Just to the east of Mission Hills, sharing the same triangular mesa above Old Town, is Hillcrest. It's been called "a walking person's neighborhood" because of its concentrated business district and proximity to Balboa Park. Also, the city-enforced "Hillcrest Overlay Zone" ensures that all new building and development must be "pedestrian-oriented." But the location of the community itself makes it very convenient for drivers, since the mesa it sits on is bounded by Interstates 8 and 5 and Highway 163.
Hillcrest got its start in 1907, when developer William Wesley Whitson bought
the 40 acres from First to Sixth Avenue and University Avenue
to Lewis Street. His Hillcrest Company put in all the streets
and curbs and built the houses. The single-family homes — built
by Whitson and later developers — look similar to those in
North Park and other older parts of the city. They're mostly charming
California bungalows or Spanish style. Many are being renovated;
others have been replaced by condos.
This community is a popular office location for doctors (it's sometimes called "Pill Hill") because the community has two major hospitals — Mercy and UCSD Medical Center.
In the last couple of decades, Hillcrest's commercial district has become very trendy. You'll find some of the hottest restaurants and chicest boutiques. But many small Hillcrest businesses have been around for years, so the area holds onto that villagey neighborhood charm.
Hillcrest attracts a wide variety of residents. There are retired folks who have lived there for decades, plus many young professional singles and a large gay population. Like Mission Hills, it's an ideal residential choice for people who work downtown or love the downtown nightlife because of its proximity.