Little Italy’s roots are grounded in the 1920s, when San Diego reaped the benefits of a bustling tuna industry. Following the construction of Interstate-5 freeway, the neighborhood saw a 35% destruction of its infrastructure and suffered nearly 30 years of decline. At one point, more than 6,000 Italian families lived in Little Italy and built San Diego into the center of the world’s tuna industry.
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In the early 1990s, family-run businesses and property owners formed the Little Italy Association to initiate the revitalization of this once thriving tuna fishing community. Today, Little Italy is an urban, mixed-use neighborhood in the City of San Diego, with new Italian American and non-Italian business owners alike operating and opening retail and professional spaces. Alongside this successful business district, creative builders and architects have and are continually building beautiful residential and commercial developments. In tandem, the Association has partnered with local artists to implement public art on new developments and public spaces.
This historic neighborhood is rooted in the toil of immigrants and the perseverance and optimism of a new group of passionate business owners. The strength of their faith and our proximity to the waterfront is what has supported families in Little Italy for generations. With this in mind, the Little Italy Association has built itself into a 2.5 million dollar non-profit corporation that manages the Little Italy business, surrounding property, and parking districts. The Little Italy of today represents Downtown San Diego’s oldest, continuous neighborhood business district.
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