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More than 150 bars, nightclubs, restaurants, theaters, trendy boutiques and galleries do brisk business here long after the rest of downtown is deserted. Got visitors? This is their mecca. Ship 'em down here and they'll go home saying they've done the San Diego nightlife scene. That's not to say locals don't enjoy themselves; on weekends, sidewalks are packed with glammed-out girlies waiting to get into the club du jour. It wasn't always like this. Back in the bad old days around the turn of the last century, the area was a red light district known as the Stingaree -- some say after a nasty type of local fish, but the general idea was that your average rube could get stung pretty bad hanging around here. Wyatt Earp ran three gambling halls, and Madam Ida Bailey was only the most famous of the Gaslamp's dozens of enterprising brothel owners. The area held on to its lawless charm through both wars -- San Diego was an attractive port destination for thousands of enthusiastic sailors on liberty. By the 1970s, thanks to benign neglect, the area was down, way out, and ripe for preservation-minded civic leaders to actively start restoring. Finding enough historic properties to rehabilitate, they got 16 dismal downtown blocks named to the National Register of Historic Places and hoped that urban pioneers would move in. The Spaghetti Factory, Croce's jazz and blues clubs, and Fio's Italian restaurant were among the first. Next came the Horton Plaza Shopping Mall at Fourth Avenue and F street: although not technically part of the historic district, it was a critical downtown addition, with five byzantine levels and 140 shops. And at the turn of this century, the Gaslamp is again in transition. The urban pioneers have become established business owners, lending stability to the district but attracting the lustful attention of franchised stores and restaurants. Does the Gaslamp really need a Hard Rock Cafe, a T.G.I. Fridays or an Urban Outfitters instead of a three-star family-owned restaurant or independent movie theater? Most business owners call the question a proverbial double-edged sword -- big names bring big crowds that may or may not bypass their storefronts. Gaslamp devotees hope that its fate isn't left up to tourists.
The Quarter is home to many events and festivals, including Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Taste of Gaslamp and ShamROCK, a St. Patrick's Day event. PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres is located one block away in downtown San Diego's East Village. Croce's Restaurant & Jazz Bar, named after famous singer Jim Croce, is also located in the Quarter. The Gaslamp Quarter is a 16 1/2 block historical neighborhood in downtown San Diego, California. Its main period of development began in 1867, when Alonzo Horton bought the land in hopes of creating a new city center closer to the bay, and chose 5th Avenue as its main street. After a period of urban decay, the neighborhood underwent urban renewal in the 1980s and 1990s, and is today an energetic business and entertainment district. The Gaslamp Quarter, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, extends from Broadway to Harbor Drive, and from 4th to 6th Avenue, covering 16 1/2 blocks. It includes 94 historic buildings, most of which were constructed in the Victorian Era, and are still in use with active tenants including 150 restaurants, shops and nightclubs.