Two decades ago, when Horton Plaza Shopping Center opened, the brand new retail mecca turned Suburbia’s attention back to the Centre City. Shoppers came to experience its 49 eye-popping colors, its vertical scale, its pedestrian bridges and angled walkways. Wildly eclectic architecture sprawled over more than six blocks. Here was an open-air mall unlike any other. Created by architect Jon Jerde and his talented design team, it took its inspiration from influences as diverse as Old Italy and Pueblo Indians along with San Diego’s historic buildings and domes. The result? A shopping center that cobbled together elements of surprising beauty and whimsy. Today, between 25,000 and 35,000 shoppers a day visit Westfield Horton Plaza, where they can find 140 specialty stores, three department stores (Macy’s, Mervyn’s and Nordstrom), live theater, 14 movie screens, an abundance of eateries and a fitness center. This festival marketplace remains a unique urban shopping environment as far from the suburban mall layout as those Italian hillside villages that influenced architect Jerde. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the imaginative world of Horton Plaza. Our tour starts near the mall’s entrance at Broadway Circle (E Street and Third Avenue). Stand in front of the statue honoring Horton Plaza developer, the late Ernest W. Hahn. This is a great spot to take in the confluence of the shopping center and the surrounding city. Tiled obelisk rises from circular entrance to Lyceum Theater. Immediately behind the Hahn statue is a 36-foot high tiled obelisk, part of Horton Plaza’s public art program. Look closely at the jaguar design on the obelisk, and you may wonder whether you’re coming or going. Artist Joan Brown’s big cat has its body on the back side of the obelisk, with only its tail facing pedestrians approaching the mall. It’s a hint of the playful spirit awaiting visitors ahead. The obelisk is set in a circular opening that descends to the Lyceum Theatre below street level. The Horton Plaza theater has two performance areas with a total of 750 seats. Reproduction of Knights of Pythias Building connects street with mall interior. Before going inside, observe Horton Plaza’s outer buildings. Note how their sidewalk store entrances help connect the city with the center. Two of the Horton Plaza structures near the shopping mall entrance also help tie the mall to San Diego’s past. From the obelisk, look back and to the left at the ornate gray structure occupied by Citibank. Its facade is a replica of the historic Bradley building, which was demolished to make way for the shopping center. On the E Street side of Broadway Circle behind the obelisk is another nod to history, a blue structure that reproduces the facade of the Knights of Pythias building, which also bit the dust on the Horton Plaza construction site. Check out the interesting western artwork that the building’s major tenant, the Original Levi Store, affixed on the facade.
Known as "Americas Finest City", elegant and sunny San Diego is truly a city with something for everyone. In town, a whole day or more could be spent in Balboa Park, playing golf, touring the world-famous San Diego Zoo or visiting a museum. Just outside of town, Torrey Pines State Reserve offers a somewhat wilder terrain where visitors can view rare birds and the stately trees the park is named for. Children, and in turn parents, will be delighted with the city's wide range of family-oriented activities. From SeaWorld to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, there are events and exhibits to keep even the most hard-to-please happy. San Diego boasts an array of fine and trendy restaurants covering a melting pot of cuisines, world-class shopping and hotels from lavish to budget. San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United Sates and the second largest city in California. Relatively free from smog and byzantine freeways, San Diego, set around a gracefully curving bay, represents the acceptable face of southern California. Although it was the site of the first mission in California, the city only really took off with the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1880s, and in terms of trade and significance it has long been in the shadow of Los Angeles. However, during World War II the US Navy made San Diego its Pacific Command Center, and the military continues to dominate the local economy, along with tourism and the Biotech Industry. San Diego is also home to one of the 2009 top ten beaches in the US. Coronado beach has just moved up from the number 8 position to number 4. You can enjoy the 100 year old Hotel Del Coronado visited by Kings, Presidents and movie stars behind you while taking in the ships and sail boats in front of scenic Point Loma.