Get out of jail free at old police headquarters!

People view photos and memorabilia in corridor of the old San Diego Police Headquarters located downtown near Seaport Village.
People view photos and memorabilia in corridor of the old San Diego Police Headquarters located near Seaport Village.

In downtown San Diego, one can enter a highly secure jail cell, then turn around and easily walk right out! How? Simply visit the old police headquarters!

The Headquarters at Seaport is the official name of a relatively new shopping center on Harbor Drive, located right next to Seaport Village. The unique complex features several fine restaurants and specialty shops, housed in a restored building that was originally built in 1939. For almost half a century–until its closure in 1987–the fortress-like building with its large courtyard was home to San Diego’s police headquarters.

Anyone visiting The Headquarters can enjoy a free glimpse of San Diego history by checking out a modest exhibit in a corridor that leads to the old cell block and some restrooms. I took photographs during one walk that you might find interesting.

This beautifully restored building now contains shops and restaurants on San Diego's waterfront. Built in 1939, it served for half a century as the city's central police station.
This beautifully restored building now contains shops and restaurants on San Diego’s waterfront. Built in 1939, it served for half a century as the city’s central police station.
People amble past a doorway which leads into the past. A bit of San Diego history beckons the curious.
People amble past a doorway which leads into the past. A bit of San Diego history beckons the curious.
Old jail cells and an interesting police department exhibit are inside!
Old jail cells and an interesting police department exhibit are inside!
Fascinating photographs on one corridor wall show scenes from the old police headquarters.
Fascinating photographs on one corridor wall show scenes from the old police headquarters.
Many operations were under one roof, including administrative offices, jails, a law library, crime lab, pistol range, and even a police car maintenance facility.
Many operations were under one roof, including administrative offices, jails, a law library, crime lab, pistol range, and even a police car maintenance facility.
This photo shows officers posing in front of the iconic tower. The historic building is a mixture of architectural styles often seen in San Diego and Southern California.
This photo shows officers posing in front of the iconic tower. The historic building is a mixture of architectural styles often seen in San Diego and Southern California.
Display cases in this preserved hallway contain artifacts from local law enforcement decades ago.
Display cases in this preserved hallway contain artifacts from local law enforcement decades ago.
Vintage police shields and badges are among the interesting items in this museum-like display.
Vintage police shields and badges are among the interesting items in this museum-like display.
Handcuffs, documents and law enforcement equipment educate visitors about police history in San Diego.
Handcuffs, documents and law enforcement equipment educate visitors about police history in San Diego.
Some patches that were worn proudly.
Some patches that were worn proudly.
Image shows original construction of the police headquarters in 1939.
Image shows original construction of the police headquarters in 1939.
I believe someone who was arrested is being photographed. I see a clock, calendar, lights and identifying placard.
I believe someone who was arrested is being photographed. I see a clock, calendar, lights and identifying placard.
The door of a holding cell in the old police headquarters corridor.
The door of a holding cell in the old police headquarters corridor.
Cells for prisoners and suspects were securely locked and unlocked using this mechanism.
Cells for prisoners and suspects were securely locked and unlocked using this mechanism.
A look inside the eight cell, two level jail block. If you want to see what life was like behind bars, that last door is wide open!
A look inside the eight cell, two level jail block. If you want to see what life was like behind bars, that last door is wide open!
These jail cells are very simple and primitive. Comfort is not a priority.
These jail cells are very simple and primitive. Comfort is not a priority.
A few bare essentials and a pretty face.
A few bare essentials and a pretty face.
Visitors to The Headquarters old cell block look at mug shots on one wall.
Visitors to The Headquarters old cell block look at mug shots on one wall.
Prisoner Information. Personal property is surrendered, necessities are provided, hours for lights out and visitors, and two telephone calls are granted at the time of booking.
Prisoner Information. Personal property is surrendered, necessities are provided, hours for lights out and visitors, and two telephone calls are granted at the time of booking.
Kids are photographed at the lineup wall. They look slightly suspicious!
Kids are photographed at the lineup wall. They look slightly suspicious!

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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.

9 thoughts on “Get out of jail free at old police headquarters!”

    1. I’ve been visiting your blog for a long time! I just started going back to using the reader, however–it’s way more convenient. The problem with the reader is that it’s very tempting to click a button and follow hundreds upon hundreds, then thousands of blogs, and I don’t have the time!!! Life is so crazy I barely have time to read anything anymore!!!

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