San Diego’s original federal building and courthouse.

Few people ever see downtown San Diego’s original federal building and courthouse. It stands off the beaten track, surrounded by tall buildings, where few tourists or locals venture.

Some of those who approach the old federal building might have tried to avoid it. That’s because the historic building, built in 1911-13, is presently a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It’s named the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse, home to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California.

According to the court’s website: “In 1906, Congress authorized construction of the first permanent federal building in San Diego, specifically designed to house the U.S. Post Office, the U.S. District Court, and U.S. Customs. It was commissioned on April 5, 1913 as the ‘U.S. Post Office and Custom House.’ The architecture of the building is an eclectic design, blending ‘monumental classicism and Spanish colonial revival,’ creating a federal building that uniquely recognizes San Diego’s Hispanic heritage…”

The building was designed by architect James Knox Taylor, who was Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1897 to 1912.

Over the years this old federal building has undergone restoration. In my exterior photographs you can see the colonnaded portico and distinctive square towers.

Make sure to visit the court’s website to read much more about the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse’s long, colorful history. Among other things, you’ll learn that horticulturalist Kate Sessions, who introduced many of the trees and plants now found throughout Balboa Park, landscaped the building’s grounds, and how in “August of 1917, Postmaster Barrow asked for permission ‘to plow up the large lawn to the south of the building and plant the ground to potatoes, beans, or some other useful vegetable,’ to locally support the World War I war effort.”

I see that tours of the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse are available by appointment. One day I’ll go on one and experience the historic building’s interior. Unless I go bankrupt first…

For tour information, 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!

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History mosaics at Chase Bank in Pacific Beach.

Eight extraordinary mosaics decorate two sides of the Chase Bank at Mission Bay Drive and Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. Six of the mosaics depict figures representing San Diego history; the other two show delightful scenes unique to our city.

This beautiful public artwork was the creation of Millard Owen Sheets, who in the mid-20th century designed Home Savings Bank branch buildings around Southern California. Sheets Studio in Claremont, California employed a team of artists that produced numerous amazing mosaics for the buildings, one of which Chase Bank now occupies. You can see another very fine example in Coronado, which I blogged about here.

These eight mosaics set in travertine were created in 1977. Like the mosaics that were created for other bank branches, they celebrate the local community’s unique heritage.

These mosaics–at least one–appear specifically to be the work of Sheets Studio artist Susan Hertel. The initial S.H. can be seen in the corner of the mosaic titled Children’s Zoo.

Mosaic depicting a Native American.
Mosaic depicting a Spanish explorer.
Mosaic depicting a Californio.
Mosaic depicting a frontiersman or 49er.
Mosaic depicting a tuna fisherman.
Mosaic depicting a construction worker or shipbuilder.
Mosaic titled The Harbor.
Mosaic titled Children’s Zoo.

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!

Yellow bison on Golden Hill rooftop!

Why is there a big yellow bison standing on the roof of an apartment building in Golden Hill?

You can see this very odd sight on the southeast corner of Broadway and 21st Street.

I spoke to some folks walking across the street. They’ve lived in the neighborhood for ten years. They told me the big yellow bison has been standing up on that rooftop for at least a decade. They guess the building owner must really like bison!

Seems as good an explanation as any!

Does anyone out there know anything about this peculiar sculpture? Leave a comment!

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 city reflected from puddles.

Last night it rained. This afternoon the winter storm arrives in earnest. It will be raining on and off in San Diego for most of the week.

This morning I walked from Cortez Hill to Golden Hill and back. As I moved through downtown, I noticed interesting reflections in the sidewalk puddles.

Whenever I found a good rain puddle, I peered through the shining, magical portal and glimpsed fragments of a mysterious city…

I have lots of cool (and unusual) photos from my Golden Hill walk coming up, so stay tuned!

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!

Downtown from a bird’s perspective.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to fly around a city as a bird? Traveling in three dimensions, in any direction, wherever you please?

When I walk downtown, with all the seagulls, crows, sparrows, pigeons and other birds flying about, I sometimes try to imagine what they see. And what, if anything, they think of it all!

During my walk this morning I took the above photo at Civic Center Plaza. And I started to look for unique and unusual photographs.

