Horton Plaza, San Diego’s colorful downtown shopping mall, was inspired by a concept put forth by famous science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury. The crazy, jumbled design was based on Ray Bradbury’s essay “The Aesthetics of Lostness” which took joy in the notion of becoming safely lost on the side streets of Paris, London or New York.
While walking about Horton Plaza, you’ll see ramps, escalators, bridges and stairs that go every which way–up, down, across–leading you to new unexpected vistas. One mysterious escalator will take you up one level, but there’s no immediate way to return from where you came. You must let your eyes rove to discover another route. It’s really a fun idea!
I believe I took these pics on a Sunday morning, and few people had yet arrived.
Horton Plaza, located in downtown San Diego, is a fun and interesting place for shoppers to visit. The unique mall’s crazy, whimsical design makes an interesting contrast to the restored old buildings in the adjacent Gaslamp Quarter. Many bright colors and types of architecture have been cleverly integrated into a visual feast. Horton Plaza was designed so that people intentionally get a bit lost, to provide a feeling of adventure and the unexpected.
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.
Here are a couple more photos I took during another visit…
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!
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
Jeonju, South Korea
Taichung City, Taiwan
UPDATE! I walked through Civic Center Plaza about half a year later and I noticed brand new signs!
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.
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!
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.