The History of the Little Italy District of San Diego

San Diego is a popular tourist destination for its incredible beaches, endless attractions, and relaxed living mentality. For tourists and locals alike, one must-see spot is Little Italy, located in the heart of downtown. This thriving community is built on a mixture of new and old, hip and quaint, old-world and cutting-edge. With more than just curb appeal, Little Italy San Diego apartments truly offer the best of both worlds, from modern-day delights to a storied, diverse history. 


Tuna Industry Influence 

From the 19th century to almost the end of the 1900s, the tuna packing industry helped weave together the fabric of Little Italy. In large part, the tuna industry in San Diego was staffed by Italian-American fishermen primarily hailing from the Italian Riviera and Sicily. With such high demands for quality fish, the neighborhood was quickly flooded with Italian immigrant workers and their families, creating the foundation for the rich culture and authentic cuisine you can experience in the area today. However, toward the turn of the century, competitive market prices caused the tuna canning operations to shut their doors and the neighborhood saw a period of decline. 


Construction and Development 

The development of the Interstate-5 freeway drastically reduced the size of Little Italy and caused tourism to take a significant decline. Over time, however, the storefronts and bungalow-style homes made their transition into a highly sought after location for prime time real estate. Many publications, such as Forbes, have taken notice, pointing to the neighborhood’s focus on small businesses as the key to its revival and success. 



As the main fixture of San Diego’s active downtown, Little Italy has flourished into an ideal spot for fresh restaurants with ethnic offerings, unique merchandise, and high-end apartment complexes. The luxury apartments in San Diego offer a quaint, old-world charm mixed with all the amenities of modern city living. 


Celebration of Culture

Today, Little Italy’s past is a celebrated aspect of the district, with a number of statues and plaques dedicated to its history in the fishing industry. Many families have resided in the area for generations and work hard to keep the culture thriving. Of course, food is a mainstay of the area’s trademark features, but a passion for arts and music is also at its core. The ArtWalk is a popular event held in April that features artists from all around the world. Another popular celebration is the Little Italy Carnevale, where several shops and restaurants take part in a Venetian mask display. 


Find Your Fit in Our Little Italy San Diego Apartments 

Whether you’re interested in fine dining, high-end fashion to small-scale mom and pop shopping, or hitting the art galleries, San Diego’s Little Italy has plenty to offer. Ariel’s luxury downtown San Diego apartments provide unparalleled living in one of the country’s richest cultural hubs. Come check out our high-quality buildings and explore the chic neighborhood to see what everyone is talking about.