El Cerrito/College

Voted by Redfin as the Number #1, hottest neighborhood in the US, El Cerrito quietly continues to offer its residents pearls of homeownership.   Centered on a small hill, outlined by Overlook Drive, El Cerrito’s neighborhood borders are defined by 54th street, College Ave to the East, University Ave to the South and Baja Canyon to the North, El Cerrito is known for its large lot size, space in-between homes, non-cookie cutter feel, and often amazing views of the Coronado Islands, downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bridge.  Annual block parties and monthly organized happy hours at neighbors homes are just a few of the ways this little gem keeps a small, cohesive community feel. Redfin-Hottest-neighborhoods-2015

Far enough inland to enjoy mostly sunny days, escaping the marine layer, El Cerrito remains centrally located to some of San Diego’s equally popular neighborhoods and attractions.  Hillcrest, La Mesa, and Kensington are just a short drive away.  Similarly, El Cerrito is only 10-15 minutes away from the beaches, downtown and Balboa Park.  San Diego State nearby also adds an extra bonus for concerts, continuing education, and cultural diversity.

True to its name, “the little hill”, many of its homes enjoy amazing views of downtown San Diego and in some areas, ocean views with peeks of the Coronado Islands. Sunset views can be spectacular against the downtown backdrop. Most newcomers to the area are pleasantly surprised by not only the views many of the homes boast, but the large lot size and unique, non-cookie cutter architectural styles this San Diego Mid-City neighborhood has to offer.

Like so much of Southern California, El Cerrito was once acres of orange and lemon orchards.  However as young San Diego grew eastward in the early 1920’s, gradually the citrus was cut down to make way for homes and this unique neighborhood was born.  Being born in the 1920’s had its advantages for then homes were built one at a time; something that went a bit out of style after the war.  The result was a mix of different architectural styles and sizes. Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival styles were quite popular early on and as El Cerrito continued to grow, developers also brought in a mixture of traditional revival style homes such as Cape Cod, Colonial, California Ranch, Streamline, and Modern. With its uniqueness, charm and neighborhood feel, it is no wonder early real estate agents advertised this area as “The Mission Hills” of eastern San Diego.

As demand for the area grew during the 20’s, so followed new subdivisions.  As a result, the following neighborhoods grew along El Cajon Boulevard:  Redland Gardens (1923), and Extension (1924), Highland Gardens (1924), Cajon Terrace (1926), Monte Mar Vista (1926); El Retiro (1927), and the area’s namesake; El Cerrito Heights (1926-32).  El Cerrito’s southern border was created after World War II with the addition of the Belleview Heights (1947) area which pushed the neighborhood to University Avenue.

In 1947 Collwood Village was created extending El Cerrito’s neighborhood boundary to 54th St. In the late 40’s and early Cosgrove Terrace (1949) and Piedmont Estates (1952) brought what we now refer to as “mid-century” architectural style to the area and filled in much of the land on the mesa tops.

Throughout the years, homeowners have remodeled, added on and continued to improve the area of El Cerrito.  As a result of its early roots, coupled with continued pride of ownership throughout the years, El Cerrito has earned its spot on San Diego’s landscape as a truly unique and architecturally diverse neighborhood.  “Locals” take pride in their community and there is a great sense of “neighborhood” in El Cerrito.   Many neighbors actually take time to get to know one another and the El Cerrito Community Council (ECC) works hard to continue to improve this San Diego gem.

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