La Jolla is a hilly seaside community within the city of San Diego, California, United States occupying 7 miles of curving coastline along the Pacific Ocean within the northern city limits.
The population reported in the 2010 Census was 46,781. La Jolla is surrounded on three sides by ocean bluffs and beaches and is located 12 miles north of Downtown San Diego, and 40 miles south of Orange County California, The climate is mild, with an average daily temperature of 70.5 °F.
La Jolla is home to a variety of businesses in the areas of lodging, dining, shopping, software, finance, real estate, bio-engineering, medical practice and scientific research. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is located in La Jolla, as are the Salk Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (part of UCSD), Scripps Research Institute, and the headquarters of National University (though its academic campuses are elsewhere).
Origin of the name La Jolla, 1908
Local Native Americans, the Kumeyaay, called this location mat kulaaxuuy (IPA: [mat kəlaːxuːj]), lit. “land of holes” (mat = “land”). The topographic feature that gave rise to the name “holes” is uncertain; it probably refers to sea-level caves located on the north-facing bluffs, which are visible from La Jolla Shores. It is suggested that the Kumeyaay name for the area was transcribed by the Spanish settlers as La Jolla. An alternative, pseudo-etymological suggestion for the origin of the name is that it is an alternate spelling of the Spanish word la joya, which means “the jewel”. Despite being disputed by scholars, this derivation of the name has been widely cited in popular culture. That supposed origin gave rise to the nickname “Jewel City”.
During the Mexican period of San Diego’s history, La Jolla was mapped as pueblo land and contained about 60 lots. When California became a state in 1850, the La Jolla area was incorporated as part of the chartered City of San Diego. In 1870 Charles Dean acquired several of the pueblo lots and subdivided them into an area that became known as La Jolla Park. Dean was unable to develop the land and left San Diego in 1881. A real estate boom in the 1880s led speculators Frank T. Botsford and George W. Heald to further develop the sparsely settled area.
In the 1890s the San Diego, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla Railway was built, connecting La Jolla to the rest of San Diego. La Jolla became known as a resort area. To attract visitors to the beach, the railway built facilities such as a bath house and a dance pavilion. Visitors were housed in small cottages and bungalows above La Jolla Cove, as well as a temporary tent city, erected every summer. Two of the cottages that were built in 1894 still exist: the “Red Roost” and the “Red Rest”, also known as the “Neptune and Cove Tea Room”; the two cottages have been vacant since the 1980s, and are covered in tarpaulins. The La Jolla Park Hotel opened in 1893. The Hotel Cabrillo was built in 1908 by “Squire” James A. Wilson and was later incorporated into the La Valencia Hotel.
By 1900, La Jolla comprised 100 buildings and 350 residents. The first reading room (library) was built in 1898. A volunteer fire brigade was organized in 1907; the city of San Diego established a regular fire house in 1914. Livery stable owner Nathan Rannells served successively as La Jolla’s volunteer fire captain, first police officer (the only San Diego police officer north of Mission Valley), and first postmaster.
The Bishop’s School opened in 1909. La Jolla High School was established in 1922. The La Jolla Beach and Yacht Club (later the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club) was built in 1927.
The community’s border starts at Pacific Beach to the south and extends along the Pacific Ocean shoreline north to include Torrey Pines State Reserve ending at Del Mar, California. La Jolla encompasses the neighborhoods of Bird Rock, Windansea Beach, the commercial center known as the Village of La Jolla, La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Farms, Muirlands, Torrey Pines, and Mount Soledad to name a few.
The City of San Diego defines the community’s eastern boundary as Gilman Drive and the Interstate 5 freeway and the northern boundary as the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
The U.S. Postal Service defines a somewhat larger area, assigning the community the 92037 ZIP code, recognizing it as a historically and geographically distinct area. This unique ZIP code allows addresses to read La Jolla, CA, and is the only community within the City of San Diego so recognized. Additionally, it is in the 919xx/920xx sequence used for suburban and rural ZIP codes in San Diego County, rather than the 921xx sequence used for the remainder of the City of San Diego itself. These conditions sometimes lead to the erroneous impression that La Jolla is a separate city rather than a part of San Diego. The 92037 ZIP code extends the northeasterly boundary to Genesee Avenue and the northerly boundary to Del Mar, California. The UCSD campus, although it is part of La Jolla, has ZIP codes 92092 and 92093.
