Firefighters descend pole outside fire station!

Yesterday I observed two firefighters sliding down a fire pole outside San Diego Fire-Rescue Station 44 in Mira Mesa.

Yes, I said outside!

Strangely, the two rapidly descending firefighters never reached the ground. Why? Because they’re life-size bronze figures and part of an extremely cool sculpture titled Firefighters at 44.

Firefighters at 44 debuted at the new fire station back in 2002. The monumental sculpture was created by artists T.J. Dixon and James Nelson, whose work can be enjoyed all over San Diego.

(You can see more of their amazing sculptures by checking out certain old blog posts. To do that, click 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!

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!

Riding the world’s first outdoor glass elevator!

If you’re familiar with the history of the El Cortez in downtown San Diego, you probably know it featured the world’s very first outdoor glass elevator. (Although I’ve also seen information that says it was the first such elevator in the United States, second in the world.)

Based on an idea suggested by a hotel bellboy, an outdoor glass elevator, called the Starlight Express, was installed in 1956 on the side of the El Cortez Hotel, then the highest building in San Diego. People from all around Southern California would converge on the elegant hotel to be swept dizzily skyward to the chic Starlight Room restaurant on the twelfth floor.

Today I came across a black and white 1956 newsreel that has been released by Universal City Studios into the public domain. It shows thrilled passengers going up and down what was then the brand new, incredible, jaw-dropping Starlight Express!

Check out the “futuristic” costume (uniform?) of the smiling elevator operator! And check out how downtown San Diego appeared in the 1950s. A bit different than today, right?

I snipped sequential images from the old newsreel so you can enjoy a fun look!

By the way, the El Cortez Hotel also featured the world’s first moving sidewalk! You know–the sort of thing you might stand on in an airport terminal or at an amusement park. It was called the Travolator. Both the Starlight Express and Travolator were removed many years ago.

Read much more about the El Cortez and its extraordinary history in this detailed Wikipedia article. Among other things, you’ll learn how this Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style landmark was built on property once owned by a son of President Ulysses S. Grant, how a third of San Diego’s population showed up for the hotel’s opening day, and how it had an anti-aircraft battery on its roof during World War II!

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!

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!

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 of Family Court building’s demolition.

Yesterday morning, as I walked down from the top of Cortez Hill, I had to pause at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Cedar Street. I noticed that the now vacant old San Diego Superior Court Family Court Building is finally being demolished!

I’ve read that an 8-story affordable housing building called “Kindred” will be built where the past courthouse stood.

When I took a little detour to walk around the block, I observed those colorful murals on the rooftop that I photographed earlier this year here are vanishing, too!

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 colorful walk from Tuna Harbor to East Village.

People walk and jog along San Diego's Embarcadero near Tuna Harbor.
People walk and jog along San Diego’s Embarcadero near Tuna Harbor.

I did a lot of walking last Saturday! Downtown, Barrio Logan, San Ysidro… If I’m a little less active this weekend, it’s because my poor old legs are still sore!

Please enjoy some photos I took Saturday morning as I headed from Tuna Harbor on San Diego’s Embarcadero to 13th Street in East Village. I passed through Ruocco Park, walked a short stretch down Harbor Drive past Kansas City Barbeque, then turned east on Market Street.

Many of these sights you might have seen in the past on my blog. I did photograph a few new things, however, including the whale street art by Nicholas Danger, some Gaslamp Quarter historical artwork, and a very colorful mural by Pandr Design Co. Read the captions!

The photos you will see are the last I’ve taken with the old Canon Powershot that launched Cool San Diego Sights. Over the course of seven years my trusty friend must have recorded hundreds of thousands of images. But alas, its shutter began to stick and there have been other problems (which you might have already noticed), so I finally bought a shiny, much newer version Powershot, which I already love!

I hope my new camera successfully documents many more walks!

A couple hangs out by the Fish Tree, by artists Zbigniew Pingot and Toby Flores.
A couple hangs out by the Fish Tree, by artists Zbigniew Pingot and Toby Flores.

A vendor was selling lots of colorfully decorated Día de los Muertos skulls.
A vendor on the boardwalk was selling lots of colorfully decorated Día de los Muertos skulls.

Whenever I hear this friendly street musician playing beautiful music, I pause for a bit to listen.
Whenever I hear this friendly street musician playing beautiful music, I rest for a bit on a nearby bench to listen.

Ruocco Park on a late summer's day is very green and inviting.
Ruocco Park on a late summer’s day is very green and inviting.

I'm about to walk through some unique public art titled The Riparium, by artist Roman de Salvo.
I’m about to walk through some unique public art titled The Riparium, by artist Roman de Salvo.

Historical marker indicates the location of the San Diego Barracks from 1850 to 1921.
Historical marker indicates the location of the San Diego Barracks from 1850 to 1921.

Kansas City Barbeque is where a couple of great scenes from Top Gun were filmed.
Kansas City Barbeque is where a couple of great scenes from Top Gun were filmed.

Street art by Mindful Murals, cool people I once met. I saw how they painted positive messages at Edison Elementary School's playground.
Street art by Mindful Murals, cool people I once met. I saw how they painted positive messages on handball backboards at Edison Elementary School’s playground.

Looks like some leaves are turning along Market Street.
Looks like these sunlit leaves along Market Street are turning, anticipating autumn.

