The home my husband and I bought in City Heights over two decades ago is a four mile straight shot along University Avenue from the little house we had rented in North Park for six years. Despite the short distance, the trips east to our new home were initially disorienting. Yes, there were the same low buildings constructed between the 20’s and 40’s lining University Avenue and the uninterrupted march of billboards knitted the two communities together seamlessly with their visual blight.
But North Park, even though it was in the throes of urban decay, still had a palpable urban energy and a diverse concentration of businesses in the area of 30th Street from University to El Cajon. There were small specialty shops, thrift stores and restaurants, and even a JCPenny, all of which attracted a diverse segment of the population in the area. City Heights on the other hand lacked an identifiable destination with a similar broad appeal. In City Heights, circa 1987, there was no there there. [Read more…]