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Community Profiles

Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor

Community Area: Southern Urbanized

Photo of Sports Arena

The Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor Community (e.g. Midway) is situated north of the Centre City area between Old Town and Point Loma. Midway encompasses approximately 800 acres of mostly flatland. Midway is comprised of two basic elements: the central Midway area and the narrow, linear-shaped Pacific Highway Corridor.

Central Midway has an urbanized commercial core containing numerous shopping centers and institutional facilities which cater to the commercial needs of nearby residential and visitor populations. The area is characterized by wide streets, flat topography, and a varied mixture of flat-roofed large and small commercial buildings. The Pacific Highway Corridor, between Interstate 5 and Lindbergh Field, contains some of the City's oldest industrial areas. The corridor is defined by large scale buildings and unscreened commercial parking lots in the southern portion, and a group of smaller scale, low lying industrial buildings located between Witherby Street and Washington Street in the northern portion.

There are a few multifamily residential complexes located in the western portion of the community, adjacent to the Point Loma area. The planning area is generally characterized by a variety of commercial retail activities, and wide, multi-directional traffic intersections.

Maps of the historic Pueblo lands around the original Old Town location show the San Diego River emptying from Mission Valley into the San Diego Bay over land which now comprises the Midway area. In the mid-1800s George Derby, an army land surveyor, engineered the construction of a dike which diverted the course of the river into the channel of what is now known as the mouth of the San Diego River.

In 1850, approximately 687 acres of land in the Middledtown area (including Pacific Highway), located between the Old Town site and New Town (Centre City), was conveyed to a group of ten early pioneers by Joshua Bean, the City's first mayor. These pioneers acquired and subdivided the land in an attempt to compete with New Town. The names of some of the original ten investors are remembered in the exisitng street name system along the Pacific Highway, including Emory, Sutherland, Noell, Estudillo, Wright, Banini, Couts, and Witherby.

By the early 1900s central Midway was known as Dutch Flats, presumably because of the preponderance of standing water. In the 1920s the Marine Advanced Expeditionary Base (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) was built along Barnett Avenue, which was then the main thoroughfare from the New Town area to the Point Loma community. Virtually no development occurred throughout the 1920s other than some industrial, commercial and residential uses along Pacific Highway.

By the 1930s a variety of commercial, industrial and some more residential development had occurred in the Pacific Highway area. By the 1940s the Midway area had become the location of numerous wartime industrial sites with approximately 4,000 temporary wartime housing units.

During WWII, areas along Pacific Highway were used for numerous wartime factories. In the 1950s the Pacific Highway area was the location of some of the aircraft industry associated with Lindbergh Field. During this time the Central Midway area continued to develop with small warehouses and commercial developments along Midway Drive and Rosecrans Street.

By the 1960s Midway was a mix of industrial and commercial operations. Traffic congestion, signage, and overhead utility lines became community concerns; concerns that continue to this day. Although Midway was once considered almost exclusively as an industrial area, rising land values have caused a shift from industrial activity to commercial. By the early 1990s most of the industrial land has been encroached upon by commercial uses.

Since the 1960s, Midway has continuously suffered from haphazard development which has resulted in the lack of a clear visual form-both in terms of orientation and community legibility. The resulting diversity in development patterns, architectural styles, setbacks, and other development criteria has contributed to a disjointed and sporadic community image, where few buildings have compatibility or any functional relationship to each other and the surrounding neighborhood. Due to the area’s low land valuations, high traffic utilization and inadequate zoning and development regulation, many auto-oriented commercial uses have located throughout the industrially zoned portions of the community. Much of the commercial development, including retail oriented auto sales and services, adult entertainment, and drive-thru restaurants, now exhibit a general lack of adequate parking, landscaping, and other commercial development amenities. Many of these deficiencies are currently being addressed by a team of design consultants hired by the North Bay Business Improvement District.