West end of El Cajon Boulevard
To the casual observer, the revival and refurbishment of the neon neighborhood signs -- Kensington, Hillcrest, Normal Heights, (soon) Little Italy, et al. -- looks like an effort to reestablish the neighborhood community feeling that existed in the decades before malls, shopping centers, strip malls, discount superstores, and the like sucked the financial life out of citywide Main Streets. They seem to be encouraging people to do out of pride and civic responsibility what they used to do out of necessity -- think local, stay local, shop local. Such an effort harkens back to the '50s, before the really bad architecture started cropping up in San Diego, to an era before highways, an era when cruising provided an evening's entertainment. And no sign makes us harken like the Boulevard, just east of the Washington/Park Boulevard/Normal Street hub. The stylish font, the subtitle ("Gateway to Mid-City"), the three lanes on either side all make us nostalgic for an era we never really knew. The Boulevard is not quite a neighborhood, but it is a Main Street.