A taste of San Diego’s historic Little Portugal.

Design on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.
Image on tiles indicates Portuguese American Social and Civic Club.

The history of the Portuguese community in Point Loma is fascinating. During a walk along a block of Avenida de Portugal, I got just a small glimpse of it.

Many have heard of Little Italy in San Diego, but I suspect few have heard of a neighborhood that some call Little Portugal. It can be found near the entrance to Shelter Island, an area settled by many families of Portuguese fishermen when the tuna industry flourished in our city. The neighborhood was once called Tunaville. Two landmarks that were built by the Portuguese almost a century ago still exist today: the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall where the community gathers and a small Catholic chapel beside it.

I spotted some round plaques in the sidewalk and images on tile on the hall’s exterior during my walk beside these two buildings. They provide a small taste of Little Portugal’s history. I thought you might enjoy taking a look at a few of them.

Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes called Little Portugal.
Small Catholic chapel in Point Loma, in a neighborhood sometimes referred to as Little Portugal.
Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.
Front of the United Portuguese S.E.S. Hall on a sunny San Diego day.
Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.
Plaque in the sidewalk is a Tribute to our Immigrants. Determination, hard work and strength of character are only a few of the gifts you have given us.
In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.
In admiration of their loyalty and commitment to the Fishing Industry and never ending support of our Portuguese Community.
Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.
Age of Exploration. In thoughtful memory of God and our parents who so successfully contributed to our Festas do Espirito Santo, the tuna industry and our lives in America.
The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.
The flag of Portugal flies proudly in San Diego near Shelter Island.
Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.
Map of the island of Madeira and image of Santo Amaro.
Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.
Image of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador and his statue at Cabrillo National Monument, a gift from the government of Portugal. Exploring on behalf of Spain, Cabrillo was Portuguese.

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San Diego history in Old Town’s McCoy House.

The McCoy House Museum, in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, is a reconstruction of a home built in 1869 for Sheriff James McCoy.
The McCoy House Museum, in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, is a reconstruction of a home built in 1869 for Sheriff James McCoy.

While there are many small museums and historical attractions that visitors can enjoy in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the McCoy House Museum is the best place to see an extensive series of interpretive displays that describe the complete history of early San Diego.

The McCoy House, standing on the north end of Old Town, is a reconstruction of a home built in 1869 for Sheriff James McCoy and his family. James McCoy, who lived from 1821 to 1895, like many early San Diego residents was an ambitious man, working diverse jobs, filling many roles. At the age of 21 he sailed from Ireland to America seeking opportunity. He became a soldier, then a stagehand, then San Diego county assessor, then county sheriff in 1861. He acquired substantial real estate holdings and finally won election to the state senate in 1871.

The interpretive displays in the McCoy House Museum provide a good look back at San Diego’s formative years. They detail the life of the Native American Kumeyaay who’ve lived in the region for thousands of years, the first Spanish explorers, the establishment of the Spanish mission, the Mexican period and the subsequent American period.

If you’d like to read the displays, click my photographs to enlarge them.

This blog post covers the first floor of the museum. I’ll cover the second floor exhibits in a later post. After heading up some stairs, one can find information about the more prominent residents of Old Town, plus the town’s later history as it competed with New Town, which eventually rose to become downtown San Diego as we know it today.

Anyone who is a history buff must visit the McCoy House Museum. You’ll be transported back in time and see how life was exciting, difficult, and altogether different many, many years ago in San Diego.

