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Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley got its name from encyclopedia salesman

And its streets are laid out on a grid

Dear Matthew Alice:

San Diego County has lots of odd names, but one of my favorites is Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley. Why is it called Dictionary Hill? Why can't I find it on any maps?

E.E., Spring Valley

The truth is, Dictionary Hill isn't its real name. It's just a nickname acquired about seventy years ago, before there was much of anything out in that area north of Sweetwater Lake. It seems that an enterprising encyclopedia publisher came to San Diego from the Midwest to peddle his wares. Apparently, encyclopedias were something San Diegans could live well enough without, and business was pretty bad. But the publisher came up with what could be the most ingenious marketing idea anyone's devised. He bought the area now known as Dictionary Hill from the federal government for twenty-five dollars, subdivided the property, and gave away lots with each encyclopedia purchased.

The story goes that a dictionary was also thrown into the bargain, and the hill was' named after it. instead of being called Encyclopedia Hill.

One of the oddest things about the Dictionary Hill area, also known as La Presa, is the way the streets were laid out on the original subdivision maps. Usually, roads on a mountain or hill will be drawn around the knobby terrain, and street maps will have those characteristic curves. Dictionary Hill's are laid out in a grid that makes the area look as flat as the San Joaquin Valley. Engineers in Los Angeles did the subdivision maps for the publisher, and no one bothered to tell them what the land looked like. So they used the easy approach and laid out the streets in a grid. The Dictionary Hill area in Spring Valley is bounded on the south by Jamacha Road, on the north by Eucalyptus Street, on the west by Grand Avenue, and on the east by Sangamon Avenue, according to the original descriptions of the development.

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Dear Matthew Alice:

San Diego County has lots of odd names, but one of my favorites is Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley. Why is it called Dictionary Hill? Why can't I find it on any maps?

E.E., Spring Valley

The truth is, Dictionary Hill isn't its real name. It's just a nickname acquired about seventy years ago, before there was much of anything out in that area north of Sweetwater Lake. It seems that an enterprising encyclopedia publisher came to San Diego from the Midwest to peddle his wares. Apparently, encyclopedias were something San Diegans could live well enough without, and business was pretty bad. But the publisher came up with what could be the most ingenious marketing idea anyone's devised. He bought the area now known as Dictionary Hill from the federal government for twenty-five dollars, subdivided the property, and gave away lots with each encyclopedia purchased.

The story goes that a dictionary was also thrown into the bargain, and the hill was' named after it. instead of being called Encyclopedia Hill.

One of the oddest things about the Dictionary Hill area, also known as La Presa, is the way the streets were laid out on the original subdivision maps. Usually, roads on a mountain or hill will be drawn around the knobby terrain, and street maps will have those characteristic curves. Dictionary Hill's are laid out in a grid that makes the area look as flat as the San Joaquin Valley. Engineers in Los Angeles did the subdivision maps for the publisher, and no one bothered to tell them what the land looked like. So they used the easy approach and laid out the streets in a grid. The Dictionary Hill area in Spring Valley is bounded on the south by Jamacha Road, on the north by Eucalyptus Street, on the west by Grand Avenue, and on the east by Sangamon Avenue, according to the original descriptions of the development.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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