Originally part of the area’s street grid, this T-shaped plaza was formed when sections of Second Avenue and B Street were permanently closed to traffic to create the three-block Civic Center Plaza complex (now called the Charles C. Dail Concourse) built between 1960 and 1964. Morley Golden, a developer, and Charles Dail, mayor from 1955 to 1963, were the lead advocates for the construction of a complex that would meet future demand as the city grew. Designed by architect Samuel Hammill, the complex housed City Hall (now the City Administration Building) and a convention hall. Following the addition of the 300 seat Civic Theater designed by Lloyd Ruocco the following year, the 1.5-acre plaza opened in 1965.
Framed by civic buildings, the plaza is divided into two levels and crossed by perpendicular pathways that converge at the central Civic Center fountain. Set within the fountain is an abstract bronze sculpture of a ship’s bow, Bow Wave (1972), by Malcolm Leland. Directly south of the sculpture is a small planted area with shade trees that opens to an engraved terrazzo map depicting the discovery of San Diego Bay by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. The elevated plaza is entered from the east, on Third Avenue, or through a breezeway in the City Administration Building, on Second Avenue. Elevated planters of bottle palms are arranged in a row adjacent to the fountain and along the plaza’s eastern entrance, where they are accompanied by deciduous trees edged with clipped waxleaf privet.