Edit ModuleShow Tags

Vintage San Diego: Mobile Homes

The corner of India and Laurel streets in 1942-1945


Photo courtesy of San Diego History Center

By the Numbers

1930 - From O.B. to La Jolla, buses begin phasing out streetcars

1942 - In just one year, San Diego’s population rises 50 percent, to 300,000, a number that hadn’t been expected until 1960

600% - Increase in public transit ridership during World War II

1940 - Women are hired to drive transit vehicles, but only until the war ends

1949 - San Diego’s last railway car retires into the Adams Avenue car barn (now Trolley Barn Park)

1981 - Rail transit starts again in San Diego with the MTS trolley

Originally created in 1910 for the Panama–California Exposition, these historic Class 1 streetcars were retired in 1939. Twenty-four were sold that year, at $50 each. Those that weren’t sold and converted to homes were hauled out to Mission Beach and burned.

Located on the corner of India and Laurel streets, the cars shown above provided quick, if unconventional, housing for San Diego’s rapidly growing population during the defense industry boom of World War II. Monthly rent for a streetcar in the mid-1940s was $30.

The Class 1 design was an improvement upon San Diego’s original streetcars, which were open-air and caused passengers to lose their hats and breathe in exhaust. The new streetcar stretched 43 feet 7 inches long and consisted of a completely wooden body with arched “turtle-back” roof for ample passenger headroom.

Three of these Class 1s survive today. All three were purchased in 1939 by a couple who went on to inhabit them for 50 years. In 1997, the cars were officially designated as a San Diego Historic Landmark.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

From the Archives: San Diego Date Ideas from 1986

Performance art, mock safaris, and other date ideas from 1986

From the Archives: Exploring the American Southwest in 1993

We're revisiting Shirley Slate and Harry Basch's RV roadtrip

From the Archives: San Diego Desserts from Decades Past

In the '70s and '80s, this magazine considered devouring sweets an X-rated sin
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego Magazine's Travel Awards 2019
    Cast your vote now for your favorite hotels, travel companies, and attractions
  2. Best Restaurants in San Diego: 2018
    San Diego's top restaurant owners, chefs, and bartenders name their favorite San Diego restaurants of 2018.
  3. Winter is Waiting in Montana’s Yellowstone Country
    Win a trip for two that includes roundtrip airfare from Long Beach and a stay at the Element by Westin in Bozeman, Montana
  4. The Best Soup Dumplings in San Diego
    My hunt for the best xiao long bao in the city unearthed two surprising winners
  5. Behind the Brands 2019
  6. First Look: Realm of 52 Remedies
    Wildly imaginative speakeasy cements the arrival of design to San Diego’s Asian food haven
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Puesto's Next Top Taco

Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Sony Consumer Electronics Innovator Builds a Future Where Robotics and Connected Devices Prevail

Robust music and pictures ecosystem bring bespoke experience to TV and audio

Live the Dream with the Dream House Raffle

A multimillion-dollar dream home, fabulous trips, luxury cars, and more could be yours
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags