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The roads to Caminito — and other La Jolla street names

Several streets in The Village were named for scientists, like Draper Avenue for English-American chemist John Draper.
Several streets in The Village were named for scientists, like Draper Avenue for English-American chemist and photographer John William Draper.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

If you’ve wondered as you wandered through La Jolla about how its streets came to be called what they are, this La Jolla Light journey through the 92037 ZIP code looks at a few groupings of streets that had us curious about the paths that led to their names.

Some of La Jolla’s roads were named by early La Jolla developers Frank Botsford and George Heald in the late 1880s for their native New York City, according to “This Day in San Diego History” by Linda Pequegnat.

The names Wall Street, Exchange Place, Park Row and Pearl Street remain today.

In 1900, some of the streets in The Village were renamed alphabetically after famous scientists, according to Pequegnat and Howard Randolph, who wrote the 1955 book “La Jolla Year by Year.” 

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.

Many of the scientist names are still in use today — Cuvier Street, for French naturalist Georges Cuvier; Draper Avenue, after English-American chemist and photographer John William Draper; Eads Avenue, for American engineer James Buchanan Eads; Fay Avenue, after American author Theodore Sedgwick Fay; Girard Avenue, for French-American biologist Charles Frederic Girard; and Herschel Avenue, for European astronomer William Herschel.

In La Jolla Shores, as with many other places in La Jolla and throughout San Diego, Spanish street names abound — Paseo del Ocaso (“Path of the Sunset”), Avenida de la Playa (“Beach Avenue”), El Paseo Grande (“The Big Path”), Vallecitos (“Little Valleys”), Calle del Oro (“Street of Gold”).

Higher up around Via Capri, many streets are named for Italian cities and areas (like Via Capri itself), with “via” meaning “street” in both Spanish and Italian — Via Avola, Via Rialto, Via Siena, Via Barletta and Via Viesta.

Adjacent to the Italian-themed streets are Rue Adriane, Rue Michael and Rue Denise, with “rue” meaning “street” in French.

Streets in La Jolla's Windemere development carry names of golf courses around the world.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

In the Soledad South neighborhood, the Windemere development — established in the 1970s and believed to be La Jolla’s first gated community — named its streets Caminito (Spanish for “path”) along with the names of golf courses around the world — Caminito Blythefield, Caminito Lindrick, Caminito Hermitage, Caminito Sinnecock, Caminito Kittansett, according to a representative of the Windemere Homeowners Association.

Windemere also features Caminito Tom Morris, named for a Scottish golfer who designed dozens of courses.

In subdivisions like Windemere, streets often are named by the developers, investors and architects, according to La Jolla Historical Society historian Carol Olten.

Pairs of seemingly related streets wind through the La Jolla Heights neighborhood — Robinhood Lane and Nottingham Place; Camino Deseo and Camino Sueño (“Wish Way” and “Dream Way,” respectively); Caminito Primavera and Caminito Verano (“Spring Path” and “Summer Path”); Starlight Drive and Moonridge Drive.

Anthony Santacroce, senior public information officer for the city of San Diego, said the current policy for naming a street involves a community petitioning its City Council representative. ◆