A tour inside the San Diego Convention Center!

Beautiful.

To me, that’s the one word that best describes the San Diego Convention Center.

Yesterday I enjoyed a fantastic inside tour of our city’s world-class convention center, thanks to the annual Open House event put on by the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

During the whirlwind tour our group saw many areas throughout the convention center, in both the iconic original structure and the later Phase 2 addition. We poked our noses into a vast hall where a new technology convention was being set up (no photos allowed), headed up an escalator one level, walked through the Sails Pavilion and a large ballroom, then took a freight elevator down to one of two huge loading docks. We walked through service corridors, got to see the convention center’s kitchen, and we learned about the logistics required to smoothly run such a mind-boggling operation.

During the tour we learned about the San Diego Convention Center’s new carpeting, the new digital signage, the emphasis on sustainability with LED lighting and a comprehensive recycling program, and so much more!

The problem is, as we turned each new corner, my eyes were always busy looking for photographic opportunities and I took few notes. I was dazzled by the sheer beauty of the public spaces. I can’t imagine a more beautiful convention center exists anywhere in the world. There is abundant sunlight, complex, jewel-like patterns of glass, and stunning views of San Diego Bay and downtown.

I won’t even try to caption these upcoming photos. To those who follow Cool San Diego Sights due to my coverage of Comic-Con, here’s what the San Diego Convention Center looks like without swarming crowds!

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!

Photos inside the San Diego Civic Theatre.

Looking up at the impressive chandelier in the Grand Salon of the San Diego Civic Theatre.
Looking up at the impressive chandelier in the Grand Salon of the San Diego Civic Theatre.

I’ve lived in downtown San Diego for nearly 20 years. It’s sad to admit, but there are places of great interest within easy walking distance that I still haven’t visited. Until today, one of those places was the San Diego Civic Theatre.

This morning I took a guided tour behind the scenes at the San Diego Civic Theatre, courtesy of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s big annual Open House event!

According to the event website: “The 2,967 seat San Diego Civic Theatre is the region’s largest and most attended performing arts venue. Owned by the City of San Diego, the theater hosts performances in opera, classical and contemporary music, dance and Broadway shows, in addition to serving as a community gathering place for inaugurations, governmental addresses and public meetings. Built at a cost of $4.1 million, the Grand Salon features back lit Italian onyx panels and an iconic $35,000 chandelier made of Bavarian crystal.”

Our group entered the lobby from Civic Center Plaza, ascended stairs and stood with heads tilted back as we took in the awesome beauty of the Grand Salon. Overhead, the impressive 2800 pound chandelier sparkled with its 186 lights and 52,000 crystals, casting magic about the elegant gathering place.

We then walked into the enormous theatre and stood for a moment “atop” the orchestra pit, the floor of which can be raised or lowered like an elevator. Then we went backstage to see the positively enormous space that is utilized to produce major shows of all sorts. In one corner of the dark stage, out of sight of the audience, there’s a very cool shrine to Elvis Presley!

It’s hard to describe the immense grandeur of this venerable theatre. The world’s biggest stars have performed here over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and many others. Several United States Presidents have also attended events in the building. Today, the venue is the home of San Diego Opera, Broadway San Diego and California Ballet Company.

The lighting inside the building wasn’t ideal for my poor little camera, but during the tour I did manage to capture a few photos.

An outside view of the architecturally interesting San Diego Civic Theatre as I approached from the east down B Street.
An outside view of the architecturally interesting San Diego Civic Theatre as I approached from the east down B Street.
A poster outside the lobby entrance. The San Diego Civic Theatre is celebrating its 55 year anniversary.
A poster outside the lobby entrance. The San Diego Civic Theatre is celebrating its 55 year anniversary.
Waiting outside in Civic Center Plaza for the tour to begin.
Waiting outside in Civic Center Plaza for the tour to begin.
We enter the lobby, which as you can see is dimly lit.
We enter the building lobby, which as you can see is dimly lit.
Graphic shows the Civic Theatre under construction, before opening in 1965. It was designed by Lloyd Ruocco, one of San Diego’s most influential architects.
Graphic shows the Civic Theatre under construction, before opening in 1965. It was designed by Lloyd Ruocco, one of San Diego’s most influential architects.
Looking up inside the gorgeous Grand Salon, which is located on the building's second floor. The original design had the salon at ground level.
Looking up inside the gorgeous Grand Salon, which is located on the building’s second floor. The original design had the salon at ground level.
The sunbursts decorating the edges of each level were removed years ago.
The sunbursts decorating the edges of each level were removed years ago.
The amazing chandelier is the centerpiece of the Grand Salon.
The amazing chandelier is the centerpiece of the Grand Salon.
I believe this bust in the Grand Salon is of Giuseppe Verdi.
I believe this bust in the Grand Salon is of Giuseppe Verdi.
A glimpse of the gritty inner workings of a major theatre, tucked between the audience and the stage.
A glimpse of the gritty inner workings of a major theatre, tucked between the audience and the stage.
Now we are backstage, looking at dozens of ropes that might be used to lift or manipulate props, lighting, drop curtains--and perhaps even actors!
Now we are backstage, looking at dozens of ropes that might be used to lift or manipulate props, lighting, drop curtains–and perhaps even actors!
Looking up!
Looking up!
Here's the shrine to Elvis in a corner of backstage. I didn't catch the story behind it.
Here’s the shrine to Elvis in a corner of backstage. I didn’t catch the story behind it.
Old black and white photograph shows a packed house.
Old black and white photograph shows a packed house.
Looking out from the stage upon thousands of empty red seats!
Looking out from the stage upon thousands of empty red seats!

