Playing with giant chess pieces at Horton Plaza.

Chess and checkers games can include a small workout!
Chess and checkers games can include a small workout!

Here are three fun photos! I stood for a moment on an upper level at Horton Plaza, watching two guys play a game with giant chess pieces.

San Diego’s downtown Horton Plaza shopping mall is more than just typical retail stores and a food court. It’s a wonderland of colorful, whimsical, unexpected architecture, with cool discoveries around almost every corner, including this shady nook where you’ll find giant-sized chessboards and checker boards.

The Horton Plaza shopping mall contains fun surprises around almost every corner.
The Horton Plaza shopping mall contains fun surprises around almost every corner.
People enjoy a leisurely game of chess with gigantic chessboard and pieces at Horton Plaza.
People enjoy a leisurely game of chess with gigantic chessboard and pieces at Horton Plaza.

Here are a couple more photos I took during another visit…

Horton Plaza visitor watches two people playing chess on an ordinary-size chessboard.
Horton Plaza visitor watches two people playing chess on an ordinary-size chessboard.
People congregate in a Horton Plaza nook where giant chess pieces beckon.
People congregate in a Horton Plaza nook where giant chess pieces beckon.

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Cabrillo’s galleon sails in Civic Center Plaza.

cabrillo's galleon san salvador sails in civic center plaza

Walking recently through San Diego’s Civic Center Plaza, I enjoyed a variety of historical images and colorful designs inlaid in the central courtyard.

Check out Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s galleon the San Salvador. In 1542, the Portuguese explorer discovered San Diego Bay on behalf of Spain while searching for a mythical water route across North America.

An actual working replica of the San Salvador is being built by the San Diego Maritime Museum. One of these days I’ll walk north along the bay to Spanish Landing in order to take some pics!

Wider view of Civic Center Plaza.
Wider view of Civic Center Plaza.

Signs point toward San Diego’s sister cities.

distance signs at san diego civic center plaza

Should you ever walk through Civic Center Plaza, you’ll probably see this unusual group of signs. These are a few of San Diego’s sister cities. Pointing in almost every direction, the signs indicate distances in miles and kilometers.

Another similar group of fun signs can be found directly across the plaza.

San Diego’s 16 sister cities are:

Alcala de Henares, Spain
Campinas, Brazil
Cavite, Philippines
Edinburgh, Scotland
Jalalabad, Afghanistan
Jeonju, South Korea
Leon, Mexico
Perth, Australia
Quanzhou, China
Taichung City, Taiwan
Tema, Ghana
Tijuana, Mexico
Vladivostok, Russia
Warsaw, Poland
Yantai, China
Yokohama, Japan

UPDATE! I walked through Civic Center Plaza about half a year later and I noticed brand new signs!

New sister city signs at the Civic Center!
New sister city signs at the Civic Center!
More San Diego sister cities around the world.
More San Diego sister cities around the world.

San Diego Trolley and Santa Fe Depot.

red san diego trolley and santa fe depot

This red trolley belongs to the blue line. Makes sense, right? It’s waiting for passengers at the America Plaza station, across the street from the Santa Fe Depot. The blue line stretches from downtown San Diego all the way down to the Mexican border.

In this photo you can see both domes of the historic train station.

Old black-and-white photos of the Santa Fe Depot pretty much show nothing around it. It just sits there in the middle of nowhere, seemingly. Today the city rises and surges all about it, and it can almost seem lost among the many bright tall buildings.

San Diego Trolley pulls into Santa Fe Depot from the south.
San Diego Trolley pulls into Santa Fe Depot from the south.

Domes of San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot.

dome of san diego's santa fe depot

The Santa Fe Depot is downtown San Diego’s train station. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, the Coaster, and the San Diego Trolley’s orange and green lines all stop at the historic building.

The Santa Fe Depot, built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, was opened in 1915 to serve thousands of visitors to Balboa Park’s Panama-California Exposition.

This photo shows one of the Santa Fe Depot’s two colorful domes and some palm trees against a backdrop of high-rise condos. The architects a hundred years ago probably didn’t imagine that glassy skyscrapers would tower nearby!

Birds fly over one of the distinctive domes.
Birds fly over one of the distinctive tiled domes.
Looking up through palm trees toward the dome.
Looking up through palm trees toward one dome.

Here are some more photos taken at a later time. Black material now covers up part of the two domes. I learned that the terracotta columns are cracking.

The Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.
The east side of the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.
Buildings rise behind the domes of the Santa Fe Depot.
Buildings rise behind the domes of the Santa Fe Depot.
The two domes of San Diego's Santa Fe Depot.
The two domes of San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot.
Amtrak train parked by historic Santa Fe Depot.
Amtrak train parked by historic Santa Fe Depot.

Plaque remembers Pearl Harbor victims.

plaque memorializes victims of pearl harbor

This plaque, embedded in a large old slab, is located on the Embarcadero. You’ll find it right next to the USS Midway Museum, at the north end of the Greatest Generation Walk. It remembers the victims of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

It reads:

IN MEMORY OF THE 2335 MEN WHO PERISHED IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY ON THE ISLAND OF OAHU.

It looks like the memorial was unveiled by a local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in 1984. I’m not sure where the plaque was located originally. I searched the internet briefly, but found nothing.

UPDATE!

I’ve learned that this plaque was originally located on the Broadway Pier, prior to its renovation a few years ago.  This post contains more info I received from the Port of San Diego.

Pedicab drivers wait near Pearl Harbor plaque.
Pedicab drivers wait near Pearl Harbor plaque.

Jet fighter on elevator of USS Midway Museum.

fighter jet on uss midway elevator

Usually the huge elevator on the south side of the USS Midway Museum contains a few tables and chairs. When I walked by and took the above photo, it featured an F-4 Phantom II jet fighter that flew during the Vietnam War!

The historic USS Midway, a modern aircraft carrier converted into a museum, has become one of the most popular attractions in San Diego. It’s docked on the old Navy Pier right next to downtown. Over a million people visit the Midway each year!

Over time the museum continues to add refurbished military aircraft exhibits. The flight deck is now crowded with them, and the hangar below is filling up. The old airplanes are fixed up and painted by volunteers at Naval Air Station North Island across San Diego Bay, then brought over to the Midway on a barge and lifted onto the flight deck with a big crane. I saw this happen once years ago and it was a very cool sight!

UPDATE!  I took the next photo on a sunny day the following summer…

This A-4 Skyhawk of the Black Knights attack squadron was once based on USS Oriskany.
This A-4 Skyhawk of the Black Knights attack squadron was once based on USS Oriskany.

ANOTHER UPDATE!  Here come two more pics that I took in late 2014.  It seems the A-4 Skyhawk is now a permanent feature on the elevator…

Small boat passes near USS Midway aircraft carrier on San Diego Bay.
Small boat passes near USS Midway aircraft carrier on San Diego Bay.
USS Ronald Reagan seen docked at Naval Air Station North Island across San Diego Bay.
USS Ronald Reagan seen docked at Naval Air Station North Island across San Diego Bay.

ANOTHER! Why not add another pic? This one was taken in early 2016…

Birds large and small in a photo taken from the edge of San Diego Bay.
Birds large and small in a photo taken from the edge of San Diego Bay.