Sign lists important dates concerning the McCoy House. Today it's a museum containing exhibits that depict the fascinating history of Old Town San Diego.
Sign lists important dates concerning the McCoy House. Today it’s a museum containing exhibits that explain the fascinating history of Old Town San Diego.
Just inside the front door, this might have resembled the parlor of the original McCoy House, occupied by an upper middle class family in San Diego's Old Town.
Just inside the front door, this might have resembled the parlor of the original McCoy House, occupied by an upper middle class family in San Diego’s Old Town.
Framed photo on one wall from the San Diego Historical Society shows the original McCoy House.
Framed photo on one wall from the San Diego Historical Society shows the original McCoy House.
Interpretive exhibits inside the McCoy House Museum begin with the Spanish period of San Diego, from 1769 to 1821.
Interpretive exhibits inside the McCoy House Museum begin with the Spanish period of San Diego, from 1769 to 1821.
Quotes from the journeys of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Sebastian Vizcaino and Gaspar de Portola.
Quotes from the journeys of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Sebastian Vizcaino and Gaspar de Portola.
A string of missions was created by Spain in California to secure its claim to new territory. The first mission, in San Diego, was on Presidio Hill near the native Kumeyaay village of Cosoy.
A string of missions was created by Spain in California to secure its claim to new territory. The first mission, in San Diego, was originally established on Presidio Hill near the native Kumeyaay village of Cosoy.
An artistic representation of life among the Kumeyaay people. They often visited the nearby coast to hunt and gather food.
An artistic representation of life among the Kumeyaay people. They often visited the nearby coast to hunt and gather food.
For thousands of years, the Kumeyaay lived along the coast and interior valleys of what is now San Diego County. They moved with the seasons to take advantage of available resources.
For thousands of years, the Kumeyaay lived along the coast and interior valleys of what is now San Diego County. They moved with the seasons to take advantage of available resources.
The Kumeyaay built dome-shaped houses from oak, willow or sycamore branches. The simple structures were called ee-wahs.
The Kumeyaay built dome-shaped houses from oak, willow or sycamore branches. The simple structures were called ee-wahs.
The Kumeyaay saw the physical and spiritual world as one and the same.
The Kumeyaay saw the physical and spiritual world as one and the same.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum shows artifacts associated with the Kumeyaay, including a bark skirt, arrows, rabbit stick, child's sandals, gourd rattle and war club.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum shows artifacts associated with the Kumeyaay, including a bark skirt, arrows, rabbit stick, child’s sandals, gourd rattle and war club.
The Kumeyaay revolted against the Spanish missionaries in 1775, a year after the San Diego mission was relocated inland very close to a large Kumeyaay village.
The Kumeyaay revolted against the Spanish missionaries in 1775, a year after the San Diego mission was relocated inland very close to a large Kumeyaay village.
Once baptized, converted Kumeyaay followed a strict life. Mission bells signaled the day's activities, including the singing of hymns, Mass, meals and work assignments.
Once baptized, converted Kumeyaay followed a strict life. Mission bells signaled the day’s activities, including the singing of hymns, Mass, meals and work assignments.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 after a decade of bloodshed. Changes included a decline in support for the presidio and freedom from Spain's trade regulations.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 after a decade of bloodshed. Changes included a decline in support for the presidio and freedom from Spain’s trade regulations.
After the breakup of the Spanish missions, the era of the great ranchos began. Californios were often racially mixed descendants of soldier-settler families.
After the breakup of the Spanish missions, the era of the great ranchos began. Californios were often racially mixed descendants of soldier-settler families.
Vaqueros were the original cowboys. They worked on the extensive ranches and handled the large herds of stock.
Vaqueros were the original cowboys. They worked on the extensive ranches and handled the large herds of stock.
A fanciful picture of life on a rancho, with vaqueros at work and children at play.
A fanciful picture of life on a rancho, with vaqueros at work and children at play.
The Californios loved to celebrate feast days, weddings and religious festivals.
The Californios loved to celebrate feast days, weddings and religious festivals.
Cattle by the thousands roamed San Diego's hills. Their dried hides were used in trade and were sometimes referred to as California banknotes.
Cattle by the thousands roamed San Diego’s hills. Their dried hides were used in trade and were sometimes referred to as California banknotes.
Illustration of loading cow hides onto a carreta. Hides were gathered by ships along the coast to be transported around Cape Horn to the eastern United States.
Illustration of loading cow hides onto a carreta. Hides were gathered by ships along the coast to be transported around Cape Horn to the eastern United States.
Exhibit inside the McCoy House Museum recreates the small shop of a Boston trader. The brig Pilgrim of Two Years Before the Mast brought people aboard to buy wares and finished goods that weren't available in San Diego.
Exhibit inside the McCoy House Museum recreates the small shop of a Boston trader. The brig Pilgrim of Two Years Before the Mast brought people aboard to buy wares and finished goods that weren’t available in San Diego.
Illustrations of cow hides being cured. This activity took place at La Playa, a point on San Diego Bay near Ballast Point in Point Loma.
Illustrations of cow hides being cured. This activity took place at La Playa, a point on San Diego Bay near Ballast Point in Point Loma.
Diagram of the brig Pilgrim, made famous in Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s classic Two Years Before the Mast. Dana collected cattle hides up and down the California coast.
Diagram of the brig Pilgrim, made famous in Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s classic Two Years Before the Mast. As an ordinary seaman, Dana collected cattle hides up and down the California coast.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum details local history during the Mexican–American War from 1846 to 1848.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum details local history during the Mexican–American War from 1846 to 1848.
During the war, U.S. occupation of San Diego divided the loyalty of the Californios. The two sides fought briefly at the Battle of San Pasqual.
During the war, U.S. occupation of San Diego divided the loyalty of the Californios. The two sides fought briefly at the Battle of San Pasqual.
Around the time of the Gold Rush, San Diego saw an influx of emigrants from all over, including New England, the American South, Mexico, South America, Ireland, Great Britain and Germany.
Around the time of the Gold Rush, San Diego saw an influx of emigrants from all over, including New England, the American South, Mexico, South America, Ireland, Great Britain and Germany.
Old Town tales include the construction of the first jail in 1850. The walls were so poorly made, the first prisoner, Roy Bean, easily dug himself out, then celebrated at a nearby saloon!
Old Town tales include the construction of the first jail in 1850. The walls were so poorly made, the first prisoner, Roy Bean, easily dug himself out, then celebrated at a nearby saloon!
Grog shops became popular gathering places. They were a social hub of San Diego life, providing customers with news and provisions.
Grog shops became popular gathering places. They were a social hub of San Diego life, providing customers with news and provisions.
A recreated Old Town grog shop can be found inside the McCoy House Museum.
A recreated Old Town grog shop can be found inside the McCoy House Museum.
After the California Gold Rush of 1849, San Diego became more developed. A courthouse and newspaper were established. Transportation included clipper ships, stage lines and steamships.
After the California Gold Rush of 1849, San Diego became more developed. A courthouse and newspaper were established. Transportation included clipper ships, stage lines and steamships.
Poster advertises a new clipper ship route. A very quick trip may be relied upon!
Poster advertises a new clipper ship route. A very quick trip may be relied upon!
Between 1865 and 1872, Old Town San Diego continued to grow. The first public school opened, and the town welcomed its first theatrical company in the Whaley house.
Between 1865 and 1872, Old Town San Diego continued to grow. The first public school opened, and the town welcomed its first theatrical company in the Whaley house.
The first overland coach to San Diego began service in 1854. Additional stage lines came into existence, allowing for the delivery of mail, express packages and passengers.
The first overland coach to San Diego began service in 1854. Additional stage lines came into existence, allowing for the delivery of mail, express packages and passengers.
Visitors to the McCoy House Museum can step into a replica stage stop and see what life was like in Old Town during San Diego's early history.
Visitors to the McCoy House Museum can step into a replica stage stop and see what life was like in Old Town during San Diego’s rugged early history.

