In addition to its well-known landmarks (Liberty Public Market, “Greetings from the U.S. Naval Training Station” postcard sign, The Lot) here are top 11 hidden gems of the neighborhood, reflecting its history as the former Naval Training Center:
1.) Scout at Quarters D: Now a mercantile and garden showroom, Scout at Quarters D was once housing for naval officers in the 1900s. Arthur T. Emerson Jr. was the first to make himself at home in Quarters D – he reported as commanding officer, Recruit Training Command and was known for being the youngest man in his Naval Academy class.
2.) Meaningful street names: All streets at Liberty Station are named after military heroes. For instance, Truxtun Road, one of the main roads of Liberty Station, is named after Thomas Truxtun, one of the first six commanders appointed to the new U.S. Navy by President George Washington.
3.) Holding cell: When it was a Naval Training Center, an old holding cell once stood where Liberty Station’s entrance gate is now located.
4.) Luce Auditorium: What is now the entryway for The Lot, a modern and luxury movie theatre, was once a stage for timeless icons. Opening in 1942, Luce Auditorium was the hot spot for sailors and their dates to listen to famous bands, performers and comedians. Some of the big names that have taken the stage are Nat King Cole, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and Tommy Dorsey.
5.) Movie set: When Liberty Station was a Naval Training Center, it was the set for several well-known movies including “Top Gun,” “Tars and Stripes” and “Hey Sailor.”
6.) U.S.S. Recruit: This naval ship, located in the South Point area of the neighborhood, earned its nickname of U.S.S. Neversail because it has never seen the open seas. An exact replica of what sailors could expect out on the ocean, the vessel remained on land for military training exercises.
7.) Library: The Naval Training Center’s old library is now the Corky McMillin Companies Event Center, managed by the Arts District.
8.) John and Alice Finn Plaza: John and Alice Finn Plaza was originally built in 1942 as a naval medical clinic. It was later dedicated and named after one of the first heroes of World War II and Medal of Honor recipient John W. Finn and his wife Alice.
9.) Enlisted Club: Now the location of signature restaurants like Soda & Swine and Slater’s 50/50, this area was once the Enlisted Club – built in 1941, it was the stomping grounds for sailors with a bowling alley, pool tables and a theater.
10.) Gymnasium: The Point Loma Sports Club location used to be a gymnasium utilized by the sailors. It included a basketball facility, gymnasium and fitness center.
11.) Hotel San Diego sign: The rooftop sign was taken down in 2005 before the downtown hotel was razed. The NTC Foundation bought the 47-by-14 foot sign and it now sits in the lawn behind Scout at Quarters D. The foundation is raising funds to restore the sign and use it as a centerpiece for their planned gardens.
More about Liberty Station
Liberty Station was built upon naval roots and was originally the Naval Training Center (NTC) that opened in 1923. NTC transitioned into Liberty Station and became a cultural hub of art, leisure and history—creating a timeless destination.
Today, Liberty Station is San Diego’s signature neighborhood, inviting residents, the community and visitors to connect through events and experiences while discovering and exploring all of Liberty Station’s offerings. The neighborhood features an array of boutiques and shops, over 70 local galleries in the Arts District, and dozens of delectable dining spots.
Built by design, Liberty Station creates an authentic experience—encompassing beautifully landscaped promenades, restored historic buildings that have been preserved for today’s commerce, storied corridors, historic landmarks, and spacious plazas. The historic San Diego destination is managed by the Liberty Station Community Association (LSCA), which works to maintain, beautify, promote, and develop the neighborhood.
More information about Liberty Station can be found at libertystation.com.