San Diego street names: The engineer behind authors, gems, heroes and scientists
by Katherine Hon
Published - 05/15/20 - 08:00 AM | 3961 views | 6 6 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This February 1, 1900 memo and accompanying list of recommended new street names from City Engineer Louis J. Davids initiated the name changes of more than 250 streets in San Diego. Ordinance No. 755 was approved on May 22, 1900 by Mayor Edwin Capps. (Courtesy of City Clerk Archives)
This February 1, 1900 memo and accompanying list of recommended new street names from City Engineer Louis J. Davids initiated the name changes of more than 250 streets in San Diego. Ordinance No. 755 was approved on May 22, 1900 by Mayor Edwin Capps. (Courtesy of City Clerk Archives)

Many streets in San Diego originally had different names from what we know them by today, especially the subdivisions (“tracts”) mapped prior to 1900. In those early days, development was so sparse, it did not much matter that there were at least fifteen “First Streets” throughout the city. However, by the late 1890s, urbanization was intensifying, and the potential for mass confusion with the existing street name patterns was obvious. 

To eliminate duplication and achieve some continuity where street names changed from tract to tract, about 90 names were changed throughout the city by Ordinance No. 599 adopted by the Board of Aldermen on February 6, 1899, and more than 250 names were changed by Ordinance No. 755 adopted May 21, 1900. Ordinance No. 755 brought authors to Point Loma and gems to Pacific Beach, among many other changes.

The source of alphabetical themes for street names changed by Ordinance No. 755 was Louis Jackson Davids, the relatively new city engineer. He wrote the following memorandum to the Board of Public Works on February 1, 1900: “Gentlemen, I hand you herewith a list of streets in the City limits of San Diego, the names of which occur in other and more central parts of the City. The new names suggested are taken either from natural objects (trees, flowers etc.) or from men celebrated in Science, Literature, Statesmanship, War etc.; care being taken to maintain alphabetical order. It would seem advisable to have these names changed by ordinance and to take such action as will prevent further duplication in names of streets.” 

The Board of Public Works acknowledged receipt of Davids’ memorandum and list at their February 8, 1900 meeting, noting, “The City Engineer suggests new names, with a recommendation that they be substituted for the old ones. Upon motion being duly seconded the same was referred to the Common Council with recommendation that the same be adopted.” 

The San Diego Union’s February 9, 1900 issue reported, “Mr. Davids has proposed new names for most of the duplicates and the board has decided that it would be a good thing to make the change before any greater difficulty is likely to result from the change. A communication will be sent to the council recommending the adoption of the suggestions made by the engineer.”

Ordinance No. 755, which provided for “changing the names and regulating the naming of certain streets in the city of San Diego,” was read and adopted at the aldermen’s meeting on May 21, 1900 and approved by the mayor the following day. The list of name changes was certified by the city clerk as being published in the San Diego Union’s May 24, 25, and 26, 1900 issues. 

Davids’ list of new street names that are mostly still present include alphabetical authors from Addison to Zouch — later Zola — and Alcott through Dumas in Roseville, authors Elliott through Lytton in Loma Portal, historians Abbott through Guizot in Ocean Beach, gems Agate through Hornblend and statesmen Allison through Randall in Pacific Beach, naval heroes Bainbridge through Rogers in La Playa, cities Chicago through Nashville in Clairemont/Bay Park, and scientists/engineers Cuvier through Herschel in La Jolla. 

Who was this scholarly civil engineer?

Davids had been unanimously selected by the Board of Public Works to be city engineer from three candidates on April 27, 1899. He replaced Edwin Capps, city engineer since July 1893, who resigned because he had just been elected mayor.

Davids’ selection was favorably received. The San Diego Union’s April 28, 1899 issue reported, “Mr. Davids is by far the best man, so far as engineering ability is concerned, that the board of public works could have chosen…it is safe to say that the city’s interests will at all times be carefully guarded by him.” 

