History of Hillcrest and Real Estate

Quick facts:In 1906 Hillcrest, 92103, was called University Heights, as was much of San Diego’s uptown areas. William Wesley Whitson bought and subdivided 40 acres north of University Ave to Lewis St. He opened a sales office for his Hillcrest Company at fifth and University. His sister-in-law, Laura Anderson, who had recommended that he buy the land, names the subdivision “Hillcrest.” Development of Presidio Park begins as Marston, Spreckels, Scripps and other investors begin buying property to preserve as the park.




  • 1891: Wyatt Earp invests in Hillcrest Real Estate at the corner ij6ugcosof fifth and University. He invested in saloons, gambling halls and is rumored to have operated a brothel.
  • 1903: Construction begins on County Hospital (now UCSD Medical Center).
  • 1910: The first bank in Hillcrest, University Avenue Bank, opens.
  • 1913: Hillcrest Theater (later named the Guild) becomes the first movie house outside of downtown.
  • 1915: Pacific Bell and Telephone opens new switching center at Seventh and University. All San Diego long distance calls are routed, by hand, through this building.
  • 1919: St. Joseph’s Hospital surgery annex is erected on the present site of Kinkos/Chipolte. The hospital covers several acres of Hillcrest including Sixth to Eighth avenues north of University. In the ’40s it moved across the street and the building becomes the new home for Victor and Ruth Schulman’s House of Heirlooms.
  • 1921: Business owners unite to form the  Hillcrest Association.
  • 1928: Hillcrest Station of the U.S. Postal Service opens.
  • 1940: The Hillcrest Women’s Association donates the landmark sign at the corner of University and Fifth avenues.
  • 1949: Trolley service in Hillcrest ends as San Diego shuts down the electric streetcars on April 23.
  • 1957: Hillcrest celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding with a golden remembrance of the “good old days.” Norm Robbins dresses up as Wyatt Earp for promotion of neighborhood businesses
  • 1970: Members of the LGBT community begin to establish residences, businesses and organizations within Hillcrest.
  • 1976: Coral Tree Plaza, the first high-rise residential tower near the heart of Hillcrest, is built in block three of Crittenden’s Addition.
  • 1984: The Hillcrest sign is restored and relit. The celebration and streetfair held underneath continued the next year as CityFest (after an initial cancellation).
  • 1987: Hillcrest activist Albert Bell (with Jess Jessop) is among 862 arrested in the largest act of civil disobedience on record during the March on Washington.
  • 1987: Corvette Diner opens
  • 1990: A demographic swing towards mods, punks and yuppies raises concerns that the charm of Hillcrest is being replaced by trendy corporate capitalism.
  • 1991: Village Hillcrest opens with a large underground parking lot and a mixed-use of the buildings.
  • 1993: Christine Kehoe is  elected as our representative to the SD City Council (the first openly gay/lesbian official in San Diego).
  • 1994: Hillcrest’s second Starbucks (and San Diego’s 14th) opens at the former site of the Chicken Pie Shop. The building is refurbished with art deco spires and neon.
  • 1994: Former Mayor Roger Hedgecock heads a group of protesters, “The Normal People,” wanting to march in the Pride parade. The court denies the action.
  • 1997: The farmers market opens on Sunday mornings at the DMV lot (Lincoln and Normal) as a project of the HBA.
  • 1998: Julia Kate Morgan, a transsexual woman losing hope of a successful transition, carries a gun to her appointment with Dr. Rita Powers at the Cognitive Therapy Institut resulting is the tragic deaths of both Morgan and Powers.
  • 2001: Mercy Gardens (formerly the Sisters of Mercy Convent which housed nuns from 1926-1990) is remodeled for use by the HIV-positive community.
  • 2002: Hillcrest resident Judge Bonnie Dumanis is elected as San Diego District Attorney. She is the highest ranking, openly lesbian, law enforcement officer in the nation.
  • 2004: The Hillcrest History Guild is formed by Ann Garwood and Nancy Moors. A virtual museum is created on the Internet.
  • 2005: First year in city history that we had four months with at least four inches of precipitation. By mid-May the rainfall at Lindbergh Field totaled 22.47″ making it the third wettest season since 1850.
  • 2006: The Hillcrest Clean T.E.A.M. commits to sweep the neighborhood on each First and Third Sunday throughout the year. (They continue.)
  • 2007: Hillcrest celebrates 100 years as residents form the Hillcrest Town Council giving a voice to renters and homeowners. They meet the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Joyce Beers Community Center.
  • 2010: The SD County Grand Jury report cites high expenses at the Uptown Partnership. The Hillcrest History Guild is honored by SD LGBT Pride with their Community Service Award.


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