El Camino Real Bell at Torrey Pines.

After finishing my walk along North Torrey Pines Road last weekend, I waited for a bus at a stop near the north end of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the south end of Torrey Pines State Reserve. For a while I watched groups of bicyclists fly past. Then I noticed that an El Camino Real Bell rose from the nearby sidewalk!

I’ve taken photographs of various historic El Camino Real Bells all around San Diego over the years. You can revisit a few of my sightings by clicking here.

As I explained in that blog post: “Many of these guidepost bells were placed in 1906 by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs. They marked the primitive roads that connected the old Spanish missions in California. El Camino Real, which means the Royal Road or King’s Highway in Spanish, led to 21 missions in Alta California, plus a variety of sub-missions, presidios and pueblos. The bells stand on tall posts in the shape of a shepherd’s crook. In subsequent years, bells have been removed or added to the California landscape.”

This bell appears similar to others I’ve come upon. An old plaque at the base of this one reads:

Donated by
California Federation of Women’s Clubs
Bostonia Woman’s Club

And, like other examples I’ve seen, this appears on the bell itself:

Loreto
Oct 25 1697

Solano
July 4 1823

According to the California State Parks website: “On October 25, 1697, Father Salvatierra founded the first permanent mission in the Californias on a sheltered plain opposite Isla Carmen. It was named Nuestra Señora de Loreto Concho…” (That original mission was built in what today is Baja California, Mexico.)

The 21st mission in Alta California (the present state of California) was established in San Francisco on July 4, 1823. It was the final and northernmost mission. It was named Mission San Francisco de Solano.

The name and founding date of both the first and last mission explains what is written on every El Camino Real Bell.

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Historical marker near Midway and Rosecrans.

Historical marker recalls early San Diego's La Playa Trail. This plaque can be found on Rosecrans Street near Midway Drive.
Historical marker recalls early San Diego’s La Playa Trail. This plaque can be found on Rosecrans Street near Midway Drive.

While walking around Point Loma this weekend, I came upon another historical marker with a plaque that commemorates San Diego’s famous old La Playa Trail. This marker stands in front of a shopping center near the corner of Midway Drive and Rosecrans Street. It features one of six similar plaques created back in the 1930s.

You can see a photo of another such plaque at the east end of the La Playa Trail, near Mission San Diego de Alcala, by clicking here. You can see a third plaque at the base of Presidio Hill and learn about the remaining three plaques (which I have yet to photograph) here.

According to Wikipedia: “The La Playa Trail was a historic bayside trail in San Diego, connecting the settled inland areas to the commercial anchorage at Old La Playa on San Diego Bay…The trail was used during the Pre-Hispanic (Native American), Spanish, Mexican and American periods of San Diego history. Much of the length of the original trail corresponds to the current Rosecrans Street in the San Diego neighborhood of Point Loma…The trail was already established by the time the Spanish settlers arrived in 1769; the first inhabitants of the area, including the Kumeyaay tribe, used it to access the beaches of San Diego Bay. It was improved and extended during the Spanish colonization of the region, reaching Old Town San Diego and Mission San Diego de Alcalá in Mission Valley by the 1770s. Cargo which had been unloaded by ship at Ballast Point in Old La Playa was transported along the trail several miles inland to Old Town…”

US Boundary Survey of 1850 shows the La Playa Trail along San Diego Bay and the San Diego River. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
US Boundary Survey of 1850 shows the La Playa Trail along San Diego Bay and the San Diego River. (New San Diego is where downtown is today.) Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Have you read the classic of American Literature, Two Years Before the Mast? It’s one of my all-time favorite books. Richard Henry Dana Jr. wrote an account of a sailor’s life on the coast of California in the mid-1830s, and a good portion of his fascinating narrative describes San Diego.

La Playa (then a beach on Point Loma just inside San Diego Bay) is where merchant ship Pilgrim unloaded cattle hides that had been gathered by Dana and his shipmates up and down the California coast. When Dana rode on horseback from the hide houses on the beach to Old Town, or farther east to Mission San Diego, he followed the La Playa Trail!

La Playa Trail. Oldest commercial trail in western United States. Erected by San Diego Historical Society. 1938.
La Playa Trail. Oldest commercial trail in western United States. Erected by San Diego Historical Society. 1938.

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Historical markers at entrance to Presidio Park.

Several historical markers can be found near the northwest entrance to Presidio Park. If you’ve ever driven along Taylor Street just past Morena Boulevard and the Presidio Recreation Center, you might’ve glimpsed them. They stand beside a sidewalk that comes to an abrupt end, in a place where almost nobody walks.

The three markers were placed years ago near three sites of historical importance: the Serra Palm, Derby Dike, and the La Playa Trail.

I’ve transcribed the words on each plaque.

