Elegant interior of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel.

The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.
The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.

During last weekend’s San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017, I ventured into one of the event’s featured downtown locations: the historic U.S. Grant Hotel. I was able to get some photos of the hotel’s elegant interior!

The U.S. Grant was built by Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., the son of American President Ulysses S. Grant. The building was designed by architect Harrison Albright and built in the same spot where Alonzo Horton had his 1870 Horton House Hotel, which was demolished.

The U.S. Grant Hotel opened in 1910. It featured a steel and reinforced concrete framework to counter the threats of fire and California earthquakes. For over a hundred years the grand old hotel has stood prominently at the center of downtown San Diego. Notable guests have included 15 United States Presidents (there are 3 different presidential suites), Albert Einstein and Charles Lindbergh.

It’s also interesting to note the very first San Diego Comic-Con was held in the U.S. Grant, back in 1970.

The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel's entrance on Broadway.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel’s entrance on Broadway.
The U.S. Grant Hotel's front desk.
The U.S. Grant Hotel’s front desk.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Colorful stained glass windows of The Abbey.

Stained glass window and reflection in a mirror inside The Abbey on Fifth Avenue, originally the Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church.
Stained glass window, and its reflection in a mirror, inside The Abbey on Fifth Avenue.  The building was originally the Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church.

I’ve walked past The Abbey on Fifth Avenue many times over the years. I often pause to admire the monumental building’s Classical Revival style exterior and take a photo or two. But last weekend I finally ventured inside.

That’s because The Abbey was open to the public during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017. It was one of several fascinating places that I visited!

The Abbey on Fifth Avenue is utilized by Hornblower Cruises in San Diego for private parties, weddings and corporate events. In 1910, however, when its doors were first opened to welcome the people of San Diego, the building was a place of worship: the Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church. A gleaming gold leaf statue of the angel Gabriel stands atop the roof, blowing his horn, summoning eyes around Bankers Hill. Approach the building and one sees its dozen stained glass windows illustrating figures from the Bible.

Stained glass when viewed from outside a building can often appear a bit dull and unremarkable. When seen from inside, however . . . words can barely express the feeling. It’s like finding the end of a rainbow. It’s like stepping into a light-filled heaven.

Please enjoy some photos of The Abbey’s exterior and interior.

Today the Abbey on Fifth Avenue is operated by Hornblower Cruises and Events. Built as a church in 1910, the building has undergone various changes over the years. In 1984 it became a restaurant.
Today the Abbey on Fifth Avenue is operated by Hornblower Cruises and Events. Built as a church in 1910, the building has undergone various changes over the years. In 1984 it became a restaurant.
Photo of The Abbey taken from the intersection of Olive Street and Fifth Avenue in the Bankers Hill neighborhood, near downtown San Diego. A new building is under construction on its north side.
Photo of The Abbey taken from the intersection of Olive Street and Fifth Avenue in the Bankers Hill neighborhood. A new building is under construction on the north side.
Stained glass windows seen from the outside.
Stained glass windows seen from the street outside.
The 1910 Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church was built in the Classical Revival style, which is quite unusual in San Diego.
The 1910 Park Place Methodist Episcopal Church was built in the Classical Revival style, which is quite unusual in San Diego.
Gabriel blows his horn. Light reflecting from the gold leaf shines brightly like the sun.
Gabriel blows his horn. Light reflecting from the gold leaf shines brightly like the sun.
This gorgeous stained glass skylight and purple floor lights tinting the walls make a memorable dining experience at these tables on the second floor of The Abbey.
This gorgeous stained glass skylight and purple floor lights tinting the walls make a memorable dining experience at these tables on the second floor of The Abbey.
Another dome of stained glass in the ceiling.
Another dome of stained glass in the ceiling.
These doors on the second floor have beautiful floral stained glass panels.
These doors on the second floor have beautiful floral stained glass panels.
The interior of The Abbey on Fifth Avenue is a wonderland of colorful light.
The interior of The Abbey on Fifth Avenue is a wonderland of colorful light.
People pause by one of the south-facing stained glass windows.
People pause by one of the south-facing stained glass windows.
These tables along the second floor overlook a large space where people might dance or mingle during a special event.
These tables along the second floor overlook a large space where people might dance or mingle during a special event.
Stained glass shows classical columns and a cross in a crown.
Stained glass shows classical columns and a cross in a crown.
If I recall, this stained glass panel was in a door on the second floor. Those appear to be grapes.
If I recall, this stained glass panel was in a door on the second floor. Those appear to be grapes.
More stained glass behind dining tables on the north side of the second floor.
More stained glass behind dining tables on the north side of the second floor.
The many stained glass windows seem to fill the historic building with magic.
The many stained glass windows seem to fill the historic building with magic.
Close look at one window.
Close look at one window.
Christ portrayed in one radiant window.
Christ portrayed in one radiant window.
Religious figures near wine glasses hanging in a bar on the second floor. An interesting juxtaposition.
Religious figures near wine glasses hanging in a bar on the second floor. An interesting juxtaposition.
The beautiful stained glass is both mysterious and penetrating.
The beautiful stained glass is both mysterious and penetrating.
Another vibrant stained glass window portrays a risen Christ in heaven.
Another vibrant stained glass window portrays a risen Christ in heaven.
A scene from the Bible. One of many stained glass windows that fill The Abbey on Fifth Avenue with color and life.
A scene from the Bible. One of many stained glass windows that fill The Abbey on Fifth Avenue with color and life.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Art and history at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

