Once the hub of the tuna industry, the streets of San Diego's Little Italy were filled with culturally-rich Italian families; whose main source of economic support came from the Port of San Diego; where their tuna boats were docked and the canneries packaged the daily catch.
By the 1970's, with the decline of the tuna industry on the West Coast and the destruction of 35 percent of Little Italy due to the construction of Interstate 5, Little Italy suffered through nearly thirty years of blight and ruin.
In the early 1990's, property and family-run business owners decided to take the revitalization, of their once thriving neighborhood, into their own hands. In 1996, Little Italy business owners voted to establish the Little Italy Association of San Diego to oversee and expedite the revitalization and beautification of the Little Italy neighborhood and promote it as a new destination in San Diego. Several years later the Community Benefit District was adopted under the umbrella of the Little Italy Association to keep San Diego's Little Italy clean and safe.
Today, Little Italy San Diego has claimed its position as one of the largest and most well-known Little Italy's in the United States. Marco Li Mandri, Chief Executive Administrator of the Little Italy Association of San Diego stated, "Our business district is rooted in the toil of immigrants and the perseverance and optimism of a new group of business owners. Italian American and non-Italian business owners alike are seeking retail and professional space. Creative builders and architects are building beautiful new developments and the local redevelopment agency has funded more than three million in street improvements on the main commercial corridor, India Street. Not only does the Little Italy Association promote and keep San Diego's Little Italy clean and safe, but it has created an amazing venue for special events in an urban environment."
The Italian's love of celebration is evident in our special events, which are sponsored or hosted by the Little Italy Association of San Diego. These include the largest Italian festival on the West coast - Little Italy FESTA! which happens every October; the largest fine art festival on the West coast - ArtWalk, which is the last full weekend of April; Carnevale, a Venetian "Mardi Gras" celebration each spring; and a thriving European farmers' market every Saturday - the Little Italy Mercato.
We welcome you to come and discover Little Italy in San Diego and experience the culture and charm of our "Hip & Historic Neighborhood."
The Little Italy Association pledges to advocate on behalf of its members and residents in the areas of public safety, beautification, and economic development while preserving the unique cultural resources that exist in the Little Italy community.