Oscar Castillo
"Residential" Real Estate

Downtown San Diego Homes for Sale

Downtown - San Diego


Little Italy


zip code  92101

Click the "Listings" tab above and you will see all the Downtown San Diego & Little Italy homes that are currently in the market for sale.


As the San Diego community grew in the back then "new" state of California, a government surveyor Andrew Gray (1820-1862) recognized that the best place for a seaport city was on the bay, the site of today's downtown. William Heath Davis (1822-1909) of San Francisco agreed. For $2,304 Davis and three other businessmen purchased 160 acres of waterfront land, up to what is now Front and Broadway. He named it "New Town".

 They laid out 56 blocks, and dedicated Pantoja Plaza, the first park, as the center of New Town. Pantoja Plaza remains today, as the center of much activity in the Marina District, surrounded by condos such as Park Row, Marina Park, The Watermark and Columbia Place.

Davis purchased 14 prefabricated houses, built in New England, then constructed a wharf and warehouse in preparation of the anticipated residents and shipping opportunities. Unfortunately, and economic depression followed. Although these events did not permit Davis to achieve his dream, his ideas were a premonition as to what would occur in years to come. Of the 14 houses,one still exists at the corner of Fourth and Island. Now operated as a museum by the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, it is the oldest house still standing downtown.

Alonzo Horton (1813-1909) purchased 960 acres of New Town within one month of arriving in San Diego. He paid a total of $264 (27.5 cents per acre). He created a grid of streets with small blocks and without alleys, allowing for a larger number of (more valuable) corner lots to be sold. The first real estate boom was under way. The price of downtown lots doubled and tripled over and over.

The New Town was established as the physical, social and economic hub of San Diego. The Horton House, built where the U.S. Grant Hotel is now located, was one of the finest hotels of the day. In addition to being president of the first Bank of San Diego, Horton also donated land for a small town square that became Horton Plaza Park.

San Diego’s first electric street lights were installed downtown in 1886, and trolley lines began operating in 1888 over 37 miles of track. Elegant office buildings along Fifth Avenue where the region’s business occurred during the day. In the area South of Market Street there was several blocks of lewd/indecent houses, gin joints, gambling halls and opium dens. This area was known as the Stingaree district and was known for its night life. The area today is part of the historic Gaslamp Quarter.

The Chinese community began downtown during this period with the building of the railroad. The sights and sounds of China became evident on the streets off Fifth Avenue as Cantonese merchants opened shops. Ah Quin (1848-1914) came here to serve as a labor broker for the California Southern Railroad. Quin was a man respected by all, a highly successful entrepreneur, a community leader and patriarch, who bridged Chinese and American cultures. Quin aided other Chinese in finding work and also improved living conditions. Known affectionately as the Mayor of Chinatown, Quin’s success in assimilating Asians into American life is ironically evidenced by the lack of a significant Chinatown in San Diego today.

Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) arrived in San Diego after his Tombstone days. He invested heavily from 1885 to 1887, in Stingaree district real estate and saloons. Earp owned or leased four saloons and gambling halls; the most famous was the Oyster Bar, located in the Louis Bank Building on Fifth Avenue.

To help acknowledge Wyatt Earp's existence in San Diego, there is an interesting shop at 413 Market called "Wyatt Earp Museum, Books, & Collectables".

The late 1890s brought in a difficult period for San Diego. The city’s then struggling economy owed much of the following recovery to a wealthy businessman named John D. Spreckels. He came to downtown in 1887 for a visit from his home in San Francisco. He made his visit permanent. In downtown, Spreckels was responsible for a great deal of growth. At one time, he owned most of the acreage south of Broadway. He purchased the streetcar system and changed it from horse-power to electricity. He also bought the San Diego Union and The Tribune newspapers. San Diego’s cultural life benefited from his accomplishments, as well, including the building of the landmark Spreckels Theatre (the first modern commercial playhouse west of the Mississippi). He also built the San Diego Union Building, the Hotel San Diego and the Bank of America Building at Sixth and Broadway. Built in 1927, that was the last downtown building of any significant size built until the 1970s when the current redevelopment program began.

Also during this period, George Marston was busy focusing on ways to improve life and provide opportunities for residents living in the growing community. Marston had clerked for storekeeper Joseph Hash for five years before he and partner Charles Hamilton bought the business for $10,000 and named it Marston’s. This store ultimately became San Diego’s premier department store. An advocate for urban growth and development, he was the founder of the San Diego Historical Society, and established both Presidio Park and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

In 1902, Marston put up $10,000 to allow the city’s park commission to hire Samuel Parsons, landscape architect for the City of New York, to prepare the first comprehensive plan for Balboa Park.

In Marston's vision, Cedar Street was to be a grand boulevard, lined with stately government buildings from the waterfront to Balboa Park. The County Administration Building was the only building constructed. The later construction of I-5 cut through downtown, shutting off any future opportunity to achieve this plan.

The Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and the California-Pacific Exposition of the early 1930s, along with national tragedies posed by the Depression and First and Second World Wars, all had much to do with shaping downtown San Diego between 1900 and 1950. The original town of San Diego was located at the foot of Presidio Hill, in the area which is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. That location was not so ideal, that being several miles away from navigable water. In the late 1860s Alonzo Horton promoted a move to "New Town", several miles south of the original settlement, in the area which became Downtown San Diego. People and businesses flocked to New Town because of its location on San Diego Bay convenient to shipping. New Town quickly eclipsed the original settlement, known to this day as Old Town, and became the economic and governmental heart of the city.

 In the early part of the 20th century San Diego hosted two World's Fairs the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. Both expositions were held in Balboa Park, and many of the Spanish/Baroque-style buildings that were built for those expositions remain to this day as central features of the park. The buildings were intended to be temporary structures, but most remained in continuous use until they progressively fell into disrepair. Most were eventually rebuilt, using castings of the original facades to faithfully retain the architectural style. The menagerie of exotic animals featured at the 1915 exposition provided the basis for the San Diego Zoo. 


Oscar Castillo


(858) 775-1057

DRE# 01140298




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