La Jolla is part of the City of San Diego, however it maintains its own postal identity with the zip code 92037. It is located on the Pacific Ocean, 14 miles North of downtown San Diego and the Lindberg Field International Airport. The population of the 92037 area is 42,000. The community planning area of La Jolla does not include all of that area. For planning purposes the community consists of approximately 5,718 acres with population of 29,069.
It is bounded by: the Pacific Ocean on the west; on the North, by the University of California San Diego; on the South, by the community of Pacific Beach; and on the East, by Gilman Drive, Interstate 5 and a portion of the University planning community. La Jolla is primarily residential (58%) and well educated. 67% of the population has a college degree or higher. Single-family residences account for 72% of the 14,950 housing units. Of the owner occupied housing, 74% units are valued in excess of $500,000. Median household income is $80,901.
Visually dramatic, La Jolla is defined by its rugged coastline of ocean bluffs, sea caves, and beaches. Steep canyons and hillsides culminate at the highest point, the scenic outlook on Mount Soledad is the site of a World War II memorial. Some say the name La Jolla was derived from the Native American name for “Cave”. Artifacts found in the area indicate the presence of the Cahuilla tribe in a settlement near the shores over 3,000 years ago. Others contend that it is a version of “la joya” the Spanish name for jewel.
Until the mid twentieth century, small, single-family summer cottages that were located along the coastline or interspersed within “the village” characterized La Jolla. The boundaries of the village, which most residents refer to, are Prospect Street, Girard Avenue and Torrey Pines Road to Pearl Street and La Jolla Boulevard. Today the village area is mostly commercial-merchants, banks, shops and offices.
Since the establishment of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla in 1966, the community experienced substantial growth and land development. Currently the city estimates that La Jolla is 99% built out, so that remaining development is infill.
The village has become more cosmopolitan but retains a friendly resort atmosphere. In the summer the thoroughbreds are racing at Del Mar Racetrack, the beaches are heavily utilized and parking can be a problem; but the village area is easy walking, casual and friendly.
Many art galleries and specialty shops are located in La Jolla including the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art at 700 Prospect Street. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography is located in La Jolla. It operates the nationally recognized Stephen Birch Aquarium.