SDGQ – Old City Hall

Old City Hall Doorway

The next stop on our tour of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter is the Old City Hall located on the corner of 5th and G.

Built in 1874, this building was originally only 2 stories tall and housed two banks before being purchased by the city. The top two floors were added in 1887.

In an area full of interesting, historic buildings, the Old City Hall building draws your eye with its ornate window framing and the columns placed on the top floor.

Maybe I’m showing my lack of architectural prowess, but I’m used to seeing columns on the first floor of a building. Something about seeing them frame the windows that high up, for me, gives the building a regal feeling. They say, “Look at me. I’m important.” Which, with its history, seems accurate.

The building basically became a one-stop government shop in 1891 when the city’s leaders moved in. The Police Department occupied the first and second floors – complete with a jail.  The San Diego Public Library occupied the 3rd floor, while the Council Chambers occupied the fourth floor.

In 1955 someone got it into their head to (in my opinion) horribly disfigure this beautiful building by covering it in stucco. They called it “modernizing.” (Picture me shuddering.) Fortunately, years later, wiser minds prevailed and the building was restored to its original beauty.

Click here to see a picture of the building just beginning to be restored. You will also find additional interesting information on the history of this building.

In 1995 the un-reinforced masonry building was retrofitted according to the seismic regulations of the time.

Old City Hall 5th & G

Doesn’t this fire escape just beg to be used in a romantic movie scene?

Today the first floor of the Old City Hall building is a restaurant space currently occupied by the Florent Restaurant + Lounge, while the top three floors are live/work lofts accessible through the G Street entrance.

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