Islenair is an isolated neighborhood just east of Euclid Avenue and bounded on all other sides by hillside remnants of canyons. Islenair?s development in the 1920s was made possible due to new infrastructure projects which included the paving of University Avenue east of Euclid Avenue and the construction of the Euclid Avenue extension and bridge connecting East Broadway and University Avenue. The automobile made it possible to open previously undeveloped areas to suburbanization, inspiring these infrastructure projects.
The picturesque location provided the inspiration for the subdivision?s name, Islenair, or ?Island-in-the-air.? Build-out came slowly over the next 25 years, as individual property owners and small scale builders began to develop their parcels between the lean years of the Great Depression and World War II.
Islenair is a small, working class, early auto-oriented suburb in the community of City Heights that reflects the small house movement which took hold following World War I and became a national standard of development in the wake of the Great Depression and the Post-World War II housing shortage. Its location marks a new stage in the City of San Diego?s expansion away from the city core and beyond the limits of natural topography as increases in mobility and population propelled the creation of new infrastructure and the use of previously unreachable and underutilized land to the east.
The neighborhood serves as a microcosm of architectural trends from Spanish Eclectic to Minimal Traditional and Ranch styles, visually illustrating and encapsulating the booms, busts, and trends in working-class suburban development in San Diego from 1926 through 1952. A significant number of the properties within the proposed district have retained their historical integrity and remain in good condition. Homes in this neighborhood were constructed as single-story, modest residences.
Throughout its history, residents have held a tremendous sense of community pride and spirit, and have worked to maintain Islenair?s unique qualities and sense of place. A number of years ago, when the community?s characteristic palm-tree lined parkways were threatened with the proposed undergrounding of overhead utilities, community members rallied to save the trees, which are a distinct feature of the neighborhood. The undergrounding was delayed, and a key character defining feature of the community was preserved.
In July of 2002, at the request of community representatives, City of San Diego Planning Department staff began research into the history of the Islenair subdivision. However, efforts to establish the district stalled shortly thereafter due to a lack of adequate staffing. Work on the district resumed in January of 2007, and the Islenair Historic District was designated by the Historical Resources Board on April 26, 2007. Of the 114 properties within Islenair, 82 properties contribute to the significance of Islenair, while 32 do not contribute due either to modifications or to a construction date outside the period of significance.
As of 2008, Islenair maintained a population of approximately 500 residents with a median average income of $36,169. The population is diverse, with Latinos comprising the largest population, followed closely by Caucasians, Asian-Americans, and Blacks. The neighborhood is predominantly single-family homes, with small apartment buildings located at the intersections at Euclid Avenue.