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San Diego, circa 1982

A look into San Diego Magazine archives finds celebs, hot tubs and the same old civic controversy


Every month after we ship the final pages of that issue to the printer, I spend a few hours going through the San Diego Magazine archives. We have them bound in hard copies in our office going back to the 1940s. Fun fact: San Diego Magazine is the oldest city magazine (independently owned) in the country. It's fascinating to look through the old issues. This month, I perused the fall issues of 1982. Here are a few neat things I found:

Click on the photos to enlarge.

The Covers

The cover of the December issue 1982. Simon & Simon getting renewed was the "Christmas gift" for our city, according to the editors of the day.


Wow! The picture is worth more than 1000 words here. The cover of the October 1982 issue.


The Issues

Who's in charge at the local newspaper? Similar story to today's U-T issues, only a different cast of characters in the 1980s, when Nixon aide Herb Klein was installed as editor. It's fascinating to read about the Copleys back then and how powerful newspapers were.


Reading about the efforts of other states and countries trying to woo California businesses and talent? Tom Leech writes about the same issue, only in 1982 it was the the U.K. that had us concerned.


A serious look into a new age housing and land use trend: walled cities, also known as "condominiums." Here the writers explore the concept of "common interest" real estate and the new laws being created to govern it. If only these writers could see what North County looks like today. In fact, I'm working on getting in touch with these former contributors. Email me if you know how to contact them.


One of the best things I get from looking through the archives is the reminder that certain civic issues really never get resolved, they just evolve. Here's a gem of a story from 1982 about the friends and enemies of the San Diego public library.


The Random

We just shipped our annual BEER issue (look for it in your mailbox April 30 and on newsstands the week after!), so it was cool to find this old "beer tasting" story from 1982. But the beer scene back then wasn't exactly crafty. Jim Laslovic and Hank Bauer review Tecate and Pilsner Urquell!




Snow Cones were the old Cupcakes. There's no secret in our office that I am "over" cupcakes. The constant press releases and new flavors and gimmicks and drive me nuts. Enough already. Overkill. And from the looks of more than a few mentions in the 1982 issues, it looks like snow cones were the cupcakes of the 1980s. Here's a blurb from the September 1982 issue.


Growing trend: wine bars. Love it or hate it, we're always on the hunt for a "trend." Loved finding this nugget from 1982 about the "growing trend" called wine bars and one La Jolla spot that was taking it a step further, opening a new variation called an "oyster bar."


I often wonder as we're constructing the issue each month about what someone will think of it in 20 or 30 or 100 years. Some of the topics or trends of the day are bound to seem silly or even nonsensical in the years to come. Case in point: One of the must-dos for the summer of 1982 in San Diego was to "Get Soaked" and rent a hot tub by the hour at this place in PB. $6 per person, or special group rates.


Ahead of it's time! KSDO radio's "tradio" segment was the craigslist of it's day, offering free airtime on weekends to any local residents trying to sell their stuff.


The Ads

I love to look at the old ads, too. Note the pricing on this suit from Nordstrom, and how they encourage you to call the 800 number for more information.Fun fact: Nordies is still an advertiser in the magazine today!


Ah, the good old days, when independent tailors bought full page ads.

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San Diego Magazine's editorial staff (Erin Chambers Smith + Erin Meanley + Kimberly Cunningham + Archana Ram + a handful of smart, thoughtful contributors)  and web designer (Sanna Coates) blog everything from restaurants and bars to behind the scenes gossip to the best events happening this weekend. Looking for foodie and restaurant guru Troy Johnson? He's got his own blog here.

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