I was told by a park ranger who happened to be parked nearby that the Serra Palm is long gone. He said it was probably blown over in a windstorm, and pointed out a pine tree that was toppled by our most recent storms.

The Serra Palm was planted in 1769 by Padre Junípero Serra, and marked the beginning of El Camino Real.

I’ve photographed a similar La Playa Trail marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá. To view that photo, click here.

According to Wikipedia: “In 1934, six commemorative terra cotta plaques were placed along the length of the trail by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other groups, based on a relief designed by sculptor Rose M. Hanks. The original six were located at Mission San Diego de Alcala; at the foot of Presidio Hill in Old Town; near the intersection of Rosecrans St. and Midway Blvd. in the Midway area; at the corner of Rosecrans and Lytton streets in Loma Portal, across from the Naval Training Center San Diego golf course; at the corner of Rosecrans and Byron streets in Roseville; and at the site of the fuel depot at Naval Base Point Loma…”

SERRA PALM

TRADITIONALLY THE EARLIEST PLANTED TREE IN
CALIFORNIA. DIRECTLY IN THE REAR, BENEATH
THE BROW OF THE HILL, LIE THE DEAD OF THE
SACRED EXPEDITION OF 1769, BURIAL PLACE OF
OUR FIRST UNKNOWN SOLDIERS.
STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 67
MARKER PLACED BY CALIFORNIA CENTENNIALS COMMISSION
IN COOPERATION WITH
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS COMMITTEE
DEDICATED SEPTEMBER 2, 1950

DERBY DIKE

UNTIL 1853 THE ERRATIC SAN DIEGO RIVER DUMPED TONS
OF DEBRIS INTO THE HARBOR OR POURED INTO FALSE
BAY, NOW MISSION BAY. AT TIMES IT THREATENED TO DE-
STROY OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO. LIEUTENANT GEORGE
HORATIO DERBY, U.S. TOPOGRAPHICAL CORPS, BUILT A
DIKE THAT DIVERTED THE WATERS INTO FALSE BAY. THIS
WAS THE FIRST EFFORT TO TAME THE RIVER, AND ONE
OF THE FIRST U.S. GOVERNMENT PROJECTS IN CALIFOR-
NIA. THE RIVER WAS NOT FULLY HARNESSED UNTIL THE 1950s.
CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 244
FIRST REGISTERED JUNE 10, 1936. PLAQUE PLACED BY THE
STATE DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION IN CO-
OPERATION WITH THE SAN DIEGO DEPARTMENT OF PARKS
AND RECREATION AND SQUIBOB CHAPTER, E CLAMPUS
VITUS, AUGUST 4, 1990.

LA PLAYA TRAIL
JEDEDIAH STRONG SMITH
PATHFINDER OF THE SIERRAS
HERE COMPLETED THE FIRST TRAIL FROM
THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC JAN. 1827
ERECTED BY
SAN DIEGO CHAPTER D.A.R. 1937

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Colorful photos of Founders Day in Old Town.

Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego's Founders Day to celebrate our city's diverse history.
Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego’s Founders Day to celebrate our city’s diverse history.

Founders Day is being celebrated in Old Town this weekend. The unique Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce event, which is inspired by our city’s 250th anniversary, is being held along San Diego Avenue, just south of the State Park.

I walked around at noontime today and took photos!

The colorful Founders Day festival will continue tomorrow. There will be street vendors and music and dancing and a whole lot of history to experience. If you can, head to Old Town San Diego and check it out!

San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego's 250 year history.
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego’s 250 year history.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego's history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego’s history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Historical reenactors from Old Town's African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
Historical reenactors from Old Town’s African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Many people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city's complex and fascinating 250 years of history.
Diverse people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city’s complex and uniquely fascinating 250 years of history. During the opening ceremony, words of optimism were expressed for the future!

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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A new flag is raised for San Diego’s 250th Anniversary!

Kumeyaay bird songs are performed on stage during the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony.
Kumeyaay traditional Bird Songs are performed during the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony.

This evening a very special event was held in San Diego.

A crowd gathered near the top of Presidio Hill, in the parking lot just below the Serra Museum, to take part in the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony.

The historic event was staged in the same spot overlooking San Diego Bay where a Spanish mission and presidio were built in 1769. It is where San Diego began 250 years ago.

The first part of the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony featured cultural entertainment representing our remarkably diverse city. Several colorful dances were followed by speeches by politicians, dignitaries and diplomats, plus several leaders of the Native American Kumeyaay people–those who have lived in this region many thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The audience experienced a Kumeyaay blessing and traditional Bird Songs. With sincere words past injustices and the suffering of the Kumeyaay were acknowledged, and optimism was expressed that our city’s future will be inclusive and bright.

