Morning color and light in Little Italy.

In the early morning yesterday I took a stroll through Little Italy.

I headed west down Cedar Street, north up India Street to Piazza della Famiglia and Piazza Basilone, then back south down Kettner Boulevard.

The sun was beginning to rise and few people were about. Some of the Little Italy restaurants were receiving their morning deliveries. As you can see in several photographs, a full moon was descending in the western sky.

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!

Beauty rises after sunset in San Diego.

San Diego is beautiful.

I never grow tired of walking through my city.

This evening I arrived at Waterfront Park right as the sun was setting behind Star of India and the ships of the Maritime Museum.

I walked to the inky bay, then turned south and strolled along the Embarcadero as the sunset slowly faded above the horizon.

I passed the Cruise Ship Terminal and paused near the foot of Broadway Pier to listen to some musicians, and gaze out at the Port Pavilion and USS Midway.

I then turned east down Broadway and quickened my pace as I headed for home.

My camera doesn’t take the best photographs in growing darkness, but I got a few pretty good ones this evening that I’d like to share…

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 through nerdy, artsy Leucadia.

Keep Leucadia Nerdy.
Keep Leucadia Nerdy.

Last weekend I walked up Coast Highway 101 through a good slice of Leucadia. The following photos are of various cool sights I spotted. I saw lots of great murals, too, but those I’ll feature in an upcoming blog post.

Come along and join me on a very misty, occasionally drizzly morning! We start a bit south of Marcheta Street in Encinitas and work our way north up the west sidewalk of Coast Highway 101 to a place around Avocado Street.

A cool old door.
A cool old door.
A giant yeti holds some Mobil oil.
A giant yeti holds some Mobil oil.
Stickers at Juanitas Taco Shop.
Stickers at Juanitas Taco Shop.
A smile in a doorway!
A smile in a doorway!
A cool design stamped in the sidewalk. Leucadia established 1875.
A cool design stamped in the sidewalk. Leucadia established 1875.
Butterflies on a blue fence.
Butterflies on a blue fence.
Lou's Records. New releases every Friday.
Lou’s Records. New releases every Friday.
A fish in a hammock stretched between metal trees by a parking lot.
A fish in a hammock stretched between metal trees by a parking lot.
Eating breakfast on a misty morning at Pannikin Coffee and Tea.
Eating breakfast on a misty morning at Pannikin Coffee and Tea.
Pannikin is located in an historic 1888 Santa Fe Railroad Station, which was moved to this site on Coast Highway 101 west of the train tracks.
Pannikin is located in an historic 1888 Santa Fe Railroad Station, which was moved to this site on Coast Highway 101 west of the train tracks.
An El Camino Real bell above the sidewalk along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.
An El Camino Real bell above the sidewalk along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.
Rotary International plaque near the base of the El Camino Real bell.
Rotary International plaque near the base of the El Camino Real bell.
Joggers heading down the damp sidewalk near some art on electrical boxes.
Joggers heading down the damp sidewalk near some art on electrical boxes.
A cool little mural with a tropical ocean scene.
A cool little mural with a tropical ocean scene.
An anticuados smile on a fence.
An anticuados smile on a fence.
Some outdoor decor at a Mexican restaurant.
Some outdoor decor at a Mexican restaurant.
A large flower on The Cali Life Gallery.
A large flower on The Cali Life Gallery.
Another cool mural above a window with a colorful beach scene.
Another cool mural above a window with a colorful beach scene.
A surfboard in front of Progression Surf.
A surfboard in front of Progression Surf.
Cool art at a small shopping center on Coast Highway 101.
Cool art at a small shopping center on Coast Highway 101.
The small, green Leucadia Roadside Park.
The small, green Leucadia Roadside Park.
A trashcan in the park features fun tile art.
A trashcan in the park features fun tile art.
Colorful sailboats by an outdoor table.
Colorful sailboats by an outdoor table.
Getting ready for another day at Solterra Winery and Kitchen.
Getting ready for another day at Solterra Winery and Kitchen.
Walking along.
Walking along.
Live. Love.
Live. Love.
Fanciful design on a wall.
Fanciful design on a wall.
Bicyclists head south on old Coast Highway 101.
Bicyclists head south on old Coast Highway 101.
Leucadia Coast Hwy 101. The art and soul of Encinitas.
Leucadia Coast Hwy 101. The art and soul of Encinitas.
Signs point to distant cities and to Seaweed and Gravel.
Signs point to distant cities and to Seaweed and Gravel.
A happy mailman by a bike rack at the Leucadia post office.
A happy mailman by a bike rack at the Leucadia post office.
More cool Leucadia street art on an electrical box.
More cool Leucadia street art on an electrical box.
A Kiss for You.
A Kiss for You.
Welcome to Leucadia in a window.
Welcome to Leucadia in a window.
A very tall carved mermaid by the sidewalk.
A very tall carved mermaid by the sidewalk.
This fierce tiki likes to gnaw on rope, it seems.
This fierce tiki likes to gnaw on rope, it seems.
Two dolphins leap by the sidewalk.
Two dolphins leap by the sidewalk.
The beach must be up these stairs at Bamboo 2 U and Beach House Too.
The beach must be up these stairs at Bamboo 2 U and Beach House Too.
There's a huge seahorse just outside that Beach House.
There’s a huge seahorse just outside that Beach House.
Organic tacos and a whale sighting.
Organic tacos and a whale sighting.
Furniture and Curiosities.
Furniture and Curiosities.
An elaborate design on an electrical box by the sidewalk.
An elaborate design on an electrical box by the sidewalk.
There are so many stickers on the Leucadia Donut Shoppe windows, I won't be tempted by what can't be seen inside.
There are so many stickers on the Leucadia Donut Shoppe windows, I won’t be tempted by what can’t be seen inside.