Davids was born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1854 and obtained his civil engineering degree from Union College — a private liberal arts college in Schenectady, New York — in 1879. He began living in San Diego around 1886. An article about his wedding to Eda Skidmore in the San Diego Union’s April 27, 1894 issue noted, “Mr. Davids is well-known in this city as a gentleman of more than ordinary culture and enviable attainments as a civil engineer, in this state as well as in Mexico and South America, where he was engaged for a series of years in railroad construction. He recently quit the services of the Santa Fe railroad company to look after his private interests in and about San Diego.” His “beautiful and accomplished bride” was described as a native Californian who had traveled extensively and had recently “been teaching in the public schools of this city.” Perhaps the couple came up with the “celebrated” names for streets together. 

Davids was described in the 1894 Great Register of San Diego County as being 40 years old and 5 feet 10 inches tall, having a light complexion with blue eyes and brown hair, and living at 170 21st Street. 

Davids’ home was on the southwest corner of 21st and L streets in what is now the Sherman Heights Historic District. His house was built in 1892 and has been replaced with a newer structure. However, other nearby homes built in the late 1800s still grace the neighborhood. Davids’ across-the-street neighbor was William B. Hollington, a retired English physician who lived at 171 21st Street from about 1888 to his death in 1908. Hollington’s Victorian-era Queen Anne style house was built in 1887 and is a designated historic resource. 

The Board of Public Works “dispensed with” the services of Davids at their October 25, 1900 meeting. The Evening Tribune’s October 25, 1900 issue related the conversation of the board members, who acknowledged he was “a competent engineer, but has a different opinion from this board as to the manner of running his office.” They replaced him with George d’Hemicourt — one of the other candidates in 1899 — at a special meeting on October 30, 1900. 

Davids subsequently moved to Oakland with Eda and their son Cyril. He worked as a civil engineer there and in Los Angeles, where the family was living by 1920. He and his wife died within nine days of each other in October 1933 in Los Angeles. 

Although he was San Diego’s city engineer for only a year and a half, Davids’ renaming of city streets in 1900 had a profound effect on the identity of many San Diego neighborhoods. 

Stay tuned to future PastMatters columns for more about original street names and changes throughout the city.


Katherine Hon is the secretary of the North Park Historical Society. Reach her at or 619-294-8990.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 25, 2020
My testimony on how I became an Illuminati member. I want to notify the people who want to join the great illuminate, on how I was helped by a great Illuminate member. His name is Mr Felix. Helping me on regaining back my life from the stage of death. after been sacked for about 5 years and six months. After been scam by so many member of the Illuminati. I have been hopeless, financially down through out those years. But one day, as I was browsing through the Internet, I came across the post of the Great Illuminate member, Mr Felix, saying you can be famous, rich and successful in life by been a member of the great Illuminati, immediately I contacted and I explained everything to him and he recommended me and helped and I pay for the membership registration form which will be used to initiate me, and I was initiated to the great Illuminati new world order. after and also they gave me all the guidelines and told me that all new members are rewarded with the sum of $1,000,000 US Dollars cash after initiation. With the help of Mr Felix. I was initiated fully as a complete Illuminati member. If you have fail into scammers before, or this your first time looking for  who to help you become a member, my advice for you is to give Mr Felix a try. He is your best chance of becoming what you ever wish for your future life, Contact him Email: or  WhatsApp  2348056051569.
Kathy Brunner
May 22, 2020
Get ex boyfriend or husband back no matter why he left you with Powerful love spell caster dr unity.

My boyfriend that left me few months ago just came back to me last night crying for me to take him back. After 3 year relationship with my boyfriend, he changed suddenly and stopped contacting me regularly, he would come up with excuses of not seeing me all the time. He stopped answering my calls and my sms and he stopped seeing me regularly. I then started seeing him with different girls several times but every time he would say that he love me and that he needed some time to think about our relationship. But cannot stop thinking about him so i decided to go online and i saw so many good talk about this spell caster called dr unity and i contact him and explain my problems to him. He cast a love spell for me. and after 28hours, my boyfriend came back to me and started begging me to forgive him and we moved in together after a few months and he was more open to me than before and he started spending more time with me than his friends. We eventually got married and now have been married happily with a son. Ever since Dr unity helped me, my boyfriend is very stable, faithful and closer to me than before.You can also contact this spell caster and get your relationship fix .Here’s his contact, WhatsApp him: 2348055361568 or Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail. com
tonyas mary
May 22, 2020

