Tin Man recalls history in North Park!

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park might notice a large tin man standing atop stairs in the museum’s atrium. A sign at the bottom of the stairs explains how the nearly 11 feet tall metal sculpture was once a well known landmark in North Park.

Created in 1941, “Tin Man” was originally unpainted and held an oil can instead of a wrench. Representing the Tin Woodsman character from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man was to be a feature of the North Park Toyland Parade. But the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor five days before the parade cancelled the event.

Tin Man subsequently was acquired by Sabol Service at University Avenue and Bancroft Street and for several decades, now holding a wrench, he towered above the automobile repair business. In 1976 he was moved to 35th Street and University Avenue, where, painted as he appears today, he greeted the customers of Vinal’s Auto Repair on the service station island.

As you can see, I took these photographs during the holiday season. Tin Man silently stood overlooking a large, very beautiful poinsettia Christmas tree–the first such tree to decorate the San Diego History Center.

And so our city’s history continues right along, the past meeting the present.

Perhaps you’re old enough to remember seeing Tin Man in North Park. After moving through the San Diego History Center, you will carry both old and new memories into your future.

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An ordinary guy in San Diego thanks Peter Seidler.

All of San Diego is buzzing with excitement. Something truly extraordinary is now happening in our city. Millions of ordinary people–like me–are feeling the electricity.

San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler is someone I’ll probably never meet. He’s someone millions who live in San Diego will never personally meet.

Thank you Peter Seidler for making the Padres instant World Series contenders.

Thank you for millions of sudden cheers, smiles, high fives, great days. Thank you for all the precious lifelong memories that are surely coming. Thank you for fresh feelings of hope–a sustained anticipation for tomorrow . . . the next game . . . the next series . . . the next October.

Thank you for strengthening a diverse city’s sense of unity. Thank you for reinforcing a feeling of pride enjoyed by millions who live in San Diego.

Thank you for all the lives that will be enriched and brightened.

Parents, their children, their grandchildren and countless generations will remember. And celebrate.

Lastly, thank you from a blogger who loves the Padres. Yesterday, as I listened to the game, I experienced goosebumps.

I’ll probably have more goosebumps this afternoon.

Time to shine!


An enormous soap factory rises downtown!

A huge soap factory in downtown San Diego?


Back in 1921, the Citrus/Pacific Soap Factory building was erected in San Diego’s small but growing downtown. Locally produced lemon juice would be a major ingredient in the manufacture of soap!

The architect responsible for this stately factory made of brick was William Wheeler. He also designed downtown’s Balboa Theater and other notable structures around the city.

You can see a cool historical photo of the old Citrus Soap Company of California factory standing near railroad tracks here.

According to this 1988 SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organisation) newsletter, the site at 301 West Market Street gained historical designation partly based on its association with three different soap companies dating back to 1892. Apparently, the factory also helped San Diego through a national soap crisis!

Today, the old factory building has been repurposed. It’s a unique part of the CityFront Terrace Condos.

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 tour of UCSD’s new Design and Innovation Building.

Last Saturday I enjoyed a tour inside the new Design and Innovation Building at UC San Diego. The special tour, part of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Open House event, was one of many opportunities for the public to go “behind the scenes” at fascinating places around the city.

The Design and Innovation Building opened late last year. This great article describes the building as “A place where disruptive ideas come together to spark learning, technology, collaboration and new ventures.”

Inside the building it feels very spacious. Hallways are lined with large inside windows, allowing one to see activity in classrooms and labs and practically everywhere you turn. From the third floor you can look up through part of the ceiling to see the fourth floor. Even during the tour when the building was quiet, I had the feeling that I was moving freely through an incredible, connected, creative space.

The floors, from first to fourth, are called: The Basement, Maker Space, The Design Lab and the Entrepreneurship Center. Our student tour guide described how ideas proceed upward through the building, forming in The Basement, undergoing design and testing in the Maker Space, then rising to the Entrepreneurship Center where products can be brought to market. The Design Lab is where “faculty from the arts, humanities, engineering and the sciences join forces to solve complex issues related to education, health, mobility, communication and urban planning.”

The building will eventually include a good old restaurant on the first floor, but above all it was designed to inspire innovation.

I was excited to discover a museum-like room on the fourth floor of the building, with a gallery full of inventions! The exhibit is titled Patent Models: A Celebration of American Invention. It was so cool, I think I’ll post a separate blog concerning it!

