Man walks dog past Casa del Prado.

man walks dog by casa del prado

I took this photo while strolling down El Prado, Balboa Park’s breathtakingly beautiful central promenade. Lined with fountains, fine museums and Spanish Colonial Revival buildings designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, it is one of the most scenic walks in San Diego.

I caught this man taking a stroll with his dog in front of Casa del Prado, one of the spectacular buildings along El Prado.

This closeup photo was taken on a different day:

Ornate plaster designs on Spanish Colonial Revival buildings.
Ornate plaster elements add elegance to the Spanish Colonial Revival building.

And here’s one more pic!

Casa del Prado facade photographed as evening approaches and lights turn on.
Casa del Prado facade photographed as evening approaches and lights turn on.

Quiet morning walk into Balboa Park.

morning walk into balboa park

Here we are strolling eastward across the Cabrillo Bridge into Balboa Park as the sun rises. To the left we see the California Tower, directly adjacent to the domed Museum of Man. During the day, the tower’s carrilon can be heard throughout the park marking time every 15 minutes. At noon the electronic chimes play a medley of beautiful music.

Many walkers and joggers love the peaceful morning atmosphere of wonderful Balboa Park.

Here's the same view during the day.
Here’s the same view during the day.

A beautiful photo of reflection in Balboa Park.

A beautiful photo of reflection in Balboa Park.
A beautiful photo of reflection in Balboa Park.

I like this photo…even though an optical illusion makes it appear a bit tilted!

This was taken in the early morning from the short walkway that passes over Balboa Park’s shimmering reflecting pool. You are looking toward the splendid Spanish Colonial Revival buildings on El Prado.

Later in the morning, when the world has yawned, stretched and put on its shoes, people will be sitting on the white benches. Children will be standing at the pond’s edge, gazing down at Japanese Koi and myriad other critters in the water. An older gentleman will probably be heard nearby, playing Mariachi music with his guitar. And dozens of photographs will be taken. Each as beautiful as this one!

Here are some additional pics taken at various times…

View of the entire reflecting pool from the Botanical Building.
View of the entire reflecting pool from the Botanical Building.
Side view of the Balboa Park reflecting pool.
Side view of the Balboa Park’s reflecting pool.
Photographer at work beside Balboa Park's reflecting pool.
Photographer at work beside the beautiful water.

Splashes of color in Balboa Park lily pond.

bright color in balboa park lily pond

One of my favorite places in Balboa Park is the reflecting pool, or lily pond, as some call it. This tranquil body of water lies between El Prado and the enormous wood lath structure which is the Botanical Building.

Flower beds, green grass and families enjoying picnics surround the pond, and colorful lotus flowers grace the surface. All sorts of interesting creatures call it home. In addition of numerous large koi (two can be seen in this photo), and floating turtles craning their heads to gaze at tourists, there are crawdads and a variety of fish that people have dumped into the pond. Years ago a small shark was spotted in the serene water!

An interesting historical fact: during World War II, when Balboa Park was utilized to mobilize American soldiers, the Navy used the reflecting pool to train sailors! You can still see old black-and-white photos of men rowing on the pool when you visit the San Diego History Center, a bit further to the east down El Prado.

These photographs are of the small pond-like section right next to the Botanical Building. This is the best place to watch brightly colored Koi swimming about.

Looking down at bright colors in the reflecting pool.
Looking down at bright colors in the reflecting pool.
Lots of color can be found in this section of the reflecting pool, by the Botanical Building.
Lots of color can be found in this section of the reflecting pool, by the Botanical Building.
Turtle comes out of the water to enjoy a bit of San Diego sunshine!
Turtle comes out of the water to enjoy a bit of San Diego sunshine!
Crowd gazes into small section of Balboa Park reflecting pool.
Crowd gazes into small section of the Balboa Park lily pond.

The beautiful California Building and Quadrangle.

Elaborate facade of the beautiful Museum of Man in Balboa Park.
Elaborate facade of the beautiful California Building in Balboa Park.

Here’s one iconic sight in Balboa Park I always lift my eyes to enjoy. The elaborate facade of the California Building, home of the San Diego Museum of Man, contains sculpted historical figures molded from clay and plaster. These figures include Junipero Serra, father of California’s Spanish missions, and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered San Diego Bay nearly five centuries ago in 1542.

