This Month in History: Glimpses into Pacific Beach’s past

A brand-new Pacific Beach School at 1580 Emerald Street in 1923. Emerald Street was a through street back then.
(Courtesy of Pacific Beach Historical Society)

This Month in History is a feature in PB Monthly highlighting local happenings from yesteryear. John Fry is a writer, publisher, historian plus co-founder and president of the Pacific Beach Historical Society. He also is the author of “Images of America: Pacific Beach” and “Pacific Beach Through Time.” He can be reached at

125 years ago — September 1898

The Pacific Beach Race Track — American Driving Park — was purchased by Dr. J. Mills Boal for $6,500. The purchase price included the race track, club house and 160 acres of land.

Dr. Boal said he planned to plow up the race track “and set out the property to trees.” Today, the race track property is occupied by Mossy Ford.

100 years ago — September 1923

The new Pacific Elementary School (on the site of today’s PB Middle School) opened on Sept. 4, 1923.

Said the Evening Tribune, “The new Pacific Beach school is one of the most attractive new buildings of the city. It has a splendid auditorium that will seat 300 people, with a fine stage and equipped for moving pictures. The building has six rooms, a library, rest room and kitchenette for the lady teachers and a principal’s office.”

75 years ago — September 1948

Ace Market, at 4650 Mission, announced the opening of a second location in Crown Point. The site, located at 3503 Ingraham Street, was to be known as Ace Market #2.

The store was soon picketed by A.F.L. Retail Clerks Local 1222. Police were called when the picketers were surrounded by 30 Crown Point youths with their own picket signs. I guess the kids wanted their ice cream and they wanted it now.

Known today as PB Express Market, the grocery store continues to serve the Crown Point community.

50 years ago — September 1973

The fate of Belmont Park stirred the community. Bill Evans, owner of the Catamaran and Bahia hotels, hoped to renew the city lease that allowed him to operate the amusement center.

James Barnett led an opposing faction that felt the property should be turned into a “passive park” — a grassy area next to the ocean. He suggested that the amusement center could be relocated to an area on Mission Bay east of SeaWorld.

25 years ago — September 1998

A 10-year controversy over the constitutionality of the cross on Mount Soledad ended when the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to sell the half-acre parcel to the Mount Soledad Memorial Association for $106,000.

To help raise money to maintain the park, the association announced plans to sell memorial plaques to honor veterans who died in war, according to its proposal.