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Linda Vista Then & Now: Revisiting 1980s series on San Diego neighborhoods

News 8 looks into the history of Linda Vista from Skateworld to the University of San Diego and how homes were built in the 1940s to house WWII defense workers.

SAN DIEGO — Linda Vista literally means “Pretty View” in Spanish. It is also nicknamed “The Block” and is known as “the heart of San Diego.”

"I think the really cool thing about this neighborhood is that is a little bit of a diamond in the rough. It has not changed a lot,” said Christina Stang, SkateWorld co-owner.

The layout of Linda Vista largely looks how it did decades ago. The McDonald's on Linda Vista Road has the same sign News 8 shot in 1986.

What was once a playground at the Linda Vista McDonald's is now an outside seating area. A church in the background on the left side can still be seen in 2021.

"There used to be an arcade place to play here, Thrift Village is no longer here and Del Taco was across the street,” said Linda Liquor Manager Chris Gorou.

Del Taco is now Filiberto‘s Mexican food along Linda Vista Road and Ulric Street. Linda Liquor Manager Chris Gorou remembers when old cashier Larry Chris worked there and was opposed to new development. 

"Just going to take away from Linda Vista, I think but of course the real estate people don’t, but I do,” said Larry Chris in 1986.

"He just doesn’t have the same mustache or hair because it fell out over time, but he still shows up, a lot of people still show up here,” Chris Gorou said.

The store owned by Gorou's family since the early 1990s offers more than liquor, it provides community.

"We know everybody in the neighborhood, we’ve been here forever, and we also have lucky lotto tickets,” Gorou said.

Christina Stang says when you say Linda Vista, people usually say “SkateWorld." Since 1975, SkateWorld has been a rockin’ and rolling fixture of the neighborhood, and now, as the only indoor roller rink left in San Diego County, it too has a rich history.

"I think in the early 40s it was dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was a military building, so that is why when you come up, many think there is no way a skating rink is in here, but it is because of this rounded shaped building with beams that actually go 9 feet into the ground,” Stang said.

SkateWorld came close to closing its doors for good in 2019, but neighbors rallied to save it.

"When we fought to save SkateWorld, there were a lot of rumors and speculation that a Target was going to move in here, and the local community did not like that,” Stang said.

What was once a Del Taco on Linda Vista Road at Ulric Street is now a Filiberto's.

No big box stores in Linda Vista, the area is like a time capsule. It was once rural and later a refugee settlement following the Vietnam War. Many of the homes were built in 1941 as part of a government project to house aircraft workers for World War II with the goal of building 3,000 houses in 200 days.

Long time Linda Vistans say although so much has changed, so much has stayed the same, such as the Village Apartments at Fulton and Eastman Streets, which News8 featured back in 1986.

“This is the only place that is centrally located to everything, you get all the freeways around here, you get an ocean breeze,” said Gilbert Rodriguez, real estate broker in 1986.

Linda Vista is part of San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo's District 7.

“I really love the neighborhood, I went to high school in the neighborhood. It’s a neighborhood that brings together the Latino, Filipino and Vietnamese communities,” Campillo said.

Campillo says Linda Vista's Multicultural fair stands out, but the area has been pushing for a Linda Vista Community Center for over 25 years and needs improvements to crumbling roads, the popular skate park and the old library.

"I think over the next decade, Linda Vista has a lot to look forward to in terms of housing, amenities, infrastructure,” Campillo said.

Between SkateWorld and the growing popularity of the skate park, Linda Vista is becoming known as a “skate town,” and the nearby recreation center often serves as a reunion meet-up point for a long time Linda Vistans, and they hope that it will remain that way.

The Linda Vista Library got a big upgrade since our piece in 1986; the 10,000-square-foot building designed by local architect Rob Quigley opened in 1987.

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