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 love for walking in the city.

I love to walk in the city.

Why?

An amazing new world awaits around every corner.

I took these photos while walking downtown the past few mornings.

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!

A quiet Sunday morning walk before the parade.

Morning light and shadow on the historic Army-Navy YMCA building, now home to The Guild Hotel.
Morning light and shadow on the historic Army-Navy YMCA building, now home to The Guild Hotel.

Before the excitement of this afternoon’s MLK Day Parade, I took a quiet morning walk through downtown San Diego.

My photos begin a few blocks shy of the west end of Broadway. I headed south until I reached the water, where I found a perfect bench to sit on.

Come along and read the captions to experience a few Sunday morning sights.

A splash of light from windows across Kettner Boulevard.
A splash of light from windows of the Electra condo building across Kettner Boulevard.
Reflections in the glassy Pacific Gate building.
Downtown reflections in the glassy Pacific Gate building.
Walking south between the trolley tracks and the Pacific Gate building.
Walking south on the pathway between the trolley tracks and the Pacific Gate building.
The visually interesting entrance to the Pacific Gate building.
The visually interesting entrance to the Pacific Gate building.
Old train tracks, severed from those used today.
Old train tracks, severed from those used today.
The distinctive Park Place condo building appears through an archway.
The distinctive Park Place condo building appears through an archway of the Harborview Apartments.
Across Harbor Drive is The Headquarters and palm trees.
Across Harbor Drive is The Headquarters and palm trees.
An elegant entrance to the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
The elegant north entrance to the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
Looking back.
Looking back.
A cool photo as I walk past The Headquarters.
A cool photo as I walk past The Headquarters.
Ducks enjoy a swim in the Seaport Village pond.
Ducks enjoy a swim in the Seaport Village pond.
Someone performs a morning stretch on the grass at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Someone performs a morning stretch on the grass at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Beautiful luminous clouds above treetops.
Beautiful luminous clouds above treetops.
Someone else likes to quietly read.
Someone else likes to quietly read.
A tranquil Sunday morning beside San Diego Bay.
A tranquil Sunday morning beside San Diego Bay. The San Diego–Coronado Bridge stretches in the distance.

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!

Making adobe blocks in Old Town.

Today I spent a couple of hours exploring Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and a small section of nearby Presidio Park. As I walked through Old Town’s historic plaza near the Cosmopolitan Hotel, I noticed some people in period attire were demonstrating how to create adobe blocks.

At the very beginning of San Diego, in the early days of Spanish and Mexican settlers, adobe was the small town’s primary building material. Primitive bricks–or blocks–were made by simply mixing mud and straw together. The mixture was then shaped using wooden forms, then left to dry in the sun for a month or so. The resulting adobe blocks were used to build walls that in our arid climate were remarkably sturdy and insulating.

During past visits to Old Town, I’ve seen people working in this same spot demonstrating the making of adobe. Over time, that wall in a couple of my photos has slowly grown.

I was told by one friendly gentleman that eventually this grassy spot will be used for a Native American Kumeyaay exhibit, and a more permanent demonstration adobe structure will be built inside the fenced area near Old Town’s Blacksmith Shop.

Here’s a pic I took a couple months ago which shows how the adobe wall is slowly being built, layer by layer…

IMG_9847z

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!

Views of bright buildings from Pantoja Park.

On a clear morning, viewed from Pantoja Park, many of the highest buildings in downtown San Diego shine brightly. Particularly those that rise north and northwest of the park.

These photos that I took today provide a glimpse.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Pantoja Park and its statue of Benito Juarez, a gift from the Mexican government, you can visit one of my earlier blog posts here.

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!

Sunrise, palm trees, buildings, boats.

This chilly January morning I enjoyed a brisk walk. I brought out my camera when it was light enough for good photographs.

Come follow me from the County Administration Building north along San Diego Bay for a short distance. After returning back south, we’ll turn away from the water and head east on Ash Street, turn south on Pacific Highway, and end up near Broadway.

This morning the sky quickly turned blue after sunrise.

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!