Plus, a guide to SD's top-notch museums.
 
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🎺 Remembering the Douglas Hotel
A group of Black entertainers pose in front of the Douglas Hotel in downtown San Diego in the 1930s wearing suits and headpieces.
Entertainers pose in front of the Douglas Hotel and Creole Palace nightclub in downtown San Diego. | Photo via Guy Sensor + San Diego History Center
Next time you’re walking along Market Street and Second Avenue in downtown San Diego, look down. On the walkway at 206 Market St. you’ll spot a bronze plaque that pays tribute to the Douglas Hotel — a big piece of local Black history.

Though the building itself was torn down in 1985 to make way for downtown development, the hotel’s legacy stands firmly. Let’s take it from the top.

The Douglas Hotel was built in 1924 for local businessman and community leader George Ramsey, who partnered with couple Robert and Mabel Rowe to run the business venture.

According to historians, the Douglas became the only major downtown San Diego hotel to offer quality lodging for Black patrons during the segregation era.

The owners of the Douglas Hotel in San Diego pose for a photo while sitting in front of nightclub employees dressed in black and white tuxedos.

The owners of the Douglas Hotel — sitting in the front row — with employees from the Creole Palace in downtown San Diego.

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Photo via Guy Sensor + San Diego History Center

In its heyday, it offered 45 rooms and amenities like a bar, restaurant, card room, barbershop, billiards room, and dry cleaners.

Its main attraction, however, was a 500-capacity ballroom-turned-cabaret called the Creole Palace, which featured its own house band, robust jazz entertainment, and risqué chorus line show.

The site — nicknamed the “Harlem of the West” — became the premier Black entertainment venue on the Pacific coast. Over the years, it attracted performers like Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, and the Mills Brothers.

While many Black visitors saw the hotel as a welcoming, safe haven, it wasn’t without controversy. Some felt uneasy about its location within SD’s infamous Stingaree District, an area known for illicit activities.

A bronze plaque on a street in downtown San Diego details the significance of the city's former Douglas Hotel.

Today, you can spot the bronze plaque at Market Street and Second Avenue where the Douglas Hotel once stood.

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Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Robert Rowe died shortly after the hotel opened and Ramsey married Mabel Rowe in 1927. The couple divorced in 1939, and Mabel Rowe operated the Douglas until she sold it in 1956.

Ramsey — affectionately known as the “Mayor of San Diego’s Harlem of the West” — died on Jan. 20, 1963, and was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

By the late 1970s, the hotel had fallen into disrepair, and was demolished a few years later. The dedication plaque was installed in 2005.
 
Events
 
Wednesday, Feb. 21
  • San Diego Bird Festival | Wednesday, Feb. 21-Sunday, Feb. 25 | Times vary | Marina Village Conference Center, 1936 Quivira Way, San Diego | Prices vary | San Diego Audubon Society’s celebration of local birds and habitats includes a jam-packed lineup of field trips and activities for new and seasoned bird enthusiasts.
  • 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup | Wednesday, Feb. 21 | 4:30 p.m. | Snapdragon Stadium, 2101 Stadium Way, San Diego | $18+ | The top women’s national soccer teams continue to battle for the first-ever Concacaf W Gold Cup championship — this time, it’s a group stage showdown between Panama and Colombia.
  • Jonesy Jones | Wednesday, Feb. 21 | 6-8 p.m. | Hotel Republic San Diego: Autograph Collection, 421 W. B St., San Diego | Free | This high-energy performer — also a trombonist and tap dancer — is the lead vocalist for the Crowned Jewelz Band and is known for her soulful rhythm.
  • The Black Jacket Symphony | Wednesday, Feb. 21 | 8 p.m. | The Magnolia, 210 E. Main St., El Cajon | $36-$42 | The rock tribute act performs Pink Floyd’s classic album “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
  • Sabrosas Latin Orchestra | Wednesday, Feb. 21 | 8 p.m. | Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach | $17 | San Diego’s all-female salsa band performs with a dance lesson by Natasha Tia.
Thursday, Feb. 22
  • National Margarita Day at Margaritaville SD | Thursday, Feb. 22 | 11 a.m.-10 p.m. | Margaritaville Hotel San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, 435 Sixth Ave., San Diego | Free | Celebrate National Margarita Day by heading straight to the source — the downtown venue inspired by the late great Jimmy Buffet and the drink he loved to sing about; look for $36 margarita flights.
  • Tequila Cocktail Dinner with Herradura | Thursday, Feb. 22 | 7-10 p.m. | El Chingon, 560 Fifth Ave., San Diego | $50 | Enjoy a three-course feast (the menu is a secret, shhh) paired with tequila-based cocktails.
Friday, Feb. 23
  • Candlelight: A Tribute to David Bowie | Friday, Feb. 23 | 8:30 p.m. | Adams Avenue Theater, 3325 Adams Ave., San Diego | $59+ | Honor Ziggy Stardust with this candlelit show.
  • San Diego Seals vs. Georgia Swarm | Friday, Feb. 23 | 8 p.m. | Pechanga Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego | $15-$65 | Swing by for lacrosse and Marvel Super Hero theme night.
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News Notes
 
