Unusual tower of the Quartermass-Wilde House.

The historic 1896 Quartermass-Wilde House, located in Golden Hill overlooking downtown San Diego, is one of the most fantastic, palatial old houses in our city.

Should you walk by Broadway and 24th Street, you might notice that this Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion, with a Classical Revival influence, has a very unusual tower. The top of the tower is shaped like a dome!

Why?

Because Louis J. Wilde, Mayor of San Diego from 1917–1921, loved architect Irving Gill’s elegant 1910 Broadway Fountain so much that he had the tower of his mansion altered to resemble it!

Louis J. Wilde was a controversial mayor, banker, oil tycoon, developer and part owner of the US Grant Hotel. His donation of $10,000 helped to build the Broadway Fountain in Horton Plaza Park, directly across Broadway from the US Grant. (He was also responsible for changing the name of D Street to Broadway!)

I’ve read the cupola under the tower’s dome provides an amazing panoramic view of downtown San Diego!

The 1910 Broadway Fountain at Horton Plaza Park. The fountain, with its unique watery dome supported by classic Corinthian columns, was designed by architect Irving Gill.
The top of the tower of the historic 1896 Quartermass-Wilde House in Golden Hill was altered by Mayor Wilde years later to resemble the Broadway Fountain that he loved in downtown San Diego!

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Photos of YWCA building in downtown San Diego.

From a few blocks away, the old YWCA building in downtown San Diego appears unremarkable. But approach the corner of Tenth Avenue and C Street and you see why the 1926 YWCA Administrative Building, designed by architects Frank Stevenson and C.E. Decker, is one of our city’s more fascinating sights.

Sculpted stucco and beautiful metalwork decorate the building’s grand front entrance and many windows. The elaborate ornamentation was inspired by the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture that became popular in San Diego and Southern California after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, held in nearby Balboa Park.

I took photographs of this unique old building during a recent walk.

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Fantastic architecture at Oceanside Civic Center.

Uniquely beautiful civic centers can be found all around San Diego County. I’ve photographed many of them. But the Oceanside Civic Center might be my favorite.

I walked randomly about the Oceanside Civic Center complex last weekend and was amazed by everything I saw.

As you can see from various plaques I photographed, the original Oceanside Fire Station (also called Oceanside Engine House and Police Station) was built in 1929/1930, and the original City Hall and Library were completed in 1934. They were designed by Irving Gill, a renowned San Diego architect who is now a recognized major figure in the modern movement. His welcoming simplicity, unadorned classic lines and graceful arches have appeared in various places on my blog. His style has been described as cubist. You can see that signature style in these photographs as well. Designing buildings for the City of Oceanside was the final monumental project of his career.

As you can see on another plaque, a City Hall renovation was completed in 1957, and as you can read in this article, a large new Oceanside Civic Center and Public Library were completed in 1990. The large complex “designed by Charles Moore emulated the styling of Irving Gill (with) the white arches and simple architecture…Moore remarked about Gill’s legacy: “We use his plain white walls, his unadorned concrete arcades, disciplined fenestration and flat roofs as our architectural vocabulary, and then allow ourselves the exuberance of bright colors with tiles in niches at the entrances, in the jambs and soffits of deep set openings, and through the contrast of palms and broad-leafed plants surrounding our structure.”

The Oceanside Museum of Art, with its exquisite 1972 Opus sculpture by James Hubbell situated near the entrance, is another beautiful part of the large civic center complex. It occupies the original City Hall.

In the same article, you can read that “After renovation of the interior of building, the Museum of Art opened to the public on October 6, 1997. In 2008, a new addition to the Oceanside Museum of Art was dedicated in 2008. The contemporary, three-level 15,000 square foot addition designed by architect Fredrick Fisher sits alongside the historic building designed by architect Irving Gill, who redefined the architectural landscape of Southern California.”

Should you ever visit Oceanside, California, look for the big colorful fountain at the corner of North Coast Highway and Pier View Way. Then take a stroll through one of the most fantastic civic centers you’re likely to ever see!

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A look at Our Lady of Angels in Sherman Heights.

