888 Prospect Street, Ste. 269, La Jolla, California 92037 : (858) 263-2774
888 Prospect Ste. 269, La Jolla, CA
CA BRE # 01962691
North Park fascinates visitors and residents alike with its visible history that began more than 100 years ago. In the early 1900s, the streetcar lines of John D. Spreckels’ San Diego Electric Railway brought investors, residents, and shopkeepers to a nearly empty, scrub-covered mesa. The streetcars that ran along University Avenue (Number 7) and 30th Street (Number 2) met in 1911 and created the “Busy Corner,” then and now the commercial heart of the community. Let’s take a walk around the block and go back in time.
What is now the Western Dental Building on the northwest corner was among the first and is still the tallest of all commercial buildings at the Busy Corner. The three-story structure was built in 1912 for the real estate partnership of William Jay Stevens and John (“Jack”) Hartley. Jack was the eldest son in the Hartley family. In 1893, his father James bought 40 acres between Ray and 32nd streets from University Avenue to Dwight Street and named it “Hartley’s North Park,” starting what eventually became the collective name for the general area. A pharmacy dominated the first floor of the Stevens-Hartley Building for more than 80 years. An arcaded, Mediterranean-style annex with two towers was built to the west, along University Avenue, in 1926. Although the annex is now covered with a modern smooth façade, the tops of the two towers are still visible from an upper floor of the North Park parking garage.
In the northeast quadrant of the Busy Corner, the United Stores Building (completed in 1928) originally housed the Owl Drug Company. Para’s Newsstand has offered North Park’s widest range of newspapers and magazines in the northern corner of that building since Chris Paras took over an earlier cigar store in the early 1950s.
A neon sign proudly proclaiming “North Park” hung above the Busy Corner from 1935 to 1967. The sign was a project of the North Park Business Men’s Club (with fundraising assistance from the Women’s Auxiliary), and a special city ordinance had to be passed to allow the sign to be suspended above the public street. The replica North Park sign on a pedestal was placed in the center median of University Avenue near 29th Street in 1993, after years of community advocacy.