Unexpected movie star in the Gaslamp Quarter!

San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter has attracted celebrities from all around the world, particularly during big international events like Comic-Con. But did you know there’s one movie star that calls the Gaslamp home?

Walk down Fifth Avenue past the 7-Eleven and you’ve spotted a “movie star” that has appeared in two films. The convenience store occupies the 1930 Manila Cafe building, which was used as a “backdrop for scenes in the movies In God We Trust, with Marty Feldman, and Writer’s Block, with Morgan Fairchild.” That’s what a corroded historical marker by the 7-Eleven’s front door reads!

According to this article, the old Manila Café building has been occupied by a variety of restaurants over the years, and by a billiard hall during World War II. In 2014 the exterior was renovated, but the roof with its red Spanish tiles and Asian contours, and the building’s distinctive upper story, haven’t changed.

Have you watched either movie? Have you spotted San Diego’s “famous” Manila Cafe building in the background?

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!

The historical Carriage Works building downtown.

There’s an unusual old building in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter called the Carriage Works. You can find it at the corner of Fourth Avenue and G Street.

If the Carriage Works with its wide arched doorways appears different from other historical buildings in the Gaslamp, that’s because it used to be a place where San Diegans would go to purchase horse-drawn buggies and wagons!

Today the Carriage Works is home to music venues and eateries including GARAGE Kitchen + Bar, Tin Roof, and The Shout! House.

I took these photos about a month ago. You can see how outdoor dining areas were set up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I also photographed a plaque that provides a brief description of the building’s history.

Carriage Works, 1890

Constructed to house the wholesale business of Todd and Hawley, which operated here until 1902. Their stock was purchased by Lyons Implement Company, which carried a complete line of Studebaker vehicles, including buggies and wagons. Along with Lyon, San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego Farm and Dairy Supply, a tent and awning company and the Volunteers of America have occupied the building.

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Photos of Carlsbad’s grand, historic Twin Inns.

Several impressive landmark buildings can be observed during a visit to Carlsbad.

Perhaps the most prominent landmark stands at the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard (the local stretch of old Highway 101) and Carlsbad Village Drive. It’s called the Twin Inns. Look for the big blue Victorian building next to the Carlsbad gateway sign.

Approach the Twin Inns and you’ll not only be impressed by its grand architecture, but you’ll have the opportunity to view an informative plaque that relates a good deal of fascinating history.

The plaque by the front steps reads:

TWIN INNS

This Victorian structure was built in 1887 for Gerhard Schutte, whose role in the development of the town led to his being called the “Father of Carlsbad.” Schutte and partners Samuel Church Smith and D.D. Wadsworth founded the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company and had as their vision “a town of small farms and gracious homes.” To that end they bought 400 prime acres at $40 per acre for development as a community. They laid out a townsite, lined roads with eucalyptus seedlings, and named the streets. This property was converted to the Twin Inns Restaurant circa 1917 by Whiting and Reed and was purchased by Ed and Neva Kentner in 1919. It was named the Twin Inns since the building was identical to the nearby Wadsworth home, also used as an inn. The building was extensively remodeled with a large octagonal dining room added in 1922. The Twin Inns was a popular summer dining area frequented by many of the Hollywood set after a day at the races and later figured prominently in Carlsbad’s history serving as the site of the first City Council meeting and deliberations on the city’s incorporation. The building was also famous for its fried chicken dinners, which were promoted by large plaster chickens out front. After 60 years as a family business, the Twin Inns was sold in 1984 and became part of the Village Faire Shopping Center.

COURTESY OF THE CARLSBAD HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION

On either side of the steps you’ll find two decorative signs…

The Twin Inns – Famous Chicken Dinners
Built by Alonzo Culver for Gerhard Schutte in 1887.
The north side of the Twin Inns.
The south side of the Twin Inns. You can see a sign for one small business that presently occupies the building, Sun Diego Boardshop.
The southeast corner of the Twin Inns. This part of the historic building is now used by Pedego Electric Bikes.

I was told by a friendly employee of Pedego Electric Bikes that the above door, on the building’s east side, used to be an entrance to a speakeasy back during Prohibition!

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!

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Dramatic evening clouds above Balboa Park!

Bright, dramatic clouds crowned Balboa Park this evening!

I took this series of photographs before sunset, as I walked through San Diego’s world-famous park.

The first photo you see below was taken in front of the Casa del Prado Theater. I then headed west down El Prado, aiming my camera right and left, as the distant California Tower came ever closer.

