Historical exhibit features archives at City Hall.

A display during Archives Month includes photograph of the City Clerk's office in San Diego, circa 1890.
Historical exhibit during Archives Month includes an old photograph of the City Clerk’s office in San Diego, circa 1890.

Through the end of October an interesting exhibit can be viewed inside the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building, in one corner of the City Information Center. A collection of documents and historical objects has been placed on public display, to celebrate the City Clerk’s 2nd Annual Archives Month.

The theme in 2018 is The Framers. The exhibit focuses on the history of San Diego from the 1850s through 1905, a formative period that included multiple city charters and changes in type of government.

Not only can visitors see official city documents from that period, but there are many interesting historical artifacts, including objects that were once commonplace in the lives of San Diego residents.

These photos provide a small sample…

An exhibit in the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building. The Framers, City Clerk Archives, National Archives Month, October 2018.
History comes to life in the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building. The Framers, City Clerk Archives, National Archives Month, October 2018.
One document on display is the Charter for the City of San Diego by the Board of Freeholders elected December 5, 1888.
One document on display is the Charter for the City of San Diego by the Board of Freeholders elected December 5, 1888.
Record of Common Council no. 22, May 1, 1905 - October 2, 1905. Typed Minutes.
Record of Common Council no. 22, May 1, 1905 – October 2, 1905. Typed Minutes.
Petitions to the Common Council, 1872-1916. Historical Preservation of San Diego's History.
Petitions to the Common Council, 1872-1916. Historical Preservation of San Diego’s History.
One display of historical photos and letters concerns the rainmaker Charles Hatfield, engaged in 1915 by San Diego's city council to fill the Morena Dam Reservoir.
Old photos and letters concerning the infamous rainmaker Charles Hatfield, engaged in 1915 by San Diego’s city council to fill the Morena Dam Reservoir.
Dress, circa 1900. From the San Diego State University School of Theater, Television, and Film Historical Collection.
Pink and white dress, circa 1900. From the San Diego State University School of Theater, Television, and Film Historical Collection.
Exact replica of the Bicentennial Key, 1776-1976, Independence Hall. It was presented by the California Locksmith Association to The City of San Diego.
Exact replica of the Bicentennial Key, 1776-1976, Independence Hall. It was presented by the California Locksmith Association to The City of San Diego.
Mexican Coat of Arms. Gift from Sister City Tijuana.
Mexican Coat of Arms. Gift from Sister City Tijuana.
Numerous documents and articles recall the history of San Diego city government in the second half of the 19th century.
Numerous documents and articles recall the history of San Diego city government in the second half of the 19th century.
Free Holders Agreement, January 10, 1889 and Letter for Charter to be Published in Newspapers, March 4, 1889.
Free Holders Agreement, January 10, 1889 and Letter for Charter to be Published in Newspapers, March 4, 1889.
Douglas Gunn Mayor's Message, November 25, 1889.
Douglas Gunn Mayor’s Message, November 25, 1889.
More documents from the late 19th century provide examples of early council letterhead.
More documents from the late 19th century provide examples of early council letterhead.

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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Photos of Little Italy’s new Piazza Giannini.

The new Piazza Giannini, at the corner of India and Cedar Street in downtown San Diego.
The new Piazza Giannini, at the corner of India and Cedar Street in downtown San Diego.

A new public space opened last month in downtown’s Little Italy neighborhood. Piazza Giannini, located at the corner of India Street and West Cedar Street, is a community gathering place that pays tribute to a famous Italian American who invented many of the conveniences of modern banking.

Born in San Jose, A.P. Giannini was a big believer in California. He started the Bank of Italy in San Francisco, and dedicated it to ordinary middle class Americans and hardworking immigrants that other banks wouldn’t serve. Believing in equal access to all, the Bank of Italy opened hundreds of branches throughout the state. Eventually it became Bank of America.

