Progress of California mural in La Jolla.

When I stepped into the La Jolla Recreation Center’s small auditorium the other day, I barely noticed the game of ping pong that was in progress. That’s because my eyes were immediately drawn to a large, incredible mural on one wall above some vending machines.

The mural, painted in 1929 by renowned artist Hugo Ballin, is titled Progress of California.

I found this article. It explains how the mural was originally located at First National Bank, which opened in La Jolla in 1930 on the corner of Silverado Street and Girard Avenue. The mural was placed on the wall above the vault door. When the bank was demolished, a decision was made to move the mural to the La Jolla Recreation Center, where the public could freely see it.

Hugo Ballin is best know for his work in Los Angeles, including murals at Burbank City Hall, Griffith Observatory, LA County General Hospital, and the Los Angeles Times Building. During the era of silent movies, he was art director for Goldwyn Pictures.

As you can see, his Progress of California mural depicts people from different periods of history, including Native Americans, Spanish explorers and missionaries, 49ers during the Gold Rush, and pioneers.

Rising at the right end of the mural is Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower, which was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego.

I did my best to take good photos without interrupting the game of ping pong…

Restoration of the historic Progress of California mural was performed in 2000.

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Hidden historical markers around San Diego.

Walk around the city and you’ll discover surprising things. Once in a while, if you’re lucky, you might stumble upon an historical marker in a hidden or unexpected place!

Over the years I’ve happened upon a number of these historical plaques and markers. I’ve seen them by shopping centers, by apartment buildings, on hilltops, beside trails, and tucked away in odd places off the beaten track.

I thought that perhaps you’d enjoy reading a few of them.

Here are a few of the more interesting markers I’ve found….

To read a plaque in Linda Vista about one of the first planned shopping centers in the United States, click here.

To read a plaque in National City about a “miraculous” well dug for Mount Paradise Sanitarium, click here.

To read numerous historical plaques on the top of Presidio Hill, where Fort Stockton once was, click here.

To read an historical marker in the middle of UC San Diego in La Jolla, click here.

To read a plaque marking the location of Kate Sessions’ nursery in Pacific Beach, click here.

To read a plaque near old Mission San Diego de Alcalá, marking the location of Padre Luis Jayme’s death during a Native American uprising, click here.

To see a fascinating marker recalling the historic La Playa Trail which passed through present-day Point Loma, near Midway and Rosecrans, click here.

To read several historical markers that are easily overlooked near an entrance to Presidio Park, click here.

To read a plaque in Coronado that concerns the birthplace of naval aviation, click here.

To read a marker that recalls a long vanished Chinese shipbuilding site in Point Loma, click here.

To read a marker in Chula Vista that commemorates Japanese immigrant farmers in the South Bay, click here.

To read plaques and inscriptions near the Old Mission Dam in Mission Trails Regional Park, click here.

Finally, to read a marker at the edge of a golf course near Old Town, detailing the history of San Diego’s oldest surviving structure, click here.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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Presidio Hill sculptures moved to History Center.

Two remarkable and historically important sculptures were moved recently from Presidio Hill to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

When I visited the History Center today I was surprised to see the two large Arthur Putnam works, because I’d observed them several times in the past during walks through Presidio Park.

An explanation on the gallery wall explains that The Indian (1904) and The Padre (1908) were moved to protect them from the outdoor elements and vandalism. I learned they will be gallery centerpieces as this section of the San Diego History Center receives additional material. Critical context will be provided for these bronze statues.

If you’d like to see photos of the two sculptures when they stood on Presidio Hill, check out past blog posts here and here.

The first link will take you on a walk from Old Town up to the Serra Museum–a walk I made years ago when Cool San Diego Sights was just getting started.

The second link concerns an Arthur Putnam exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art. You’ll learn that he was internationally renowned, particularly for his sculptures depicting animals. And he also had an interesting San Diego connection!

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The Welcoming Arches and Bell of Oceanside.

The Welcoming Arches and the Welcome Bell greet motorists driving south on Interstate 5 as they enter Oceanside, California. The arches and bell stand just beyond a large American flag and beside the parking lot of an In-N-Out Burger.

