While I was poking around the internet for the history of Marriott Hall the other day, I chanced upon some photos of San Diego in the 80s taken during and just after the construction of the Marriott Marquis and Marina. The first photo is prior to the hotel’s completion in 1987. I’m not enough of an expert in San Diego history to know the history of the marina, but as you can see, it bears very little resemblance to the glitzy high rise neighborhood of today. There’s no convention center, no Hyatt, no Embassy Suites, no Petco Park, no Omni…nothing really.

This photo is from after the Marriott and Convention Center were completed in 1989, but before the first Hyatt tower went up in 1992.

For reference, I’m pretty sure that red brick building just above the convention center is the Western Metal Supply Company building that was declared a landmark and now forms part of the wall of PetCo.

When these photos were taken there were no X-files and the Simpsons didn’t even have their own TV show! Comic-Con was held at the Convention and Performing Arts Center, now known as the San Diego Concourse. It held about 5000 people. You can still see this rather drab building if you walk out the back of the Bristol Hotel. How drab? It’s next door to the jail.

That concludes the historical portion of our program. Now back to frantic planning!


  1. Wow, that’s fascinating! I only really visit San Diego once a year on average, but there’s always been something under construction whenever I go downtown. It’s one thing to see it change bit by bit, but to see the difference from 25 years ago really drives home how *much* it’s changed.

  2. I remember the walk from Horton Plaza to the Convention Center used to be filled with a lot of vacant lots and busted chain link fencing. Not anymore, of course!

  3. The red brick building just north of the 1989 Convention Center is NOT Western Metal, but Lyon Storage. The Western Metal Supply Co. building is a bit further to the right; along 7th St. The Convention Center went from 1st Ave. to 5th in those days.

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