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A lifestyle guide by the Sofia Hotel

The Gaslamp Quarter’s 150th Anniversary: Celebrate at the Sofia Hotel!

Gaslamp Quarter San Diego

San Diego has been marking plenty of notable anniversaries lately. Last year, for instance, saw the centennial of the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park (at least in its modern form). Well, 2017’s got its own milestones, and among them is the sesquicentennial of the historic neighborhood we sit alongside here at the Sofia Hotel!

We’re talking here about the Gaslamp Quarter, established 150 years ago when developer Alonzo Horton purchased some waterfront acreage along San Diego Bay. While staying at the Sofia—the standout among San Diego Hotels near Gaslamp attractions—you’ve got this gorgeous and vital district at your beck and call!

150 Years of the Gaslamp

Horton’s holding became known as “New Town” to distinguish it from the original Spanish-founded core of San Diego, which came to be called (you guessed it!) Old Town. It was the addition of elegant gas lamps to New Town that led to the moniker we use today.

Speaking of monikers, this 16.5-block quarter had a nickname before New Town: Rabbitville, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the preponderance of big-eared residents in the area back in the day. As part of the 150th celebrations, the Gaslamp Quarter Association has installed 15 fiberglass rabbit statues throughout the neighborhood, each to be painted by a different artist.

New Town grew rapidly, but not always in directions the city fathers approved of. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Gaslamp Quarter included the gambling and red-light district called “Stingaree,” which boasted quite the share of saloons, brothels, and gambling establishments. Famed ex-lawman Wyatt Earp—he of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral fame—operated a few watering holes here in the 1880s.

San Diego’s original Chinatown settled in the 1860s by Chinese fishermen, also overlapped with the Gaslamp Quarter.

In preparation for the Panama-California Exposition (1915-1916), the city did its best to do away with Stingaree, but the Gaslamp retained plenty of scruffy edges for decades afterward.

Nowadays the Gaslamp Quarter has been transformed into one of San Diego’s most popular shopping, entertainment, and dining destinations. Plus, with close to 100 beautifully maintained Victorian-era buildings contributing to the architecture—and in many cases open to the public as businesses—there’s a fabulous focus on history here as well.

Experience the Gaslamp With a Sofia Walking Tour!

From the doorway of the Sofia Hotel along Broadway, you’re literally just steps away from the magic of the Gaslamp Quarter. Steps away that is, from fabulous boutiques and other stores, a dizzying array of restaurants and breweries, well-known theaters and other performance venues, and genuine historical landmarks such as the ghost-wandered Davis-Horton House (the Gaslamp’s oldest standing structure and home to the Gaslamp Museum).

Besides your independent forays based out of a chic and welcoming guestroom at the Sofia, you can also take advantage of our very own Gaslamp Walkabout Tours! We offer these free for all of our Sofia guests on Saturdays and Sundays. You’ll gain some special insight into the Gaslamp Quarter as well as the bayfront beauty of the Embarcadero.

Guided walking tours of one of San Diego’s most history-woven neighborhoods: just another benefit of staying at the finest of San Diego Hotels near Gaslamp destinations, the Sofia!