Gentrified: San Diego's Little Italy
Located on the northwest end of Downtown San Diego and a few blocks from the Embarcadero, Little Italy originated as a predominately Italian fishing neighborhood during the late 19th century. By the 1930s, the working neighborhood was home to several canneries, a large fishing fleet and responsible for San Diego being known as the 'tuna capital' of the Western United States. Foreign competition in the tuna industry and the construction of the Interstate 5 freeway led to Little Italy's economic downfall during the 1970s and 1980s. Now gentrified, the former fishing village is largely characterized by its hilly terrain, compact cluster of Italian restaurants, retail shops, galleries and high-density residential units intermingled with historic single-family bungalows.
Article and photographs by Ennis Davis, AICP. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of ModernCities.com and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at email@example.com