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History is made–and remembered–at Horton Plaza Park!

The new Horton Plaza Park in downtown San Diego makes history in 2016, just over a century after this important civic gathering place originated.
The new Horton Plaza Park in downtown San Diego makes history in 2016, just over a century after this important civic gathering place originated.

Early this morning I enjoyed a bit of history. During my walk, I paused to check out downtown San Diego’s brand new Horton Plaza Park!

The new park, located in the heart of our city, is just as fantastic as I anticipated. It contains cool public artwork, garden-like beauty, and loads of great modern features. But what I appreciated most, as I strolled through the park this morning, was its tangible sense of history.

Horton Plaza Park not only highlights the iconic Broadway Fountain, a true San Diego landmark, but preserves a number of fascinating historical markers and plaques that remember aspects of our city’s unique history.

Please read the photo captions, where I provide more information. I’ve also included three photographs taken about a week before the park opened, as last-minute preparations were being made.

People walk near west entrance of a greatly enlarged Horton Plaza Park the morning after its grand opening celebration. Historically the small city park was simply called Horton Plaza.
People walk near west entrance of a greatly enlarged Horton Plaza Park the morning after its grand opening celebration. Historically the small city park was simply called Horton Plaza. (When people say “Horton Plaza” today, they are usually referring to the popular shopping mall located directly to the south.)
About a week before the grand opening of the new Horton Plaza Park, many workers were applying the final touches.
About a week before the grand opening of the new Horton Plaza Park, many workers were applying the final touches.
The historic 1910 Broadway Fountain, designed by Irving Gill, is prepared for the amazing new Horton Plaza Park's grand opening.
The historic 1910 Broadway Fountain, designed by Irving Gill, is being renovated about a week before the amazing new Horton Plaza Park’s grand opening.
The modern, expansive Horton Plaza Park is a fantastic addition to downtown San Diego, but its creation took many years of planning and hard work. Another photo about a week prior to the grand opening.
The modern, expansive Horton Plaza Park is a fantastic addition to downtown San Diego, but its creation took many years of planning and hard work. One last photo that was taken about a week prior to the grand opening.
A tile walkway along the north edge of Horton Plaza Park preserves a century of history in San Diego.
The morning after the park’s grand opening.  A tile walkway along the north edge of Horton Plaza Park preserves a century of history in San Diego.
One plaque at the north entrance to the park dated 1985. It was laid down to mark the constantly evolving Horton Plaza's 75th anniversary.
One plaque, dated 1985, in the walkway at the north entrance to the park. It was laid down to mark Horton Plaza’s 75th anniversary.
San Diego's iconic Broadway Fountain, with the equally famous U.S. Grant Hotel in the background. The hotel was built by the son of Ulysses S. Grant and opened in 1910.
San Diego’s iconic Broadway Fountain, with the equally famous U.S. Grant Hotel in the background. The hotel was built by the son of President Ulysses S. Grant and opened in 1910.
One of four plaques near base of the Broadway Fountain. It reads Presented to The City of San Diego by Louis J. Wilde, 1909 A.D. Wilde was a banker, businessman and San Diego mayor.
One of four plaques near base of the Broadway Fountain. It reads Presented to The City of San Diego by Louis J. Wilde, 1909 A.D. Wilde was a banker, businessman and San Diego mayor.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Father Junipero Serra, founder of the first Spanish missions in California, including Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Father Junipero Serra, founder of the first Spanish missions in California, including Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered San Diego Bay during an expedition for Spain in 1542.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered San Diego Bay during an expedition for Spain in 1542.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Alonzo E. Horton. He created and promoted New Town, where downtown San Diego exists today. Before being sold to the city in 1895, Horton Plaza was originally used by guests staying at his Horton House Hotel.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Alonzo E. Horton. He created and promoted New Town, where downtown San Diego exists today. Before being sold to the city in 1895, the Horton Plaza park was originally used by guests staying at his Horton House Hotel.
A proud eagle perched within the elegant columns of San Diego's Broadway Fountain.
A proud eagle perched within the elegant columns of San Diego’s Broadway Fountain.
Looking east from the Broadway Fountain toward an historical marker: The Pacific Milestone.
Looking east from the Broadway Fountain toward an historical marker: The Pacific Milestone.
The citizens of San Diego in dedicating this Pacific Milestone, November 17, 1923, hereby gratefully acknowledge the untiring efforts of Col. Ed Fletcher in the construction of a Southern Transcontinental Highway.
The citizens of San Diego in dedicating this Pacific Milestone, November 17, 1923, hereby gratefully acknowledge the untiring efforts of Col. Ed Fletcher in the construction of a Southern Transcontinental Highway.
The points of the compass cap the Pacific Milestone.
Points of the compass cap the Pacific Milestone.
Pacific Milestone dedicated by our beloved President Calvin Coolidge November 17, 1923.
Pacific Milestone dedicated by our beloved President Calvin Coolidge November 17, 1923.
The Pacific Milestone in today's Horton Plaza Park marks the western terminus of The Old Spanish Trail, which traversed the American continent to St. Augustine, Florida.
The Pacific Milestone in today’s Horton Plaza Park marks the western terminus of The Old Spanish Trail, which traversed the American continent and ended in St. Augustine, Florida.
Old Spanish Trail. St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California.
Old Spanish Trail. St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California.
A familiar El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park. It was donated by the San Diego Woman's Club.
A familiar El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park. It was donated by the San Diego Woman’s Club.
Small plaque beneath the El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park.
Small plaque beneath the El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park.
Another historical plaque in the tile walkway. First Pacific Terminal Jefferson Davis Highway. Presented to the City of San Diego May 12, 1926...
Another historical plaque in the tile walkway. First Pacific Terminal Jefferson Davis Highway. Presented to the City of San Diego May 12, 1926…
Starbucks occupies one of three food pavilions at the new Horton Plaza Park. The morning after the park's grand opening, this Starbucks is already busy.
Starbucks occupies one of three food pavilions at the new Horton Plaza Park. The morning after the park’s grand opening, this Starbucks is already busy.
People enjoying a morning Starbucks sit at tables above Horton Plaza Park's outdoor amphitheater. A cool new mural serves as a distinctive backdrop.
People who enjoy a morning coffee can sit at tables above Horton Plaza Park’s outdoor amphitheater. A cool new mural serves as a distinctive urban backdrop.
A better look at the central part of the park. This broad, shallow amphitheater will be the site of many concerts and civic events in downtown San Diego. It also contains an interactive fountain (off at the moment).
A better look at the central part of the park. This broad, shallow amphitheater will be the site of many concerts and civic events in downtown San Diego. It also contains an interactive fountain (off at the moment).
Walking along Fourth Avenue, viewing the new park through several 23-foot high sculptures. These luminaries have lights that change colors at night.
Walking along Fourth Avenue, viewing the new park through several 23-foot high metal sculptures. These luminaries have lights that change colors at night.
Rounding a corner, I see some workers are removing fencing and tables that were used for the grand opening yesterday evening.
Rounding a corner, I see some workers are removing fencing and tables that were used for the park’s big grand opening yesterday evening.
South side of the huge new public art mural in Horton Plaza Park.
South side of the huge public art mural in Horton Plaza Park.
A cool public space that is sure to become one of San Diego's most popular gathering places.
A cool public space that is sure to become one of San Diego’s most popular gathering places.
The morning after the new Horton Plaza Park has opened. History is being made in San Diego, and one gentleman takes it all in.
The morning after San Diego’s amazing new Horton Plaza Park has opened. History is being made, and one gentleman takes it all in.

