The place we call home
The facets of the Jewel are the distinctive neighborhoods of which it is composed.
La Jollans are proud and protective of their individual neighborhoods, which each have a unique identity, colorful features and a rich historical background, just like the people who live in them. Like gems in a setting, at least 17 neighborhoods crown the area bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west, UCSD on the north, Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach to the south and Interstate 5 to the east. This diverse, sprawling area offers sandy beaches, coastal bluffs and canyons, a world-class university, a landmark mountaintop memorial cross and a boutique Village as well as an underwater park.
Development of some of La Jolla’s more high-profile neighborhoods was spurred by their proximity to and connection with prominent local landmarks. La Jolla Shores grew up in the shadows of the Beach & Yacht Club, the forerunner of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, the community’s preeminent social club. The Country Club neighborhood sprouted in the fertile surroundings of prosperous La Jolla Country Club Golf Course.
In a two-part series, the Light chose eight of La Jolla’s more recognizable neighborhoods to profile in-depth, discussing their distinguishing characteristics, and asking residents who live there to explain what they like - and don’t like - about them, and why they’re so special.
Prior to 1887, there was no development on land now referred to as central La Jolla. La Jolla was strictly a popular picnic and bathing attraction for residents and visitors of San Diego.
In 1886, Frank T. Botsford, a well-heeled, 35-year-old New York City stockbroker, came to La Jolla with his wife and began surveying the virgin territory above the Cove and the coastal caves. The community’s first true developer, Botsford built his home on the southwest corner of what is now Prospect Street and Ivanhoe Avenue.
Between 1887 and 1920, the little colony of La Jolla developed into a full-fledged village, with a smattering of modest, single-family homes and beach cottages. Surviving remnants include Brockton Villa, built in 1894 and now preserved as a restaurant, and the Red Roost and Red Rest beach cottages above the Cove, which remain in a dilapidated state awaiting plans for redevelopment.
Village street names have interesting origins. When Botsworth divided La Jolla into lots, he named the streets after his hometown, New York City: Wall Street, Pearl, Exchange and Park Row. As the town became more established, street names changed reflecting alphabetical progression and emphasizing famous people.
Cuvier Street was named after Baron Georges Leopold Chretien Frederic Dagobert Cuvier, 1769-1832, a French zoologist-geologist and founder of comparative anatomy and paleontology. Draper Avenue was named for John William Draper, 1811-1882, an American scientist, philosopher and historian who helped organize New York University, School of Medicine.
Eads Avenue was named after John Buchanan Eads, 1820-87, an American engineer who invented the diving bell. Fay Avenue took its name from American author Theodore Sedgwick Fay, 1807-98, a novelist and editor of the New York Mirror who held numerous diplomatic posts in Europe.
Girard Avenue downtown was named for Charles Frederic Girard, an American zoologist of the 19th century. Herschel Avenue was named for Sir William Herschel, 1738-1822, the pioneering astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781.
Two long-time residents living on Park Row in the Village, Carol Olten and Ray Weiss, talked about the pluses and minuses of being so close to La Jolla’s downtown.
“My little house was built in 1908,” said Olten, who’s been a La Jollan since 1965 and his lived in various spots throughout the Village. “This is the most close-in I’ve lived. Everything is totally walking distance, with nice restaurants to get take-out food, do the art gallery scene. I have a large dog that I walk. I just love the fact that my house is such a short distance from commercial ... but it feels far away from town.”
“It’s a nice community,” said Weiss. “There are lots of historic houses around the circle, and most of them are fairly old, built in the ‘20s and ‘30s, even the teens. It’s as un-cookie cutter as you can get. It just has a feel to it that’s pleasant and peaceful.”
There is one big negative to living in the Village, however.
“The downside is the parking situation,” said Olten. “There’s a lot of people who work in the Village who arrive here at Park Row at 8:30 a.m. and don’t leave until 5 p.m.”
Weiss, a UCSD professor, agreed. “Over the years, (Park Row’s) become more and more a depository for cars on Prospect Street and the commercial district. That used to be just during the daytime. Now it’s every day until 11 or 12 at night.”
La Jolla’s Beach-Barber Tract, nestled between WindanSea Beach and the Village, is steeped in local history and is a virtual treasure chest of early architecturally designed homes: Spanish colonials, English tudors and storybook French Normandy-style dwellings.