I passed by the California Mission inspired structure last weekend as I walked down the Coast Highway.

Mission San Luis Rey, founded in 1798, is located about four miles east-northeast of these bright white adobe mission-style arches.

The Welcoming Arches were designed by noted Southern California architect George M. Adams in 1978 and dedicated in 1982.

The first part of the above plaque reads:

THE WELCOMING ARCHES

AN OCEANSIDE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PROJECT

“THE WELCOMING ARCHES WERE CONCEIVED FROM A WISH THAT
OCEANSIDES’ VISITORS RECEIVE A WELCOME REFLECTING THE
BEAUTY, BOUNTY AND HERITAGE OF THIS AREA.

REALIZING WHERE THERE IS PRIVILEGE THERE IS ALSO
OBLIGATION, THIS ENTRANCE EDIFICE WAS BUILT BY THE
VOLUNTARY GENEROSITY OF THE PEOPLE OF OCEANSIDE”


..LORRAINE SHAFFER

Part of this smaller plaque reads:

“WELCOME BELL”
DONATED BY
OCEANSIDE ROTARY CLUB
JOHN A. STEIGER, PRESIDENT
JANUARY 1983

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Hidden historical marker near Mission San Diego.

There’s an important historical marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá that very few people know about or see. It’s located on private property along San Diego Mission Road, just inside the grounds of a condo complex. You can find it a short distance east of the mission, on some grass behind a fence, very close to the San Diego River.

I was able to take zoom photos of the “hidden” marker and its bronze plaque from the sidewalk.

The words read:

Padre Luis Jayme, Pastor of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was martyred near this site November 5, 1775. Father Jayme had asked that the Mission be moved to its present site from Presidio Hill in order to better grow foods for the Mission.

In this area the Mission padres produced grapes, olives and other farm products for the Indian and Spanish communities.

Also near this site a small structure housed the guard from the Royal Presidio, which served as escort and guard for the Mission padres.

The historical marker was placed where Father Jayme’s body was found. He was killed by a large force of native people, said to be Yuman Indians from distant villages, in an uprising in 1775, about a year after the nearby mission was built. The mission was pillaged and set on fire. Survivors of the attack fled to the Presidio, six miles away down the river.

Over the centuries Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first Spanish mission in California, has been rebuilt several times. The remains of Father Luis Jayme are entombed under the floor next to the altar in the present church.

Looking west down San Diego Mission Road. The mission is located on the hillside beyond those trees..

The nearby San Diego River, where it is crossed by San Diego Mission Road…

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Sculptures by James Hubbell at Mission San Diego.

During my first visit to Mission San Diego de Alcalá over seven years ago, I took a self-guided tour and snapped a variety of photographs, which you can see here. I also provided a very brief overview of the mission.

At the time, I didn’t realize many of sculptures inside and outside of San Diego’s historic Spanish mission were created (beginning in 1974) by renowned local artist James T. Hubbell, whose beautiful work can be seen all over the city. (If you’d like to see more photos of his public sculptures, click here to check out several old blog posts.)

During a recent walk along San Diego Mission Road, I decided to head up the short mission driveway to take a closer look at some of the outdoor sculptures. James Hubbell produced a total of twenty sculptures for the mission, and I photographed the following ten.

The first nine sculptures stand in niches along the front portico of Mission San Diego de Alcalá. They represent the nine Spanish missions that were founded in California by Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.

I then photographed the sculpture of Saint Junípero Serra that stands beside a large cross in front of the mission’s iconic facade.

Should you visit the mission yourself, make sure to obtain a handout in the gift shop concerning the James Hubbell Collection at Mission San Diego de Alcalá. You can read a more detailed description of each piece. The literature refers to spirituality in art, and states that the earthy clay figures are meant to convey each Saint’s humanity.

