I went on a short tour of the Santa Fe Depot last week during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.
I’ve posted about the depot several times in the past. One fact-filled post concerned an historical exhibit inside the waiting room; another shared hundred year old photos of the building. During our tour I learned even more and enjoyed looking at additional old images.
This downtown San Diego landmark was designed by Bakewell and Brown to welcome the many anticipated visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. The depot’s construction began on May 28, 1914. The building officially opened on March 7, 1915. Materials that were used include a steel frame with wood trusses, concrete slabs, brick arcades and hollow clay tile infill walls. The architects Bakewell and Brown also designed San Francisco City Hall, the Coit Tower and Pasadena City Hall.
During the course of its history, there have been various changes to the building and its forecourt. The original arched forecourt, pictured in some of the following photos, was demolished in 1954 to make way for a parking lot. The current outdoor plaza featuring a fountain and colorful tiled benches replaced the parking lot in the 1980s.
The gentleman providing the tour indicated that recent new ownership of the Santa Fe Depot has opened up the possibility of future development. I learned an unused second story of the depot, once containing a manager’s apartment, telegraph room and railroad worker bedrooms, might be converted into office spaces, but an elevator, heating and electricity are now lacking.
I learned that the fountain in the forecourt’s plaza is leaking and permanently turned off. This valuable property between the main depot building and Broadway might be developed into a space for downtown eateries.
I also learned the large iconic Santa Fe sign atop the depot dates from the mid 50’s, and that there are plans to light it up at night using LED lighting.
Read the captions for some additional fascinating facts about this architectural marvel!
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