A visit to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center.

The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center in Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a very special place.

Inside the Nature Center visitors can learn all about the nearby wetland and its wildlife. Outside, the building’s organic, curving lines seem to flow through the natural environment around it.

At every chance, I’ll poke my nose into any nature center. When I walked through San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and saw this beautiful structure, I was eager to walk all around it and explore inside.

The 5,600 square foot, multi-award winning building, completed in 2009, was designed by Zagrodnic + Thomas Architects. It is light-filled, spacious and visually stimulating.

The construction is environmentally friendly. The building is made out of recycled materials and has irrigated roof plants, solar panels and recycled water.

A big observation deck allows visitors to look out over the lagoon. Excited kids were exploring easy trails winding near its front entrance.

Approaching the Nature Center from the parking lot.

Board near front door announces Arrivals and Landings of resident and visiting birds.

Many informative exhibits greet visitors inside the Nature Center.

Coyote stands atop map of the watershed. Pollutants including trash threaten wildlife that depends on this habitat.

An explanation of San Elijo Lagoon’s biodiversity. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Silvery Legless Lizard.

Piece of sandstone from Annie’s Canyon Trail in San Elijo Lagoon.

Outside light from the sunlit world touches the light of learning.

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Remains of ostrich farm in University Heights.

In 2022, the University Heights Historical Society placed a historical marker at the intersection of Park Boulevard and Adams Avenue. The sign stands near the remains of the entrance to the long-vanished Harvey Bentley’s Ostrich Farm!

The City of San Diego describes Historical Landmark No. 346 as: Mission Cliff Gardens Cobblestone Wall and Related Features.

One can see similar stone posts a couple blocks to the east at Trolley Barn Park. Cobblestones structures (and images of ostriches) are frequently seen throughout University Heights!

The sign explains:

This was once the entrance to Harvey Bentley’s Ostrich Farm, established in 1904. Nearby are the remains of a waiting station and drinking fountain for the #11 streetcar that brought scores of visitors from downtown to University Heights to see the ostriches as well as Mission Cliff Gardens and William Hilton’s Silk Mill. The streetcar was part of the 165-mile San Diego Electric Railway network, established in 1892 by visionary entrepreneur John D. Spreckels.

Here are two public domain images of the ostrich farm…

Just for fun, I photographed an ostrich painted at Yipao Coffee, a short distance south on Park Boulevard…

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I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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Three buildings in the Gaslamp: then and now.

I came across historical photographs of three buildings in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter that were taken in 1960. These photos, resulting from the Historic American Buildings Survey, were taken by an employee of the U.S. National Park Service, and are consequently in the public domain.

I thought it would fascinating to post a “then and now” blog, comparing the 1960 photographs of these buildings with how they appear at the beginning of 2023. That’s a span of almost 63 years. By looking carefully, you can notice changes that were made.

The first building is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street. It’s called the Backesto Building. When built in 1873, it stood at the center of New Town’s original business district.

According to a historical plaque, the grocer and general merchandise firm Klauber and Levi occupied the ground floor from 1878 to 1886. San Diego Hardware would occupy the building from 1892 to 1922. Its exterior reflects the turn-of-the-century style.

The Backesto Building, photographed in 1960.

The Backesto Building, photographed in 2023.

The second building is also at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street. It’s called the McGurck Block and was built in 1887.

The Ferris and Ferris Drug Store occupied this building from 1903 to 1984. I once blogged how the father of actor Gregory Peck worked there as the night druggist.

The building was also a post office and ticket booth for the Coronado Ferry. The upper floors of the three-story Italianate building were known as the Hotel Monroe in 1929.

The McGurck Block, photographed in 1960.

The McGurck Block, photographed in 2023.

Finally, there’s the adjacent I.O.O.F. Building at Market Street and Sixth Avenue.

I.O.O.F. stands for Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The 1882 building was a joint effort of the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges.

The Classical Revival building took almost a decade to complete. The cornerstone contains valuable coins, historic documents, and a stone from Soloman’s Temple!

I.O.O.F. Building, photographed in 1960.

I.O.O.F. Building, photographed in 2023.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

A look at the old Logan Heights Library.

I came upon this great article concerning the old Logan Heights Library and decided I’d walk past it to have a look.

The old library, built in 1927, is in a state of decay these days, but you can easily see how handsome it appeared in its heyday. The building was a popular community destination before it was replaced a short distance up 28th Street by the new Logan Heights Library in 2009.

According to this article from several months ago, there are plans to restore the building.

Here’s the City of San Diego web page that concerns the Old Logan Heights Library Renovation.

I took these photos yesterday.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Morning light transforms Balboa Park.

This morning, as the sun rose above the eastern horizon, Balboa Park underwent a transformation.

The early light, touching leaves, water and the sides of buildings, turned San Diego’s most amazing park into a world of pure magic…

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Century old photos of Casa de Estudillo.

I came upon photographs of San Diego’s historic Casa de Estudillo that are nearly a century old. I thought you might enjoy them.

These images of the Jose Antonio Estudillo House were captured in 1936 and 1937 by architectural photographer Henry F. Withey for the Historic American Buildings Survey. A product of the Heritage Documentation Program of the U.S. National Park Service, the photos are in the public domain.

It’s interesting to see that long ago streets intersected near one corner of the house: Mason Street and San Diego Avenue. Today the Casa de Estudillo museum stands in the middle of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and the streets you see in these photographs have become wide walkways filled with tourists.