Despite the city and postal service definitions, La Jolla does not have universally accepted boundaries. In the 1980s, the trustees of a local hospital voted to move the campus from downtown La Jolla to University City, east of Interstate 5 and not within the traditional boundaries of La Jolla. The governing documents of the hospital required it to be located in La Jolla, however. A court ruled that “La Jolla” exists merely as a “state of mind” and thus allowed the relocation of the hospital. Several businesses and housing developments east of Interstate 5 use “La Jolla” in their names.
La Jolla is an area of mixed geology, including sandy beaches and rocky shorelines. The area is occasionally susceptible to flooding and ocean stormS.
Mount Soledad is covered with the narrow roads that follow its contours and hundreds of homes overlooking the ocean on its slopes. It is the home of the large concrete Mount Soledad Easter Cross built in 1954, later designated a Korean War Memorial, that became the center of a controversy over the display of religious symbols on government property.
The most compelling geographical highlight of La Jolla is its ocean front, with alternating rugged and sandy coastline, and wild seal congregations. Popular beaches and coastal access points listed here from north to south, are:
Torrey Pines State Reserve
Scripps, near Scripps Institution of Oceanography
La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club
La Jolla Cove
Children’s Pool Beach
La Jolla Farms – This northern La Jolla neighborhood is just west of UCSD. It includes the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the Salk Institute, and a group of expensive homes on the cliffs above Black’s Beach.
La Jolla Shores – The residential area and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus along La Jolla Shores Beach and east up the hillside. Also includes a small business district of shops and restaurants along Avenida de la Playa.
La Jolla Heights – The homes on the hills overlooking La Jolla Shores. No businesses.
Hidden Valley – Lower portion of Mount Soledad on the northern slopes. No businesses.
Country Club – Lower Mt. Soledad on the northwest side, including the La Jolla Country Club golf course.
Village – Also called Village of La Jolla (not to be confused with La Jolla Village) the “downtown” business district area, including most of La Jolla’s shops and restaurants, and the immediately surrounding higher density and single family residential areas.
Beach-Barber Tract – The coastal section from Windansea Beach to the Village. A few shops and restaurants along La Jolla Boulevard.
Lower Hermosa – Coastal strip south of Beach-Barber Tract. No businesses.
Bird Rock – Southern coastal La Jolla, and the very lowest slopes of Mt. Soledad in the area. Notable for shops and restaurants along La Jolla Boulevard, five traffic roundabouts on La Jolla Boulevard, coastal bluffs, and surfing areas just two blocks off the main drag.
Muirlands – Relatively large area on western middle slope of Mt. Soledad. No businesses.
La Jolla Mesa – A strip on the lower southern side of Mt. Soledad, bordering Pacific Beach. No businesses.
La Jolla Alta – A master-planned development east of La Jolla Mesa. No businesses.
Soledad South – Southeastern slopes of Mt. Soledad, all the way up to the top, east of La Jolla Alta.
Muirlands West – The small neighborhood between Muirlands to the south, and Country Club to the north. No businesses.
Upper Hermosa – Southwestern La Jolla, north of Bird Rock and east of La Jolla Blvd.
La Jolla Village – Not to be confused with the Village (of La Jolla). In northeast La Jolla, east of La Jolla Heights, west of I-5 and south of UCSD. The neighborhood’s namesake is the La Jolla Village Square shopping and residential mall, which includes two movie theaters.
The University of California, San Diego is the center of higher education in La Jolla. The campus’ original name was UC La Jolla before it was changed to UC San Diego. UCSD includes the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
National University is also headquartered in La Jolla, with several academic campuses located throughout the county and the state. Among the several research institutes near UCSD and in the nearby Torrey Pines Science Park are The Scripps Research Institute, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (formerly called the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation), La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LIAI) and the Salk Institute.
La Jolla is served by the San Diego Unified School District. Public schools include La Jolla High School, La Jolla Elementary (which was the first public school, built in 1896 with the first classes in the Heald Store at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Wall Street, later moving to its present location on Girard Avenue), Muirlands Middle School, Torrey Pines Elementary, and Bird Rock Elementary, as well as The Preuss School UCSD, a public charter school. The community’s prep schools are The Bishop’s School, which was the first private school opened in 1909, The Children’s School, Delphi Academy, Stella Maris Academy, The Gillispie School, and the Evans School. La Jolla Country Day School is located in the nearby community of University City.