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10 communities with historic street names in San Diego

San Diego has centuries of history. In this guide, we’re diving into the city’s oldest streets and how they got their names.

Diamond and Jewell in Pacific Beach

Diamond is a precious gem, but Jewell is a historic figure.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Table of Contents

The City of San Diego was incorporated on March 27, 1850, but was named the “Birthplace of California” after the first Spanish settlement was established in 1769. Centuries later, the city and its streets are chock-full of vibrant history.

Over the years, the city has been touched by countless historical figures and happenings — many of which have shaped the names of San Diego’s buildings, parks, and streets. In this guide, we’re delving into the history of street names in 10 neighborhoods in the city.

Juniper Street sign in Bankers Hill

We be-leaf this street can be found by Balboa Park.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Balboa Park

If you ever find yourself in communities west and east of this landmark park — like Bankers Hill, South Park, Hillcrest, or Little Italy — look for tree names. This name scheme is attributed to the influence of famed horticulturist Kate Sessions and proceeds in alphabetical order with Ash Street on the neighborhood’s south end and Walnut Avenue in the north end (V is skipped, however).

North Park + University Heights

In the northern parts of these communities, you’ll find Adams Avenue, and as you move south, you’ll notice more presidential-inspired street names, roughly in chronological order — think Madison and Monroe avenues. However, there are some variations, like Howard Street, which is believed to be named for Oliver O. Howard. Shorter streets on the west end also have presidential names, but not in order.

Going from left to right in University Heights, streets were named for states — like New Hampshire and Maryland streets. This spans through North Park where streets are named for central states, like Louisiana Street, but there are some variations like Arizona Street.

Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Hillcrest

Fly west of Balboa Park and you’ll find a cluster of streets named for birds — beginning with Albatross Street in west Hillcrest and ending with Lark Street in Mission Hills.

  • Hillcrest is also home to Harvey Milk Street, which was unveiled in 2012. The neighborhood, known for championing the LGBTQ+ community, chose to rename Blaine Avenue to honor the trailblazing, openly gay leader.

Mission Beach

As the name implies, the larger streets, or “places,” are named for California Missions. There were 21 to choose from, but only 13 were used. These places are intersected by 52 courts, all named for beaches around the world, with Zanzibar in the north and Aspin in the south. However, some of these streets were eliminated in 1924 for the development of Belmont Park.

Ingraham + Missouri streets in Pacific Beach

Missouri Street found its way to PB, even though it seems perfect for North Park.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Pacific Beach

Originally, the streets were numbered 1-15, going west to east, but were changed in 1900 to names that pay tribute to historical figures in alphabetical order, B-P, like Ingraham Street named for Naval Officer Duncan Ingraham. Mission Boulevard was originally named Allison Street, but the name was changed in 1920 due to the popularity of Mission Beach.

The streets running north to south were named for precious minerals, but they were originally going to be named for US states. That concept migrated to North Park, but a seemingly out-of-place Missouri Street remains.

Ocean Beach

When this beach community was being developed, the streets that run west to east were given names for beach towns, while the streets that run north to south were named for authors, though some have changed. For example, DeFoe Street was renamed in 1927 to the iconic Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

Logan Heights

In the south of this neighborhood there are seven streets named for California leaders, starting with Harrison Avenue, named for Nathan Harrison — the first African-American homesteader in San Diego County. This ends with Newton Avenue, named for America Newton, a Black businesswoman who moved to San Diego in 1872.


This neighborhood takes inspiration from many areas, but most have historic significance. These include:

  • Guilitoy Avenue — One of the streets named for an American Indian tribe with ties to California
  • Cobb Drive, Cobb Place + Cobb Court — Named for Helen Cobb, a Clairemont resident and the first woman to serve on the community’s city council
  • Mark Hamill Drive — Dedicated to the actor, known for playing Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars,” in 2017. He was a Clairemont resident and attended Hale Junior High School.
Tom Hom Ave.

Tom Hom is honored with the dedication of Tom Hom Avenue

Downtown San Diego

This central part of the city is where you’ll find First, Second, and Third avenues (and so on). These major streets that run north to south are just numbered, but other parts of the downtown area have streets with more significance.

  • Cesar E. Chavez Parkway in Barrio Logan — where the numbered streets continue — is named for the civil and labor rights leader and is connected to Chicano Park.
  • Petco Park’s main entrance is on Tony Gwynn Drive and Trevor Hoffman Way. The intersection celebrates the Padres icons and Hall of Famers Tony “Mr. Padre” Gwynn and closer Trevor Hoffman (we can just hear “Hells Bells” now).
  • In 2022, the block of Third Avenue from Market Street to Island Avenue was dedicated as Tom Hom Avenue to honor the first person of color to serve on San Diego City Council.

La Jolla

It’s fitting that the home of UC San Diego’s main undergrad campus has many streets named for scientists, but the community draws inspiration from other areas, too.

  • Girard Avenue — named for Charles Frederic Girard, a French-American scientist known for his studies of fish, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • Wall Street — this name comes from developers Frank Botsford and George Heald’s New York roots.
  • Via Capri — one of the many streets with Italian influences.
  • Caminito Blythefield — located in the Windemere development is one of the streets named for golf courses.
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