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Galleon San Salvador docked at Maritime Museum!

Replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador is now docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, adjacent to their B-39 Soviet submarine.
The amazing replica of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador is now docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, adjacent to their B-39 Soviet submarine.

The San Salvador, a full size replica of the historic Spanish galleon sailed by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo up the coast of California, is now docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego! I believe the museum’s newest ship arrived a couple days ago!

This morning was the very first time I saw the vessel on San Diego’s Embarcadero. Docked next to the museum’s B-39 Soviet-era Russian submarine, the San Salvador appears small compared to the other nearby tall ships. But the gentleman rowing the longboat in the next photograph informed me that she’ll really blossom once fully rigged and under sail. The San Salvador will then appear almost as large and amazing as the Californian, which is docked right across from it!

Looks like the San Salvador is ready in time for this Labor Day weekend’s Festival of Sail. On Friday she will lead a magnificent parade of visiting tall ships across San Diego Bay!

Gentleman from the Maritime Museum rows a longboat under ramp which leads to the HMS Surprise and other historic ships on San Diego Bay.
Gentleman from the Maritime Museum rows a longboat under ramp which leads to the HMS Surprise and other historic ships.
Full size replica of historic Spanish galleon San Salvador seen beyond dock of Anthony's Fish Grotto on San Diego's Embarcadero.
Full size replica of Spanish galleon San Salvador, seen beyond the dock of Anthony’s Fish Grotto on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

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San Salvador galleon to be launched on barge!

San Salvador, an approximate reproduction of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's historic galleon, undergoes final preparation at Spanish Landing in San Diego.
San Salvador, a close reproduction of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s historic galleon, undergoes final preparation at Spanish Landing in San Diego.

San Salvador’s masts and bowsprit have been installed!

I swung by the amazing ship’s build site this morning after doing a couple errands in Point Loma.  Additional work was underway on the bowsprit, and the hull appears almost finished. One gentleman was painting white Roman numerals on the bow which will indicate the ship’s depth.

Complications and unforeseen difficulties have delayed the launch of the Spanish galleon, but now the full-scale, seaworthy replica of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s historic ship is almost ready to be placed into San Diego Bay!

As I write this, very little updated information can be found concerning the upcoming launch of San Salvador. When the ship was weighed some months ago, it came in at 20 tons more than expected. Due to logistics, plans to use a crane to transport the ship to Broadway Pier were necessarily altered, then ultimately discarded.

I received some info on the museum’s new plan during a short conversation with Al Sorkin, aka Captain Swordfish, a few days ago while I was walking along the Embarcadero. He indicated the San Salvador will be turned, then rolled over a temporary bridge onto a barge behind Harbor Island. The barge will then transport the galleon to a local shipyard, where a crane will finally hoist San Salvador into San Diego Bay.

The plan, as I understood it, is to add ballast and complete the ship’s rigging while it’s docked by the Maritime Museum. I also heard that the museum hopes San Salvador is ready to lead other tall ships into San Diego Bay for the ceremonial parade at this year’s Festival of Sail!  That would be very cool!

Maritime Museum of San Diego volunteers work on the bowsprit, before San Salvador is eventually moved onto a barge, then hoisted at a local shipyard into the bay.
Maritime Museum of San Diego volunteers work on the bowsprit, before San Salvador is eventually moved onto a barge, then hoisted at a local shipyard into the bay.
A temporary bridge will be built in the coming weeks to allow the large San Salvador Spanish galleon to be rolled onto a barge.
A temporary “bridge” will be built across this path in the coming weeks to allow the large San Salvador Spanish galleon to be rolled onto a barge.
While the masts are now in, yards are still being prepared. As I understand it, they'll be installed along with the ballast, once San Salvador is afloat near the Maritime Museum.
While the masts are now in, yards are still being prepared. As I understand it, they’ll be installed along with the ballast, once San Salvador is afloat near the Maritime Museum.
Guys work on the bowsprit in early July 2015. The hope is that San Salvador leads this year's Festival of Sail's parade of tall ships into San Diego Bay!
Guys work on the bowsprit in early July. The hope is that San Salvador leads the 2015 Festival of Sail’s parade of tall ships into San Diego Bay!

