Or “Abnormal” Heights, as it’s sometimes referred to. Bookended on the west by University Heights and Kensington on the east, Normal Heights completes the Adams Avenue ‘hood trifecta along the main drag. Crowded, diverse apartment dwellings on the south side of Adams, quiet single-family homes on the north side.
Normal Heights‘ History: Normal Heights was formally organized and platted in 1906 by the University Heights Syndicate under the direction of D.C. Collier and named Normal Heights for the State Normal School in University Heights. A trolley line brought population and development to Normal Heights. The man responsible for the main business development of the Normal Heights portion of Adams Avenue was a carpenter named Bertram J. Carteri.
What makes it so special?: Normal Heights is sandwiched between Kensington to the east and University Heights to the west, and it is the funkiest of the two. Where Kensington is upper class and Uni Heights is quiet, Normal Heights is diverse, blue collar, funky, sometimes rowdy – but always interesting.
What defines Normal Heights?: Mostly, its diversity. From the single family homes along the Mission Valley ridge north of Adams Avenue, to the high-density, multi-resident lots south of Adams, Normal Heights is San Diego at its most diverse. Families and students, immigrants and natives all occupy this mid-city neighborhood. It can be noisy, dense and sketchy sometimes, but it’s always interesting.
Things to do: Everything of interest is along the Adams Avenue corridor. From supermarkets to small businesses, to bars and restaurants to antique stores, Normal Heights is a self-sufficient neighborhood.
Best bets for eats: DeMille’s is where to go for pizza and Italian – it’s a neighborhood mainstay. A la Francaise offers bistro dining, and Cocina Sanchez is good for Mexican. And the San Diego Cheesecake Company is where youcan pick up great cheesecake (no dining). Lots of other small eateries dot the avenue.
Best bets for drink and entertainment: Normal Heights is great for neighborhood dive bars: the Triple Crown Pub, Rosie O’Grady’s are popular, but the best in my mind is the Ould Sod – an authentic Irish pub. Lestat’s Coffee house is the hipster hangout in the neighborhood, and its adjoining performance space is where you can hear great local music almost every night.
Shopping?: Lots of used book and clothing stores, and there’s Antique Row, along the stretch west of I-805.