The stately Leroy Wright House in Golden Hill.

During the late 19th century, Golden Hill was an affluent neighborhood at the east edge of downtown San Diego. Wander its streets today and you’ll encounter countless old Victorian homes and mansions, some a bit decayed, others gloriously restored.

I was walking up B Street recently when my eyes were arrested by one stately building fronted with impressive, two story tall Greek columns. I’d discovered the Leroy Wright House.

The Leroy Wright House was built in 1898. It was designed for California State Senator Leroy Wright by the Quayle Brothers, prominent architects at the time. Its unmistakeable architectural style is Classical Revival.

If you’d like to see more San Diego buildings that were designed by the Quayle Brothers, who are probably most remembered for historic, now vanished Balboa Stadium, you can click 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!

Working to clean and beautify National City!

During my visit to the fun “A Kimball Holiday” event on Saturday, I met a couple of guys who are working to clean and beautify National City!

In an effort to promote a pedestrian corridor along Interstate 805, they are asking the public which improvements would be most important. Native and drought-resistant landscaping, trash and recycling receptacles, lighting, signage and more are being considered.

I don’t live in National City, but I am a very big walker who passes through its neighborhoods from time to time, so obviously I was excited to hear of this effort!

The guys I spoke to are hoping to receive a Caltrans Clean California Program grant to implement this positive vision for the community.

All I can say is, National City certainly deserves these improvements. This community might be a bit under-resourced, but its residents are equal members of the California family.

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 Ysidro mural painted for California Clean Air Day.

A mural was recently completed in San Ysidro to raise awareness for the 4th Annual California Clean Air Day, which took place last Wednesday.

Today I headed down to Casa Familiar’s new Environmental Justice office at 161 San Ysidro Boulevard to see the mural, which was painted by Amanda Kachadoorian and other artists along a low wall nearby.

My photos show just how gorgeous the artwork is!

According to information I received concerning it, the “mural represents the fight for clean air by elevating conservation and restoration of natural habitats. The mural focuses on the Tijuana River Valley depicting a natural landscape with native plants…”

San Ysidro is home to the world’s busiest land border crossing. This San Diego South Bay community experiences a disproportionate amount of air pollution. The high level of pollution comes from 60,000 idling cars every day as motorists wait at the border.

The beautiful mural was commissioned by the community organization Casa Familiar in collaboration with Coalition for Clean Air.

You can learn more about a past Air Pollution Study in San Ysidro 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!

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!

Imperial Beach plaques remember slough surfers.

Bronze plaques near the foot of the Imperial Beach Pier recall the legendary slough surfers who once trekked from far and wide to the Tijuana Sloughs, where the Tijuana River meets the Pacific Ocean, just north of the Mexican border.

During much of the 20th century, the Tijuana Sloughs was considered the preeminent big surf break in California. There’s a great article concerning the history and geology of the Sloughs here.

If you walk around Portwood Pier Plaza at the foot of the IB Pier, you’ll see a bunch of colorful surfboard benches where you can rest and gaze out across the beach. Look down and you’ll discover plaques next to each bench.

The plaques recall those who rode the big waves at the Tijuana Sloughs and honor bits of Imperial Beach surfing history.

Surfhenge public art welcomes people to the Imperial Beach Pier and Portwood Pier Plaza. The plaza is located next to the beach between Surfhenge and the lifeguard tower to the south.
Visiting slough surfers 1940’s.
Regular slough surfers 1940’s and 1950’s.
Most of California’s finest surfers were lifeguards at some stage in their careers…
Dean of the Sloughs. In 1937 the Sloughs were first surfed by the legendary waterman Dempsey Holder. Over the years surfers from all over California showed up at Dempsey’s lifeguard station at the end of Palm Avenue.
Visiting slough surfers 1950’s.
Father of the Modern Surfboard. In the 1940’s Bob Simmons applied the principles of hydrodynamics to surfboard design and forever changed the sport of surfing. In 1950 he moved to Imperial Beach.
…From 1930 to 1950 the total number of California surfers grew from under 70 to over 1500.
In the 1940’s surfers from all over Southern California made the journey to what is now Imperial Beach to surf the then-known biggest waves off the continental United States.
The Tijuana Sloughs became the testing ground for mainlanders going to Hawai’i. Before Malibu, San Onofre and Windansea groups surfed Makaha and the North Shore of O’ahu, they experienced the thrill and fear of big waves at the Sloughs.

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!

Help turn Balboa Park into a leading world treasure!

The House of Charm and California Tower in silhouette as day ends.
The House of Charm and California Tower in silhouette as day ends.