UPDATE!

As of 7/29/15, the San Salvador is afloat on San Diego Bay! A week ago a barge transported the replica galleon to Chula Vista in our South Bay, where today it was lifted into the water. I learned this afternoon that in fact the ballast will be added and rigging completed in Chula Vista, in a place that is closed to the public. The ship will have to undergo extensive testing by the Coast Guard before being declared seaworthy. It’s still hoped everything will be completed in time for the Festival of Sail, which takes place in a little over a month!

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Photos: amazing tour of Spanish galleon build site!

Sign at entrance to San Salvador build site. You have a couple more weeks to visit before the replica galleon's historic launch into San Diego Bay.
Sign at entrance to San Salvador build site. You have a couple more weeks to visit before the replica galleon’s historic launch into San Diego Bay.

Yesterday I enjoyed a tour of something so unbelievably cool it almost defies description. Along with my photographs I took some notes, but what I’m about to write might not be perfectly accurate. I’m relying to an extent on memory, which with my advancing age isn’t quite what it used to be. So if anyone reading my captions spots an error, PLEASE write a comment at the bottom of this blog post!

Later this month, the Maritime Museum of San Diego will be launching its absolutely fantastic, historically accurate, seaworthy replica of the galleon San Salvador. The original San Salvador was the ship that Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed in during his voyage of discovery up the California coast on behalf of Spain. The famous galleon entered San Diego Bay in 1542, making Cabrillo the first European to visit the large, natural harbor. What we call San Diego today he named San Miguel.

Today, the full-size working replica of Cabrillo’s ship is being built at the west end of Spanish Landing, in an area called San Salvador Village, between Harbor Island and San Diego International Airport. The finished ship will be 92 feet long with a beam of 24 feet. As I understand it, construction has been underway for about four years, and for a variety of reasons has taken a couple years longer than originally projected. But once the decks are re-caulked, the shrouds tarred, and a few other things finished, the ship’s exterior will finally be ready for its imminent introduction into San Diego Bay!

The galleon, which without ballast weighs about 130 tons, will be slowly towed to the Broadway Pier downtown, then lifted by a huge crane into the bay. While docked beside the other ships of the Maritime Museum, the interior will be finished, about 60 more tons of lead ballast added, and the vessel’s ability to remain upright thoroughly tested by the Coast Guard.

(Don’t quote me on the 130 tons and 60 tons. Those figures came entirely from my leaky memory.)

There’s simply too much awesome stuff to describe in a few paragraphs, so let me now show you my photographs and I’ll include in the captions some of the cool stuff I learned or observed…

