San Diego students create posters against drugs!

The students at Wangenheim Middle School in Mira Mesa have created posters that tell the truth about the destructive nature of drugs.

I was fortunate today to be walking nearby as members of the Associated Student Body were hanging these very creative anti-drug posters on the school fence facing Black Mountain Road!

And they were happy to pose for a group photo!

It’s Red Ribbon Week, when students in schools across San Diego and the United States engage in an annual drug and violence prevention awareness campaign.

Wangenheim Middle School students and members of the Associated Student Body are involved in all sorts of positive community activities, such as a Thanksgiving food drive. It’s encouraging to know the youth you see in the next photograph are some of our future leaders!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Mysterious art at Caltrans Otay Station.

Here’s another San Diego mystery to solve! I can find nothing whatsoever about this very unique public art when I search the internet.

A flock of white sculpted seagulls rises at one corner of the parking lot at the Caltrans Otay Landscape Maintenance Station. (A sign at the facility entrance reads Caltrans Otay City Landscape Station.)

This prominent artwork has three different sides and can be observed when driving along Beyer Boulevard near Dairy Mart Road, or when exiting California State Route 905 onto Beyer Boulevard. The flying gulls appear to be individually attached to canvas, plastic or some other flexible stretched material of light blue color.

What is it?

Who created it?

When was it created?

Does the art conceal an antenna (my assumption) or have some other special purpose?

If you happen to know anything that would shed light on this mystery, please leave a comment!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Cool murals in the heart of Oceanside!

Cool mural in Oceanside at Bubbles by the Beach by Nicholas Danger.
Cool surfer mural in Oceanside at Bubbles by the Beach, by Nicholas Danger.

During my walk around downtown Oceanside last weekend, I came upon a variety of great murals!

In addition to the artwork of Artist Alley, which I shared here, I found these cool murals painted on buildings within a block or two of the Oceanside Civic Center.

Because my walk was somewhat random, I probably missed other murals in the heart of Oceanside. If I did, perhaps I’ll spot them on a future adventure!

Large mural behind building at Pier View Way and North Coast Highway depicts Oceanside attractions as postcards.
Large mural behind building at Pier View Way and North Coast Highway depicts Oceanside attractions as postcards.
Oceanside Harbor and a surfboard.
Oceanside Harbor and a surfboard.
Mission San Luis Rey and a windsurfer.
Mission San Luis Rey and a windsurfer.
Oceanside Pier and a beach ball, blanket and umbrella. Wish you were here!
Oceanside Pier and a beach ball, blanket and umbrella. Wish you were here!
Mural painted at Johnny Mananas on Mission Avenue features tropical flowers and birds.
Mural painted at Johnny Mananas on Mission Avenue features tropical flowers and birds.
More of the very colorful tropical mural.
More of the very colorful tropical mural.
The beauty of Oceanside enhanced by a cool mural.
The beauty of Oceanside enhanced by a cool mural.
Large colorful mural on Civic Center Drive at the Star Theatre.
Large colorful mural on Civic Center Drive at the Star Theatre.
The beauty of the sea will always be with me. By artist Skye Walker.
The beauty of the sea will always be with me. By artist Skye Walker.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Monument in Otay Mesa to aviation pioneer Montgomery.

It seems few in San Diego know of the historically important hill in Otay Mesa West. From the top of this hill, which overlooks San Diego’s South Bay cities, aviation pioneer John J. Montgomery made the world’s first “controlled” winged glider flights in the late 19th century.

A monument to Montgomery’s achievements stands on the hilltop in the form of a vertical aircraft wing, erected in 1950. Words engraved on a black marble tablet near the wing include:

JOHN J. MONTGOMERY MADE MAN’S FIRST CONTROLLED WINGED FLIGHTS FROM THIS HILLTOP IN AUGUST 1883

HE OPENED FOR ALL MANKIND THE GREAT HIGHWAY OF THE SKY

Erected by the San Diego Junior Chamber of Commerce Montgomery Memorial Committee. Dedicated May 21, 1950