Whenever I drive along California State Route 94, just east of downtown San Diego, I can’t help noticing a yellow church with a tall, old-fashioned steeple rising south of the highway. So I finally decided to take a walk through Sherman Heights to have a better look.

According to this, the Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church originated in 1905. A plaque by the front entrance reads: Church of Our Lady of Angels 1906. I suppose that’s the year of the building’s dedication. I tried to do a little online research, but I can’t find much about the building’s history.

As you can see, the church has a quaint but very distinctive appearance. It is said to be one of San Diego’s best examples of Gothic Revival architecture. (To me, seen from its front, the church appears like an angular yellow rocket!)

Our Lady of Angels stands in the historic old neighborhood of Sherman Heights, which today is filled with numerous picturesque Victorian houses, many of which exist in a state of semi-decay. Our Lady of Angels was San Diego’s second Catholic parish.

I didn’t venture beyond the angelic front doors of the church. The colorful building appeared to be closed the day I walked around it.

Enjoy some photos!

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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The unique bridges of Torrey Pines State Beach.

If you’ve walked along or driven past Torrey Pines State Beach, your eyes have probably lingered on two very different, uniquely picturesque bridges.

The North Torrey Pines Road Bridge, which crosses the narrow ocean inlet to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, was completed in 2005, replacing a 1932 structure that was neither earthquake-proof nor environmentally friendly. The new 340 feet long bridge was designed with only four columns, which allows for better natural tidal flushing of the lagoon. The graceful design has won numerous engineering awards.

As you can see in my photographs, the bridge fits in beautifully with the nearby beach and eyes are drawn to the sand and bright water. Next to the bridge is a preserved concrete chunk of the old bridge it replaced, with the original date of 1932.

The second, more elaborate bridge whose arches have a uniquely Gothic appearance is 553 feet long and crosses the railroad tracks at the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach. It has been variously called High Bridge, the Sorrento Overhead, or North Torrey Pines Bridge. Built in 1933, it facilitated increasing car traffic along the coast highway just south of Del Mar–part of the main route that connected San Diego to Los Angeles.

High Bridge was built to replace a railroad underpass located a short distance to the south. The original road was winding, steep, and the railroad’s wooden trestle was susceptible to flooding.

The picturesque but aging High Bridge was retrofitted between 2011 and 2014, thereby avoiding a proposed replacement.

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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A beautiful October day in Balboa Park!

Enjoy these photographs taken this afternoon in Balboa Park.

It’s a Wednesday in early October. The summer tourists are gone. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 goes on. Not surprisingly, few people were about.

As always, the park was very beautiful.

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!

Photos of original, historic San Ysidro Library.

Front of the original San Ysidro Library, built in 1924.
Front of the original San Ysidro Library, built in 1924.

The first public library in San Ysidro was built in 1924. It still stands on San Ysidro Boulevard, between West and East Park Avenue.

I happened to walk by it last weekend.

The building is small compared to the modern, much larger San Ysidro Library on Beyer Boulevard that opened a year ago. But the smaller scale of this original library provides much of it’s charm. The modest architecture with its graceful curves is also welcoming. Had this little library been open, I would’ve stepped right inside.

Instead, I walked around the outside and took a few photos.

THE PEOPLE OF SAN YSIDRO RECORD BY THIS TABLET THEIR APPRECIATION OF THE GIFT OF THIS LIBRARY BY BLANCHE H. AND FRANK B. BEYER - AUGUST 31, 1924
THE PEOPLE OF SAN YSIDRO RECORD BY THIS TABLET THEIR APPRECIATION OF THE GIFT OF THIS LIBRARY BY BLANCHE H. AND FRANK B. BEYER – AUGUST 31, 1924

An iconic El Camino Real Bell stands near the historic San Ysidro Library on San Ysidro Boulevard.
An iconic El Camino Real Bell stands near the historic San Ysidro Library on San Ysidro Boulevard.

Plaque at base of El CAMINO REAL BELL - Dedicated October 1, 2010.
Plaque at base of El CAMINO REAL BELL – Dedicated October 1, 2010.

View of east side of the original San Ysidro Library.
View of east side of the original San Ysidro Library.

The graceful, welcoming front of the first San Ysidro Library.
The graceful, welcoming front of the first San Ysidro Library.