My name is Tonyas Mary from Canada, I want to quickly tell the world that there is a real on line spell caster that is powerful and genuine, His name is Dr love0 He helped me recently to reunite my relationship with my husband who left me, When i contacted Dr love0 he cast a love spell for me, and my husband who said he doesn't have anything to do with me again called me and started begging me to come back. he is back now with so much love and care. today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the powers to restore broken relationship back. because i am now happy with my husband. To anyone who is reading this article and needs any help, Dr love0 can also offer any type of help like, Curing of all types of Diseases, Court Cases, Pregnancy Spell, Spiritual protection and lot's more. You can contact him Via email (
Linda Mark
May 22, 2020

Hello my dear people, I am Linda McDonald, currently living in Austin Texas, USA. I am a widow at the moment with three kids and i was stuck in a financial situation in April 2018 and i needed to refinance and pay my bills. I tried seeking loans from various loan firms both private and corporate but never with success, and most banks declined my credit ,do not full prey to those hoodlums at there that call them self-money lender they are all scam , all they want is your money and you well not hear from them again they have done it to me twice before I met Mr. David Wilson the most interesting part of it is that my loan was transfer to me within 74hours so I will advise you to contact Mr. David if you are interested in getting loan and you are sure you can pay him back on time you can contact him via email……… ( No credit check, no cosigner with just 2% interest rate and better repayment plans and schedule if you must contact any firm with reference to securing a loan without collateral then contact Mr. David Wilson today for your loan

They offer all kind of categories of loan they

Short term loan (5_10years)

Long term loan (20_40)

Media term loan (10_20)

They offer loan like

Home loan............., Business loan........ Debt loan.......

Student loan.........., Business startup loan

Business loan......., Company loan.............. etc


When it comes to financial crisis and loan then David Wilson loan financial is the place to go please just tell him I Mrs. Linda McDonald direct you Good Luck.......................

May 21, 2020
Advice to save your marriage and get your Ex Boyfriend/girlfriend back contact  1(424)-261-8520 

 for Urgent effective love Spell to get ex lover back or save you marriage fast and his result is 100% guarantee.

My name is Jeffery Lerman.. i want to give thanks to Dr.Larry for bringing back my ex Wife. No one could have ever made me believe that the letter I’m about to write would actually one day be written. I was the world’s biggest skeptic. I never believed in magic spells or anything like this, but I was told by a reliable source (a very close co-worker) that Trust is a very dedicated, gifted, and talented person,It was one of the best things I have ever done. My love life was in shambles; I had been through two divorces and was on the brink of a third. I just couldn't face another divorce, and I wanted to try harder to make our relationship work, but my WIfe didn’t seem to care. and She broke up with me again. I was confuse and do not no what to do again, rather than to get in contact with Dr.Larry . He did a love spell that make my Wife come back to me. we are now very much happy with our self. Dr.Larry make her to realize how much we love and need each other.This man is for REAL and for good. he can also help you to fix your broken relationship. I had my Wife back! It was like a miracle! She suddenly wanted to go to marriage counseling, and we’re doing very, very well, in our love life.   EMAIL:    CALL/WHATSAPP: 1(424)-261-8520
williams pater
May 19, 2020
Hello everyone i Am williams pater and i am from USA i am here to give my testimony about an herbal doctor called Dr,olu I was heartbroken because i had very small penis,not nice to satisfy a woman, i have been in so many relationship, but cut off because of my situation, i have used so many product which doctors prescribe for me, but could not offer me the help i searched for. i saw some few comments on the internet about this specialist called Dr,OLU and decided to email him on his email i saw on the internet,( ) so I decided to give his herbal product a try. i emailed him and he got back to me, he gave me some comforting words with his herbal product for Penis Enlargement, Within three weeks of me use it, i began to feel the enlargement, " and now it just 4 weeks of using his products my penis is about 8 inches longer, and i had to settle thing out with my ex girlfriend , i was surprised when she said that she is satisfied with my performance in bed and i now have a large penis.thanks to DR OLU for is herbal product. you can also reach him with emsil though is..number WHATASPP him today on this number [  2348140654426 ] 
Comments are back! Simply post the comment (it'll complain about you failing the human test) then simply click on the captcha and then click "Post Comment" again. Comments are also welcome on our Facebook page.