A sign at Piazza Giannini explains how donors can purchase plaques in this new public space.
A sign at Piazza Giannini explains how donors can purchase plaques in this new public space.
Amadeo P. Giannini was born in San Jose to Italian immigrants. He believed California and its citizens could lead the country to prosperity.
Amadeo P. Giannini was born in San Jose to Italian immigrants. He believed California and its citizens could lead the country to prosperity.
. . . we should bend increasing efforts to demonstrate the equality that underlies the American philosophy.
. . . we should bend increasing efforts to demonstrate the equality that underlies the American philosophy.
. . . No man actually ever owns fortune--it owns him.
. . . No man actually ever owns fortune–it owns him.
Serving the needs of others is the only legitimate business today.
Serving the needs of others is the only legitimate business today.
A streetlamp banner in San Diego's Little Italy pays tribute to Amadeo Giannini, father of modern banking.
A streetlamp banner in San Diego’s Little Italy pays tribute to Amadeo Giannini, father of modern banking.
A banker should consider himself a servant of the people, a servant of the community.
A banker should consider himself a servant of the people, a servant of the community.
The bronze bust of Amadeo Pietro Giannini at Piazza Giannini in Little Italy.
The bronze bust of Amadeo Pietro Giannini at Piazza Giannini in Little Italy.

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!

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!

A virtual reality tour around San Diego!

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park prepare to enjoy a short virtual reality tour around San Diego.
Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park prepare to enjoy a short virtual reality tour around San Diego.

During my random walk through Balboa Park today, I stumbled upon something that is unique and really fun! I wandered into the San Diego History Center and was immediately drawn to a sign at the entrance to one gallery that read: Experience San Diego, The Virtual Reality Adventure.

I wasn’t looking to blog anything after my walk today, but this short VR tour around San Diego is so cool, I definitely want to share it!

After having my VR headset strapped on, I suddenly found myself transported to a wide variety of places and events around San Diego. I was standing atop the California Tower in Balboa Park, turning my head to gaze in every direction . . .

Then suddenly I was floating over Oceanside in a hot air balloon . . . standing among hockey players during a San Diego Gulls game . . . riding a helicopter along our beautiful coast . . . right up close among the dolphins at SeaWorld . . . riding the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park in Mission Beach . . . flying above the desert in Anza Borrego State Park . . . floating on a boat among sea lions on San Diego Bay . . . and much more–all in virtual reality!

The whole experience is made possible by 4DSCI. A ticket costs just five dollars and the virtual reality tour lasts for perhaps ten minutes. If you want to experience San Diego in a whole new way, head down to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park and check it out!

Experience San Diego, The Virtual Reality Adventure. You will see many cool sights as if you were there in person!
Experience San Diego, The Virtual Reality Adventure. You will see many cool sights as if you were there in person!
Around the corner is the VR Theater...
Around the corner is the VR Theater…
The fun kid-friendly room where the experience is enjoyed. Chairs swivel so visitors can experience the virtual reality in every direction.
The fun, kid-friendly room where the experience is enjoyed. Chairs swivel so visitors can easily turn and experience the virtual reality in every direction.
Cabrillo National Monument is one of the places that will surround you--as if you are there!
Cabrillo National Monument is one of the beautiful places that will surround you–as if you are there!

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!

Californio history celebrated again in Old Town!

Today, after I checked out the San Diego Cup racing at Mission Bay, I headed to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to see if anything interesting was going on. Somehow I’d forgotten that Stagecoach Days are celebrated in Old Town on summer Saturdays, and so I was surprised and happy to stumble upon Days of the Vaqueros!

I blogged about this exact same event last year, and took lots of photos and provided a fair amount of description and background. I saw many of the same participants again this year, and debated whether I should take more photos.

I love Old Town so much I couldn’t resist. If you want to learn more about life in San Diego when Southern California was a part of Spain, then Mexico, and large ranches employed the original cowboys, or vaqueros, then visit my blog from last summer’s event here.

