La Jolla’s alleyways a reflection of yesteryear

A walkway in La Jolla's Lower Hermosa neighborhood. Photo: Thomas J. Andrews

By Thomas J. Andrews
Special to the Light

Editor’s note: This is one of the Light’s occasional stories about places to walk and hike in La Jolla. If you have a favorite one, e-mail

Off our main streets rests a somewhat unchanged network of small roads and lanes. While our main roads and storefronts, street-facing buildings and houses have certainly changed, the little connection of alleys and little avenues behind the scene have remained somewhat intact.

An alley in the La Jolla's Barber Tract. Photo: Thomas J. Andrews

For someone who wants to travel back in time and experience a little of La Jolla from yesteryear, the back alleys might be your time machine.

Personally, I enjoy the beauty offered from all these special areas. I even enjoy the edible fruit that hangs, unpicked, from trees that line some alleyways. These hidden trails remind me of the way La Jolla used to look. And it makes me feel that I can be alone and enjoy La Jolla without someone on a cell phone behind me while I wait in line for a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

It is my theory that many of the most unchanged areas have remained so for a couple reasons. First, there is a complicated mix of agreements in regards to easements between the property owners. Also property owners are more inclined to spend their money increasing the size of their structures or upgrading areas that are visible to the main flow of traffic.

Some easements are the city’s or they are there to allow the power company to provide electricity, phone, or cable to the adjoining properties. Any remodeling or upgrade to these areas needs the approval of all involved. Obviously, this can be an expensive and intricate process that most homeowners tend to avoid.

An alley off La Jolla Boulevard. Photo: Thomas J. Andrews

Among my favorite areas are the priceless garden lanes and walkways in lower Hermosa. There is a short alley off of Draper Avenue near La Jolla High where the neighbors collaborated on a vegetable garden.

In Bird Rock, there are a couple alleys that run to the ocean with a view of the surf. The Barber Tract has several alleys worth exploring — like the one that runs west of La Jolla Boulevard between Marine Street and Sea Lane.

If you’re stuck on Cabrillo Avenue off the top of Pearl Street you can find a cool access walk that will take you down to Virginia Way and the Village.

La Jolla is even blessed with a bike path. It starts on Nautilus Street across from La Jolla High by the fire station and runs all the way to La Canada Street. It’s a great place for alley hobos to orient themselves. It is long and beautiful and winds away from private property lines. I believe it was originally an easement to provide for an electric cable car before my day. There is a wonderful view of La Jolla from parts of the path.

So instead of taking a hike up in the mountains or a ride to the supermarket, try taking a few walks that are off the beaten path and you will find yourself observing areas that remind you of the La Jolla of old. It is my special Time Machine and it can be yours too.

Cabrillo Avenue in La Jolla. Photo: Thomas J. Andrews

An alley in Bird Rock. Photo: Thomas J. Andrews

The start of La Jolla's bike path. Photo: Thomas J. Andrews

A view from La Jolla's bike path. Photo: Thomas J. Andrews

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  3. City panel OKs master plan for La Jolla’s Scripps Park
  4. La Jolla Christmas Parade registration opens; lifeguards set as grand marshals
  5. Splash Bash to raise funds for aquatic center

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Posted by Kathy Day on Jan 5, 2011. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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