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Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Editor’s note: This column was written by Tom Shess and originally appeared in the April, 2013 edition of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. On October 29, 2013, it won First Place for Best History Writing at San Diego Press Club’s 40th Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards program.  Writer also won first place in the category of Best Architecture and Design Reporting.

This one says a lot about Sixth and Broadway, downtown San Diego in 1938

Downtown San Diego’s Sixth Avenue wasn’t always a one-way street as it is today.  In 1938, you could park your 1938 Chrysler (foreground, lower right) or your 1930 Ford Model A (far left behind the Union Ice Co. delivery truck) in either direction between Broadway and C Streets.  Maybe the head teller owned that new Chrysler that’s parked in front of the S&L, which opened earlier that year?
      As this afternoon photo suggests our town was bustling; climbing fast out of a Great Depression with businesses lining both sides of the street.
      On this block alone there is Morgan’s cafeteria, Nye hotel, Jackson’s dress shop, Ernstings jewelers, Bunnell photo shop, Frank & Ben’s cigar and newsstand and a then brand new architecturally streamlined San Diego Federal savings and loan.
      Nearby at C Street is the Sears, Roebuck department store.  Across (left) from Sears housed S.H. Kress five and dime.  Around the corner to the left would have been Marston’s Department store. 
      Out of the picture frame to the left of the beer truck would have been the Sixth Avenue entrance to F.W. Woolworth’s store.  The man standing under the newly installed street lamp would be staring directly at the William Templeton Johnson designed San Diego Trust & Savings Bank Building that’s now a hotel
First Place, Best Architectural and Design Reporting
40th Annual San Diego Press Club
Excellence in Journalism Awards
Thomas Shess
San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine
      And, we’re all probably related to the type A individual that probably honked while whipping his 1932 Chevy around the ABC Brewery truck that’s double-parked for deliveries in the middle of the street.  Some things never change.

Magazine layouts by Laurie Miller.

Historic photo courtesy of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles via San Diego History Center.

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