You might also enjoy reading my blog post about Old Town’s McCoy House Museum, which includes many displays that concern San Diego’s fascinating early history.

Meanwhile, here are a few uncaptioned photographs of what I experienced today…

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!

Visit a world-class map museum in La Jolla!

World Map (Ptolemy), Johann Schnitzer, 1482 or 1486.
World Map (Ptolemy), Johann Schnitzer, 1482 or 1486.

I was surprised to learn recently that a world-class map museum is located in San Diego. The Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla is considered to be one of the best dedicated map museums in the entire world!

Out of curiosity, I swung by the small museum yesterday and lingered for at least an hour. I could have spent the entire day looking at the amazing collection of historical maps that fill several themed galleries.

Many of the rare maps are antique, dating from centuries ago when the world’s outlines were unknown, and sea monsters inhabited the watery margins. Every map in the collection is original and authentic, including the first map ever printed!

As I stepped through the door I was greeted by Richard, the friendly director of the museum. I learned that this free museum was founded by Michael Stone, a local businessman and collector with a love for maps. In his youth he collected baseball cards, stamps and coins, before maps and cartography became his passion. At any given time, about ten percent of his vast collection is on display. I was told that Michael is one of the top half dozen map collectors in the world.

There are antique maps showing Earth as the center of Creation, maps from the Age of Exploration, maps from the Revolutionary War, Victorian maps, tourist maps, even maps showing early San Diego. There’s a woodcut map that was created by Benjamin Franklin! There are artistic maps, humorous maps, playing card maps, practically every variety of map or atlas ever conceived by the human mind. There are also historical instruments used by the old explorers and map makers.

For history lovers, the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla is a jaw-dropping delight! Visitors might feel they’ve stepped into the vaults of the Smithsonian or National Archives. The collection is that extraordinary!

Richard wandered about the museum during my visit, greeting people and providing tidbits of fascinating information. He informed me many students come by the museum, where they can study history, cartography, design and art.

The museum contains such an abundance of cool stuff, I don’t know where to possibly begin. To provide an idea of what you will see, I offer a sampling of photos. I’ve roughly arranged these maps in chronological order. Read the captions!

In my opinion, this little-known attraction in San Diego is an absolute must see! You can find it in the lower courtyard level of the office building at 7825 Fay Avenue in La Jolla. Check out their website for hours and more info, including special exhibitions.

Visitors look at an amazing collection of historic maps at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla.
Visitors look at an amazing collection of historic maps at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla.
I was shown the museum's work room, containing a library containing many books that the public can access. A variety of projects like the scanning of historic documents is also done here.
I was shown the museum’s work room, containing a library of books that the public can access. A variety of museum projects like the scanning of maps and historical documents is also done here.

The following is a tiny sample of the many original, rare maps you’ll see when you visit the museum:

