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College Area

SDSU - Image by Joe Klein
SDSU

As soon as you leave the SDSU district, where College Avenue collides with El Cajon Boulevard, libraries and frat houses give way to liquor stores, check-cashing places, 99-cent emporiums, and plenty more clear signposts that you’ve entered an urban, merchant-driven neighborhood. The Campus Drive-In Theater occupied that intersection from 1947 until it was torn down in 1983. You can still see its four-story-tall neon sign, a miniskirted majorette spinning her baton and wearing a full Indian headdress, behind the College Grove Shopping Center off Highway 94. The old drive-in lot currently houses yet another nondescript modular shopping center, where few stores outlive their first year’s lease.

One rare longstanding retail landmark is the Subway sandwich shop near 63rd, which opened back in 1982, the East Coast company’s first franchise in San Diego. Today, our city has more Subways than Roberto’s/Alberto’s/fill-in-the-blank-Berto’s, but in a neighborhood where everything around it has changed, this original location maintains its mom-and-pop-hangout atmosphere, despite the newfangled bread machines and a Tolstoy-dense menu that now takes up the entire back wall.

One shouldn’t pull over or park in the proximity of women who stand around the bus stop in front of the AM/PM or who stroll up and down El Cajon Boulevard between the 92175 post office and 70th Street. It doesn’t matter how you look or what you drive; you don’t even have to make eye contact for the more aggressive entrepreneurs to walk right up to your passenger door and try to climb in. It’s easy to fend off unwanted contact with a lady of the night (or of the morning, afternoon, or lunchtime). Simply point a little disposable camera at her, flash, and you’ll hear the clippity-clopping of her high heels fading into the distance.

The huge Ralphs supermarket is open all night, and you’ll often see furtive, undernourished-looking people there buying lighters, steel wool pads, and tire-pressure gauges they use to make crack pipes. Ralphs is the only place you can get such smoking necessities at night in this neighborhood, since 7-Eleven stopped selling Brillo pads and liquor stores quit carrying single-rose stems sealed in versatile glass tubes. The Laundromat on El Cajon near 70th has a public restroom that costs a quarter to use. At night, it’s usually occupied by homeless or far-from-home people “renting” the bathroom and, most importantly, its lockable door, rare in this part of the city, often to make use of those Brillo pads, tire gauges, and butane lighters they just bought down the street at Ralphs.

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SDSU - Image by Joe Klein
SDSU

As soon as you leave the SDSU district, where College Avenue collides with El Cajon Boulevard, libraries and frat houses give way to liquor stores, check-cashing places, 99-cent emporiums, and plenty more clear signposts that you’ve entered an urban, merchant-driven neighborhood. The Campus Drive-In Theater occupied that intersection from 1947 until it was torn down in 1983. You can still see its four-story-tall neon sign, a miniskirted majorette spinning her baton and wearing a full Indian headdress, behind the College Grove Shopping Center off Highway 94. The old drive-in lot currently houses yet another nondescript modular shopping center, where few stores outlive their first year’s lease.

One rare longstanding retail landmark is the Subway sandwich shop near 63rd, which opened back in 1982, the East Coast company’s first franchise in San Diego. Today, our city has more Subways than Roberto’s/Alberto’s/fill-in-the-blank-Berto’s, but in a neighborhood where everything around it has changed, this original location maintains its mom-and-pop-hangout atmosphere, despite the newfangled bread machines and a Tolstoy-dense menu that now takes up the entire back wall.

One shouldn’t pull over or park in the proximity of women who stand around the bus stop in front of the AM/PM or who stroll up and down El Cajon Boulevard between the 92175 post office and 70th Street. It doesn’t matter how you look or what you drive; you don’t even have to make eye contact for the more aggressive entrepreneurs to walk right up to your passenger door and try to climb in. It’s easy to fend off unwanted contact with a lady of the night (or of the morning, afternoon, or lunchtime). Simply point a little disposable camera at her, flash, and you’ll hear the clippity-clopping of her high heels fading into the distance.

The huge Ralphs supermarket is open all night, and you’ll often see furtive, undernourished-looking people there buying lighters, steel wool pads, and tire-pressure gauges they use to make crack pipes. Ralphs is the only place you can get such smoking necessities at night in this neighborhood, since 7-Eleven stopped selling Brillo pads and liquor stores quit carrying single-rose stems sealed in versatile glass tubes. The Laundromat on El Cajon near 70th has a public restroom that costs a quarter to use. At night, it’s usually occupied by homeless or far-from-home people “renting” the bathroom and, most importantly, its lockable door, rare in this part of the city, often to make use of those Brillo pads, tire gauges, and butane lighters they just bought down the street at Ralphs.

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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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