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.

Funky, folksy Studio 13 in Spanish Village.

funky art studio in spanish village

Take a look at the deliciously, crazily, wonderfully picturesque Studio 13 in Balboa Park’s always surprising and colorful Spanish Village! This quaint little studio is both funky and folksy, a wild mixture of creative artistry!

You know, I wouldn’t mind living in such a happy place. Perhaps in the middle of a green meadow with unicorns grazing nearby…

A peek inside Studio 13 in Spanish Village.
A peek inside Studio 13 in Spanish Village.
Looking around the side of Studio 13.
Looking around the side of Studio 13.
Looking behind funky Studio 13 in Spanish Village.
Looking behind funky Studio 13 in Spanish Village.

Sexy silver mermaid in Spanish Village!

sexy silver mermaid in spanish village

This morning I took a stroll through Spanish Village on the north end of Balboa Park.  Spanish Village is a wonderful, colorful place where many local artists have small studios. Not many people were about yet, just one older gentleman setting up some impressionist paintings in the courtyard. I snapped a number of pics of the motley, surprising studios, and this photograph is pretty striking.

The silvery, sexy mermaid sports a naval cap atop her long hair and stands ready to defend Studio 18!

A wider view of one corner of Spanish Village.
A wider view of one corner of Spanish Village.

Taming a wild horse: Sculpture in Balboa Park.

taming a wild horse sculpture in balboa park

I love this small bronze sculpture just in front of the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Because it stands inconspicuously in the seldom-visited northwest corner of the Plaza de Panama, few people ever wander over to look at it. Which is a shame.

This piece of art is titled Youth Taming the Wild (Horse Trainer) and was created by Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1927. She is also responsible for the huge, iconic El Cid statue near the center of the plaza, between the fountain and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

I love the expressed energy in this work of art and the careful natural detail. One can see why this fine artist is considered one of the top equestrian sculptors.

Horse sculpture in northwest corner of Balboa Park central plaza.
Horse sculpture in northwest corner of Balboa Park central plaza.