One of the sites that I visited this weekend during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017 was the SDSU Downtown Gallery. I’d never stepped into the small art gallery before. Rotating exhibits feature the work of faculty and students at SDSU.

The building in which the gallery is housed, located at the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Broadway, served as the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway. The historic railway, which served a large area of early San Diego, was established by John D. Spreckels.

According to a short tour and handout I was given, a circa 1900 building at this location served as an earlier San Diego Electric Railway power house, railcar barn and paint shop. Some enormous doors still exist in the building today where train cars would enter and exit. I also learned the extravagant 1897 Los Banos bathhouse stood at the building’s northwest corner–but there remains no trace of that historic old structure.

In 1921, San Diego Consolidated Gas and Electric Company purchased Station B, and two additions to the building were subsequently made. The additions were designed by famed architect William Templeton Johnson.

Today the original Station B power plant contains powerful works of art, and forms a section of the base of the skyscraping Electra Building, a modern residential development built in 2008.

Please enjoy some photos of the gallery and the historic building.

If you love art and find yourself downtown while the gallery is open, swing on by!

I took this photo at another time. Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this used to be the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this originally was the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
More eye-catching works of art.
More eye-catching works of art.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
A short talk begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE 2017.
A short tour begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery–Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn. Was coal for the power plant unloaded here? I don't know.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn.
Our tour walks along Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Our small tour group walks down the sidewalk along the Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Photos behind the scenes at Copley Symphony Hall!

Old photograph in lobby of Symphony Towers shows the old downtown Fox Theatre, today's surprising home of the San Diego Symphony.
Photograph in lobby of Symphony Towers shows the old downtown Fox Theatre, today’s surprising home of the San Diego Symphony.

Today I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall, home of the San Diego Symphony. The tour was part of the big OPEN HOUSE 2017 event that is being staged this weekend by the San Diego Architectural Foundation. An amazing 47 buildings featuring diverse architectural styles are being showcased around downtown, from Bankers Hill to Barrio Logan.

Copley Symphony Hall was originally built as the Fox Theatre in 1929, an excellent example of the famous chain of Fox movie palaces. Highly ornate Gothic Revival touches can be seen in the preserved lobby and inside the opulent theatre itself. Should you stand outside on the city street today, all you’d see is a tall skyscraper: Symphony Towers. The modern 34-story skyscraper was built literally over and around the historic Fox Theatre in 1989!

