The very first gaslamp that lit downtown San Diego was located in today’s Gaslamp Quarter. But where?
Stand at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and F Street, and you’ve found the location!
You’ll be standing next to the historic Marston Building. A plaque on this interesting old building reads:
Marston Block, 1881
In 1881, George Marston located his third department store in this two-story Victorian Italian-style building. It remained here until 1896 when it was relocated to a larger building. Until the 1970s, Marston’s was the largest and most successful San Diego-based department store and was purchased by Broadway Stores. The building suffered severe fire damage in 1903, and had to undergo extensive remodeling. The first gaslamp was placed on this corner in 1885, and on March 16, 1886, the first electric arc lamp was illuminated outside this building.
If any of you remember visiting the Marston Department Store as a young child, it was most likely Marston’s final location, in a large four-story, neo-Renaissance building on C Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. That building was demolished years ago. To learn more about George Marston’s various stores in San Diego, click here.
To view a historical black-and-white photo of Marston’s 1881 store–the location of San Diego’s very first gaslamp–click here.
As you can see, things have changed quite a bit in nearly a century and a half!
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