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!

Art inside the Balboa Park Activity Center.

The Balboa Park Activity Center is a popular destination for San Diego residents who enjoy indoor sports. During a walk last weekend I poked my nose inside to see if anything interesting was going on. What I discovered was a whole lot of art!

A variety of beautiful artwork can be observed both inside and outside the Activity Center. Four years ago I posted photographs of the outdoor installation titled The Circle and the Self: A Picture Story, which is located in the south plaza. To see those photos, click here.

The photos I’m posting today are of the artwork inside the building.

Detailed information from the artist is displayed near the Activity Center’s front door:

Joyce Cutler-Shaw

In 1996, I was invited to be part of the design team for the Balboa Park Activity Center with architects Rob Wellington Quigley, Richard Blackman, landscape architect Martin Poirier and artist Raul Guerrero. It was a most rewarding collaboration. In April 1999, I completed five installations of my work, which are integral to the building. There are twenty-five drawings in terrazzo squares (@ 16″ x 16″), titled The Circle and the Self: A Picture Story in the south plaza (1); leaf “paintings” with shadows etched into the double glass panes of the sliding front doors (2); two terrazzo floor “paintings” in the entrance lobby at the reception desk and window wall (3′ x 20′ and 5′ x 11′) of, respectively, 26 colors and 68 color/chip combinations (3); and seventy-two metal plates at the corner connections of the gymnasium – these are another translation, by flame-cut drawing in steel, of The Circle and the Self: A Picture Story (4).

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!

Huge banner celebrates San Diego’s birthday!

The County Administration Building in downtown San Diego got a gigantic new banner today! It celebrates the 250th Anniversary of San Diego’s founding!

Those who look up at the banner from the Embarcadero are reminded that San Diego–which started very modestly back in 1769 with the construction of a Spanish mission and presidio–was California’s first port and first city!

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!

Looking skyward inside Smart Corner.

Today I sat on a bench waiting for a trolley at the City College station. This unique trolley station is located in the middle of a two tower condo building called Smart Corner.

Suddenly I had to yawn deeply. I tilted my head way back. Above me, the complex pattern of windows, jagged shadows and reflections appeared unreal!

Right then I knew I had to take a few photos.

Here I am, looking “skyward” while sitting inside Smart Corner!