Stepping into Copley Symphony Hall is like being suddenly transported back in time. Take a look at some photos and read the captions for more info!

Visitors check out historical photos of the Fox Theatre movie palace on a wall near the San Diego Symphony box office.
Visitors check out historical photos of the Fox Theatre movie palace on a wall near the San Diego Symphony box office.
Guide from the San Diego Symphony provides some background before a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall.
Guide from the San Diego Symphony provides some background before a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall.
How the Fox Theatre appeared almost a century ago. A modern 34-story skyscraper, Symphony Towers, was built around it in 1989. The building's parking levels are directly above the theatre!
How the Fox Theatre appeared almost a century ago. A modern 34-story skyscraper, Symphony Towers, was built around it in 1989. The new building’s parking levels were constructed directly above the old theatre!
The Fox Theatre was the most elegant place to enjoy culture in San Diego for decades. Countless concerts, shows and movies have been enjoyed here by many generations.
The Fox Theatre was the most elegant place to enjoy culture in San Diego for decades. Countless concerts, shows and movies have been enjoyed here by many generations.
Our tour group has entered the theatre's elegant main lobby. Movie executive William Fox created a chain of opulent theaters in the 1920s. They featured many styles of dazzling ornamentation. At one time this was a working fountain!
Our tour group has entered the theatre’s main lobby. Movie executive William Fox developed a popular chain of theaters in the 1920s. They featured many styles of dazzling ornamentation. At one time this was a working fountain!
I learned the central face above the old fountain represents William Fox himself. Fox was born in Hungary and his parents emigrated to America. He eventually created a vast entertainment empire.
I learned the central face above the old fountain represents William Fox himself. Fox was born in Hungary and his parents emigrated to America. He eventually created a vast entertainment empire.
A look at one amazing corner of the dramatic ceiling.
A look at one amazing corner of the lobby’s dramatic ceiling.
The elegant main lobby of Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.
The elegant main lobby of Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.
A bust at one end of the main lobby is of the beloved German composer Beethoven.
A bust at one end of the main lobby is of the beloved German composer Beethoven.
We step into Symphony Hall to see what few see. We will file down through the empty theatre and through a door that connects to backstage.
We step through a door to see what few see. We will file down through the empty theatre and through another door that connects to backstage.
Heading toward backstage. I believe those stairs lead up to the rear stage door on Eighth Avenue.
Heading toward backstage. I believe those stairs lead up to the rear stage door on Eighth Avenue.
Behind the scenes! All sorts of interesting equipment could be glimpsed in the darkness behind the stage.
Behind the scenes! All sorts of interesting equipment could be glimpsed in the darkness behind the stage.
I believe I see a xylophone tucked in this closet-like space!
I believe I see a xylophone tucked in this closet-like space!
Through that rather ordinary-looking door is the San Diego Symphony's elegant stage! Beautiful music requires hard work done by those who toil unseen.
Through that rather unimpressive door is the San Diego Symphony’s elegant stage! Beautiful music requires hard work done by those who toil unseen.
This is part of a comfortable rest area behind the stage for the San Diego Symphony musicians. Visiting entertainers also enjoy the peace and moments of relaxation.
This is part of a comfortable rest area behind the stage for San Diego Symphony musicians. Visiting entertainers also enjoy an opportunity for relaxation.
We've left backstage and are heading up some stairs to Copley Symphony Hall's upper level, whose entrance is on hilly Seventh Avenue.
We’ve left backstage and are heading up some stairs to Copley Symphony Hall’s upper level, whose entrance is on hilly Seventh Avenue.
Some rather fancy decorative artwork can be seen above the doorway that leads to Aisle 5.
Some rather fancy decorative artwork can be seen above the doorway that leads to Aisle 5.
The interior of the theatre was too dark for my old camera to capture many good photographs. After listening to a brief organ concert, our tour group prepares to exit Copley Symphony Hall's upper seating level.
The interior of the theatre was too dark for my old camera to capture many good photos. After listening to a brief organ concert, our tour group prepares to exit Copley Symphony Hall’s upper seating level.
One of several smaller chandeliers in the spectacular ceiling.
One of several smaller chandeliers in the spectacular ceiling.
The huge, resplendent central chandelier and those around it can be lowered on cables. This is helpful when about a thousand light bulbs need replacement! In the olden days, dancing girls performed for the audience from atop this chandelier!
The huge, resplendent central chandelier and those around it can be lowered on cables. This is helpful when a thousand light bulbs need replacement! In the olden days, dancing girls performed for the audience from atop this chandelier!
One last glimpse. Some fun detail near the ceiling of the historic Fox Theatre, now home to the San Diego Symphony.
One last glimpse. Some fun detail near the ceiling of the historic Fox Theatre, now home to the world-class San Diego Symphony.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Bright orange sunset casts magic on buildings.

