In 2007, which coincidentally was the centennial of the founding of Hillcrest, the American Planning Association designated Hillcrest as one of the top ten great neighborhoods in America. That is an incredible honor when you consider the size and scope of our nation and ponder how many neighborhoods are contained within it. That got me to thinking about what qualities make a neighborhood great.
Hillcrest is a fairly old city, and it has a vivid history. Digging into the history I found many interesting facts. In the 1700s it is recorded that the land was inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians. In 1870 a woman by the name of Mary Kearney obtained a deed for the land that would become Hillcrest and a year later, George Hill, a railroad tycoon, became the owner. About 20 years later the legendary Wyatt Earp invested in land on the southwest corner of Fifth and University and purportedly operated a brothel on this site. The area continued to grow and by 1910 was connected to San Diego via the Class 1 streetcars that were a fixture until they were retired in 1939.
History is certainly one of the qualities that give flavor and context to a neighborhood. The trees and home styles that predominated over several time periods co-exist and offer variety and charm. With changes come new residents who add their personalities to the mix. After many ups and naturally a few downs, Hillcrest enjoyed a resurgence in the 1970s when the LGBT community established residences, businesses and community organizations. The LGBT community has helped Hillcrest to blossom and become a neighborhood that is known for its diversity, openness and friendly welcoming aura.
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