Image © San Diego History Center
Despite the sprawling nature of San Diego, our team chose to concentrate on the downtown core, not only because it is our own backyard, but because this region of the city has consistently lacked compelling public space. Combining historical research with a survey of the current urban landscape and its dynamics, we have started to unravel the “why” of our contemporary city, as well as its strengths and weaknesses. The historic and current drivers of the San Diego economy – the military, research and engineering, tourism, tuna fishing, and shipping – have over the years worked against the development of the downtown waterfront as a civic arena. In addition, the location of many recreational attractions, from Balboa Park to Mission Bay, just outside of downtown creates a significant centrifugal effect on recreation within the urban core. However, in the last two decades the downtown area has seen resurgence in residential occupancy, recreation, and importance as a center for design and research. With this growing outlook it is vital that the city keep pace with public amenities.