The more things change, the more they stay the same in San Diego’s popular Hillcrest neighborhood. As San Diego began to prosper in the mid-1900s, Hillcrest met a growing demand for affordable housing in proximity to downtown’s booming business district and an exploding defense industry around the port. Today, Hillcrest remains one of San Diego’s best real estate values for professionals and working-class residents alike.
The old, single-level, single-family, Craftsman-style homes have been well-maintained with lovingly tended gardens that reflect pride in ownership and a respect for aesthetics. As you explore the commercial center around Fifth Ave. and University, you’ll still find iconic ’50s style restaurants and storefronts. But, where the majority of residents in this seemingly status quo neighborhood were once conservative, middle-class families, today Hillcrest is home to a prominent gay and lesbian community.
The most popular dining and shopping hotspots in Hillcrest are concentrated in “The Village” area bounded by Washington and University, between Fourth and Fifth Avenue, but some of the most rewarding are out-of-the-way surprises scattered throughout the neighborhood. Enthusiastic supporters of the arts, Hillcrest’s gay community has helped launch and patronize a number of excellent restaurants, cafes, art galleries, bookshops, boutiques and furniture stores. A Hillcrest landmark, the old Ken Cinema movie theater on Adams Avenue screens an eccentric offering of films, both classic and obscure. Of special interest to visiting gays, metro-sexuals and adventurous straight folk are the collection of predominantly gay bars, salons, lingerie and adult book stores, and mid-summer’s annual Lesbian and Gay Parade.