California Roads - Old US 101, San Diego

Former US 101, San Diego

Typical signage in Old Town, where US 101 followed San Diego Ave. Cars are still allowed, and the street parking is typically full, but pedestrians (i.e. tourists) dominate this space. Despite this road no longer being anything close to a through route, it gets to carry a Historic Route sign, whereas I didn't find one in my limited travels along the complete and connected old US 99. Given the number of routes I've seen these on, though, I imagine every former route has at least a few hanging around somewhere. US 101 was truncated to Los Angeles because I-5 took over its function (and sometimes its routing) from there south through San Diego. The same thing happened to the corresponding segment of US 99, which happens to be literally just across I-5 from US 101 at Old Town.

Road-minded Old Town tourists can walk south a little and see this original bell fixture. They were erected along the full length of El Camino Real in 1906, predating the US Highway system, in a similar vein to the painted utility poles used by New England routes and concrete posts for named trails (such as National Road and Lincoln Highway). El Camino Real itself dates to 1769, when California was still Mexican, beginning in Loreto (Baja California Sur), ending in San Francisco, and connecting Catholic missions along the way.

Other old signs on San Diego Ave. in Old Town. The first is NB at Harney St., and points to Heritage Park. (Not Hurliase, among other possibilities.) The second is set into a cemetery wall (I try to avoid photographic gravestones on this site, you may have noticed) just next to the El Camino Real bell. "Campo Santo" is Spanish for "cemetery," literally "sanctified [saintly, holy, etc.] field."

You won't find this by walking or driving former US 101, and it may never have been on or along that route, but it's now in the San Diego County Sheriff's Museum, which is housed in a building whose address is on San Diego Ave. It's a free museum, so even if you only care about seeing this one sign, it's worth going. (Having never seen a sheriff's museum before, I would say there are other reasons to go see it, but maybe this sort of thing is more common than I think.)

Modern US 101

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