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This Month in La Jolla History: Scripps Memorial Hospital moves, street names change and more

Scripps Memorial Hospital (left) on Prospect Street closed in May 1964 when a new, larger facility was built.
Scripps Memorial Hospital (left) on Prospect Street closed in May 1964 when a new, larger facility was built on what is now Genesee Avenue.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

On May 3, 1964, the last patient left Scripps Memorial Hospital on Prospect Street in La Jolla, according to “This Day in San Diego History” by Linda Pequegnat. A new hospital had been built — and remains — on what is now Genesee Avenue, east of Interstate 5.

The Prospect Street location began as the La Jolla Sanitarium, Pequegnat wrote. In 1924, Scripps Memorial Hospital opened there, funded by La Jolla philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.

La Jolla’s growth necessitated an expansion by 1959, but a lack of space around Prospect Street led to the suggestion of the current location.

That provoked opposition, as the terms of the Scripps Charitable Trust stated the hospital must remain in La Jolla. The area on Genesee Avenue was integrated into the 92037 ZIP code to “legally adhere to the terms of Miss Scripps’ bequest,” Pequegnat wrote.

Other May events

May 22, 1900: Many streets throughout La Jolla were renamed after famous scientists, Pequegnat wrote. It followed a pattern in other San Diego communities: gemstones in Pacific Beach, trees in downtown, birds in Mission Hills and authors in Point Loma.

La Jolla’s Vine Street became Agassiz Avenue, after Swiss-American biologist and geologist Louis Agassiz. It has since become Olivetas Avenue.

Olive Avenue became Borden Avenue, after American civil engineer Simeon Borden, but is now La Jolla Boulevard.

The rest of the name changes from May 22, 1900, stand today: Palm Street became Cuvier Street, for French naturalist Georges Cuvier; Orange Avenue became Draper Avenue, after English-American chemist and photographer John William Draper; Washington Avenue became Eads Avenue, for American engineer James Buchanan Eads; New York Avenue became Fay Avenue, after American author Theodore Sedgwick Fay; Grand Avenue became Girard Avenue, for French-American biologist Charles Frederic Girard; and Lincoln Avenue became Herschel Avenue, for European astronomer William Herschel.

The original street names, given by early La Jolla developers Frank Botsford and George Heald in the late 1880s, were copies of street names from Botsford and Heald’s native New York City. Many of them remain, including Wall Street, Exchange Place, Park Place and Pearl Street.

The Scripps Pier, pictured in 1923, was contracted by Ellen Browning Scripps in May 1915. It was replaced in 1988.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

May 24, 1915: Ellen Browning Scripps contracted Mercereau Bridge & Construction Co. to build a 1,000-foot pier at the Scripps Institution for Biological Research, now known as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, according to Pequegnat.

The contract included provisions for construction of a sea water pumping station, sea water reservoir and sea wall.

The pier, which was completed in 1916, stood until an all-concrete structure named the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier replaced it in 1988, Pequegnat wrote.

A dedication ceremony is held for the Children's Pool in May 1931.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

May 31, 1931: The Children’s Pool in La Jolla was dedicated, a gift from Ellen Browning Scripps to provide a “safe swimming area for children,” Pequegnat wrote.

The project had been in the works for more than a decade after a near-drowning in 1920 resulted in a warning about swimming in the area. A curved breakwater stands as a barrier against the waves.

Today, the Children’s Pool is a viewing area for harbor seals, which haul out year-round to rest. The beach is cordoned off for the seals’ pupping season from Dec. 15 to May 15 annually.

May 1950: The La Jolla Town Council was inaugurated, Howard Randolph wrote in his 1955 book “La Jolla Year by Year.” At the time, La Jolla had 37 civic groups, including the La Jolla Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce, La Jolla Conservation Society, La Jolla Planning Council, Visitors Information Association, La Jolla Merchants Association and La Jolla Hotel Committee.

Edward Mehran was elected first chairman of the Town Council. Currently, the council has 17 trustees; the president is James Rudolph.

According to its website, lajollatowncouncil.org, the council’s “mission is to work proactively as a unifying voice on behalf of the entire La Jolla community,” focusing on “land management and civic affairs.”

This Month in History is a recurring feature in the La Jolla Light highlighting local happenings from yesteryear. If you are aware of events from any year in La Jolla history that deserve recognition, email efrausto@lajollalight.com.