I finally passed through the California Quadrangle and headed over the Cabrillo Bridge, before making my way home.

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!

The corner lit by San Diego’s first gaslamp!

The very first gaslamp that lit downtown San Diego was located in today’s Gaslamp Quarter. But where?

Stand at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and F Street, and you’ve found the location!

You’ll be standing next to the historic Marston Building. A plaque on this interesting old building reads:

Marston Block, 1881

In 1881, George Marston located his third department store in this two-story Victorian Italian-style building. It remained here until 1896 when it was relocated to a larger building. Until the 1970s, Marston’s was the largest and most successful San Diego-based department store and was purchased by Broadway Stores. The building suffered severe fire damage in 1903, and had to undergo extensive remodeling. The first gaslamp was placed on this corner in 1885, and on March 16, 1886, the first electric arc lamp was illuminated outside this building.

If any of you remember visiting the Marston Department Store as a young child, it was most likely Marston’s final location, in a large four-story, neo-Renaissance building on C Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. That building was demolished years ago. To learn more about George Marston’s various stores in San Diego, click here.

To view a historical black-and-white photo of Marston’s 1881 store–the location of San Diego’s very first gaslamp–click here.

As you can see, things have changed quite a bit in nearly a century and a half!

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!

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Renovation of Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries begins!

The exterior renovation of the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries building in Balboa Park’s Palisades area has begun!

I noticed during my walk through Balboa Park this morning that the painting of the building is underway. The new color matches that of the recently painted San Diego Automotive Museum directly across Pan American Plaza.

If you’d like to learn more about the 1935 Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries building, which has long served as the Municipal Gymnasium, and to see how the historic building will appear after its renovation is complete, check out this post from early last month.

(Visit that old blog post and you’ll see an image of the fantastic bronze panel that will be installed directly above the entrance!)

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 photos for you to enjoy!

A historical walking tour of Encinitas.

If you’re a San Diego resident or visitor, I recommend going on a historical walking tour of Encinitas.

The free guided walks, which are led by a member of the Encinitas Historical Society, typically occur every two months and begin inside the society’s headquarters, a restored one-room 1883 schoolhouse. For the location, and to see the dates of upcoming walking tours, check out their website here.

Last Saturday I and a couple dozen others gathered at the old schoolhouse for the tour. The sky was overcast with May gray, but the cool temperature was perfect for a very active one and a half hour walk.

Our group headed south from the schoolhouse, checking out the two iconic Encinitas Boathouses and a few other historical homes and buildings. After a short eastward leg, we continued farther south down Coast Highway 101 to view the Golden Lotus Towers of the Self-Realization Fellowship from a distance, then headed back north passing numerous historical buildings until we reached Cottonwood Creek. Turning west, we followed the creek, climbed to a spot overlooking Moonlight Beach where we admired a Heritage Tree, then headed south a few blocks back to the old schoolhouse.

These photographs include sights I’d seen during a past walk in Encinitas. Back then I was on my own, wandering about randomly while knowing very little. The guided tour last weekend was extremely informative and I’ve provided a little bit of what I learned (and managed to jot down) in the photo captions.

If you want a great experience make sure to go on the tour yourself! Like every other beach city in San Diego’s North County, Encinitas has a rich history that is often surprising!

The unique Boathouses of Encinitas were built in 1927-1928 and were once called The Arks. They were constructed with recycled lumber from a dance pavilion and bath house that used to be located at Moonlight Beach.
The Petrie House, in the Tudor-Cotswold Revival architectural style, was built in 1931. Every cement block was made by hand.
The Self-Realization Fellowship Temple was originally the 1916 Mission School. The old Spanish architectural influences are still visible.
To the south down Coast Highway 101 we could see the distinctive golden towers of the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram.
The 1949 County Realty Building, now home of Encinitas 101 Main Street Association.
A surfboard bench and photo of Main Street, Encinitas, California, looking west, circa 1947.
Beautiful wood interior of the 1925 Payne Cleaners building. It is home to the longest laundry service business in San Diego County.
Rustic-appearing buildings across the Coast Highway at The Lumberyard shopping center were inspired by history. Trains running on nearby tracks once delivered lumber to Encinitas here.
Beautiful original glasswork decorates a historic building.
The Daley Double saloon was called the Rendezvous in the 1930’s. It once housed an illegal poker parlor and boxing ring.
Murals painted by Micaiah Hardison, born and raised in Encinitas.
The original Encinitas sign was erected in 1928, removed in 1937 for a highway widening project, then duplicated and returned to the same location in 2000.
The famous La Paloma Theater, also called Aubrey Austin Building, opened in 1928. Built in a Spanish Mission/Art Deco style.
The sculpture Encinitas Child was created by local artist Manuelita Brown. A young girl was killed on the nearby road years ago.
The popular, very colorful Surfing Madonna mural.