When I researched the early heavier-than-air flights of Montgomery, I noticed there’s a lot of debate about who in the world actually achieved various flying firsts. Some historians assert he made the world’s first “controlled” glider flights. Such as here. “Montgomery should be credited for the invention and demonstration of the 1st controlled glider flight, and patented hinged surfaces at the rear of the wing and a patent for the parabolic wing…

According to Wikipedia: “In the early 1880s Montgomery began studying the anatomy of a variety of large soaring birds to determine their basic characteristics, like wing area, total weight and curved surfaces. He made detailed observations of birds in flight, especially large soaring birds such as eagles, hawks, vultures and pelicans which soared on thermals near San Diego Bay…In the 1880s Montgomery…made manned flight experiments in a series of gliders in the United States in Otay Mesa near San Diego, California. Although not publicized in the 1880s, these early flights were first described by Montgomery as part of a lecture delivered at the International Conference on Aerial Navigation at Chicago, 1893. These independent advances came after gliding flights by European pioneers such as George Cayley’s coachman in England (1853) and Jean-Marie Le Bris in France (1856). Although Montgomery never claimed firsts, his gliding experiments of the 1880s are considered by some historians and organizations to have been the first controlled flights of a heavier-than-air flying machine in America or in the Western Hemisphere, depending on source.

Today, the Montgomery Memorial‘s 93-foot airplane wing juts vertically into the sky at Montgomery-Waller Community Park, which is located at the northeast corner of Coronado Avenue and Beyer Boulevard in Otay Mesa West. The silver wing is from a World War II Consolidated Aircraft B-32 Dominator heavy bomber. It’s an impressive albeit somewhat peculiar reminder of how aviation technology continues to progress.

Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego, one of the busiest airports in the United States for small aircraft, was once called Montgomery Field, named after the aviation pioneer.

When humans eventually land on Mars, and spread outward into the Solar System, it should be remembered that we made one of our first flights from a hilltop in San Diego.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Riding the world’s first outdoor glass elevator!

If you’re familiar with the history of the El Cortez in downtown San Diego, you probably know it featured the world’s very first outdoor glass elevator. (Although I’ve also seen information that says it was the first such elevator in the United States, second in the world.)

Based on an idea suggested by a hotel bellboy, an outdoor glass elevator, called the Starlight Express, was installed in 1956 on the side of the El Cortez Hotel, then the highest building in San Diego. People from all around Southern California would converge on the elegant hotel to be swept dizzily skyward to the chic Starlight Room restaurant on the twelfth floor.

Today I came across a black and white 1956 newsreel that has been released by Universal City Studios into the public domain. It shows thrilled passengers going up and down what was then the brand new, incredible, jaw-dropping Starlight Express!

Check out the “futuristic” costume (uniform?) of the smiling elevator operator! And check out how downtown San Diego appeared in the 1950s. A bit different than today, right?

I snipped sequential images from the old newsreel so you can enjoy a fun look!

By the way, the El Cortez Hotel also featured the world’s first moving sidewalk! You know–the sort of thing you might stand on in an airport terminal or at an amusement park. It was called the Travolator. Both the Starlight Express and Travolator were removed many years ago.

Read much more about the El Cortez and its extraordinary history in this detailed Wikipedia article. Among other things, you’ll learn how this Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style landmark was built on property once owned by a son of President Ulysses S. Grant, how a third of San Diego’s population showed up for the hotel’s opening day, and how it had an anti-aircraft battery on its roof during World War II!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Fantastic architecture at Oceanside Civic Center.

Uniquely beautiful civic centers can be found all around San Diego County. I’ve photographed many of them. But the Oceanside Civic Center might be my favorite.

I walked randomly about the Oceanside Civic Center complex last weekend and was amazed by everything I saw.

As you can see from various plaques I photographed, the original Oceanside Fire Station (also called Oceanside Engine House and Police Station) was built in 1929/1930, and the original City Hall and Library were completed in 1934. They were designed by Irving Gill, a renowned San Diego architect who is now a recognized major figure in the modern movement. His welcoming simplicity, unadorned classic lines and graceful arches have appeared in various places on my blog. His style has been described as cubist. You can see that signature style in these photographs as well. Designing buildings for the City of Oceanside was the final monumental project of his career.

