The Gaslamp's glorious 150 years

Posted at 3:47 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 19:36:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--This year, the Gaslamp Quarter will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a six-month extravaganza full of parties, merchant specials, public art installations and a cocktail contest.

Historic elements will be weaved throughout all aspects of the special event so let's learn more about what makes this National Historic District so special.

1850: William Heath Davis of San Francisco attempts to establish a town near present-day Market Street. He built a pre-framed lumber "salt box" house, one of the first residences in town. An economic depression causes Davis' venture to fail, and the area becomes known as Rabbitville, because it was mostly inhabited by, well, rabbits. 

1867: In the Spring, 54-year-old Alonzo Horton sailed into San Diego Bay. The town was just a dusty plain at the time but Horton wanted to develop it into a thriving port city. 

1869: Horton spends about $50,000 to build a wharf at the end of Fifth Avenue, making this and adjacent streets the backbone of the developing city 


1880s: Prostitutes, gamblers and other unscrupulous characters move in as a result of the city's booming prosperity. Wyatt Earp runs three gambling halls. Commerce moves north of Market Street. The abandoned area to the south becomes a red-light district known as the Stingaree, a name derived from the stringray in San Diego Bay. 

1909: Horton dies at Agnew Sanitarium after losing most of his properties through sales tax and foreclosures. On his 95th birthday, Horton reportedly told a newspaper reporter, "It's the most beautiful place in the world to me, and I had rather have the affection and friendly gathering of the people of San Diego than all the rulers in the world." 

1912: Stingaree is raided and 138 prostitutes were arrested. The San Diego Common Council passed an ordinance to curb Wobbly soapbox orations, resulting in the San Diego free speech fight.

1914: Ah Quin, "unofficial mayor" of San Diego's Chinatown dies when a motorcycle hits him on Third Avenue and J Street. He dies one of the wealthiest Chinese immigrants in Southern California. 

1974: San Diego City Council provides $100,000 to rehabilitate the Gaslamp Quarter. One of the first buildings to be restored was the Buel-Town Company Building, current home of the Old Spaghetti Factory. Restorations to the Pacific Hotel and Keating Building were next. 

1980: The Gaslamp Quarter is listed on the National Register of Historic Places 

1982: Business and property owners form a Business Improvement District named the Gaslamp Quarter Association. 

1985: Horton Plaza shopping center is completed

1989: San Diego Convention Center opens 

1990: Gaslamp Quarter Archway is built 

2001: San Diego Convention Center expansion is completed. 

2004: Petco Park is completed bringing the San Diego Padres back to downtown San Diego after 47 years in Mission Valley. 

Timeline courtesy Gaslamp Quarter Association.

RELATED: Gaslamp kicks off 150th anniversary celebration 

Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @10NewsSandy