SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — An ancient philosopher once said that change is the only constant in life, and San Diego is certainly proof of that. The landscape of America’s Finest City has changed dramatically over its hundreds of years of history with downtown neighborhoods getting a large share of the transformations.
News 8 has followed the progress of the heart of our city for decades. Take a tour through downtown San Diego, Horton Plaza and the Gaslamp Quarter with our vintage clips of development and redevelopment from yesteryear.
In the summer of 1978, downtown San Diego was experiencing lots of change. News 8's Dave Cohen reported on a 50-acre residential redevelopment project in the Marina and Columbia districts. Reporter Carol Kendrick showcased the Horton Plaza redevelopment area and contractor Ernest Hahn's vision for the three-story mall which would take several years to create.
Fast forward to 1985 and Hahn’s plans had come to life in the form of Horton Plaza Mall. In August 1985, the mall opened its doors in San Diego. News 8's Susan Lichtman (later known as Susan Taylor) was on hand for all the festivities which featured live music, dancing and a colorful parade. Speeches were made by San Diego officials including then Mayor Roger Hedgecock and former Mayor Pete Wilson (who was then a Senator).
A week after Horton Plaza’s opening News 8’s Susan Lichtman showcased how neighboring businesses like Dobson’s and the Westgate Hotel were seeing an influx of visitors. The mall itself was boasting crowds of 60,000 patrons per day and was off to a great start by all accounts.
In the fall of 1992, News 8’s Hal Clement looked at the redevelopment and revitalization of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter – which had just been profiled in the New York Times. While the area is and was known for its history, new businesses were also popping up in the early ‘90s attracting tourists and locals. Clement noted that 65 restaurants dotted the area with more than half having opened since the last 1980s. He also shared that the Gaslamp had been home to 30 adult bookstores just 10 years earlier, with only three remaining. The Gaslamp had also played host to Street Scene for almost decade and the two-day concert event boasted 40,000 attendees in 1992.
In 1993, News 8 took another look at how the Gaslamp Quarter was thriving. Reporter Jody Hammond asked locals if the area was becoming “too trendy at the expense of its roots.” There were plans for a $32-million entertainment complex called “Xanadu” to replace a parking lot on the corner of Fifth Avenue and J Street. And there were some who were working to preserve the area's history.
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