History at Horton Plaza Park construction site.

North part of the Horton Plaza Park construction site behind fence.
North part of the Horton Plaza Park construction site behind fence.

A large area between Broadway and the Horton Plaza shopping mall is fenced off for construction.  One end of the downtown mall has already been demolished and leveled to the bare ground.  The long-neglected Horton Plaza Park is being enlarged!

On the fence surrounding the construction site are a number of interesting old photographs showing the park’s history.

When real estate developer Alonzo Horton built the Horton House hotel (now the U.S. Grant Hotel) in his “New Town” in 1870, he included a small plaza on the hotel  grounds.  In 1895 he sold the half block plaza to the growing city of San Diego, stating his objective was “to provide a central, commodious and attractive place for public meetings, public announcements, public recreation and for any other proper public purposes, a place where all public questions might be discussed with comfort, where public open-air concerts might be given, where the people might rest, and where children might play in safety.”  In 1909 the first fountain in the United States to feature electric lights was installed in the park.

Over the years, the small park has seen a whole lot of history, as the following photographs at today’s construction site demonstrate.  Horton Plaza Park was designated a historical landmark by the City of San Diego in 1971.

Horton Plaza Park during 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
Horton Plaza Park during 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
Horton Plaza Park crowded for V-J Day celebration.
Horton Plaza Park crowded for V-J Day celebration.

The streets were crowded with a spontaneous celebration when World War II finally ended.

Thousands attend rally for John F. Kennedy in Horton Plaza Park.
Thousands attend rally for John F. Kennedy in Horton Plaza Park.

On November 2, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy spoke at Horton Plaza Park, seeking votes in the upcoming presidential election.  A huge crowd turned out.

How the new Horton Plaza Park will look at completion.
Sign shows how the new Horton Plaza Park will look at completion.

The beautifully renovated park will include lots of space for public events, including outdoor concerts!

A huge area has been cleared to make way for the new park.
A huge area has been cleared to make way for the new park.

Here’s a pic I took on January 31, 2015…

Construction of the new Horton Plaza Park is well underway in early 2015.
Construction of the new Horton Plaza Park is well underway in early 2015.

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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