A blazing orange and yellow sunset behind palm trees on San Diego's Embarcadero.
A blazing orange and yellow sunset behind palm trees on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

I saw magic this evening. The spell was cast as the sun neared the horizon. I lingered a few moments near Pacific Highway downtown, spellbound.

Golden light on the rippling sculptural facade of the Marriott building at Lane Field. The cool public art conceals hotel parking levels. It's titled California Rain and was created by artist David Franklin.
Golden light on the rippling sculptural facade of the Marriott building at Lane Field. The cool public art conceals hotel parking levels. It’s titled California Rain and was created by artist David Franklin.
Sunset flames becomes glowing embers in the dark windows of several downtown skyscrapers.
The sunset’s orange flames have become glowing embers in the dark windows of several downtown skyscrapers.
Reflected sunset in many different glass windows behind the Santa Fe Depot.
Reflected sunset in many different glass windows behind the Santa Fe Depot.
One stately dome of the Santa Fe Depot seems enveloped by magical panels of glowing color.
Dome of the Santa Fe Depot seems enveloped by magical panels of molten color.

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!

Balboa Park, beautiful after the rain.

Girls in ponchos take photos with Will the bronze-gold Bard near the Balboa Park reflecting pool after the rain.
After the rain, girls in plastic ponchos take photos with Will the friendly Bard near the Balboa Park reflecting pool.

A major storm hit San Diego yesterday, causing flooding and uprooting trees.

I went for a walk through Balboa Park this morning. As I started across the Cabrillo Bridge, my hat protected my face from a few lingering very light showers. But they didn’t last long. My camera was out.