The Casa de Estudillo was built in 1827. Back in the 1930s tourists were visiting the large old adobe casa, just as they do today. The painted Ramona’s Marriage Place sign you see in the above photo was meant to attract those motoring by. Ramona in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was an immensely popular novel.

You can read why Casa de Estudillo was called Ramona’s Marriage Place by clicking here. You can also see the present-day interior of Casa de Estudillo here and here!

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Photos outside La Mesa’s historic McKinney House.

I took the trolley to La Mesa yesterday, eager to check out the La Mesa Historical Society’s McKinney House Museum.

I arrived at the McKinney House right at one o’clock, when it is said to open on Saturdays. After walking up and down the sidewalk taking outside photographs, it became apparent the museum wouldn’t be opening on time. So in this blog post I can only provide exterior photos of the 1908 house built by Rev. Henry A. McKinney, back when La Mesa was known as Allison Springs.

You can see an old historical photograph of the house here.

I look forward seeing the interior on a future visit. I’ve read it contains furnishings from the 1908-1920 period. I believe there are exhibits concerning La Mesa’s history, too.

Not sure why the museum sign was on the ground.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Torrey Pines Lodge prepares for its centennial!

The Torrey Pines Lodge has been welcoming visitors for nearly 100 years. In 2023 the historic adobe building, nestled in the beauty of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, will celebrate its centennial!

When I visited the Torrey Pines Lodge this weekend, several docents told me that plans are now being made for observing its centennial. I hope to attend public celebrations next year!

As I walked through the old building, which today serves as a Visitor Center, I viewed a few displays concerning its history.

I’ve taken photographs for you to enjoy. (If you’d like to see more of the Lodge’s interior, and several of it’s museum-like exhibits, check out an old blog post here.)

The San Diego Union newspaper article, dated January 1, 1923, describes the new Beautiful Adobe Lodge.

Tableware from the days when the Torrey Pines Lodge served as restaurant.

Dinner was one dollar! Motorists on their way through to San Diego or Los Angeles could also purchase Mexican and Indian rugs, blankets, pottery, baskets, etc. at the Lodge.

The Torrey Pines Lodge was dedicated on April 7, 1923.

In the summer of 1922 when construction began on the Torrey Pines Lodge, this area consisted of a treeless and windswept sandstone bluff.

Miss Ellen Browning Scripps, a noted San Diego Philanthropist and the sole contributor to the acquisition of what was called at the time, “The Torrey Pines City Reserve,” donated the funds to build the Torrey Pines Lodge…

…Architect Richard Requa was noted for his pueblo and Mayan style of architecture, and designed many buildings in San Diego’s Balboa Park…

The Lodge was built from sun baked adobe bricks, made on the construction site from local clays. Miss Scripps also brought Hopi Indians from the Southwest to aid in the making of authentic adobe bricks…

The Lodge and its restaurant opened to the public in February of 1923 and was an immediate success, perhaps due to its stunning scenery and location adjacent to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Highway…the main road between Los Angeles and San Diego until the mid-1930’s…

…the Lodge was a favorite day trip…as well as being a popular stop for tour buses of the era. The Model T Fords of the 1920’s found the highway’s steep grade a challenge…

Old photographs shows dining tables on the Lodge’s front terrace.

The beautiful Torrey Pines Lodge in 2022. Some restoration work is visible.

A wooden plaque inside the Lodge.

The Torrey Pines Lodge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Sweet memories of Top Gun in Oceanside!

Fans of the original Top Gun movie would love visiting the recently restored Top Gun House near the foot of the Oceanside Pier.

The historic old Victorian beach house, an 1887 Queen Anne Cottage that was featured in the popular movie, has been turned into an ice cream shop filled with sweet Top Gun memories!

The first thing visitors to the Top Gun House might see is a motorcycle by the front porch steps. It’s a replica of the motorcycle ridden by Maverick when he visited his love interest Charlie at the house.

A plaque a few steps away describes the house’s history in Oceanside, its architectural importance, and its role in the movie.

Step inside the beautiful little cottage and you’ll discover movie posters, photographs and other memories from Top Gun. I thought you might enjoy a look…

The 1887 Top Gun House was built by Dr. Henry Graves as a vacation home. Scenes from Top Gun were filmed around the house in 1985. In 2022 the house was fully restored.

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX900 is a replica of the motorcycle made famous in the movie Top Gun. Actor Tom Cruise, playing lead character Maverick, rode it to this house.

It was cool to see the work of an artist I often encounter while walking. Paul Strahm has a painting inside the Top Gun House!

Memories of Goose, Maverick and Iceman.

A sweet smile!

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!

Carlsbad history at St. Michael’s By-the-Sea.

The fascinating history of Carlsbad includes its very first church, St. Michael’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, built in 1894.

St. Michael’s By-the-Sea is located on Carlsbad Boulevard at Christiansen Way, a block south of Magee Park.

During a recent adventure in San Diego’s North County, I walked around the church’s original structure, which stands by several other later buildings.

I paused to read this plaque…

The first church built in Carlsbad was St. Michael’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Originally erected in 1894 overlooking the ocean on Oak Avenue, the quaint Gothic structure was moved to its current site in 1959 when Florence Shipley Magee donated an adjacent site for a new church.

Original redwood paneling, oak pews, and a Victorian pump organ are all still in good condition. The only alterations are a new entry, replacing one which led directly into the choir area at the front of the chapel, and a new heating and air conditioning system.

Far from being a relic of the past, the chapel is used for regular Sunday and weekday services as well as for weddings and funerals.

PLAQUE COURTESY OF THE CARLSBAD HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION

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!