Shipbuilding was the first industrial activity of the New World. Gift shop at site entrance includes Spanish conquistador helmets and breastplate.
Shipbuilding was the first industrial activity of the New World. Gift shop at site entrance includes Spanish conquistador helmets and breastplate.
Poster shows personal arms and protective clothing used by the men who sailed with Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo five centuries ago.
Poster shows personal arms and protective clothing used by the men who sailed with Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo five centuries ago.
A small museum and gift shop includes many interesting sights, including a shirt of chainmail and flag of the Spanish Empire.
A small museum and gift shop includes many interesting sights, including a shirt of chain mail and flag of the Spanish Empire.
Diagram shows the sail plan for historic galleon San Salvador.
Diagram shows the sail plan for historic galleon San Salvador.
Various items on display include lantern, candle, bottle, ship's food and native Kumeyaay artifacts.
Various items on display include lantern, candle, bottle, ship’s food and native Kumeyaay artifacts.
Outside, at the build site, there are many more exhibits. This reproduction of found rock art seems to be of sailing ships. The native Kumeyaay people often visited San Diego Bay.
Outside, at the build site, there are many more exhibits. This reproduction of found rock art seems to show sailing ships. The native Kumeyaay people often visited San Diego Bay.
First Contact. If this rock art is a Kumeyaay depiction of Cabrillo's expedition, it might be the oldest graphic representation of a recorded event in American history.
First Contact. If this rock art is a Kumeyaay depiction of Cabrillo’s expedition, it might be the oldest graphic representation of a recorded event in American history.
Here's a huge anchor! I didn't ask, but I assume it will be used by the San Salvador.
Here’s a huge anchor! I didn’t ask, but I assume it will be used by the San Salvador.
San Salvador carries six sails totaling a little less than 5000 square feet. The sails are not only used to propel the ship, but exert a larger influence on steering than the rudder.
San Salvador carries six sails totaling a little less than 5000 square feet. The sails are not only used to propel the ship, but exert a larger influence on steering than the rudder.
View of a small sail suspended from a yard, with Harbor Drive in background beyond the build site.
View of a small sail suspended from a yard, with Harbor Drive in the background north of the build site.
Suspended from a crane is a shroud (rigging that helps hold a mast) that's being tarred. The bow of the galleon comes to a sharp point at its beak.
Suspended from a crane is a shroud (rigging that helps hold a mast) that’s being tarred. The bow of the galleon comes to a sharp point at its beak.
Iron in an undeveloped region of the New World was a precious commodity. Imported ingots were often used to forge various fittings and hardware.
Iron in an undeveloped region of the New World was a precious commodity. Imported ingots were often used to forge various fittings and hardware.
Hooks, chain links and other iron instruments were crucial to sail and maintain a large ship.
Hooks, chain links and other iron instruments were crucial to sail and maintain a large ship.
The San Salvador carried armament to defend the expedition from potential threats. The cannon-like bombard and swivel gun could be fired from the deck.
The San Salvador carried armament to defend the expedition from potential threats. The cannon-like bombard and swivel gun could be fired from the deck.
Two bombards on display at the San Salvador build site. They could fire shot about five pounds in weight and were mounted on wheels.
Two bombards on display at the San Salvador build site. They could fire shot about five pounds in weight and were mounted on wheels.
Detailed map of Cabrillo's route up the California coast. He found neither treasure, nor a passage to the Atlantic.
Detailed map of Cabrillo’s route up the California coast. He found neither treasure, nor a passage to the Atlantic.
There are no blueprints for the galleon San Salvador. To reconstruct the 16th century ship, the Maritime Museum of San Diego used scarce historical clues.
There are no blueprints for the galleon San Salvador. To reconstruct the 16th century ship, the Maritime Museum of San Diego used scarce historical clues.
It was difficult to find the right kinds of wood for different parts of the vessel. Both old and modern shipbuilding techniques were used.
It was difficult to find the right kinds of wood for different parts of the vessel. Both old and modern shipbuilding techniques were used.
Wood mast segments and yards are coasted with linseed oil, I believe. They'll be installed once the ship is afloat in San Diego Bay.
Wood mast segments and yards are coasted with linseed oil, I believe. They’ll be installed once the ship is afloat in San Diego Bay.
