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Golden Hill’s Heyday

Vintage San Diego, 1890


Golden Hill 1890

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The neighborhood of Golden Hill was one of the most desirable zip codes before there were zip codes. With large lots, bay views, and proximity to Balboa Park and downtown via streetcar, it was the place to live for the city’s elite. The photo above was taken in 1890 at 22nd and G streets, when Golden Hill residents proudly began planting and tending their corner of Balboa Park (then City Park, founded in 1868). The southeastern tip was known as Golden Hill Park, and it had a nine-hole (dirt) golf course. Three years after the photo was taken, a 23-year-old architect named Irving J. Gill moved to San Diego. His Craftsman designs, along with the Victorian manses built there in the 1880s, helped give Golden Hill the character and distinction it possesses today. Architect Mike Burnett has said Golden Hill  “used to be the La Jolla of downtown.” Indeed, philanthropists, socialites, and political figures all inhabited the Hill. The Requa family had a residence on C Street and the Hazard family lived nearby. The Albert Moses Hayward house, with its wraparound porch still stands today, bordered by a neighbor’s chain-link fence. But a renaissance is coming—just look at 25th Street, with sweet bistro Counterpoint and the eco-chic You Are Here live/work building now open.

By The Numbers


D Street, now Broadway, was paved with macadam, layers of small broken stones, out to 25th Street


Mayors lived in Golden Hill—Grant Conrad (1907–1909), James Wadham (1911–1913), Louis Wilde (1917–1921)


San Diego’s population in 1885; it spiked to 30,000 in 1887, then dropped to 16,000 by 1889 (due to the railroad bubble burst)


“…The drooping sails of an anchoring fleet/The shadowy city at our feet/With the Mountains’ proud peaks so lofty and still/’Tis a picture worth seeing, from Golden Hill.” —Daniel Schuyler, who petitioned city trustees for the name (It became official February 14)


On February 17, the San Diego Union called Golden Hill Park “a thing of beauty and the pride of the hill.”

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