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The six square blocks on the site of San Diego's original pueblo are the heart of Old Town. Most of the 20 historic buildings preserved or re-created by the park cluster around Old Town Plaza, bounded by Wallace Street on the west, Calhoun Street on the north, Mason Street on the east, and San Diego Avenue on the south. The plaza is a pleasant place to rest, plan your tour of the park, and watch passers-by. San Diego Avenue is closed to vehicle traffic here.
Some of Old Town's buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1872, but after the site became a state historic park in 1968, reconstruction and restoration of the remaining structures began. Five of the original adobes are still intact.
Facing Old Town Plaza, the Robinson-Rose House was the original commercial center of Old San Diego, housing railroad offices, law offices, and the first newspaper press. The largest and most elaborate of the original adobe homes, the Casa de Estudillo was occupied by members of the Estudillo
family until 1887 and later gained popularity for its billing as "Ramona's Marriage Place" based on a popular novel of the time. Albert Seeley, a stagecoach entrepreneur, opened the Cosmopolitan Hotel in 1869 as a way station for travelers on the daylong trip south from Los Angeles. Next door to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, the Seeley Stable served as San Diego's stagecoach stop in 1867 and was the transportation hub of Old Town until 1887, when trains became the favored mode of travel.
Several reconstructed buildings serve as restaurants or as shops purveying wares reminiscent of those that might have been available in the original Old Town. Racine & Laramie a painstakingly reproduced version of San Diego's first cigar store in 1868, is especially interesting.
Pamphlets available at the Robinson-Rose House give details about all the historic houses on the plaza and in its vicinity. Tours of the historic park are offered daily at 11:30, 1, and 2; purchase tickets at the Robinson-Rose House. A free history program is also offered daily in the Seely Stable Theater. The covered wagon located near the intersection of Mason and Calhoun streets provides a great photo opp.