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you already love Balboa Park. You know what a truly incredible place it is.

Well, Forever Balboa Park wants to take San Diego’s crown jewel to a whole new level. They want the park to be recognized as one of the premier urban parks in the entire world.

We’ve seen how Balboa Park has undergone numerous amazing enhancements during the past couple years: a reimagined Mingei International Museum, new International Cottages, a new Pan American Plaza with ongoing beautification of buildings in the Palisades area, an upcoming very popular Comic-Con Museum, a new viewing platform for the historic Moreton Bay Fig, and much more!

Now there’s a search for a leader who will transform our amazing park in the eyes of the world.

Forever Balboa Park is searching for a world-class leader. According to the job description: The President and CEO must be equally a visionary, diplomat, fundraiser, conservationist, and community leader who is influential beyond the confines of the park. Forever Balboa Park’s first CEO will unify the community around a shared, inclusive vision to transform this urban gem into one of the world’s premier urban parks.

Do you know a passionate, talented someone who can help to accomplish all this? Spread the word! Learn more 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!

Hundreds of new trees planted in Balboa Park.

I was walking through Balboa Park on Sunday, making my way toward Park Boulevard, when I noticed a newly planted tree with a shiny plaque beside it.

I veered across the grass to investigate…

The plaque states:

TREE BALBOA PARK

This tree and hundreds of others have been planted throughout the park by the Balboa Park Conservancy, Urban Corps, Tree San Diego, and Parks & Recreation.

Funding for this California Climate Investments grant project has been provided through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Urban and Community Forestry program.

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!

Your Actions Save Lives mural at Bread and Salt.

During my walk around Chicano Park today I noticed a huge new mural has been painted on one side of the Bread and Salt building in Logan Heights.

After I took some photos and returned home, I learned this mural, titled Stop the Spread, was painted by Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio. The eye-catching public artwork is part of the Your Actions Save Lives campaign in California. The mural, which is readily seen by those driving along Interstate 5, is intended to promote Covid-19 awareness.

To learn more about the mural and artist, and the Mexican symbolism of marigolds as a face covering, read this great article.

Late last year I photographed many other colorful murals all around Bread and Salt, and I posted those pics 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!

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!

Sign marks original terminus of historic U.S. Route 395.

A sign marks the original southern terminus of historic U.S. Route 395 in downtown San Diego. I spotted the sign for the very first time this weekend, as I walked down Park Boulevard just north of Market Street.

I believe the sign is fairly new–either that or I simply haven’t noticed it before.

According to Wikipedia: “US Highway 395 once extended to 11th and Ash in downtown San Diego…From Murrieta the old route follows Interstate 15 again to east of Fallbrook where the original US 395 still exists as a frontage road. ‘Old US 395’ can be followed from north of State Route 76 through Escondido where it meets Interstate 15 again. Finally, State Route 163, the old routing of US 395, splits off Interstate 15 at the south end of Miramar and follows the Cabrillo Freeway into downtown San Diego.”

The historic route into San Diego existed until 1964. Around that time large Southern California stretches were replaced by modern freeways.

Today, the existing U.S. 395 runs from British Columbia, Canada down to the Mojave Desert at Interstate 15 near Hesperia.

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!

Video recreates historic Voyages of the San Salvador!

Behind come America, Cloudia and galleon San Salvador.

A fantastic video produced by the National Park Service and Aperture Films, with a very big assist from the Maritime Museum of San Diego, recreates the historic Voyages of the San Salvador!

If you’ve ever visited the Maritime Museum of San Diego, you’ve certainly boarded the amazing working replica of a Spanish galleon. The San Salvador was built to recreate, as closely as possible, explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s flagship of the same name, which he sailed during his voyage of discovery up the California coast. It was Cabrillo who discovered San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542.

A few years ago a film was made about Cabrillo’s historic Pacific Ocean voyage, using the Maritime Museum’s galleon during a trip to the Channel Islands. The film, titled Voyages of the San Salvador, was meant to be seen in the theater at Cabrillo National Monument, but I learned today from its leading actor, Al Sorkin, that you can view it online!

Voyages of the San Salvador, as described by the National Park Service: “…follows the 1542 expedition led by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on a journey to find a route to China to trade for valuable spices. The film explores the motivation behind this incredible risk and the lasting effects European exploration has had on the native Kumeyaay people. This expedition marked the first European landing on what is now the west coast of the United States.”

As you watch the video, you might recognize that the segment concerning Cabrillo’s departure from his home was filmed in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, at La Casa de Machado y Stewart. And the beach scene beneath towering cliffs was filmed at Torrey Pines State Beach.