As you can see on another plaque, a City Hall renovation was completed in 1957, and as you can read in this article, a large new Oceanside Civic Center and Public Library were completed in 1990. The large complex “designed by Charles Moore emulated the styling of Irving Gill (with) the white arches and simple architecture…Moore remarked about Gill’s legacy: “We use his plain white walls, his unadorned concrete arcades, disciplined fenestration and flat roofs as our architectural vocabulary, and then allow ourselves the exuberance of bright colors with tiles in niches at the entrances, in the jambs and soffits of deep set openings, and through the contrast of palms and broad-leafed plants surrounding our structure.”

The Oceanside Museum of Art, with its exquisite 1972 Opus sculpture by James Hubbell situated near the entrance, is another beautiful part of the large civic center complex. It occupies the original City Hall.

In the same article, you can read that “After renovation of the interior of building, the Museum of Art opened to the public on October 6, 1997. In 2008, a new addition to the Oceanside Museum of Art was dedicated in 2008. The contemporary, three-level 15,000 square foot addition designed by architect Fredrick Fisher sits alongside the historic building designed by architect Irving Gill, who redefined the architectural landscape of Southern California.”

Should you ever visit Oceanside, California, look for the big colorful fountain at the corner of North Coast Highway and Pier View Way. Then take a stroll through one of the most fantastic civic centers you’re likely to ever see!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

A visit to the California Surf Museum!

On Saturday I enjoyed my first ever visit to the California Surf Museum in Oceanside.

This one-of-a-kind museum might be small, but WOW! Every inch of it is packed with cool exhibits that celebrate the history, art and technology of surfing!

I found myself deeply fascinated by everything I saw. Even though I’m not a surfer!

Most notable was the museum’s incredible array of historic surfboards, many of which are true works of art.

I could easily see why so many people love surf culture. I could see the poetry and the physical joy of surfing and its spiritual quality. I asked the friendly docent what he liked most about surfing, and he said it was being in the moment. Forgetting unimportant things, riding a wave, feeling alive.

If you are the least bit fascinated by this sport or the Southern California beach scene, definitely visit the California Surf Museum. To give you an idea of what you might see, check out my photographs, and read the captions!

Numerous exhibits fill the small but very cool California Surf Museum in Oceanside.
Numerous exhibits fill the small but very cool California Surf Museum in Oceanside.
One exhibit details the Anatomy of a Wave.
One exhibit details the Anatomy of a Wave.
A gun surfboard made of layered agave wood, created by local surfing and shaping legend Gary Linden.
A gun surfboard made of layered agave wood, created by local surfing and shaping legend Gary Linden.
Asymmetrical redwood surfboard made from the wood of a large wine barrel, created by Carl Ekstrom.
Asymmetrical redwood surfboard made from the wood of a large wine barrel, created by Carl Ekstrom.
Display case holds 1946 California Surfriders book by Doc Ball, his wood waterbox camera for surf photography, and the 1928 Tom Blake Perpetual Trophy.
Display case holds 1946 California Surfriders book by Doc Ball, his wood waterbox camera for surf photography, and the 1928 Tom Blake Perpetual Trophy.
Another exhibit celebrates the boogie board, invented by Tom Morey in 1971, and explores its history.
Another exhibit celebrates the boogie board, invented by Tom Morey in 1971, and explores its history.
Plastic Fantastic rounded pin surfboard, with cool artwork by Randall Kraemer.
Plastic Fantastic rounded pin surfboard, with cool artwork by Randall Kraemer.
A special, inspirational exhibit celebrates Bethany Hamilton, champion surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.
A special, inspirational exhibit celebrates Bethany Hamilton, champion surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. You can see her surfboard with a chunk missing.
Bethany Hamilton's inspiring story was told in the movie Soul Surfer. She has won multiple competitions after losing her left arm in a 2003 shark attack.
Bethany Hamilton’s inspiring story was told in the movie Soul Surfer. She has won multiple competitions after losing her left arm in a 2003 shark attack.
A very unique hydrofoil for kneeboard surfing, designed by oceanographer Dr. Tareah "Terry" Hendricks. A plaque in his honor can be found at Swami's in Encinitas.
A very unique hydrofoil for kneeboard surfing, designed by oceanographer Dr. Tareah “Terry” Hendricks. A plaque in his honor can be found at Swami’s in Encinitas.
Circa 1910 early California alaia made of Sugar Pine, built by Ralph Noisat. One of the oldest documented boards in the mainland United States.
Circa 1910 early California alaia made of Sugar Pine, built by Ralph Noisat. One of the oldest documented boards in the mainland United States.
Surfing toys, games and pop culture imagery in a display case at the California Surf Museum.
Toys, games, comic books and pop culture artifacts celebrate surfing in a display case at the California Surf Museum.
A museum display memorializes local surfers who've passed on.
A museum display memorializes local surfers who’ve passed on.
Various bodysurfing handplanes.
Various bodysurfing handplanes.
A cool art exhibit titled Abstractions in Symmetry by Russell Spencer features photographs created using light and rotating surfboard fins.
A cool surf art exhibit titled Abstractions in Symmetry by Russell Spencer features photographs created using light and rotating surfboard fins.
A redwood surfboard by Francis Todd II and Mary Krahn pays tribute to popular Southern California surfing destination Encinitas.
A redwood surfboard by Francis Todd II and Mary Krahn pays tribute to popular Southern California surfing destination Encinitas.
A small slice of heaven for surfing enthusiasts!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Sunset photos from Waterfront Park.