Weather
  • The rain is expected to continue through this morning in San Diego County — but it should be dry the rest of the week. We’re keeping an eye on local rainfall totals, which appear to be trending slightly heavier than originally anticipated. (National Weather Service)
State
  • Amid this winter’s storms and flooding, President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in California. The administration has ordered FEMA assistance for San Diego’s communities impacted by the devastating Jan. 22 storm — the fourth wettest day locally since 1850. The money will be used for rebuilding efforts. (CBS 8)
Civic
  • San Diego leaders are thinking about creating a “civility policy” to prohibit verbal attacks, outbursts, and disrespectful behavior at public meetings. The policy — likely to be presented to city council later this year — would also require city officials to set the right example by practicing their own good behavior. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Opening
  • La Jolla’s newest restaurant, Aldea, debuts tomorrow at the former Mermaids and Cowboys site at 1251 Prospect St. The menu revolves around California and Mexican cuisine, with the spotlight on seafood and meat. It’ll be open for dinner starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, and brunch on weekends at 11 a.m. starting March 9.
Coming Soon
  • New York City culinary powerhouses Elijah Arizmendi and Brian Hung will team up to launch a new fine dining restaurant in La Jolla in early 2025. Lucien — planned for 7863 Girard Ave., at the top of the La Plaza La Jolla — will feature 30 seats and a tasting menu. (Eater San Diego)
Outdoors
Arts
  • La Mesa’s Arts and Culture Commission is seeking proposals for three community mural projects at the “Walkway of the Stars,” Collier Park, and the renovated municipal parking lot on Lemon Avenue. The mural spaces are about 10.5-ft tall; the deadline to apply is 4 p.m. Friday, March 8.
Sports
  • Are the Padres prepping for the future and saving up for a stacked 2025 free agent class? Go beyond the scoreboard and behind the scenes of the San Diego Padres with Locked On’s daily, team-focused podcasts.
Cause
  • San Diego Humane Society has launched More Humane: The Campaign for Animals, an donations-based initiative that aims to raise $250 million to create a better world for animals. Oh the places the campaign will go — the Dr. Seuss Foundation has already donated $1 million, and a secret donor has given $2.5 million.
Try This
  • Four SD restaurants — The Smoking Gun, Miss B’s Coconut Club, Sandbar, and The Original 40 Brewing Company — will host Cookies & Beverage Pairings this Saturday, Feb. 24. The events will match Girl Scout Cookies (we see you, Samoas) with specialty drinks for some unique flavor combinations.
 
 
Try This
 
🖼️ SD’s magnificent museums
MCASD La Jolla
Inside the newly renovated + expanded MCASD in La Jolla. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday
With San Diego Museum Month in full swing through Thursday, Feb. 29, we think now is a great time to explore our guide to more than two dozen awesome local museums.

Don’t miss:
  • San Diego History Center, 1649 El Prado | Suggested minimum donation: $10 | If you want to learn about the past, present, and future of the San Diego region, this museum holds so much local knowledge.
  • USS Midway Museum, 910 N. Harbor Dr. | $21-$31 | Docked along San Diego Bay, this decommissioned aircraft carrier-turned-museum features more than 60 exhibits throughout its decks, and 30+ restored aircraft spanning the Battle of the Midway and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St. | $20-$25 | After four years of construction and a $105 million renovation and expansion, MCASD reopened its flagship La Jolla campus in April 2022 with new spaces and collections.
 
The Buy
 
A comfy fit to curl up in while it’s still sweatshirt and hoodie season. We love: this pink + lime crop by East of These and this Blue Ridge Parkway sweatshirt from Burlaep.
 
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TEGNA
 
The Wrap
 
Monica Garske headshot Today’s edition by:
Monica
From the editor
The local Lunar New Year celebrations continue with downtown’s San Diego Chinese New Year Fair this Saturday, Feb. 24 + Sunday, Feb. 25.

We also hear there’s a special Lunar New Year menu available at Animae this weekend — you know, the buzzy restaurant that’s home to 2024 James Beard Award semifinalist Executive Chef Tara Monsod.
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