This fantastic building, inspired by the church of San Diego in Guanajuato, Mexico, was erected for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, an event that celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and promoted San Diego as a destination. Like other similar buildings to the east along El Prado, it is in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, which was largely developed by Bertram Goodhue.

The California Building and adjacent California Tower, and the more simple structure to the south across El Prado–housing Evernham Hall and the St. Francis Chapel–form the California Quadrangle. The courtyard-like area at the quadrangle’s center, where visitors can sit at tables and through which cars today travel, is called the Plaza de California.

Every few years I venture into The Museum of Man just to refresh my memory. There are a number of interesting anthropological exhibits, including a whole room full of spooky Egyptian mummies!

Here are some more pics…

Gazing up at the colorful dome and the California Tower.
Gazing up at the colorful dome of the California Building, and the California Tower.
People on the street in front of the Museum of Man.
People on the street in front of the Museum of Man. El Prado runs through the Plaza de California.
Plaster figures from local history adorn the ornate facade.
Plaster figures from local history adorn the ornate facade.
Three exhibits running at the Museum of Art.
Banners near the entrance show current exhibits at the Museum of Man.
Plaque by Museum of Man commemorates Cabrillo's discovery of California.
Plaque a bit west of the Museum of Man, beside the archway into Balboa Park’s California Quadrangle, commemorates Cabrillo’s discovery of California.
Sitting at table under an umbrella near Museum of Man.
Sitting at a table under an umbrella near the beautiful Museum of Man.

Here are even more photos from a later date…

Sign in the California Quadrangle. Built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the Plaza de California and surrounding buildings served as the grand west entrance for the exposition.
Sign in the California Quadrangle. Built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the Plaza de California and surrounding buildings served as the grand west entrance for the exposition.
Photo toward the southeast corner of the California Quadrangle shows Mission Revival style arches.
Photo toward the southeast corner of the California Quadrangle shows Mission Revival style arches.
Photo of the iconic California Tower from a point east on El Prado.
Photo of the iconic California Tower from a point east on El Prado.
The ornate upper levels of the California Bell Tower.
The ornate upper levels of the California Bell Tower. Tours up the tower’s stairs provide amazing views of Balboa Park and San Diego.
Photo of the beautiful California Building from the east, near the Old Globe Theatre.
Photo of the beautiful California Building from the east, near the Old Globe Theatre.
Elaborate ornamentation around the archway outside the east side of the California Quadrangle.
Elaborate ornamentation around the archway outside the east side of the California Quadrangle.
Colorful dome tiles, part of the Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece of exposition architect Bertram Goodhue.
Colorful dome tiles, part of the Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece of exposition architect Bertram Goodhue.

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The mostly forgotten San Diego Chess Club.

nearly forgotten san diego chess club

In 1961, the Balboa Club moved into a building near the southwest corner of Balboa Park. The building today is faded, padlocked, and seldom used. Few people now visit this once popular meeting place. It is the location of the San Diego Chess Club.

Taking a picture through a side window of empty chess club on a weekend morning.
Taking a picture through side window of empty chess club on a weekend morning.

Through a dirty window on the north side, rows of empty tables are visible. The place seems dead.

Most chess players now test their skills on virtual chessboards. Two flesh and blood players squaring off in a lively, tension-filled room across a common table has been replaced by isolated taps and clicks on small screens.

Passing years and neglect at San Diego Chess Club building in Balboa Park.
Years of neglect show at San Diego Chess Club building in Balboa Park.
Chessboard and other old images on side facing Sixth Avenue are very faded.
Chessboard and other images on side facing Sixth Avenue are faded.

Adjoining the building are numerous lonely horseshoes pits. The Balboa Park Horseshoe Club seems just as forgotten.

Unused horseshoes pits near San Diego Chess Club.
Unused horseshoes pits near San Diego Chess Club.

Walked past on a spring day… The game of horseshoes isn’t dead yet!

One fine Saturday afternoon, I finally saw folks playing horseshoes on one court!
One fine Saturday afternoon, I finally saw a handful of folks playing horseshoes!

Chalk wisdom on the Cabrillo Bridge.

seven days without love make one weak

Someone in San Diego has a funny bone. They wrote a whole mess of silly but pithy quotes with chalk on the Cabrillo Bridge sidewalk. You know, where joggers and walkers pass over Highway 163 heading into Balboa Park. The scribe must’ve done this days ago, because the chalk is fading.

Depicted in this photo is the astute observation: Seven days without love make one weak.