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The California Theatre in San Diego will soon be extinct along with its infamous Caliente Mural

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

The California Theatre used to be the ish back in the day. (Do people still use that term?) Built in 1927, the theatre began as a silent movie house. By the 70’s it had morphed into a concert venue and by 1990 it was shuttered for good. Needless to say, time has not been kind to this old building.

Despite multiple efforts by SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organisation), both the building and murals attached will soon be demolished and replaced with what will be the largest condo complex to be built in downtown San Diego. The Caliente mural will be replicated upon the rebuild. Not the same, I know. *Crying Emoji*

THE CALIENTE MURAL (located on the west side of the building) advertises a Tijuana racetrack - a happenin’ track for decades and a popular destination for Hollywood stars including Charlie Chaplin + Buster Keaton. The Agua Caliente track hosted both horse and dog races, as seen in the fading mural above. The two murals are said to have been painted sometime in the 50s/60's.

Advertisement for The Barbary Coast Tavern - barely readable on the top of the building

The Barbary Coast Tavern was a dance hall in downtown San Diego, though, an article from the San Diego Reader in 1972 made it sound more like a strip club. Whatever the case, it was the 'In Spot' apparently from 1968-1976. Groovy, baby.

With its dilapidated state, the building is barely standing on its own. It attracts the homeless, small critters, large amounts of trash, and remains an eyesore through the streets of downtown San Diego, but even with all that negative press I find myself looking up at it and saying "damn, I'm really going to miss this beautiful piece of architecture."

Cruise the gallery below for more photos.



Corner of 4th + C, Downtown San Diego, CA

*Soon to be demolished*

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