Uptown News Article “From Bankers Hill to Paris”

From Bankers Hill to Paris

From Bankers Hill to Paris

November 2, 2018

By Leo Wilson

On May 10, 1927, a young man left his Bankers Hill apartment and traveled to the nearby dirt airfield at Dutch Flats.

He then stepped into a newly built, fabric-covered, single-engine and single-seat airplane before taking off on a flight to St. Louis and New York City — then across the Atlantic Ocean in a harrowing 34-hour flight to Paris, France.

Lindbergh Plane

A replica of the Spirit of St. Louis hangs in the Palomar Apartments

The pilot’s name was Charles Lindbergh, and much of the world was transfixed on whether he would survive and complete the flight. When Lindberg prevailed, he became the first person to fly nonstop from New York City to Paris.

The impetus for Lindbergh’s historic flight was hotel magnate Raymond Orteig’s offer to pay $25,000 to the first aviator to successfully undertake the uninterrupted intercontinental flight. This was a very large sum of money at the time. However, when Orteig originally made the offer in 1919, it did not attract any takers, as the trans-Atlantic flight was considered too dangerous. When Orteig renewed his offer in 1924, several experienced aviators decided to attempt the flight. Unfortunately, many died or were injured in preparing for the flight; two French aviators who attempted the mission disappeared and were never heard from again.

Initially, Lindbergh was not considered as a major contender to make the flight. He was only 25 years old and was employed as an airmail pilot. Lindbergh had, however, attended Army flight school, graduating near the top of his class. Although he was made a second lieutenant, he never became an active military pilot, taking the reserve corps route instead. Despite any perceived limitations, Lindbergh decided he would attempt the flight, and was able to obtain financial backers in the city of St. Louis; in return he named his airplane the “Spirit of St. Louis.”

Lindbergh turned to a small San Diego airline manufacturer, Ryan Aeronautical Company, to build the Spirit of St. Louis. The cost to build the airplane, including its engine, was about $10,550. Lindbergh played a major role in designing the airplane.

When Lindbergh arrived in San Diego, he found that Ryan Aeronautical Company was located in a dilapidated building with “no flying field, no hangar, no sound of engines warming up; and the unmistakable smell of dead fish from a near-by-cannery [mixed] with the banana odor of dope from drying wings.” However, Lindbergh immediately developed an excellent working relationship with the Ryan Aeronautical Company owner and his workers. Lindbergh enjoyed helping design the airplane from scratch, and the Ryan workers greatly respected Lindbergh. They  worked around the clock to complete the plane as quickly as possible and the Spirit of St. Louis was completed in just 60 days.

Bankers Hill, 1918

A look at Bankers Hill in 1918

Lindbergh made some unusual design requests, such as having the cockpit placed behind the gas tank. When questions arose about how this would impair his front vision, a Ryan employee, who had been a submariner, suggested a periscope.  Lindbergh readily agreed. The close working partnership between Lindbergh and the Ryan Aeronautical Company likely contributed to the success of the flight.

While living in San Diego, Lindbergh initially stayed at the U.S. Grant Hotel.  However, he subsequently ended up at the Palomar Apartments, located at Sixth Avenue and Maple Street — only a few blocks east of where aviator Waldo Waterman made his famous glider flight in 1909. The Palomar Apartments were built in 1913, designed by prominent San Diego architects Frank Mead and Richard Requa. The building is considered one of those architects’ premier works, and reflects Requa’s early use of Moorish-style architecture.

Lindbergh, Bankers Hill

Charles Lindbergh in Bankers Hill

On May 7, 1927, three days prior to beginning his flight, Lindbergh wrote a letter on Palomar Apartments stationary stating he was delayed in taking off because of bad weather. Once the weather cleared, Lindbergh left Dutch Flats on May 10. Ten days later, Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York City for Paris.  Another experienced pilot, Richard Byrd, commented that he thought Lindbergh had a 1-in-3 chance of making it to Paris. Others thought his flight was foolhardy and even suicidal.

