Green Dragon Colony


Self-Guided Tours

A Walking Tour of La Jolla Village

Historic terraced pink hotel on a hillside with palm trees and the ocean in the background.

This hour-long tour of La Jolla focuses on significant landmarks and is designed to provide insight into the past century of community growth and development. Included are examples of early beach cottages, European architectural styles that developed starting in the 1920s, as well as modern buildings.

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Historic Beach Cottages of La Jolla

Photograph of historic cottage on a hill with another more modern structure behind it up the the hill. The cottage has an outdoor porch and three palm trees in front.

Before paved streets, running water, and grand hotels, La Jolla was a village of small cottages that clung to the cliffs and nestled in the canyons along the rising topography of the coastline. Craftsman-style beach cottages were the vernacular architecture of the late-19th century and early-20th century. Of basic design and simple wood construction, the cottages on this driving tour remain a window into early La Jolla.

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Jazz Age La Jolla: Architecture of the 1920s

Half artist's drawing and half photograph of a two story house with tall chimney, arched windows and a second floor veranda. The two images come together to make a complete image.

In 1920s La Jolla, the automobile and electric streetcar encouraged residential developments such as the Barber Tract, Hermosa, Muirlands, and the Shores. Beach cottages gave way to the work of architects who adapted historic styles to modern sensibilities, creating uniquely regional designs in Mediterranean and European architectural vocabularies. These early subdivisions built on the outskirts of the Village continue to define neighborhoods, street patterns, and historic architecture.

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Mid-Century Modern Architecture

John F. O’Laughlin Residence, La Jolla

The 1950s and 1960s were decades of a remarkably rich creative culture in La Jolla, and a group of modernist architects emerged to spearhead new, influential, and enduring ideas in building design. This driving tour highlights residential, commercial, and academic buildings designed in the modern style and reflecting influences ranging from the Bauhaus to Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Irving Gill's San Diego

Artist's drawing of a two story structure with windows and climbing plants and flowers.

The Arts and Crafts movement was becoming popular when Irving Gill (1870-1936) arrived in San Diego in 1893, and his early designs reflect this aesthetic.  By 1908, his mature style characteristic of early modernism was beginning, and he became known for the design of clean facades devoid of ornamentation. Gill is now regarded as a pioneer in the early modern movement in architecture.  This extensive tour of Gill’s designs cover three decades of his work, and ranges from Coronado to Oceanside, La Jolla to Hillcrest and Bankers Hill.

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The tour maps are the intellectual property of the La Jolla Historical Society and are provided for personal use only.  All rights reserved, including but not limited to reproduction, distribution or sale, display or performance, and/or the creation of derivative works.