Watch the incredible and very educational Voyages of the San Salvador–in English or in Spanish–by clicking here!

Al Sorkin, who played Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in the National Park Service film Voyages of the San Salvador, poses for a photo at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

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!

A walk around the Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista.

The Rancho Guajome Adobe is an architecturally and historically important 19th century ranch house located in Vista, California. I visited it a little over a week ago and walked around the grounds, learning about the fascinating history of the place while taking a few photographs.

I approached the Guajome Ranch House from the Santa Fe Trail to its south, then circled counterclockwise around the complex, viewing the beautiful arcaded veranda, several cisterns fed by wells, the chapel, and other outbuildings. I spotted various signs and plaques relating the history of the ranch, which was once the home of prominent early San Diego resident Cave Johnson Couts and his wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini.

As you can see, I also stepped into a small museum. That’s where you can purchase tickets to guided and self-guided house tours.

According to Wikipedia: “The adobe was built in 1852 and served as the headquarters of Rancho Guajome, a Mexican land grant. Abel Stearns had given the rancho to Ysidora Bandini (sister of his wife Arcadia Bandini), as a wedding gift when she married Lieutenant Cave Johnson Couts in 1851. It was built with the profits from the cattle boom of the 1850s, when many California ranchos supplied the Gold Rush miners and associated new American immigrants with meat and leather. Couts was appointed sub-agent for the native Luiseño people (San Luis Rey Mission Indians) in 1853. He used their labor to improve his properties in the area, including this one and nearby Rancho Buena Vista and Rancho Vallecitos de San Marcos…”

I didn’t venture inside the 22-room hacienda, but I most likely will at some future time. The old ranch house is located in Rancho Guajome Adobe County Park. Check out the parks website here to learn more.

The following photos provide a taste of what you’ll see should you visit this historic place.

Peering from the veranda through an open door…

The sign reads:

The Carriage Courtyard.

Imagine the activity here where Couts quartered his many servants. The ranch foreman lived next to the gate. Horse and equipment stalls, blacksmith shop, tack room, winery, olive vats and a jail made up the ranch service yard. 300 Indian laborers made the thousands of adobe brick to build the walls, and other materials came from the abandoned San Luis Rey Mission with permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

Guajome Ranch House has been designated a National Historic Landmark

This site possesses national significance commemorating the history of the United States of America

1970

National Park Service

United States Department of the Interior

Rancho Guajome

Formerly attached to Mission San Luis Rey, the 2,219 acre ranch passed through brief ownership by two mission Indians, then Don Abel Stearns, and into possession of Ysidora Bandini upon marriage to Col. Cave Johnson Couts. The adobe ranch house built in 1852-53, is one of the finest extant examples of the traditional Spanish-Mexican one-story hacienda with an inner-outer courtyard plan. It was acquired by San Diego County in 1973 for the Guajome Regional Park.

California registered Historical Landmark No. 940

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus, April 26, 1981.

This El Camino Real Bell commemorates the trail of California missions established by the padres and honors the bell’s designer: Harrie Rebbecca Piper Smith Forbes

Dedicated by the Woman’s Club of Vista

9/21/96

At its beginning, Rancho Guajome was a working cattle ranch. Because the West was dry, cattle owners like Cave Couts would turn their cattle out on unfenced pastures. However, during this “open range” period, sometimes cattle from different ranchos intermixed, making it difficult to determine which cattleman owned which cattle. The branding iron was invented as a solution…

Cave Johnson Couts was born in 1821 in Springfield, Tennessee, and died in 1874 in San Diego at the Horton House. His wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini was born in 1828 in San Diego, was married in 1851 at the Casa de Bandini in Old Town (now the Cosmopolitan Hotel), and died in 1897 in Los Angeles.

Included in the museum display are Native work baskets, Southern California style, circa 19th century.

Rancho Guajome Adobe farm equipment included a farm wagon, breaking carts for training horses, a broadcast seeder, a sulky used for racing horses, and a four-bottom Stockton plow used to turn soil to prepare fields for planting.

In the past I blogged about the Colorado House, a two-story hotel that was built in Old Town San Diego in 1851 by the very same Cave Couts. Today it serves as the Wells Fargo History Museum. Read that here.

I’ve also blogged about the El Campo Santo cemetery grave of Juan Mendoza, who was shot in the back by Cave Couts. See that here. (During one walk I spotted another mysterious wooden tombstone with the name Juan Mendoza by a parking lot, across the San Diego River from Old Town. Read that 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!

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!