The world's first printed map of a certain date, 1472. This woodcut T-O shaped world map is from Isidorus Hispalensis (Isidore of Seville).
The world’s first printed map of a certain date, 1472. This woodcut T-O shaped world map is from Isidorus Hispalensis (Isidore of Seville).
World Map, anonymous, 1491. This map was often hung in medieval monasteries or palaces. It first appeared in the Rudimentum Novitiorum of 1475.
World Map, anonymous, 1491. This map was often hung in medieval monasteries or palaces. It first appeared in the Rudimentum Novitiorum of 1475.
World Map (Ptolemy), Martin Waldseemuller, 1513. Even after the discovery of America, Ptolemaic maps devoid of a Western Hemisphere were still printed.
World Map (Ptolemy), Martin Waldseemuller, 1513. Even after the discovery of America, Ptolemaic maps devoid of a Western Hemisphere were still printed.
North Atlantic, Jacob Ziegler, 1532. Information for this map was obtained from two Archbishops in Rome. Newfoundland is Terra Bacallaos, or land of codfish.
North Atlantic, Jacob Ziegler, 1532. Information for this map was obtained from two Archbishops in Rome. Newfoundland is Terra Bacallaos, or land of codfish.
America, Sebastian Munster, Basle, 1540. This depiction of North America came from reports by explorer Giovanni da Verrazano.
America, Sebastian Munster, Basle, 1540. This depiction of North America came from reports by explorer Giovanni da Verrazano.
Eastern North America, Girolamo Ruscelli, 1561. Little was known about the inland geography.
Eastern North America, Girolamo Ruscelli, 1561. Little was known about the inland geography.
North America, Paolo Forlani, 1565. A map that shows America and Asia separated with a strait.
North America, Paolo Forlani, 1565. A map that shows America and Asia separated with a strait.
China, Japan and Korea, Jodocus Hondius, 1606. Copperplate engraving from the Mercator Atlas.
China, Japan and Korea, Jodocus Hondius, 1606. Copperplate engraving from the Mercator Atlas.
View of Macao, Theodore de Bry, 1607. A stylized map, the first published image of Macao.
View of Macao, Theodore de Bry, 1607. A stylized map, the first published image of Macao.
The Low Countries in the Form of a Lion, Petrus Kaerius, 1617. A map of the Netherlands and Belgium.
The Low Countries in the Form of a Lion, Petrus Kaerius, 1617. A map of the Netherlands and Belgium.
Northeast North America, Jan Jansson and Nicholas Visscher, 1655.
Northeast North America, Jan Jansson and Nicholas Visscher, 1655.
Second Hemisphere with the Christianized firmament, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The twelve apostles supplanted the old zodiacal constellations in this map.
Second Hemisphere with the Christianized firmament, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The twelve apostles supplanted the old zodiacal constellations in this map.
The Sizes of the Celestial Bodies, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The heavenly bodies compared with Earth, according to Ptolemy.
The Sizes of the Celestial Bodies, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The heavenly bodies compared with Earth, according to Ptolemy.
English colonies, Richard Daniel, ca. 1679. The first printed map of the colonies depicting roads.
English colonies, Richard Daniel, ca. 1679. The first printed map of the colonies depicting roads.
California on early maps was depicted as an island.
California on early maps was depicted as an island.
Southern and Southeast Asia, Frederick de Wit, ca. 1680. A standard Dutch published map.
Southern and Southeast Asia, Frederick de Wit, ca. 1680. A standard Dutch published map.
Eastern North America, Hermann Moll, 1715. Beautiful illustration on what is commonly called the beaver map, which was copied from an earlier 1698 map by Nicolas de Fer.
Eastern North America, Hermann Moll, 1715. Beautiful illustration on what is commonly called the beaver map, which was copied from an earlier 1698 map by Nicolas de Fer.
Nova Orbis Terraquei Tabula Accuratissime Delineata, Pieter Van Der Aa, 1713. I love the extensive Latin name given to this highly ornate copper-plate engraving Dutch map!
Nova Orbis Terraquei Tabula Accuratissime Delineata, Pieter Van Der Aa, 1713. I love the extensive Latin name given to this highly ornate copper-plate engraving Dutch map!
A display case at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla includes geographic playing cards from the early 18th century.
A display case at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla includes geographic playing cards from the early 18th century.
Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, Benjamin Franklin, 1733. Franklin likely cut the woodblock himself. The map shows the newly delineated boundaries of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, Benjamin Franklin, 1733. Franklin likely cut the woodblock himself. The map shows the newly delineated boundaries of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Battle of Long Island, Samuel Holland, 1776. A section of a map that shows the plan of the first major battle in the American Revolution.