Rain has painted the arching west entrance to Balboa Park.
Rain has painted the arching west entrance to Balboa Park.
Leaves, puddles and a few early visitors entering Balboa Park after the latest San Diego storm.
Leaves, puddles, and a few early visitors entering Balboa Park after the latest San Diego storm.
Leaves blown by a very windy storm on a wet tile bench in the Alcazar Garden.
Leaves blown by a very windy storm on a wet tile bench in the Alcazar Garden.
The aftermath.
The aftermath.
The Plaza de Panama might be wet, but people find tranquility and many wonders in the park.
The Plaza de Panama might be wet, but people find tranquility and many wonders in the park.
Dripping branches and leaves seem to overhang The Watchers. This outdoor sculpture is by artist Lynn Chadwick.
Dripping branches and leaves seem to overhang The Watchers. This outdoor sculpture is by artist Lynn Chadwick.
Rainwater has collected in this beautiful flower.
Rainwater has collected in this beautiful flower.
Walkways glisten and the air is clean and cool.
Walkways glisten and the air is clean and cool.
The colors of the tiles in Spanish Village's patio are made bold and cheerful with the lingering moisture.
The colors of the tiles in Spanish Village’s patio are made bold and cheerful with the lingering moisture.
A magical passageway.
A magical passageway.
Magical life. A squirrel on the damp green grass feasts.
Magical life. A squirrel on the damp green grass feasts.
Walking toward the Casa del Prado, between the huge Moreton Bay Fig and the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Walking toward the Casa del Prado, between the huge Moreton Bay Fig and the San Diego Natural History Museum.  Everything is so green.
A photographer gets his subjects to pose. Hopefully nobody slips!
A photographer gets his subjects to pose. Hopefully nobody slips!
An iconic sculpture in the rain-wet courtyard of the House of Hospitality. Aztec Woman of Tehuantepec by Donal Hord, 1935.
An iconic sculpture in the rain-wet courtyard of the House of Hospitality. Aztec Woman of Tehuantepec by famed San Diego artist Donal Hord, 1935.
Beads of water on bright jewel-like flowers.
Beads of water on bright jewel-like flowers.
Cleaning up after the muddy, messy storm with a smile.
Cleaning up after the muddy, messy storm with a smile.
Gazing down at the Japanese Friendship Garden's canyon from an overlook by the koi pond.
Gazing down at the Japanese Friendship Garden’s canyon from an overlook by the koi pond.
The strong storm yesterday knocked over a towering eucalyptus tree at the Japanese Friendship Garden canyon's edge. Guys with chainsaws cut it up.
The strong storm yesterday knocked over a towering eucalyptus tree at the Japanese Friendship Garden canyon’s edge. Guys with chainsaws cut it up.
That long puddle almost looks impassable!
That long puddle almost looks impassable!
Rain or not, it seems an umbrella and cell phone simply can't be put aside.
Rain or not, it seems an umbrella and cell phone simply can’t be put aside.
Patches of dampness add character to the side of the Balboa Park Club.
Patches of dampness add even more character to the side of the Balboa Park Club.
A seldom used path to the old cactus garden is lined with bright rain-loving moss.
A seldom used path to the old cactus garden is lined with bright rain-loving moss.
Just a beautiful photo.
Just a beautiful photo.
The picnic benches behind the Balboa Park Club are empty as usual. Grass has turned bright green in collected pools of water.
The picnic benches behind the Balboa Park Club are empty as usual. Grass has turned bright green in collected pools of water.
The clouds are clearing. I hear a cry above. Paired Red-tailed Hawks whirl and dance in the sky together above Balboa Park.
The clouds are clearing. I hear a cry above. Paired Red-tailed Hawks whirl and dance in the sky together above Balboa Park.
This is Engineer Joe. He was blowing a train whistle to attract an audience. He is performing at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre! The super nice guy told me that this puppet theater has been in continuous operation since 1948! He also said Marie Hitchcock created the puppets used by the San Diego Zoo to feed California Condor chicks, saving the species from extinction!
This is Engineer Joe. He was blowing a train whistle outside to attract an audience! He is presently performing at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre.

Engineer Joe is a super nice guy. He told me that the Balboa Park puppet theater has been in continuous operation since 1948.  That’s a long time for a puppet theater! He also said Marie Hitchcock created the hand puppets used by the San Diego Zoo to feed endangered California Condor chicks in the early 1980s, saving the species from extinction!

The sun is out after the storm. A Balboa Park ranger opens the colorful table umbrellas in the Plaza de Panama.
The sun is out after the storm. A Balboa Park ranger opens the colorful table umbrellas in the Plaza de Panama.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around taking photographs!  Just for fun! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Photos of National City’s Heritage Square and Brick Row.

Brick Row at National City's Heritage Square, built by Frank Kimball in 1887.
Brick Row at National City’s Heritage Square.  The long brick two-story structure was built by Frank Kimball in 1887.

To those traveling through gritty National City, Heritage Square can be a surprising discovery. Venture into the picturesque block, just south of the intersection of East 9th Street and A Avenue, and you feel like you’ve stepped back 150 years.

National City has a fascinating history. Originally used by the Spanish to graze horses, the land in the early 1800s, after Mexican independence, was called Rancho de la Nación. In 1868, a San Francisco builder named Frank Kimball bought the rancho with an ambitious dream. He intended to turn National City into the western terminus of the Santa Fe Railway.