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 free walking tour of Old Town San Diego.

A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.
A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.

A free walking tour of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is available every day at 11 am and 2 pm. The tours meet in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center, at the northwest end of Old Town’s large grassy plaza.

When I visit Old Town San Diego, I’ll sometimes join the walking tour while it’s in progress. Last weekend I happened to be in front of the Robinson-Rose House right at eleven o’clock, so I decided to enjoy the full one hour tour!

During this easy walk a guide in period costume provides fascinating information about San Diego’s early history. Several different periods are covered, from the Spanish mission period, to the Mexican rancho period, to the early American period. The main interpretive period is 1821 to 1872.

Among the following photos are a few interesting bits of history…

Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can view a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can view a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town's historic Plaza de las Armas.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town’s historic Plaza de las Armas.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.

The Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located where Old Town San Diego’s plaza was established. Before the San Diego River was diverted in 1877, its water ran very close to Old Town and was an integral part of the life of early people in our desert-like Southern California coastal region.

Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.

When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish soldiers of the nearby San Diego Presidio switched their allegiance to Mexico, which couldn’t afford to pay them. For their service, they were given land at the foot of Presidio Hill, where many soldiers and their families built houses. That is how Old Town started.

You can learn more about La Casa de Machado y Silvas and the fascinating Commercial Restaurant museum here.

We head back outside into the plaza.
We head back outside into the plaza.
We learn more about Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
We learn more about the history of Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
Old Town's flagpole resembles a ship's mast!
Old Town’s flagpole resembles a ship’s mast!

You might notice the flagpole at the center of Old Town’s Plaza looks a lot like a ship’s mast. Because originally it was!

When an American force under Captain Samuel F. DuPont sailed into San Diego Bay in 1846 to take control of Old Town unopposed, the plaza had no flagpole, because most of the independent-minded Californios who lived here didn’t feel a strong attachment to Mexico. So a ship’s mast was used to raise the flag of the United States.

You can see a bronze plaque commemorating the event here.

You can learn more about the old Spanish cannon that sits in the middle of Old Town’s plaza near the flagpole here.

We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.

A vacant area of ground beside the Colorado House (now home of the Wells Fargo Museum) is where the Franklin House hotel used to stand. It was Old Town’s only three story building, notable for its relative elegance and its baths.

The Franklin House was destroyed during the great fire of 1872 along with several adjacent buildings including Old Town’s courthouse, ensuring that San Diego’s future would be located in Alonzo Horton’s New Town, which was then called Horton’s Addition.

To learn more about San Diego’s first courthouse, click here.

To learn more about Colorado House and the Wells Fargo Museum, click here.

We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego's temperate climate.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego’s temperate climate.

Our tour group then walked over to Casa de Machado y Stewart. We learned many things, including the fact that the fancier china seen on the dining table came by merchant ships that crossed the Pacific from Asia.

The more simple items like candlesticks were made by local blacksmiths. Because iron was rare in San Diego, harpoons from a brief period of whaling in San Diego Bay were used to make a variety of furnishings and household utensils.

You can learn more about the Casa de Machado y Stewart here.

You can learn about Old Town’s blacksmith shop here.

We also learned that the art of brick-making was introduced to Old Town by members of the Mormon Battalion, whose arrival in San Diego you can learn about here.

The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego's unique early history.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego’s unique early history.

The walking tour concluded inside the courtyard of La Casa de Estudillo. In many respects, this beautiful house is the centerpiece of Old Town San Diego. Two past blog posts provide a great deal of information about La Casa de Estudillo.

You can peer into the house’s restored rooms and learn about their history here.

You can learn how a wildly popular novel saved this historic building from destruction here!

The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town can roam wherever they fancy, and visit the numerous free museums around the plaza.
The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town San Diego can roam wherever they fancy, and visit numerous free museums scattered around the plaza.

Finally, to enjoy a good overview of San Diego’s early history, I recommend a visit to Old Town’s excellent McCoy House Museum. You can check out my blog post featuring its many exhibits by clicking 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!