The press was infatuated with Lindbergh and published a massive amount of information about him. As a result, millions of people worldwide were riveted in suspense for the duration of the 34-hour flight.

Today it may be difficult to realize how transfixed much of the world was on Lindbergh’s fate during his flight. During a boxing match at Yankee Stadium where 40,000 fans were present, the announcer reported — with no basis — Lindbergh was at sea and was well; the fans went wild, “refusing to be silenced.”

As Lindbergh’s biographer A. Scott Berg noted, “Everyone had a stake in Lindbergh. On May 20, 1927 — as night fell — modern man realized nobody had ever subjected himself to so extreme a test of human courage and capability as Lindbergh … Practically everybody who lived in America through Lindbergh’s flight would remember his or her precise feelings that first night.”

Finally, reports of sightings of the Spirit of St. Louis began coming in from ships offshore near Europe. Then — almost 34 hours after leaving New York City —Lindbergh landed the plane at Le Bourget airport in Paris.

To his shock, once on the ground he looked out his window and saw a jubilant crowd estimated at 150,000 people. They pulled him from his airplane and carried him on their shoulders; soldiers and police eventually were able to intervene and get him safely into an airport building.

Once inside, Lindbergh naively asked about passing through customs and immigration; French officials responded with laughter. Lindbergh was now a hero and would receive worldwide praise and accolades.

A few weeks later, he received a letter and photographs from his former neighbors in the Palomar Apartments in Bankers Hill, dated June 1, 2027.

“The Palomar family has felt a great deal of pride in all the wonderful things you have accomplished in the year since these pictures were taken and they join me in all good wishes for the future,” the letter stated.

Today a miniature replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, and a plaque commemorating Lindbergh, hang in the atrium of the Palomar Apartments. Full-size replicas of the Spirit of St. Louis exist in both the San Diego Air & Space Museum and at San Diego International Airport, also known as Lindbergh Field. The Medal of Honor awarded by President Calvin Coolidge to Lindbergh on March 21, 1927, also is on display at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

— Leo Wilson is administrator for Metro San Diego CDC and is a Bankers Hill resident.


St. Paul’s Cathedral & Metro San Diego CDC Co-Hosting Meetings To Discuss Design of Cathedral’s Ground Floor Community Space — October 10th & 11th

St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Metro San Diego CDC are co-hosting two community meetings to obtain public input about the design of the ground floor community open space planned for St. Paul’s Cathedral, as part of their redevelopment project.  St. Paul’s Cathedral is seeking suggestions and ideas about how this community space can be utilized to best serve the local community, while also maintaining a safe and secure environment.   The discussion at these meeting is limited to the ground floor open space, and not any other aspects of the proposed project.

The meetings will be held:

+Wednesday, October 10th, at 1:00 p.m., in the St. Paul’s Cathedral Guild Room at 2700 Sixth Avenue

+Thursday, October 11th, at 7:00 p.m., in the St. Paul’s Cathedral Guild Room at 2700 Sixth Avenue

Leo Wilson,


Metro San Diego CDC

St. Paul's Project, Ground Floor

Metro San Diego CDC September 2018 Meeting Summary:




The Metro San Diego CDC had its first meeting for the 2018/2019 year on Monday, September 24th

I. The first speaker was Brittany Bailey, representing City Councilmember Chris Ward, who spoke about several topics, including:

  1. The proposal to establish regulations for dockless scooters, that would address scooters riding on sidewalks; where scooters should park; and the need for riders to wear helmets;
  2. An update on how the City was addressing homelessness; there was recently a forum about the subject in Mission Hills that attracted over 100 people;

II. Peter Comiskey, Executive Director of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, provided an update regarding several future construction projects in Balboa Park. The Mingei Museum will be closed for about a year while it is rebuilt. Construction work will also take place in the California Plaza adjacent to the Museum of Man.  Both these projects will be completed prior to the start of the Plaza de Panama project, construction for which is expected to commence sometime in the first part of 2019.

