Our Beginnings: The Naval Training Center, San Diego’s Cradle of the Navy
For more than 75 years, hundreds of thousands of Navy recruits were trained at Naval Training Center San Diego (NTC). It was here that these young men and women matured and received the knowledge and skills required for the challenges of military duty. Now inactive, NTC has been designated as a National Historical District for its architectural and cultural significance. It is a San Diego treasure and a significant community asset, and it continues to hold the memories of past generations of naval recruits whose lives were transformed at NTC.
For a history of the Naval Training Center, we recommend Cradle of the Navy: The History of the Naval Training Center San Diego.
From Navy Base to ARTS DISTRICT
When the Navy announced NTC’s closure in 1993, arts leaders saw that a long-term need for arts space could be met with the buildings. When the City of San Diego developed the NTC Master Plan, 26 buildings were set aside for arts and cultural uses in the historic heart of NTC, now called ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station. The buildings are owned by the city, and NTC Foundation was established in 2000 to oversee their development. This is a $90 million renovation project; it is the largest historical preservation project in San Diego. It is also the largest arts and cultural project in San Diego since the establishment of the Balboa Park cultural district 100 years ago.
NTC is once again serving San Diego proudly and transforming the lives of new generations as ARTS DISTRICT, a new flagship for arts, culture, and creativity. ARTS DISTRICT’s stunning park-like campus, nostalgic promenade, and spectacular bay views provide an extraordinary setting.
But it is what takes place inside these buildings, and the benefits to the tenants and the community, that make ARTS DISTRICT so significant as (1) a center for arts, culture, and creativity that offers innovative experiences to both residents and visitors, (2) a creative hub for San Diego’s nonprofits and artists, (3) a dynamic destination for children and families, and (4) a historical showcase that honors the city’s Navy heritage.
With renovations to 16 of 26 buildings complete at a cost of nearly $50 million, ARTS DISTRICT is already home to more than , as well as historical exhibits and tributes.
The Job’s Not Done—Phase 3 is Underway
With its renovations completed, the former Luce Auditorium is now home to The LOT, an entertainment hub featuring six luxury cinemas and an outdoor café and lounge.
A holiday ice rink has been developed in partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego in the Fieldstone Legacy Plaza. This ice skating rink is open November and December each year.
Community planning has begun on the 10 historic buildings awaiting renovation: 95,000 square feet plus three acres of gardens. Opportunities on the community’s wish list include a music and performance venue, a community gallery space, learning gardens, a culinary center, and artist living, working, and co-working spaces.
Activating public spaces is also a priority for NTC Foundation, which has begun planning for an Art in Public Places program, as well as outdoor music, film, and festival events.