Gravity glued me to the sidewalk, but some of these photos might provide something of a bird’s perspective.

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 exterior of Tango Del Rey!

If you’ve ever driven south on Interstate 5 east of Pacific Beach, a short distance past the Balboa/Garnet Avenue offramp, you’ve probably glimpsed dancers on the side of a building. That building is the home of Tango Del Rey.

I walked around the building the other day and took photos of its fantastic exterior!

Decorating the building are sculpted Spanish dancers, bullfighters, Don Quixote…even medallions that commemorate San Diego’s settlement by the Spanish centuries ago that resemble artwork found in Balboa Park!

This web page concerning Tango Del Rey explains “this stunning venue was built by Don Francisco Ballardo in 1984 and was originally known as Tablao Flamenco. Don Ballardo was an eccentric supporter of the Arts who gave San Diego a landmark that is unique, not for just our city, but the whole country and maybe the world…”

In their photo gallery you can see photos of the large, eye-popping interior hall, which resembles a Moorish castle! It’s available for rental.

I’m afraid I can’t dance, but if I wanted to learn the tango, it appears their Tango Academy is the place to go!

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Walking downtown on Beech Street in morning light.

This morning, after walking down from the top of Cortez Hill, I headed west along Beech Street to catch the trolley at the Little Italy station.

Early sunlight was reflecting brightly from downtown’s many buildings. Surrounded by fascinating forms, shadows and reflections, I took this series of photographs…

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 look at the Woolworth Building in the Gaslamp.

Many fascinating old buildings stand in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Many were built in the late 1800’s during one of the city’s early booms.

I always enjoy looking at the 1886 Woolworth Building as I walk along Fifth Avenue south of Broadway. Not because its architecture is particularly unique or interesting. No, I see that word Woolworth near the rooftop and vague memories from my very early childhood flash inside my aged brain.

I recall how my parents would take me shopping at a Woolworth’s, and how I would always be treated to an ice cream at the store’s stainless steel lunch counter and soda fountain. Memories can be funny. Don’t ask me where this Woolworth store was. All I really remember is standing before all that ice cream, and always choosing Rocky Road.

So what happened to the F. W. Woolworth Company and their immense chain of retail stores? They morphed into Foot Locker! (Regrettably, I’m pretty sure most Foot Lockers don’t serve ice cream.)

Since you might have some difficulty reading the weathered plaque near the entrance to the Woolworth Building, I’ve tried to transcribe it correctly:

Woolworth Building, 1886. Originally Victorian in its architecture, this brick and wood frame building was used for retail stores on the first floor, offices on the second, and furnished rooms on the third. In 1922, Frank W. Woolworth, founder of the five-and-dime stores, had the building remodeled. The original Victorian bay windows were removed, and four Corinthian pilasters were added to a gray granite facade. Woolworth leased the structure for 50 years.

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 museum to use new antiviral technology!

I learned of another improvement to Balboa Park this afternoon!

I was walking through the Plaza de Panama when I noticed several banners on a construction fence in front of the Timken Museum of Art.

One banner states the Timken will be the first museum in the world to install revolutionary antiviral and dehumidification technology. According to a museum web page, here, this new technology “originally engineered in conjunction with the United States Department of Defense” is considerably more effective at eliminating airborne pathogens than systems presently used in hospital operating rooms!

They hope to demonstrate this technology can be used in other museums, and for common everyday use. (Air that’s much safer than a hospital operating room? Sign me up!)

Other banners on the fence direct interested people to the Timken Museum of Art’s website, where they will find online educational experiences, including virtual tours and art tutorials, plus lots of other activities.

The museum, presently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to reopen in Summer 2021 with this revolutionary antiviral system installed and ready to go!

If you’d like to learn a more about the Timken Museum of Art, you might enjoy viewing an old blog post here. It includes photographs and notes that I took during a special architectural tour of the Timken’s uniquely beautiful building.

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!

Sunset photos in the Financial District.

Early this evening I found myself in downtown San Diego, in an area that is sometimes called the Financial District.

As I stood at the corner of Seventh Avenue and B Street, I looked up at the skyscrapers around me.

Sunset light was reflecting from building tops, windows.

I felt inspired to look for interesting photographs!

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!