Comiskey then made a presentation about the proposed Balboa Park banner district. There will be seven vertical banners placed on lampposts along Sixth Avenue in the West Mesa of Balboa Park.  The purpose of banners is to enhance the identity of Balboa Park; they may also be used to notice events.  If the initial seven banners along Sixth Avenue are successful, more may be placed.  The number will always be reasonable to avoid saturation. Metro San Diego CDC members present reacted very favorably to the proposed banner district. It was pointed out that visitors often inquire where Balboa Park is even when they are standing in it. Banner poles along Sixth Avenue could also be used to publicize community events in Bankers Hill.  The Metro San Diego CDC voted unanimously to support the proposed Balboa Park banner district. (Maps with the location of the initial banners are attached below.)

III. Susan Jester, Public Relations & Media Director for St. Paul’s Episcopal/Anglican Cathedral, indicated that the Cathedral was seeking community input about the design of the community open space on the ground floor of the Cathedral, which will be created as part of the new 6th & Olive Street project. Jester requested the Metro San Diego CDC’s involvement in the outreach effort. The Metro San Diego CDC unanimously agreed to partner with the Cathedral and co-sponsor community forums and events, as well as help with the public outreach.

IV. Don Liddell, the chair of the Balboa Park West Mesa Subcommittee, is also a Second Avenue resident. A proposed Second Avenue Historic District, between Upas Street and Palm Street, was identified during the Uptown Community Plan update process. Liddell will be moving forward with determining the feasibility of establishing the district, and has prepared a draft petition for property owners to sign.  The Metro San Diego CDC was supportive of this effort, and agreed to help with outreach.

V. Bob Daniel, chair of the Western Slope Community Association (“WSCA”), was unable to attend the meeting, but submitted a written report about the status of the railroad “Quiet Zone” being proposed along the western boundary of Uptown. A Quiet Zone study should be completed in Nov/Dec 2018; at which time SANDAG will determine the project’s cost and possible sources of funding. Dick Troncone, a member of the WSCA, has talked with the engineer working on the project, and both have visited the railroad crossings that would be affected. The engineer though the project was doable without significant modifications to the crossings.


BalboaPark, 2

BalboaParkBannerSites, 1

Proposed Second Avenue Historic District Moves Forward

One of the most distinctive areas of Bankers Hill is along Second Avenue between Palm Street and Upas Street.  The buildings along these five blocks (built 1871-1945) are some of the most attractive in the City of San Diego.  An Uptown historic study in 2006 recommended these five blocks be designated as a historic district (48 total structures; 44 potential historic).  The process of determining the feasibility of forming the historic district is now beginning, spearheaded by attorney Don Liddell, who resides on Second Avenue.  A draft petition has been prepared, and community outreach will soon begin. Liddell made a presentation at the Metro San Diego CDC on September 24th; which agreed to support him in this effort.  While welcoming new development, the Bankers Hill community also seeks to preserve its historic  character.





Metro San Diego CDC Meeting on Monday, September 24, 2018, from 4:00-5:00 p.m.

The next meeting of the Metro San Diego CDC is on Monday, September 24th, from 4:00-5:00 p.m.  The location will be the 10th floor conference room (Room 1050) of the Manchester Financial Center, at 2550 Fifth Avenue.
The city is now looking at adopting regulations for dockless scooters. Brittany Bailey, from Councilmember Chris Ward’s office, will be present at Monday’s meeting and can provide an update on the issue.
Our special guests will be:
(1.) Peter Comiskey, the Executive Director of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, who will discuss among other topics the creation of a banner district in Balboa Park, which would include the West Mesa;
(2.) Jim Kidrick, the CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum,  and chair of Balboa Park United which spearheaded the Plaza de Panama project;
At a recent Metro San Diego CDC meeting, the relationship between substance abuse and criminal activity was briefly discussed.  Below are recent arrest statistics in the City of San Diego:

“The survey found that 79 percent of adult male arrestees and 73 percent of adult female arrestees tested positive for at least one illegal drug, including methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates, PCP and marijuana, which had not yet been legalized in the state. The percentage of men who tested positive is the highest recorded by the CJRD since it began recording data in 2000 and a 4 percent increase from 2016.

