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Debunking Myths About La Jolla

May 19, 2010 | By | 8 Replies More

The belvederes along the coast  are picturesque reminders of La Jolla’s history. 

Countless articles have been written about La Jolla, and when I read them I sometimes want to laugh out loud – or at least groan. To begin with, “La Jolla” does not mean “the jewel” in Spanish. That word would be “La Joya.” Close, but no cigar.

In fact, “La Jolla” is a corruption of the word the Kumeyaay (Native American tribe) used to call this area. The Spanish explorers may have thought this scenic location was a jewel, but they didn’t call it “La Joya.”

Also – and this would come as a surprise to some local residents – La Jolla is not a separate town. It is a community within the City of San Diego, just like Pacific Beach, Mission Hills, and more than another dozen places. That means that – for better or for worse – we share the same school district, fire department, sanitation district, etc.

Having said that, much of what travelers have heard is true. We (I’ve lived here most of my life) have gorgeous beaches and sandstone cliffs, a wonderful variety of shopping options, great restaurants, a very good selection of hotels, and a wide range of recreation options.

Our cultural advantages are less known. La Jolla Playhouse has won a Tony Award for Best Regional Theatre. Birch Aquarium at Scripps is a world-class facility. The La Jolla branch of The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art is right in the village, and classical music concerts are offered by The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and the La Jolla Chamber Music Society. In addition, the University of California San Diego (UCSD) plays a very important role in our community, and the La Jolla Historial Society works hard to preserve our heritage buildings and our traditions.

In short, we don’t just surf and sip wine here. La Jolla is a great place for families, adventurous travelers, culture vultures, “foodies,” shop-until-you-drop folks, AND those who want to surf and sip wine.

And visitors are always welcome.

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Category: Insider Tips, landmarks

About the Author ()

I live in La Jolla and I'm a travel writer, so in addition to enjoying my home town's great weather, beautiful surroundings, and range of cultural and recreational options, I also see La Jolla - and the rest of San Diego - as a travel destination. And what I see sometimes drives me batty. People vacation in La Jolla, but don't take advantage of everything our community offers, so I decided to start this blog and provide insider advice for out-of-towners. Hey. I figure if I can write insider tips about exotic destinations on Authentic Luxury Travel, I ought to be able to lead readers off the beaten path that starts just outside my front door. In the process, I'm having fun revisiting my favorite places and discovering some new ones. Travel writers are naturally snoopy, and this blog is my excuse to have a good ol' sticky beak around my home town. I hope you find it helpful. If you are coming to La Jolla or another area of San Diego and would like my help in planning your trip, please read "Need Help Planning Your Trip" and then email me at ehansen298@aol.com. Elizabeth Hansen

Comments (8)

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  1. AKGirl says:

    Love it! I still cringe when I hear the name pronounced “La Joll-a”, instead of “La Hoi-ya”… It will always be a favorite spot of mine. 🙂

  2. AKGirl says:

    Love it! I still cringe when I hear people pronouncing it “La Joll-a”, instead of “La Hoi-ya”… LOL!
    Still is, and always will be one of my favorite spots in the world. 🙂

  3. Sydnie says:

    Nice! Here’s another myth — or not — to ponder — the small bungalows on Hillside Dr. were built by the munchkin actors in the Wizard of Oz. Have you heard that?

  4. I hadn’t heard about the bungalows on Hillside Drive, so I called the LJ Historical Society and spoke with Carol Olten, their expert on such matters.

    She confirmed that architect Cliff May built four small houses on Hillside in the late 1930s – two of which remain. He wanted them to fit into the hill rather than protrude – thus the low doors, etc.

    She also confirmed that in THE MAKING OF THE WIZARD OF OZ the author claims that “the midgets were creating havoc on the set” and the director suggested that someone take them to La Jolla.

    Whether they occupied the Munchkin-size houses or just visited isn’t clear – but it’s the basis for the rumor that the pint-size bungalows were built by the actors.

    Thank you for your comment, Sydnie. I have lived within walking distance of the houses for many years and had never heard this story.

    Does anyone else have a La Jolla myth they’d like to share?

  5. Sydnie says:

    That is fascinating, wonder why they were wreaking havoc on the set? Would be really interesting if Historical Society could set up a tour of these homes — owners would have to be willing tho. Thanks so much for investigating! Have always be intrigued by these homes!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have heard about the Munchkin houses on Hillside for years and I know some of them did move to La Jolla after the movie was finished. I am a Big Wizzard of Oz Fan. I think one is still standing up there? I also wonder about those three tiny little houses on Fern Glen and Monte Vista. Who built those and why do they look like a house made for little people?

  7. Anonymous (above) turned out to be La Jollan Dr. Lori Nettleton, and she kindly researched the tiny houses on Fern Glen and Monte Vista.

    Her comment about this is on the Redwood Hollow Cottages post at http://lajollatravelinformation.com/2010/05/redwood-hollow-cottages.html

  8. robert rast says:

    A lovely young lady from Detroit moved to La Jolla and purchased a Cliff May Studio home on Hillside Drive in the 1930’s. In those days the hillsides of La Jolla were somewhat remote. Over the years she became a well-known realtor who hosted wonderful luncheons referred to as “sewing parties”. As sherry was served, the beloved Parrot, Polly was retired to the garage with a blanket over her cage. She would join in the merriment and laughter soon drowning out the merriment and laughter of the guests.

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