtown in decline. Downtown had thrived in earlier decades. People went there to shop in the department stores, eat at the better restaurants, watch movies in the plush theaters. But as malls began to spring up, many people abandoned downtown.
Downtown was, well, down... but not out. Things began to change in the mid 1970s when the city applied for and was granted redevelopment status of its 1,500 acres. That means it got tax increment financing, which fosters more development. Projects such as the Gaslamp Quarter — in which eight blocks of Victorian-style buildings constructed between 1873 and 1930 — got underway. Building by building, each was restored to its former glory. The real catalyst, however, for turning Downtown into not just a destination but a residential community, as well, occurred with the building of the Meridan luxury condominiums and the now world-renowned Horton Plaza shopping center in the mid-1980s, according to a local Realtor who specializes in Downtown properties.
Nowadays, if you walk down Fifth Avenue on a Friday night, you'll find the sidewalks packed with local revelers and diners plus conventioneers and tourists from around the country and the world. The atmosphere is as giddy and exciting as it is in New York's Times Square.
And in the last few years, Downtown has become the
place to live for upscale singles and couples.