Battle of Long Island, Samuel Holland, 1776. A section of a map that shows the plan of the first major battle in the American Revolution.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, William Faden, 1777. Plan of the Operations of General Washington, against the King's Troops in New Jersey.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, William Faden, 1777. Plan of the Operations of General Washington, against the King’s Troops in New Jersey.
Philadelphia, William Faden, 1777. Lower half of the map includes copy of the earliest known printed image of Independence Hall.
Philadelphia, William Faden, 1777. Lower half of the map includes copy of the earliest known printed image of Independence Hall.
The Wonderground Map of London Town, MacDonald Gill, 1915. This small section shows some of the delightful retail map's humor.
The Wonderground Map of London Town, MacDonald Gill, 1915. This small section shows some of the delightful retail map’s humor.
Mission Beach, San Diego, 1915. Map of the projected development of Mission Beach.
Mission Beach, San Diego, 1915. Map of the projected development of Mission Beach.
San Diego, Joseph Jacinto Mora, 1928. Corner of a map containing historic illustrations and important places, like the pictured Union Station (now Santa Fe Depot), Horton House (where the U.S. Grant Hotel stands today), Army and Navy YMCA, and Casa de Estudillo in Old Town, which was then called Ramona's Marriage Place.
San Diego, Joseph Jacinto Mora, 1928. Corner of a map containing illustrations of local history and important places, like the pictured Union Station (now Santa Fe Depot), Horton House (where the U.S. Grant Hotel stands today), Army and Navy YMCA, and Casa de Estudillo in Old Town, which was then called Ramona’s Marriage Place.
Another section of the same map showing areas around San Diego Bay including downtown, National CIty, Coronado and Point Loma.
Another section of the same map showing areas around San Diego Bay including downtown, National City, Coronado and Point Loma.
A Map of Ceylon showing her Tea and Other Industries, MacDonald Gill, ca. 1934.
A Map of Ceylon showing her Tea and Other Industries, MacDonald Gill, ca. 1934.
Mail Steamship Routes, MacDonald Gill, 1937.
Mail Steamship Routes, MacDonald Gill, 1937.
The Time and Tide Map of the United Nations, MacDonald Gill, 1948.
The Time and Tide Map of the United Nations, MacDonald Gill, 1948.
Southern California, Roads To Romance, a tourist map ca. 1958.
Southern California, Roads To Romance, a tourist map ca. 1958.
Thomas Jeffery's brass theodolite, part of the museum's collection. Jeffery was geographer to King George III. The antique theodolite is pictured in the book The Cartographical Collection of Michael R. Stone.
Thomas Jefferys’ brass theodolite, part of the museum’s collection. Jefferys was geographer to King George III. The antique theodolite is pictured in the extraordinary book The Cartographical Collection of Michael R. Stone.
The Location of the Earth, Encircled by the Celestial Circles, Andreas Cellarius, 1660.
The Location of the Earth, Encircled by the Celestial Circles, Andreas Cellarius, 1660.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Art captures memories of San Quentin inmates.

Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates.
Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates. (Click image to enlarge for easier reading.)

There’s a fascinating exhibition right now at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. It’s titled Spaces from Yesterday and features the artwork of three San Quentin inmates.

The artwork was created in collaboration with San Quentin State Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho, who also has a few related pieces in the exhibition. But the work that I found most interesting came directly from the hands of the inmates.

All three of the artists summon happy memories from their childhood. These images are warm, but also hard-edged and unpeopled. One work, The Hallway by Dennis Crookes, almost looks like a long, harsh, narrow prison hallway that finally leads to a home’s light-filled kitchen.

I could find no explanation why these three were incarcerated in the San Quentin correctional complex, which contains California’s only death row for male inmates. That would seem to be an essential part of the story, and might explain certain qualities of the art. But the anecdotes that are written do reveal a common yearning for a past life that is fondly remembered.

The following photos show a description of each piece, followed by the actual artwork.

Spaces from Yesterday will be on display through January 28, 2018. Those interested in art, creativity, and often hidden aspects of human life should check it out. Admission to the SDSU Downtown Gallery is free.

Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.

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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.