A look at the Woolworth Building in the Gaslamp.

Many fascinating old buildings stand in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Many were built in the late 1800’s during one of the city’s early booms.

I always enjoy looking at the 1886 Woolworth Building as I walk along Fifth Avenue south of Broadway. Not because its architecture is particularly unique or interesting. No, I see that word Woolworth near the rooftop and vague memories from my very early childhood flash inside my aged brain.

I recall how my parents would take me shopping at a Woolworth’s, and how I would always be treated to an ice cream at the store’s stainless steel lunch counter and soda fountain. Memories can be funny. Don’t ask me where this Woolworth store was. All I really remember is standing before all that ice cream, and always choosing Rocky Road.

So what happened to the F. W. Woolworth Company and their immense chain of retail stores? They morphed into Foot Locker! (Regrettably, I’m pretty sure most Foot Lockers don’t serve ice cream.)

Since you might have some difficulty reading the weathered plaque near the entrance to the Woolworth Building, I’ve tried to transcribe it correctly:

Woolworth Building, 1886. Originally Victorian in its architecture, this brick and wood frame building was used for retail stores on the first floor, offices on the second, and furnished rooms on the third. In 1922, Frank W. Woolworth, founder of the five-and-dime stores, had the building remodeled. The original Victorian bay windows were removed, and four Corinthian pilasters were added to a gray granite facade. Woolworth leased the structure for 50 years.

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Richard Schulte

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

2 thoughts on “A look at the Woolworth Building in the Gaslamp.”

  1. I think it was still Woolworths when I moved to San Diego in 1984. The lunch counter was my grandmother’s favorite restaurant — not in San Diego; Billings, MT. In San Diego I lived on 5th and Kalmia for a while, then City Heights, then out to Descanso. I moved away from CA a few years ago

    Liked by 1 person

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