Morgan M. Hurley | Editor
Local woman releases book, ‘The Women of the Gaslamp Quarter’
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, The Women’s Museum of California, located in nearby Liberty Station, hosted a book launch for a new paperback booklet called, “The Women of the Gaslamp Quarter.” The 16-page booklet, which honors the 150th anniversary of the Gaslamp Quarter on its last page, is exactly as it sounds … and so much more.
“The following stories belong to those women who left their mark on this historic part of the city, the Gaslamp Quarter,” author Anne Hoiberg writes in the booklet’s opening pages.
Along with a short history of the region’s “discovery,” Hoiberg not only shares biographical data of the many women she researched, but also other historic tidbits dating back to the mid-1800s, when “New Town,” as the Gaslamp Quarter was then known, first came to fruition.
And while the booklet may feature black and white and sepia-toned photos from the San Diego History Center and other sources throughout, its pages are filled with colorful stories of the notorious neighborhood and its female inhabitants of the time.
Many of the biographies included have intriguing titles, such as “The Woman Behind the Man,” “The Most Dangerous Woman in America,” “An Imaginative Immigrant,” “Women of the Night,” and “Women Who Helped Women,” among others.
Some of the famous names we’ve generally always attributed to men are also found here, but refreshingly assigned to women; Marston, Grant, Horton, Greely, and even Earp.
Hoiberg’s own immersion into San Diego’s most famous historic neighborhood provided the inspiration.
“For the past three years, I’ve been conducting tours of the Gaslamp Quarter, describing many of the 93 historic buildings and telling the stories of women associated with at least 25 of those buildings,” Hoiberg said. “Many people on the tour asked me to write a book about these women; the walkers wanted to remember these remarkable and relatively unknown women.”
Women featured by Hoiberg in the booklet include Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first female attorney of California; Charlotte Baker, the first female obstetrician of San Diego; Lydia Knapp Horton, the founder of the library; as well as various suffragists, activists and other community organizers of the era.
Historical tidbits about Horton Plaza Park, China Town, the U.S. Grant Hotel, the San Diego Railroad, the Horton Grand Hotel, the Stingaree district and other brothels in the area are also revealed.
“My hope is that readers will be delighted to learn about the women of the Gaslamp and will want to explore the area to marvel at the buildings,” Hoiberg said. “The jewels of the Gaslamp are its historic buildings, which the city leaders in the 1970s and 1980s saved by promoting and supporting the owners with low-interest loans to renovate and restore these architectural gems.
“[But] the Gaslamp is just one area of San Diego where women have contributed to the richness of our city,” she added. “I’ve also written about the women of Balboa Park and I’ve been giving PowerPoint presentations with Gary Ferdman, who compiled the material for ‘Women Who Made La Jolla.’”
Hoiberg and Ferdman’s next presentation about the history of women in La Jolla will be held at 4 p.m., Saturday, March 3, at the La Jolla Library, located at 7555 Draper Ave.
Hoiberg has been a member of the Women’s Museum of California since the 1980s — its early days while housed in a Golden Hill home — when it was called the Women’s History Reclamation Project. She said she joined the museum’s board in 2003 and remains a member today, having served as board president from 2010–2015.
In addition, Hoiberg is also chair of the Anne Hoiberg Women’s Center, the museum’s educational arm, which produced the booklet and is where the museum’s women’s history programs for schools, libraries and other organizations — as well as her monthly walking tours — stem from. Their mission can be summed up with the three words found in their logo, “Engage. Educate. Empower.”
During her career as a research psychologist for 25 years, Hoiberg has written two other books and been published in more than 130 scientific journals and reports and has authored the chapters of various other books.
The Point Loma resident is currently working on another book of her own, “Tears of War,” which focuses on 35 women who have fled war, prisoner camps, displacement and have sought refuge in San Diego.
“This book is the story of women’s resilience, strength and courage,” Hoiberg said.
To supplement the publication of her new booklet, Hoiberg’s walking tour is now called, “The Women of the Gaslamp Quarter.” The tour meets on the third Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m. and reservations are required as space is limited. To RSVP or learn more about the tour, contact Hoiberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies of “The Women of the Gaslamp Quarter” can be purchased at the museum’s gift shop for $5. The Women’s Museum of California is located at 2730 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 103. For more information, visit womensmuseumca.org.
—Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at sdcnn.com.