Approaching the impressive reproduction of the historic galleon. Just imagine going for an ocean sail in this!
Approaching the impressive reproduction of the historic galleon. Just imagine going for an ocean sail in this!
Detailed schematic shows framework and beams that support decking and hull.
Detailed schematic shows framework and beams that support decking and hull.
The master builder sets up keel, stem, sternpost and deadwood, locked together with long iron drifts. The master frame is then built.
The master builder sets up keel, stem, sternpost and deadwood, locked together with long iron drifts. The master frame is then built.
I believe these are the lower halves of two masts (main and fore), each ending in a crow's nest.
I believe these are the lower halves of two masts (main and fore), each ending in a crow’s nest.
A look at the hard wood hull of the galleon San Salvador at Spanish Landing.
A look at the super hard wood hull of the galleon San Salvador at Spanish Landing.
Volunteer tour guide shows how six segments of heavy lead are attached to the keel.
Volunteer tour guide shows how six segments of heavy lead are attached to the keel.
Each piece of lead weighs over 6000 pounds. The lead was originally used for the drop hammers of Rohr Industries in Chula Vista to form aircraft parts.
Each piece of lead weighs over 6000 pounds. The lead was originally used for the drop hammers of Rohr Industries in Chula Vista to form aircraft parts.
A small tour group investigates the amazing galleon on a sunny San Diego day!
A small tour group investigates the amazing galleon on a sunny San Diego day!
The high stern of San Salvador. The rudder is attached to a tiller. That propeller below (and eventual engine) is a modern convenience, unknown by Cabrillo!
The high stern of San Salvador. The rudder is attached to a tiller. That propeller below (and an eventual engine) is a modern convenience unknown by Cabrillo!
Our group climbed the steps of scaffolding to check out the hull, upper deck and aftcastle.
Our group climbed the steps of scaffolding to check out the hull, upper deck and aftcastle.
We're shown where the shrouds connect to the ship's side. The darker looking lower portion of the hull is made of hard wood, which is heavier than water.
We’re shown where a shroud connects to the ship’s side. The darker looking lower portion of the hull is made of hard wood, which is heavier than water.
We're almost on top!
We’re almost on top!
View of the San Salvador galleon while standing atop the aftcastle. Work to finish the vessel's deck and interior is underway.
View of the San Salvador galleon while standing atop the aftcastle. Work to finish the vessel’s deck and interior is underway.
This deck will be re-caulked this week using cotton, hemp rope and synthetic tar. Earlier caulking with less modern materials was unsuccessful, if I recall correctly.
This deck will be re-caulked soon using cotton, hemp rope and synthetic tar. Earlier caulking with less modern materials was unsuccessful, if I recall correctly.
Sketch of helmsman steering the galleon with a vertical lever attached to the rudder's tiller. He had a window to look through in the aftcastle.
Sketch of helmsman steering the galleon with a vertical lever attached to the rudder’s tiller. He had a window to look through in the aftcastle.
Looking back at the aftcastle and rearmost poop deck from the center of the upper deck. You can see the window through which the helmsman peered.
Looking back at the aftcastle and rearmost poop deck from the center of the upper deck. You can see the window through which the helmsman peered.
Capstan is a vertical timber that projects through the deck. Bars will be inserted and used by sailors to turn the capstan, hauling ropes or chains.
Capstan is a revolving vertical timber that projects through the deck. Bars will be inserted and used by sailors to turn the capstan, hauling ropes or chains.
This is one of five separate water-tight compartments being worked on below. Bunks will be contained here, for journeys out to the Channel Islands eventually.
This is one of five separate water-tight compartments being worked on below. Bunks will be contained here, for journeys out to the Channel Islands eventually.
Under the forecastle, looking toward the bow's beak. The two holes beside the rectangular chain locker are hawseholes, through which the anchor chain is lifted or lowered.
Under the forecastle, looking toward the bow’s beak. The two holes beside the rectangular chain locker are hawseholes, through which the anchor chain is lifted or lowered.
Looking straight down here you can see where the foremast and bowsprit are seated.
Looking straight down here you can see where the foremast and bowsprit are seated.
Wow! Is this cool! How often does one get to walk around an actual honest-to-goodness working galleon!
Wow! Is this cool! How often does one get to walk around an actual honest-to-goodness working galleon!

