Hotel San Diego Implosion

Hotel San diego, NE corner
Before: Hotel San Diego, Northeast corner, May 2002

Yesterday, the historic Hotel San Diego was demolished. The seven-story hotel lived on 339 W. Broadway in downtown San Diego, California. The hotel was built in 1914 by John D. Spreckels, who made his riches from Spreckels Sugar and shipping. Spreckels moved out of San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (100 years ago today) to someplace safer and nicer.

The hotel was built by architect Harrison Albright and is one of only three that remain (now zero of two). In recent years, before the Hotel was closed in 2002 Hotel San Diego became a ran-down, dirty residential hotel, occupied mainly by elderly and low-income residents on a weekly or monthly basis.

The hotel was demolished for a Federal Courthouse annex. The Federal Courthouse is on overload to take care of all the drug smugglers and illegal immigrant smugglers being hauled into court—we are on the Mexican border after all.

Hotel San Diego demolition, April 15, 2006
After: Hotel San Diego after demolition, Northeast corner, April 15, 2006

Historic preservationists wanted the hotel exterior preserved. The interior could have been gutted, earthquake retrofitted, and renovated for courthouse space. That way, we would have kept an historic and attractive building, yet still be functional. However, Federal rules require a large setback from the street to keep terrorists (both domestic and foreign) from blowing up the building. The new courthouse annex will be a 22-story (and probably sterile) building. I see their thinking about a setback, but isn't it ironic that we're blowing up a building in the name of homeland security?

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