There are hidden treasures in the basement of the San Diego Office of the City Clerk. On the surface, you may be thinking the Clerk’s Office is simple one of technical support to the city council, but as the custodian of official city documents, the office maintains, restores and preserves an impressive set of historical records dating back to 1817.
The Month of October celebrates those documents with Annual Archive Month. This is year three of such an event and the theme is “Hidden Treasures.” In fact, the stash of interesting documents and records are in the basement of the City Administration Building located at 202 C. Street.
According to City Clerk’s website, the archive was created in 1988 so that documents were preserved and could be retrieved whenever they were needed. It is a vital source of information about the history and development of the city.
As online visitor, you can view documents that city staff and volunteers have been meticulously converting to digital. They have been assembling them to access on the City Clerk’s Digital Archive website. There are city directories that date back to 1926 and historical documents, including meeting minutes, ordinances and resolutions that date back to 1817.
Though they have amassed a wealth of material for digital viewing, they are still working on it. Recently a volunteer discovered historical photographs and plans for North Park.
Preliminary plan dating back to 1912 were found that would widen University Avenue east of Park Boulevard. There is also a letter from 1912 to the city engineer along with correspondence how the estimate cost of the project. It totaled $25,000 and in today’s money that would be about $600,000.
The North Park Theatre on University Avenue is also another interesting archive moment. There are photographs that date back to 1945, time stamped based on the movies that were showcased on the marquee at the time.
Another imagine from the mid 1940s shows the original J.C. Penney’s store that was built in 1943. That building is now a Target Express store.
There are many others just like these that provide perspective on life then and provides context for the present.
From 1907 to 1949 electric street car operated on University Aved and looking at one picture of it, you are able to see a buildings that used to house a great many businesses. But now they’ve left and in their place are establishments such as Fatboys Cornestone and Deli and Grand Whisky Bar. The building was constructed in 1926 in the style of the Spanish Colonial Revival and it housed the office for the Dixie Lumber Company as well as doctors, dentists and other professionals.
If you are a fan of history and wish to view the archives, you can make an appointment or ask other questions at the Office of the City Clerk or call them on 619-236-6143.