For as long as I can remember, three flagpoles have stood at this place where the Spanish built their first outpost in California. Three banners have flown representing the history of San Diego: the flags of Spain, Mexico and the United States.

A fourth flagpole was recently installed. Today, at the close of the ceremony, a flag incorporating the different tribes of the Kumeyaay Nation was blessed with white sage smoke–to purify minds and hearts-and raised proudly, acknowledging and honoring San Diego’s first people.

I took some photographs of this important historical event.

Early arrivals for San Diego's big 250th Anniversary event claim a seat and await some cultural entertainment.
Early arrivals for San Diego’s big 250th Anniversary event claim a seat and await some cultural entertainment.
A variety of tents could be visited for food, drink and information about San Diego and its history.
A variety of tents could be visited for food, drink and information about San Diego and its history.
Kumeyaay tools and crafts are on display at one table.
Kumeyaay tools and crafts are on display at one table.
Map shows the different Kumeyaay villages of our region. The village of Cosoy was located near the base of Presidio Hill, where Old Town is located today.
Map shows the different Kumeyaay villages of our region. The village of Cosoy was located near the base of Presidio Hill, where Old Town is located today.
Prior to the ceremony, I walked a bit through Presidio Park. I took a photograph of VIPs arriving by Old Town Trolley at the Serra Museum.
Prior to the ceremony, I walked a bit through Presidio Park. I took a photograph of VIPs arriving by Old Town Trolley at the Serra Museum.
Performers lounge on grass behind the stage before the program begins.
Performers lounge on grass behind the stage before the program begins.
Someone takes a seat in the VIP section as Lion Dancers begin the multicultural entertainment.
Someone takes a seat in the VIP section as Lion Dancers begin the multicultural entertainment.

The ballet folklorico dancing that followed was enthusiastic, colorful and loudly applauded.
The ballet folklorico dancing that followed was enthusiastic, joyous and loudly applauded.

Dancers representing San Diego's Portuguese community take the stage.
Dancers representing San Diego’s Portuguese community take the stage.

A dance followed that represented San Diego's Vietnamese community.
A dance followed that represented San Diego’s Vietnamese community.

The VIPs take their seats as speeches are about to commence.
The VIPs take their seats as speeches are about to commence.
There are four flagpoles, but only three flags are flying.
There are four flagpoles, but only three flags are flying.
Mayor Faulconer addresses the crowd, urging unity and a positive future for all.
Mayor Faulconer addresses the crowd, urging unity and a positive future for all who live in San Diego.
A leader of the Kumeyaay Nation addresses those assembled.
A leader of the Kumeyaay Nation addresses those assembled.
Kumeyaay women sway in front of the stage as the men perform traditional bird songs.
Kumeyaay women sway in front of the stage as the men perform traditional Bird Songs.

A presentation is made to the San Diego History Center, which operates the Serra Museum and helped to arrange this special ceremony.
A presentation is made to the San Diego History Center, which operates the Junipero Serra Museum and helped to arrange this special ceremony.
Before the event concludes, everybody's attention turns to the flagpoles.
Before the event concludes, everyone’s attention is directed to the four flagpoles.
The Kumeyaay color guard stands ready.
The Kumeyaay color guard stands ready.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation is unfolded and blessed.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation is unfolded and blessed.
It is raised.
It is raised.
The Kumeyaay color guard poses proudly for a photograph.
The Kumeyaay color guard poses with pride for a photograph.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation now flies on historic Presidio Hill, in a place of honor.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation now flies on historic Presidio Hill, in a place of honor.

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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!

Banner celebrates San Diego’s 250th Anniversary!

Huge banner on sail of Star of India celebrates the 250th Anniversary of San Diego!
Huge banner on sail of Star of India celebrates the 250th Anniversary of San Diego!

The City of San Diego has placed an enormous banner on a sail of the historic tall ship Star of India. Its bold message can be seen from many spots downtown. The banner celebrates San Diego’s 250th Anniversary!

In 1769, on the hill that overlooks what would eventually become Old Town, Spain began its settlement of the region by building El Presidio Reál de San Diego. Attached to the fort, the original Mission San Diego de Alcalá was established by Junípero Serra in the same year.

Back then the land was wide open and mostly wilderness. The mountains, hills, rivers and coast were home to the Native American Kumeyaay. European settlement brought about an abrupt change in the region’s history. For better or worse, 250 years later San Diego is quite a bit different!

What will San Diego look like in another 250 years? As our civilization evolves, and as technological breakthroughs accelerate, can anyone possibly imagine?

Together we sail into the future!

SAN DIEGO 250 - EST. 1769 - WHERE CALIFORNIA BEGAN
SAN DIEGO 250 – EST. 1769 – WHERE CALIFORNIA BEGAN

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!

San Diego’s 250th Anniversary coming in 2019!

