Edited by Gregg R. Hennessey
Hillcrest has been a distinct community of San Diego for nearly a century. The canyons and mesas that define the neighborhood dictated, in part, its development. In the late nineteenth century as downtown grew, the presence of San Diego Bay forced growth north up the hill. As the growth crested the hill, a community began to take shape.
Hillcrest, like many of San Diego’s communities, was a neighborhood of apartments and modest homes that accommodated the growing number of workers who were employed by the burgeoning commercial and financial businesses downtown. Local commerce emerged to meet the expanding needs of the residents and a distinct neighborhood was born.
As Hillcrest expanded in the 1920s more elaborate homes were erected along Park Boulevard and near the canyons. A trolley system connected the neighborhood with the growing city. Urban growth throughout the area, especially during the World War II era, filled in all of the available space triggering the urban sprawl so typical in American cities.
As power and population shifted to the suburbs in the post war era, places like Hillcrest were left with an aging population and infrastructure. But by the 1970s and 1980s gay and lesbian citizens began to adopt Hillcrest as their neighborhood and their subsequent re-vitalization of the community created one of San Diego’s most dynamic communities, one that draws people from all segments of our society.