Many of the neighborhood’s European revival-style dwellings were built from 1920 to 1940, and feature such prominent historic architects as Edgar V. Ullrich, Tom Shepherd, Herbert Palmer, Requa and Jackson and Florence Palmer.
The Beach-Barber Tract was originally known as Neptunia at the turn of the 20th century. It was later named for landowner-developer Phillip Barber, whose original oceanside home is now owned by La Jolla native and actor Cliff Robertson.
In 1921, under Barber’s ownership, the Beach-Barber Tract began to be sold off in small parcels and a distinctive neighborhood began to take form. Today, the neighborhood remains an eclectic blend of architecture styles showcasing post-war modern, California ranch and contemporary styles.
In 1990, the Beach-Barber Tract Homeowner’s Association was formed to help preserve the neighborhood’s distinctive character. Considered an old-fashioned neighborhood by many, the Beach-Barber Tract is known to host its own Fourth of July celebration each year with a parade of residents strutting their stuff and marching to John Phillip Sousa tunes.
Ellen Revelle, a member of one of the families that founded UCSD, is living in the home her mother built in the Beach-Barber Tract, which actually predates Philip Barber’s home, on the corner of Vista Del Mar and Marine Street. She’s witnessed a lot of change in her vintage neighborhood over the years. One thing that remains unchanged is the tract’s charming ambiance.
“It’s quite a neighborly place,” said Revelle. “We have an annual meeting, a Christmas parade, a beach party and an Oktoberfest. I love it.”
The trouble, lamented Revelle, is that times change. “A lot of the smaller houses keep being torn down.”
On the positive side, the Beach-Barber Tract is the first neighborhood in La Jolla that will have all of its utilities undergrounded, a major selling point for real esate agents representing property in the community.
Linda Marrone, a La Jolla real estate agent and La Jolla Historical Society member, has been a Beach-Barber Tract resident since the 1970s in a historically designated home. She and her family chose this neighborhood for a plethora of reasons.
“I like being able to drive through neighborhoods and see a mixture of architecture,” she said, “European revival and storybook houses. My neighbors here like living in close proximity to the Village and ocean. It’s just that Old World feeling it has.”
Marrone boasts that her neighborhood sports a hearty green thumb.
“Everyone seems to have a beautiful garden here,” she said. “It’s like a little garden spot right by the sea.” La Jolla Shores
Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the canyons and bluffs of La Jolla Farms lies La Jolla Shores. The subdivision was initially developed in the early 1920s by R.C. Rose from Germantown, Penn., who brought his young family to the Jewel and began real estate prospecting.
Rose got a financial loan from his grandmother back in Germantown to purchase 550 acres of land. He then held a big, colorful land sale with posted notices, a bandstand and Hollywood child star Jackie Coogan enlisted as an attraction to draw buyers.
Much of the early history of La Jolla Shores is tied to the emergence of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, owned originally by Frederick William Kellogg, a newspaper publisher from Pasadena. The Beach & Tennis Club has been owned throughout the years by the Kellogg family, for whom the park at La Jolla Shores Beach is named.
Construction began in 1927 on what was to become the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Kellogg and other investors acquired 14 acres of prime La Jolla Shores property and built the clubhouse, the first of four buildings, designed by renowned Hollywood architect Robert B. Stacy-Judd.
The club has since become a full-fledged tennis resort, which includes an Olympic-sized pool and the Marine Room, a restaurant with an up-close view of high tide. The resort complex added the 128-room Sea Lodge Hotel in 1970.
A La Jolla Shores resident on Prestwick Drive since 1970, attorney Susan Goulian is active in local planning with the La Jolla Shores Association. She said her neighborhood has a distinct identity.
“It’s a little community within itself,” she said. “You have the shops and you can go down and have coffee, and you know the people. It’s so convenient. It’s a wonderful location. We have good freeway access.”
On the negative side, Goulian said traffic has increased substantially in the Shores over the years.
“We used to be just five minutes from the Village,” she said. “And we have more tourists all the time, which makes it very difficult in the summer to get downtown.”
But Goulian likes the neighborhood’s diversity.
“You have lots of university people,” she said, “a lot of oldtimers, surfers from the ‘60s and ‘70s and young people. All that stimulation from the university, it keeps you alert, youthful.”