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Views from the Glorietta Bay Marina Building.

Looking southeast across beautiful Glorietta Bay Marina in Coronado.
Looking southeast across beautiful Glorietta Bay Marina in Coronado.

Check out these scenic views from the second level of the Glorietta Bay Marina Building in Coronado!

To the east you can see the many boats docked in Glorietta Bay, the green trees of Coronado Municipal Golf Course beyond, and tiny glimpses of distant downtown San Diego.

To the south lies the Coronado Civic Center and its Glorietta Bay Park Promenade. There’s some public art that way. See photos of a beautiful fountain here and crazy rooftop sculpture here.

To the west rise the ten white Coronado Shores condominium towers.

And finally to the north, you can see public art titled “Imagine Tent City” which I once blogged about here, plus the distinctive former Hotel Del Coronado Boathouse, with its Victorian architecture–now home to Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill.

The Glorietta Bay Marina Building was dedicated in 2009. Wonderful views surround it.
The Glorietta Bay Marina Building was dedicated in 2009. Wonderful views surround it.

Plaque near stairs to outdoor second level of the Glorietta Bay Marina Building.
Plaque near stairs to outdoor second level of the Glorietta Bay Marina Building.

Looking northeast. In the distance rises part of San Diego's downtown skyline.
Looking northeast. In the distance rises part of San Diego’s downtown skyline.

Looking south toward Coronado's City Hall and Civic Center.
Looking south toward Coronado’s City Hall and Civic Center.

Two of the Coronado Shores towers to the east. Just beyond, unseen, lies the Pacific Ocean.
Two of the Coronado Shores towers to the west. Just beyond, unseen, lies the Pacific Ocean.

To the north you can see Coronado public art titled Imagine Tent City.
To the north you can see Coronado public art titled Imagine Tent City.

And you can also see the Hotel Del's historic Victorian boathouse.
And you can also see the Hotel Del’s historic Victorian boathouse.

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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San Diego’s historic Samuel I. Fox Building.

A very unique historic building stands at the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Broadway in downtown San Diego.

The Samuel I. Fox Building, built in 1929, always attracts my attention when I walk by. It’s earthy colors seem to change depending on the time of day, due to shifting sunlight and shadow.

The Samuel I. Fox Building was designed by renowned architect William Templeton Johnson, who also masterminded the San Diego Museum of Art and Natural History Museum buildings in Balboa Park, the Serra Museum in Presidio Park, and the La Jolla Athenaeum. He is one of several architects responsible for the San Diego County Administration Building.

He also designed the extraordinary San Diego Trust and Savings Bank Building, which stands directly to the north across Broadway. You can see photos of that building, where William Templeton Johnson kept his office, here.

A Gaslamp Quarter plaque near the Samuel I. Fox Building’s entrance describes its history:

Entrepreneur Samuel Fox built this four-story structure for a half of a million dollars. It was intended to accommodate his Lion Clothing Company, which was the sole tenant until 1984. It boasts 16-foot ceilings, antique oak wood paneling, heraldic lions in full relief, and an over-hanging tile roof. The building was recognized as an artistic masterpiece and a merchandising success.

A few days ago I took these exterior photos.

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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The new Portside Pier is ready to open!

The latest addition to San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero is about to open. The new Portside Pier, a 4-in-1 restaurant and public observation deck operated by Brigantine, is set to open this Tuesday, July 28!

I’ve been watching the construction of this unusual dockside building for well over a year. You might recall I posted some photos late last year here. The Portside Pier is located directly next to the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s historic tall ship Star of India.

This new bayside eatery replaces the much-beloved Anthony’s Fish Grotto, where many San Diegans enjoyed great seafood meals and a view of the sparkling bay for 70 years. Before it was demolished, I blogged about good old Anthony’s Fish Grotto here and here. I blogged about its demolition here!

Portside Pier features four eateries: Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar, Miguel’s Cocina, Ketch Grill & Taps, and Portside Coffee & Gelato. The new structure has a fair amount of outdoor seating, which I suppose allows them to open during the current coronavirus pandemic restaurant restrictions.

I look forward to walking up onto the public observation deck and grabbing something to eat in the near future!

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!