This evening I sat on a bench by the fountains of Waterfront Park and watched the sun slowly set behind the beautiful tall ship Star of India.

As light turned from silver to gold, I took this series of photographs…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The forgotten public art of a famous artist.

I received a comment this weekend on a past blog post that concerns public art at San Ysidro Park. The Tree of Life is a tile mosaic planter and bench near the center San Ysidro Park, created by internationally renowned artist Victor Ochoa (with the help of some kids, I believe). I posted photos here, where you can also read the comment.

I was informed that a second Tree of Life by Victor Ochoa can be found at Howard Lane Park off Dairy Mart Road, and that the City of San Diego lists neither works on its civic art collection website here.

The reader commented the tree planted in this second Tree of Life planter is dead. Which is quite sad, seeing how Victor Ochoa is an artist who is celebrated around the world, particularly for his murals in historic Chicano Park.

Today I decided to go down to Howard Lane Neighborhood Park in the northwest corner of San Ysidro to check it out.

This is what I discovered…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The cool murals of Artist Alley in Oceanside!

Artist Alley in Oceanside, California is a very cool “hidden” place that I discovered on Saturday. I was walking near the Oceanside Civic Center when I noticed that colorful mural with the whale you see above. It drew me into the alley!

Artist Alley is located directly across Pier View Way from the Oceanside Public Library and the nearby Civic Center fountain. The alley stretches midway between Freeman Street and North Coast Highway. Step into it and not only will you find all sorts of amazing murals, but there are several artsy specialty shops you’ll want to explore.

I was told by the friendly guy at the Ikigai Artifacts body jewelry store (on the inside walls there are even more awesome murals!) that most of the artwork in Artist Alley was painted in the past year or two. Much of it resulted from a group effort, involving a variety of local artists.

I captioned photos of the larger murals where I ascertained who the artist is.

(My Saturday walk resulted in many more photos, so stay tuned! Upcoming blog posts include a visit to the very cool California Surf Museum!)

Ojos de Picasso (Eyes of Picasso), Mario Torero, 2016.
Ojos de Picasso (Eyes of Picasso), Mario Torero, 2016.
Art near entrance to Ikigai Artifacts by Amber (@_deadcorpse_).
Art near entrance to Ikigai Artifacts by Amber (@_deadcorpse_).
Mural in Oceanside's Artist Alley by Paul Knebels, 2019.
Mural in Oceanside’s Artist Alley by Paul Knebels, 2019.
Mural at entrance to Artist Alley in Oceanside by Marilyn Huerta, and Caymin Charles Ellspermann.
Mural at entrance to Artist Alley in Oceanside by Marilyn Huerta, and Caymin Charles Ellspermann.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!