Last year I blogged about the Surfing Madonna mural with additional photos and information here.

Encinitas owes its origin to Cottonwood Creek, a source of water and wood on San Diego’s arid north coast. Trains coming down from Los Angeles stopped here. In 1881 the town of Old Encinitas was established.
Members of our tour group look down at a huge frog at the edge of the creek.
A large, rare Torrey pine tree, on a hilltop not far from the Pacific Ocean.
The 2nd Heritage Tree of Encinitas. Planted in 1952, the huge Star Pine is lit during the holidays and Santa arrives on a firetruck from nearby Fire Station One.
One of many quaint beach cottages built by the ocean in Encinitas.

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 photos for you to enjoy!

The unexpected Egyptian Garage in City Heights.

The Egyptian Garage building in City Heights is a fascinating example of Egyptian Revival architecture.

This building with a rather unexpected appearance is located at University Avenue and Euclid Avenue. It’s adjacent to two other unique, historical buildings–directly west of the prominent Euclid Tower, and south across the street from the Silverado Ballroom (both of which you can see in a few of the following photographs).

To learn about the history of the Egyptian Garage, I’ve had to sort out conflicting dates from several web pages. Apparently the building was constructed in 1923, at the end of the old East San Diego trolley line. It was one of three Egyptian Revival streetcar electrical substations that were built. It was sold only two years after beginning operation.

After a remodel in 1925 by David H. Ryan, the building served from 1926 to 1932 as the Egyptian Garage, complete with gas pumps in front. An addition was made on the south side in 1927. Since 1957 it has been the home of Big City Liquor.

Today you can see pharaoh heads atop pilasters on a couple sides of the building, horizontal vulture wings containing cobras and suns up by the rooftop, and an obelisk-like projection on the garage’s south end with a hieroglyphic design featuring ibis-headed Egyptian moon god Thoth.

To learn much more, you can read a detailed article about the Egyptian Garage building’s history and the phenomenon of Egyptian Revival architecture in the 1920’s here.

A few other examples of the Egyptian Revival architectural style can be found in San Diego, most notably in Hillcrest. Years ago I took some fun photos in Hillcrest’s Egyptian Quarter and posted them here.

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Old sculptural figures at San Diego High School.

I’ve often wondered about these sculptural figures that surround the rim of a planter in front of San Diego High School. Depicting academic and athletic endeavors, the figures are very weathered.

San Diego High School, the oldest high school in our city, began as the Russ School in 1882. In 1907 a new building, often referred to as the Grey Castle, opened. South of the Grey Castle, Russ Auditorium was dedicated in 1926.

The Russ School, Grey Castle and Russ Auditorium are all long gone. You can read the fascinating history of San Diego High School here and here and here.

After searching the internet, I must assume these amusing figures are the gargoyles from the façade of Russ Auditorium mentioned in the first two articles. Was the planter at one time a fountain? I’ve searched for old photographs that might provide clues, but without success.

Do you know anything about these old figures, which are seen in front of San Diego High School’s entrance when heading up Park Boulevard? If you do, please leave a comment to help preserve a little history!

Football.
Geography.
Geometry.
Music.
Mathematics.
Baseball.

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 photos for you to enjoy!

A look at the Stratford Square building in Del Mar.

Possibly the most unique and well known building in Del Mar is Stratford Square. Located at Camino del Mar and 15th Street, the English Tudor style architecture makes Stratford Square instantly recognizable.

This historical landmark was constructed in 1927 and was originally called the Kockritz Building. Today it’s the home of a couple dozen offices and a few small shops and eateries.

Stratford Square was built across 15th Street from the now long-vanished 1909 Stratford Inn. The Stratford Inn, later called the Hotel Del Mar, had a very similar Tudor appearance. It became a gathering place for many of Hollywood’s stars after Bing Crosby built the Del Mar Racetrack.

The spot where the old Stratford Inn stood overlooking the Pacific Ocean is now the location of the L’Auberge Del Mar luxury hotel.

As you travel through Del Mar, you might notice a few other buildings with an English Tudor appearance. Like Stratford Square, they were inspired by the original Stratford Inn.

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 photos for you to enjoy!