You might remember my photographic tour of the National City depot, built in 1882 by the Santa Fe Railroad. It became the first terminus of transcontinental rail travel in the San Diego area. You can see that fascinating blog post here.

To accomodate executives of the Santa Fe Railroad and booming times caused by the arrival of rail, in 1887 Frank Kimball built Brick Row, a structure in the style of Philadelphia row house. It was designed by San Diego architect R. C. Ball. Over 240,000 bricks were used for the ten units.

Kimball’s full ambitions weren’t realized, however, when the Santa Fe Railroad soon turned their sights on Los Angeles, making that city their major center of operations in Southern California.

An early resident of the “Kimball Block” was legendary marshall Wyatt Earp, who came to Southern California after being indicted in Arizona for shooting the men who’d killed his brother. He is best known locally for opening three gambling halls in San Diego. In 1889, Wyatt Earp stayed in Brick Row when he traveled down to Tijuana, Mexico. There he famously refereed a prize fight during a fiesta that also featured cockfights, bullfights and a lassoing contest.

In the early 1970s, National City’s planning directer, Malcolm C. Greschler, interested in preserving the deteriorating Brick Row, came up with the idea of creating Heritage Square, which would be a historical tourist attraction similar to San Diego’s Old Town. In 1973 Frank Kimball’s house was moved to Heritage Square.

The 1869 Kimball House has its own unique history. It was the first house built in National City. Not only did it have a bathtub, but it had hot running water, which made it the first modern house in the entire county. President Benjamin Harrison visited it in 1891 during his tour of the western United States. At the time, it was the longest journey ever made by a President while in office. President Harrison’s 9,232 mile trip by railroad took one month and three days!

In 1976 two more historical houses were moved to Heritage Square: the 1887 Stick-style Rice-Proctor House and the 1879 Steele-Blossom House, which is depicted on National City’s official logo.

A plaque that reads Heritage Square - Marked in honor of the National City Centennial by San Miguel Chapter NSDAR, 1987.
A plaque that reads Heritage Square – Marked in honor of the National City Centennial by San Miguel Chapter NSDAR, 1987.
Heritage Square in National City contains several historic structures from the mid to late 19th century.
Heritage Square in National City contains several historic structures from the mid to late 19th century.
The Steele-Blossom House, built in 1879, is used by the city of National City in its official logo. Elizur Steele was real estate agent for the Frank Kimball and his enterprising brothers.
The Steele-Blossom House, built in 1879, is used by the city of National City in its official logo. Elizur Steele was real estate agent for Frank Kimball and his enterprising brothers.
The 1869 Kimball house was moved to Heritage Square in 1975. It is now the Kimball Museum operated by the National City Historical Society.
The 1869 Kimball house was moved to Heritage Square in 1975. It is now the Kimball Museum operated by the National City Historical Society.
The 1887 Stick-style Rice-Proctor House in National City's Heritage Square.
The 1887 Stick-style Rice-Proctor House in National City’s Heritage Square.
The two-story Brick Row is composed of ten units with common walls.
The two-story Brick Row is composed of ten units with common walls.
Sign reads National City Historic Site - Kimball Block - Also known as Brick Row, this block of Eastern-style flats was completed in 1887 at the then considerable cost of 22,000.
Sign reads National City Historic Site – Kimball Block – Also known as Brick Row, this block of Eastern-style flats was completed in 1887 at the then considerable cost of $22,000.
Photo of section of the handsome Brick Row in National City. The building now houses several specialty shops and the National City Historical Archive Room.
Photo of a section of the handsome Brick Row. The building now houses several specialty shops and the National City Historical Archive Room.
Walking through the historic block of Heritage Square in National City is like a voyage back in time.
Walking through the historic block of Heritage Square in National City is like a wonderful voyage back in time.

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 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.