The neon elf returns!

Posted: September 9th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, PastMatters | No Comments

By Katherine Hon | Past Matters If you are a fan of classic neon signs, you will be glad to know the shoe-hammering elf has returned to 2911 University Ave. in North Park. On this animated neon sign, the industrious elf hammers on a shoe, with his arm and hammer moving into three positions. Originally, as the hammer struck the shoe, neon sparks would fly into the elf’s eye, causing him to “wink.” The elf’s eye […]

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Georgia Street Bridge: Too beautiful to lose

Posted: August 12th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, Hillcrest, North Park, PastMatters | No Comments

By Katherine Hon | PastMatters It’s no secret that the North Park Historical Society loves the Georgia Street Bridge. It has been our logo since we formed in 2008 and is on the cover of our latest book, “Images of America: San Diego’s North Park.” So we are understandably nervous about the bridge seismic retrofit and rehabilitation project now underway. There is a lot of work to do before the bridge is returned to its original […]

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The origins of West End in North Park

Posted: July 1st, 2016 | Columns, Featured, PastMatters | 2 Comments

By Katherine Hon | PastMatters You may not know what it is called or why, but you can tell when you are in West End. This historic subdivision lies between University Avenue and Upas Street on the north and south, and between 28th and Ray streets on the west and east. Subdivision map No. 590 for West End was filed May 17, 1873, long before cars or formal city planning for San Diego existed. The 80-foot-wide […]

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Appreciating Golden Era fireplaces

Posted: June 3rd, 2016 | Columns, Featured, PastMatters | No Comments

By Katherine Hon | PastMatters Do you think those muted brown and green tiles on your fireplace are boring? Are you considering painting over the funky rabbit relief tile that has lost its shine? Do you want the tiles showing bucolic scenes to be marble instead? Resist the urge to “modernize” your fireplace! Those tiles may be some of the most valuable features in your bungalow.

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Does historical preservation matter? Ask a fifth-grader

Posted: May 6th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, PastMatters | No Comments

By Katherine Hon | Past Matters Does preserving our community’s historical landmarks and buildings matter? Or are those old, rusty, outdated structures just in the way? North Park Historical Society (NPHS) member Pat Taylor thought some good answers could come from the fifth-graders at McKinley Elementary School, a place where she has spent countless volunteer hours since 2001 as tutor, mentor and friend. And she was right. The essays written in April 2016 by the students […]

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Expendable gems?

University Heights residences could be at risk in North Park Community Plan update

by Katherine Hon | Past Matters

The community plans for many areas of San Diego, including Greater North Park, are being updated. At a recent meeting, the city project manager for the North Park Community Plan update cheerfully assured North Park Historical Society representatives that in 20 years, we won’t recognize North Park.

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Remembering the 1985 Normal Heights fire

Posted: March 25th, 2016 | Columns, Normal Heights, PastMatters, Top Story | 4 Comments

By Katherine Hon | PastMatters

Many residents who lived through the 1985 Normal Heights firestorm are amazed that 30 years have passed. Time enough for children to grow up and have children of their own, time enough to complete a career and enter retirement. The blaze was seared into everyone’s memories, and it changed the community forever.

The firestorm started just before noon on June 30, 1985. It was a very hot day with temperatures in the high 90s. The flames started in the canyon south of Interstate 8, below the neighborhood perched along Mountain View Drive and side streets between I-805 and I-15. The fire’s cause was never determined, according to KPBS interviews commemorating the 30th anniversary of the disaster on June 30, 2015.

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Saving the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto

Posted: January 15th, 2016 | Columns, Communities, Golden Hill, PastMatters, Top Story | 4 Comments

By Katherine Hon | Past Matters

There’s an old riddle: When is a door not a door? The answer — when it’s ajar. Here is a local variation: When is a fire pit not a fire pit? The answer — when it’s a fountain. If you are thinking that’s not funny, many Golden Hill residents and members of the historic preservation community would agree with you.

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Building castles in the heights

Posted: December 18th, 2015 | Columns, PastMatters, Top Story | No Comments

By Katherine Hon | Past Matters

From grand mansions to humble bungalows, each home in San Diego’s early streetcar suburbs tells a story. The ending may be sad, with the original structure’s charming architecture remodeled beyond recognition or with the home demolished. But the ending may be happy, with the house preserved and treasured by owners who appreciate its irreplaceable materials and unique style.

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