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Beautiful views from Cabrillo National Monument.

People on patio behind Visitor Center take in a breathtaking panorama.
People on patio behind Visitor Center take in a breathtaking panorama.
View from Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center scenic overlook. Downtown San Diego is visible to the east.
View from Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center scenic overlook. Downtown San Diego is visible to the east.

Last Sunday, after I checked out the new Yankee Baleeiros whaling exhibit in the Visitor Center, I wandered about Cabrillo National Monument and took in the many beautiful views. My camera was very busy!

Tall ship America sails south down the channel out of the bay and into the open ocean.
Tall ship America sails south down the channel out of the bay and into the open ocean.
Looking out over San Diego Bay. Shelter Island lies in the distance beyond Naval Base Point Loma.
Looking out over San Diego Bay. Shelter Island lies in the distance beyond Naval Base Point Loma.
One of many interesting signs. This one shows typical commercial and pleasure craft seen on the water below.
One of many interesting signs. This one shows typical commercial and pleasure craft seen on the water below.
Statue of Cabrillo donated by the Portuguese government at a popular lookout spot.
Statue of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo donated by the Portuguese government at a popular lookout spot.
Naval Air Station North Island seems to glow beyond the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center building.
Naval Air Station North Island seems to glow beyond the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center building.
I took lots of photographs while climbing up toward the beautiful Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
I took lots of photographs while climbing up through native coastal vegetation toward the beautiful Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
Looking southwest over two World War II bunkers toward the distant Coronado Islands, which are a part of Tijuana, Mexico. The new lighthouse is down by the water.
Looking southwest over two World War II bunkers toward the distant Coronado Islands, which are a part of Tijuana, Mexico. The new lighthouse is down by the water.
People gaze out at the beautiful sky and ocean from a popular whale-watching point.
People gaze out at the beautiful sky and ocean from a popular whale-watching point.
Gray whales migrate past Cabrillo National Monument from December through April. Spouts are often seen from here!
Gray whales migrate past Cabrillo National Monument from December through April. Spouts are often seen from here!
Sculpture of a gray whale and a cetacean's vertebrae along walkway that leads from the old lighthouse.
Sculpture of a gray whale and a cetacean’s vertebrae along walkway that leads from the old lighthouse.
Looking northwest toward the tidepools below and Pacific Ocean breakers.
Looking northwest toward the tidepools below and Pacific Ocean breakers.

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