North Park institutions Olympic Café and John Kotselas will stay in neighborhood

Posted: December 2nd, 2016 | Columns, Featured, North Park, PastMatters | 2 Comments

By Katherine Hon | PastMatters In 1985, John Kotselas decided to open a restaurant featuring his family’s delicious recipes. He says, “Greeks stay put,” and true to his heritage, he has maintained his restaurant, Olympic Café, in the little shopping center on the northwest corner of Texas Street and University Avenue for 31 years.

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North Park’s Toyland Parade, a community tradition

Posted: November 4th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, North Park, PastMatters | No Comments

By Katherine Hon | Past Matters The next Toyland Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3, starting at 11 a.m. In a tradition that has spanned more than 80 years, marching bands, vintage cars, floats, dancers and many community organizations will travel along University Avenue to kick off the holiday season. The North Park Historical Society devoted a whole chapter to the Toyland Parade in their book, “Images of America: San Diego’s North Park,” published […]

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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 | 5 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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