Geometric street art near scooters parked in a neat line.
Geometric street art near scooters parked in a straight line.

Someone walks past this fun street art by Nicholas Danger, another cool local artist!
Someone walks past this fun street art by Nicholas Danger, another cool local artist!

Plaque in the sidewalk on Market Street recalls major renovations that were made in the once-seedy Gaslamp Quarter in 1981.
Plaque in the sidewalk on Market Street recalls major renovations that were made in the once-seedy Gaslamp Quarter in 1981.

A mixture of Gaslamp history and present day entertainment in one photo.
A mixture of Gaslamp history and present day entertainment in one photo.

As I passed Fifth Avenue, the hub of San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter, I turned my camera south to take a picture.
As I passed Fifth Avenue, the hub of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, I turned my old camera south to take a picture.

The I.O.O.F. Building was built by the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges in 1882. Its cornerstone contains a stone recovered from Solomon's Temple!
The I.O.O.F. Building was built by the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges in 1882. Its cornerstone contains a stone recovered from Solomon’s Temple!

Eating on the street during the coronavirus pandemic.
Eating on the street during the coronavirus pandemic.

Artwork on a Gaslamp Quarter utility box shows historical photo of the San Diego Mercantile Co.
Artwork on a Gaslamp Quarter utility box shows historical photo of the San Diego Mercantile Co.

Here's a relatively new mural on Market Street that I noticed before but failed to photograph.
Here’s a relatively new mural on Market Street that I noticed before but failed to photograph.

This colorful WOW mural is by Pandr Design Co., who've done work all over San Diego. Their artwork can also be found at various Major League Baseball stadiums!
This colorful WOW mural is by the artists of Pandr Design Co., who’ve done work all over San Diego. Their artwork can also be found at various Major League Baseball stadiums!

Sculpted dog holds open a shop door.
Sculpted dog holds open a shop door.

There's some construction along Market Street as I approach 13th Street.
There’s some construction along Market Street as I approach 13th Street.

I'm greeted by this face on the construction site fence!
I’m greeted by this face on the construction site fence!

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 golden sunrise walk through downtown.

The sun was newly risen this morning as I walked through downtown. I meandered through East Village and the Gaslamp Quarter, and eventually ended up at the Convention Center trolley station.

Slanting rays of early sunlight reflected from the windows of surrounding buildings. Warm light slipped down sleepy streets and alleys, painting a golden morning.

Early morning golden light touches a face inside a window of the Sparks Gallery.
Early morning light illuminates face inside a window of the Sparks Gallery.

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!

Contemporary art created by thousands.

This morning, as I walked through downtown along Kettner Boulevard, I had to pause for a few moments in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Right smack dab in front of my eyes was some of the most amazing contemporary art.

What I saw was fantastic, complex, perplexing, sublime. The artwork contained numberless potential meanings, contrasts, mysteries. And it was created by the thoughts, longings and creative hands of thousands.

As clouds moved and the sun rose and a truck turned in front of me, I realized it was living art. And dangerous.

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!

UCSD: a walk back in time, and into the future.

Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UC San Diego's John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.
Carved likeness of a famous naturalist at UCSD’s John Muir College. The college motto is Celebrating the Independent Spirit.

I was a student at UC San Diego’s John Muir College in the early 1980’s. Every so often I’ll walk through the campus and try to recrystallize those memories. But the older I get, the hazier those memories become.

My walk through UCSD yesterday did make it clear how, after nearly four decades, everything about the university has changed. The explosion of growth is ongoing. New buildings are everywhere. Muir College–once one of UCSD’s most esteemed pillars along with the original Revelle College–is now just a small part of a sprawling university that’s considered one of the best in the entire world.

It’s summer. Almost nobody could be seen as I walked around. That is, until I reached the north edge of John Muir College. Construction workers were busy.

The two enormous parking lots that I remember between Muir and Marshall Colleges are being transformed into what’s called the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood. And I learned from a friendly worker that the two new dormitory buildings near North Torrey Pines Road will be finished in a couple of weeks! Other impressive buildings, which include new academic centers—one for Social Sciences and one for Arts and Humanities–will be completed in a month or two!

The new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood is to become the home of Sixth College.

Six colleges now?

Time marches on.

Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America's national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.
Campus sign details the legacy of famous naturalist, environmentalist, explorer, and nature writer John Muir, advocate for America’s national park system and one of the founders of the Sierra Club.

A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there's an emphasis on individual study.
A grove of tall eucalyptus trees near the center of John Muir College, where there’s an emphasis on individual study.

McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.
McGill Hall behind trees of an outdoor common area.

It's summer. School's out. And there's the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.
It’s summer. School’s out. And there’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, too.

A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.
A John Muir quote on a banner. How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness.

To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.
To the north of John Muir College, multiple large buildings will be finished in the near future.

Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.
Banner on fence shows rendering of the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Part of UCSD's large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.
Part of UCSD’s large expansion near North Torrey Pines Road.

A student dorm building that will be finished in a matter of two weeks. Time marches forward.
A student dormitory building that will be finished in two weeks.

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 walk filled with light, creativity, butterflies!

My walk early this morning through downtown San Diego was filled with more wonder.

I observed magical light, human creativity, and an unexpected profusion of butterflies!

The butterflies had gathered on the windows of The New Children’s Museum!

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!