Now, to give you a taste of what our tour group saw, on with the photos…

Looking into a classroom on the first floor of the Design and Innovation Building.
Bits of stimulating art on the first floor.
Looking down from the second floor.
A room where there are seminars open to the public. At the conclusion of the building tour, our group heard a talk here about the selection of San Diego-Tijuana as 2024 World Design Capital.
We walk out onto the second floor terrace, with great views across UCSD, including the nearby trolley station.
Walking through the Maker Space on the second floor.
Display includes rapid prototyping.
I took this quick pic as we moved along.
Windows into the future.
A metalworking shop, if I recall correctly.
Tables where people with unique ideas can freely interact.
Gazing up from the third to the fourth floor.
One fascinating room at the Design Lab: Speculative Ecology and Bioarchitecture.
A room on the fourth floor where students can speak to entrepreneurs.
Social Contract on a fourth floor wall. I am joining an inclusive, collaborative community of partners. Together we will extend and expand the innovation economy in San Diego…
Nearby post-it dreams. Seeing beyond the horizon…Curating your knowledge and influence to create or envision something new…Solve problem in a new way…Opportunity and solutions with flare…

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!

Tour of new UC San Diego Park & Market!

A sneak peek was enjoyed yesterday inside the new UC San Diego Park & Market building, in downtown’s East Village neighborhood!

The special public tour was part of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s big annual Open House event.

UC San Diego Park & Market is designed to be a collaborative hub where students, researchers, community organizations and business partners will interact in the heart of the city. It will also feature space for private conferences and events, and high quality entertainment venues for the public.

Once completed, the building will be home to a digital movie theater, a top notch black box theater, a small art gallery, a bistro, and a huge two-sided video wall that can be enjoyed inside on the ground floor and from the Market Street sidewalk!

This unique, truly visionary multi-use facility will have its grand opening in a couple months during Cinco de Mayo. It sounds like the celebration will be epic!

During yesterday’s tour led by Mary Walshok, UC San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor, several floors of the innovative building were explored. We learned about its conception and development. One of its most important qualities is its location next to a UC San Diego Blue Line trolley station, connecting this extension of UCSD to the main La Jolla campus, providing students easy accessibility.

As you can see from my upcoming photographs, Park & Market will certainly become a stimulating cultural destination for people living downtown and around San Diego. Numerous future events and festivals are being planned. I can’t wait!

Please read my photo captions to learn a little more about this amazing project!

The next photo shows the public plaza north of the building, adjacent to the new The Merian apartment tower. It’s where our tour group gathered.

Two fantastic murals by regional artists can be found in the inviting space. I posted photos of both murals back in January here.

Standing on the second floor terrace north of the building, with downtown views in several directions. (I didn’t photograph it, but one can see Balboa Park’s California Tower in the distance from here, too!)
About to enter the second floor of the glassy building.
Outside art is by Tammy Matthews, artist from New South Wales, Australia. Taranora, 2020. Original painting adapted to steel screen.
The second floor was busy! A private conference had been booked, even before the building’s official opening! We next headed left to the digital movie theater.
Inside the cozy theater, which will be operated by acclaimed Digital Gym Cinema.
A small gallery on the second floor, near the top of a grand staircase leading to the ground floor. The debut exhibition concerns UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection. (I’ve blogged about many of these outdoor UCSD public artworks in the past.)
Nearby windows look down on downtown San Diego’s busy Market Street.
Mary Walshok addresses the group as we stand near the top of the fantastic staircase.
Looking down!
Now we’re downstairs on the ground floor, after taking the elevators. This big black door is the entrance to the black box theater, where there will be concerts and diverse performances. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside.
Emerging near the bottom of the spiraling staircase!
A bistro will be located here. People can come off the street, dine, sip and hang out. The bistro operator, we were told, has one of the largest vinyl record collections in San Diego!
Making our way across the large space near the Market Street entrance. That big black thing is a two-sided computerized video screen! Events can be streamed live from the UCSD amphitheater and other venues. Proposed users include Comic-Con and the San Diego Symphony! Folks walking down the sidewalk can stop to watch outside, too!
Pretty cool, huh?
Chairs and tables can be set up here. UC San Diego Park & Market will utilize technology to connect people in new and stimulating ways.
Finally, we headed to the fourth floor, the research center, where students engaged in projects, and people from academia, non-profits and private business will rub elbows, interact and collaborate. There are many small offices for faculty and community organizations. We didn’t visit the third floor, where classrooms are located.
A view up Park Boulevard from one extraordinary new building!