The report showed that 55 percent of men and 58 percent of women involved in the survey had tested positive for meth, and of the 90 percent surveyed who tested positive for multiple drugs, meth was one of them. According to the report, 98 percent of the arrestees said they obtained their methamphetamine in San Diego County.”


Leo Wilson
Metro San Diego CDC

Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation: Board of Directors/Officers for 2018-2019

Metro San Diego

Community Development Corporation

Board of Directors: 2018-2019


Bud Alessio (General Partner /FAFC, Inc.);

Bob Daniel (Hilco Real Estate; Chair/Western Slope Community Association);

Beth Jaworski, (Past UCSD Researcher, University Height);

Alexandra Jamason, (Director of International Relations, Manchester Fifth Avenue Financial Center; Manchester Financial Group);

Susan Jester (Public Relations & Media Director/ St. Paul’s Episcopal/Anglican Cathedral;  Co-Chair on the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Council; California Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission);

Richard S. Ledford, Treasurer (President/ Ledford Enterprises; Palm Street Properties; St. Paul’s Senior Homes & Services);

Bruce E.  Leidenberger, Secretary (President/ La Jolla Pacific Group);

Jennifer Pesqueira, Vice President, Five Points/Middletown (Owner/ El Indio Mexican Restaurant; Co-chair/Five Points/Middletown Business Association);

Michael Seidel, President (Senior Partner/ E&D Ventures LTD; Co-chair, Bankers Hill/Park West Community Association);

Easton Watumull (Asset Manager/ Greenwald Company; Director/ Uptown Hillcrest Gateway Council);

Dr. Alan Spector (President/ Park Laurel HOA; Board of Directors/ Balboa Park Conservancy);

Jake Sutton (Financial Adviser/ Edward Jones; President/ Bankers Hill Business Group);

Sara Steinhoffer, Vice President, Bankers Hill/Park West (VP Government Relations/Sharp Health Care);

Glen Younger (CEO Grah Lock /Past President/ Hillcrest Business Association);



New Stop Sign On India Street (at Chalmers) Calms Traffic Going Into Five Points Business District

Five Points business leaders and local residents, supported by the Uptown Community Parking District, succeeded in their effort to have a stop sign installed on India Street, at the intersection with Chalmers Street.  The new stop sign prevents drivers from speeding north on India Street through the Five Points business district,  creating a threat to public safety.

Uptown Planners voted to approve placement of the stop sign on April 3, 2018; under a special city policy (City Council Policy 200-08) if a community planning group passes a motion supporting the placement of a stop sign, the local city councilmember then has the power to request the stop sign be installed.  City Councilmember Chris Ward did so by a letter dated June 8, 2018.  Special thanks go to Jennifer Pesqueira, of El Indio Restaurant, who as a member of Uptown Planners guided the approval of stop sign through the Uptown community planning group process.  Pesqueira is also Vice-President of the Metro San Diego CDC.


Stop sign India Street Aug 2018


Balboa Park West Mesa Landscape (Grass) Rehabilitation Begins

On August 28, 2018, the City of San Diego began a landscape rehabilitation project on the West Mesa of Balboa Park, north of Laurel Street.  The project focused on restoring the grass cover, which in some places has eroded so badly that it has become dirt.  Here are pictures of the work that has so far taken place. The eroded areas have been fenced-off and fertilized, and are now being watered intermittently each day.






Here are past pictures of what the West Mesa of Balboa Park looked like with a healthy grass cover. Hopefully, the landscape rehabilitation project will restore the grass to its former attractive condition.


Penthouse, balconyview


Penthouse, BalboaParkView