Close photo of bowed head of The Padre on Presidio Hill.
Arthur Putnam’s sculpture The Padre on Presidio Hill.

If one considers San Diego’s founding to have occurred in 1769, the year both Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the El Presidio Reál de San Diego were established on Presidio Hill, then 2019 will be our city’s 250th Anniversary!

That’s no small thing! One would suppose that huge celebrations are being planned!

Well, when I perform an internet search, I can find no plans for celebrations mentioned, apart from Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá’s announced church events, and a Founders’ Day Festival in Old Town.

It’s hard to believe, but I find almost no discussion of the city’s upcoming 250 year anniversary.

Unfortunately, as many of you might remember, the occasion of Balboa Park’s Centennial in 2015 was not celebrated with the fanfare that would have been appropriate.

I do hope that behind the scenes serious plans are being made for the appropriate celebration of San Diego’s 250th birthday! Or that plans will be made!

Just a thought from a silly blogger who loves San Diego!

UPDATE!

The City of San Diego has placed a huge 250th Anniversary banner on a sail of Star of India. You can see photos here!

UPDATE!

The City of San Diego has created a website dedicated to its 250th Anniversary. It lists several events that commemorate this special year. Visit the website here!

UPDATE!

In May, 2019, I noticed San Diego 250 banners have appeared along streets all over downtown!

IMG_5747z

UPDATE!

On July 1, 2019, a gigantic 250th anniversary banner appeared on the County Administration Building.

It celebrates the fact that San Diego was California’s first port and first city! I posted several photos of the banner here!

Photos of The Padre sculpture in Presidio Park.

The Padre, by Arthur Putnam, 1908. The public artwork stands on a patch of grass among trees on Presidio Hill.
The Padre, by Arthur Putnam, 1908. The public artwork stands on a patch of grass among trees on Presidio Hill.

Walk up to the top of Presidio Park from Old Town and you’ll discover a variety of fascinating, historical sights. Possibly the most amazing, apart from the impressive Serra Museum building, are two extraordinary bronze sculptures, The Indian and The Padre, by renowned sculptor Arthur Putnam.

The Padre was cast in 1908. The figure of a Spanish friar stands in a small, quiet space among trees, not far from the spot where Junípero Serra founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769, which began as a temporary church at the Spanish presidio. Five years later the mission would be moved a few miles east up the San Diego River to its present location.

Here are photos of The Padre which show the sculpture’s quiet beauty.

The Padre stands alone in a green, gentle place.
The Padre stands alone in a green, gentle place.
A Spanish friar seems to walk out of San Diego's very early history.
A Spanish friar seems to walk out of San Diego’s very early history.
The Padre by Arthur Putnam. Given to San Diego Historical Society by the descendants of E.W. Scripps.
The Padre by Arthur Putnam. Given to San Diego Historical Society by the descendants of E.W. Scripps.
Markings at the sculpture's base indicated it was cast by Louis de Rome's bronze foundry in San Francisco, the city where Arthur Putnam lived for many years.
Markings at the sculpture’s base indicated it was cast by Louis de Rome’s bronze foundry in San Francisco, the city where Arthur Putnam lived for many years.
A quiet bronze statue among trees near San Diego's now ruined and vanished Presidio.
A quiet bronze statue among trees near San Diego’s now ruined and vanished Presidio.
A spider's web and small fallen leaves above folded hands.
A spider’s web and small fallen leaves above folded hands.
The Padre seems to be lost in prayer or silent contemplation.
The Padre seems to be lost in prayer or silent contemplation.
Close photo of bowed head of The Padre on Presidio Hill.
Close photo of bowed head of The Padre on Presidio Hill.

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!

Fun street art on Mission Center Road!

Street art on Mission Center Road north of Friars Road depicts nature along the nearby San Diego River.
Street art on Mission Center Road north of Friars Road depicts wildlife along the nearby San Diego River.

Several electrical boxes on Mission Center Road just north of Friars Road have been painted with fun street art.  This morning I took a small detour while walking to work to snap a few photos.

A snowy egret beautifully painted on a Mission Valley transformer box.
A snowy egret beautifully painted on a Mission Valley transformer.
Street art shows a mallard and three ducklings in some grass near the San Diego River.
A mallard and three ducklings in some grass near the San Diego River.
A funny sketch on an electrical box. A gull is carrying away a bag of chips!
A funny sketch on an electrical box. A gull is carrying away a bag of chips!
Welcome to Mission Valley. This street art greets drivers heading along Mission Center Road.
Welcome to Mission Valley. A rabbit greets drivers heading along Mission Center Road.
This historic old building is located a few miles to the east. The Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, founded in 1769, first Spanish mission in Alta California.
This historic old building is located a few miles to the east. Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, founded in 1769, first Spanish mission in Alta California.

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!