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A surprising, historical La Mesa building!

At first glance, you might not believe this building is almost 130 years old. That’s because it appears much different today than it did originally.

During my last walk around La Mesa, I learned this is La Mesa’s oldest standing commercial building!

It’s interesting to compare the old photograph on the La Mesa Historical Society plaque with the building one sees today.

The La Mesa Lemon Company Store building is located at the corner of La Mesa Boulevard and Nebo Drive.

La Mesa Lemon Company Store, circa 1895

Opened adjacent to the La Mesa Springs rail station in 1895, the Lemon Company’s impressive building was the first to supply local settlers and ranchers. La Mesa’s oldest standing commercial building, it was expanded south in 1912. Charter La Mesa Rotary Club member Lawrence Washburn remodeled the building for the city’s first Ford automobile dealership in 1923.

Take a close look at the signs in the photos. “Dealers in everything used on a ranch” is now ballet and clothing!

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!

One of downtown San Diego’s oldest buildings.

A small, unremarkable brick structure in the Gaslamp Quarter is actually one of downtown San Diego’s oldest buildings!

You could easily walk past the current home of Lucky Brand and not realize this modest building has almost a century and a half of history.

I looked at its historical plaque yesterday to learn more about it. As you can see, the plaque is now very corroded and not easily read, so I took a photograph and enhanced the image by increasing the contrast.

The Combination Store, 1880.

Constructed in 1880, the Combination Store is one of the oldest brick structures still standing in the Gaslamp District, dating further back than the Yuma. Originally, the building was built for one store, and had a 35-inch parapet, a metal cornice, and a frame porch extending to the street. It was first known as the New York and Boston Combination Company, specializing in dry goods and clothing. In 1914, the building was divided into two stores. Later, the parapet was shortened and the porch removed.

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!

Love your eyes on World Sight Day!

Today, the second Thursday of October, is World Sight Day!

I didn’t know this until I happened to walk past a couple of friendly guys in Mission Valley. They’d set up a table in Civita Park and were telling passersby about the importance of loving your eyes. Both represent Shamir, an eyeglass company whose United States headquarters is right here in San Diego.

An informative brochure they handed me explains that eye health impacts a person’s education, employment and quality of life.

I learned eye health can be maintained via diet, physical activity, eye protection and, of course, routine vision check-ups. It’s very important that children have an eye exam before they start school.

Check out the following photo for more great information!

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!

Electric vehicles showcased in downtown San Diego.

A variety of electric vehicles are on display today at the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego. The public event is sponsored by SDG&E and Nissan.

I walked out on the pier this morning to check out some beautiful cars, assembled by members of the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego for the occasion. I saw many models by leading auto makers.

I’ve never driven an electric car. When I spoke to a representative of the Electric Vehicle Association, I learned they’re actually more fun to drive because they’re extremely responsive. Some models now have an over a three hundred mile range, and consequently the owner can charge them easily overnight at home without worrying about locating a recharging station.

She believes in ten years most new vehicles on the road will be electric!

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!

Enormous pipe laying ship docked in San Diego!

Take a look at this enormous ship! I saw it today docked at San Diego’s B Street Pier, across from the Cruise Ship Terminal. The vessel, with what appears to be a helicopter pad high above its bow, is so huge I spotted it several blocks from San Diego’s Embarcadero!

The Normand Energy is a Pipe Layer vessel built in 2007, sailing under the flag of Norway. I was curious why such an unusual ship is visiting San Diego, so I searched the news.

It turns out the Normand Energy was chartered by Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR) to test the Patania II, a deep-sea mining prototype. But on April 25 Patania II became detached from its 5 kilometer (over 3 miles!) cable and became stranded on the Pacific Ocean floor!

According to this article, the “25-tonne mining robot prototype was trialed in the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific since April 20. The machine was supposed to collect nodules rich in cobalt and other battery metals…such minerals would be used to supplement in-demand electronic products and energy storage such as smartphones, laptops, solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles…”

According to this article, a recovery mission successfully retrieved Patania II on April 29.

Environmentalists including Greenpeace oppose deep-sea mining and the damage to the ocean bottom that would result, but ironically the rare earth elements that could be extracted are required for various components in clean energy technology.

If you’re curious about the whereabouts of the Clarion Clipperton Zone and what this “geological submarine fracture zone” is exactly, here’s a fascinating Wikipedia article.

Check out additional photographs of the Normand Energy that I took from various angles. The next two are from the Broadway Pier…

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!