Along the front portico of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, sculptures in niches represent the nine Spanish missions in California founded by Junípero Serra.
Along the front portico of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, sculptures in niches represent the nine Spanish missions in California founded by Junípero Serra.
Plaque near the portico sculptures: In memory of W. George Hubbard, Sr. A builder of conviction who made every day a better day.
Plaque in the wall near the portico sculptures: In memory of W. George Hubbard, Sr. A builder of conviction who made every day a better day.
San Buenaventura.
San Buenaventura.
Mission San Buenaventura 1782.
Mission San Buenaventura 1782.
Santa Clara de Asís.
Santa Clara de Asís.
Mission Santa Clara de Asís 1777.
Mission Santa Clara de Asís 1777.
San Juan Capistrano.
San Juan Capistrano.
Mission San Juan Capistrano 1776.
Mission San Juan Capistrano 1776.
San Francisco de Asís.
San Francisco de Asís.
Mission San Francisco de Asís 1776.
Mission San Francisco de Asís 1776.
San Luis Obispo.
San Luis Obispo.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772.
San Gabriel Arcángel.
San Gabriel Arcángel.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel 1771.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel 1771.
San Antonio de Padua.
San Antonio de Padua.
Mission San Antonio de Padua 1771.
Mission San Antonio de Padua 1771.
San Carlos Borromeo.
San Carlos Borromeo.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo 1770.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo 1770.
San Diego de Alcalá.
San Diego de Alcalá.
Mission San Diego de Alcalá 1769.
Mission San Diego de Alcalá 1769.
Sculpture of Fray Junípero Serra in front of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá facade.
Sculpture of Fray Junípero Serra in front of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá facade.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

More discoveries on historic Presidio Hill.

Last weekend I walked all over Presidio Park. Looking around, I noticed several historical plaques, benches and signs on Presidio Hill that I hadn’t seen or observed closely before.

After wandering around Inspiration Point and taking in the view of Mission Valley here, and checking out the park’s little known monument to a White Deer here, I headed down one of the park’s canyon trails and soon arrived at the expanse of grass enclosed by Cosoy Way, where families were picnicking on the green slope above a bench…

The inscription on the bench reads:

THIS MEMORIAL TO

TOMMY GETZ

PLACED HERE BY HIS FRIENDS. JULY. 1935.

After taking a few photos, I crossed Presidio Drive and climbed the short distance to the site of old Fort Stockton, where I looked again at the historical markers and public artwork that I once photographed here and here.

Then I began down Presidio Hill toward the site of the centuries-old, long-vanished Spanish presidio, the “birthplace” of California.

As I slowly wound between trees I came upon the following bench, and a small nearby plaque…

The plaque reads:

DEDICATED IN MEMORY OF

FATHER FRANCISCO PALOU

BIOGRAPHER OF FR. SERRA

BY SAN DIEGO PARLOR 208

N.D.G.W. JULY 13, 1929.

(A little research reveals N.D.G.W. means Native Daughters of the Golden West, and their Parlor 208 represents San Diego County.)

A little farther down I found two more plaques by two trees. Sadly, the second tree and its plaque had been vandalized with red spray paint…

CONGRESSMAN JIM BATES

SAN DIEGO

CITY BEAUTIFUL OF SAN DIEGO

TRUTH- BEAUTY- FELLOWMAN

MARCH 30, 1984

IN HONOR OF

MARY VAUGHN

APRIL 20, 1987

LIFE MEMBER

CITY BEAUTIFUL SAN DIEGO

TRUTH – BEAUTY – FELLOWMAN

When I arrived at the old observation structure in a corner of the parking lot below the Junipero Serra Museum, I discovered a plaque on the ground that I hadn’t seen before. To read the larger plaque affixed to the wall, you can click here.

1782 SYLVESTER PATTIE 1828

UNITED STATES

DAUGHTERS OF 1812

SAN DIEGO CHAPTER – APRIL 1992

Then I walked down to the grassy area where San Diego’s 1769 presidio and original mission stood. You can learn more about the big Padre Cross here.

The above tiles I believe were part of the old Presidio and its chapel, whose ruins are now covered by grassy mounds.

This nearby sign explains how this was the site of the Royal Presidio de San Diego during the time of Spanish settlement during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was the first permanent European settlement in what is today the State of California.

Grassy mounds now cover what remains of the Presidio ruins.

Finally, I gazed across Presidio Drive at The Indian, a sculpture by renowned artist Arthur Putnam. Learn more and see a closer photo 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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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.

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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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.

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!

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

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.