of the West
An Historic Downtown San Diego Community . Black Historical Society of San Diego Where Local African American History Lives
the West was a place in downtown San Diego that existed
during the 1920's through the 1940's. It was a place where
entertainment flourished. Famous jazz and blues stars like
Nat King Cole, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Billie
Holiday, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald all performed
and hung-out in San Diego's
See Creole Palace.
In 1999, Karen L. Huff established the Gaslamp Black Historical Society (GBHS), an offshoot of the Black Historical Society of San Diego which was created seven years earlier. The purpose of the organization was to focus on the history of African Americans in downtown San Diego and identify and protect what was left of the community.
The plan was to focus on the downtown redevelopment areas. The target was the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) which had devastated downtown's historic black community through years of redevelopment.
D-day was the year 2000. That year, the Black Historical Society staged a major media blitz and awareness campaign to bring attention to downtown's historic Harlem of the West. The organization demanded that CCDC stop demolishing buildings important to the history of African Americans. It also demanded a historical study of African Americans in the downtown redevelopment areas as had been done for Asians in the redevelopment areas. An African American Thematic District was also proposed.
In 2001, the Black Historical Society started
producing its own studies on selected African American
Buildings in Downtown and submitted the sites to the San
Diego Historical Resources Board (HRB) for designation as
local historic landmarks. Several African American
buildings were identified and have since been designated historic
In response, CCDC announced in early 2002 that they would conduct their own study of African Americans in Downtown and that CCDC would seek to preserve and designate African American sites and even explore the idea of a thematic district. See a History of African-Americans in Downtown San Diego 1860 - 1960 (updated Dec 2004)
The organization's work continues to positively impact downtown San Diego. However, for the love of money, "opportunists" and so called "community activists" have come out of their holes, and in may cases are circumventing the Black Historical Society's efforts to save black history by supporting certain developer interests in demolishing historic African American buildings.
Harlem of the West .com was established in 2004 as a tribute to downtown's historic black community. The purpose is to provide a place where the public can connect with San Diego's past and present day African American community, culture and activities.
Copyright. Black Historical Society of San Diego. All rights reserved