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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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!

Fun events during California State Parks Week!

It’s California State Parks Week!

At Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, some fun, free activities are planned.

Tomorrow, June 14, visitors will be invited to explore the park’s beautiful new outdoor Land of the First People with park interpreters.

On June 16, in Old Town’s grass plaza, families will enjoy engaging in historical pastimes including the Kumeyaay game ‘p’shok,’ as well as lawn games such as ‘hoop and stick,’ egg races, and tug of war from the Californio period.

Up the coast at Cardiff State Beach, on June 15, kids can participate in My Fun Future in the Outdoors, when California State Park employees share their favorite reasons to work in Parks. Kids can speak to heroes and become inspired!

Click the above links to learn more!

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 strange California Historical Landmark . . . parking lot?

At the north corner of Congress Street and Twiggs Street, in San Diego’s Old Town, you’ll find a large parking lot.

In a strip of landscaping between the parking lot and sidewalk stands a mysterious sign. The sign reads: SITE OF CASA DE COTA – HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 75.

That’s strange! The only thing visible is the parking lot! So, where is Casa de Cota?

According to this page of the San Diego History Center: Built in the mid-1830’s by Juan or Ramón Cota, this house stood for over a century on the corner of Twiggs and Congress Streets, before being destroyed by United States Army bulldozers during World War II.

You can see two old photographs of the historical structure here and here.

It appears to have been built of adobe blocks.

Visitor maps posted around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park show Parking Lot B, where the house once stood. I’ve included the following photo. I marked a red X at the mysterious sign’s location.

Do you happen to know more about the long-vanished Casa de Cota? If you do, please leave a comment!

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!

Honorary Tom Hom Avenue in downtown San Diego.

At the intersection of Market Street and Third Avenue in downtown San Diego, you might spot an unusual street sign.

Third Avenue where it runs through the Asian Pacific Historic District is now also called Honorary Tom Hom Avenue.

I noticed the sign the other day while driving down Market Street, so I walked through the neighborhood this evening in order to take a few photographs.

I’ve learned the street sign made its first appearance this February during a public ceremony with many dignitaries.

Tom Hom was a civic leader who worked hard to achieve his successes. In 1963, he was the first person of color to be elected to the San Diego City Council. He later would be elected the city’s deputy mayor, and then only the second Asian American elected to the California State Legislature!

As a politician, Tom Hom used his influence to help get San Diego Stadium built. He also supported the gentrification of the run-down but historic Gaslamp Quarter.

This Wikipedia article details his rich life, including how his family came to California in 1909 on the steam liner SS Manchuria, and how his father named him after Thomas Edison!

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!

Exhibit shows history of Japanese Americans in Coronado.

The Coronado Historical Association’s Museum of History and Art presently features an exhibit titled Uprooted: The Story of the Japanese Americans of Coronado.

I visited the museum yesterday. The kind lady at the entrance allowed me to take a few photos when she learned I’m a blogger.

As I stepped into the first gallery, I was immediately pleased to see that the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park had contributed objects for display, including beautiful kimonos. I’m a member of the garden.

Then, as I looked at old photographs and read descriptions, I was stunned to learn that Coronado once had its own Japanese garden! Actually two tea gardens! And the second would be the setting for four motion pictures from 1913 to 1919!

Looking at the exhibit’s many historical photographs, I tried to imagine what life on the island might have been like years ago, particularly for Japanese Americans. The years covered are from the mid-1800’s when immigrants came to California seeking opportunity, to the forced detention of Japanese American citizens during World War II, to more recent and optimistic times.

Many of the displays are made possible by the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego.

Anyone interested in local history absolutely should visit this exhibit. I was surprised to learn so much!

More information can be found on the Coronado Historical Association website 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!

Lawyers Club of San Diego at the History Center.

A new exhibit opens in March at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. It’s titled To Advance the Status of Women in Law and Society: Lawyers Club of San Diego at 50 Years.

Yesterday, during a visit to the History Center, I enjoyed a preview of the exhibit, which then was almost complete.

Displays filled with photographs and detailed descriptions explain how over the years women have fought for equal rights and opportunity in California, and San Diego in particular.

I learned how Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first woman to pass the California bar in 1883, helped lead the fight for the women’s right to vote in California.

I learned how gender bias in the San Diego legal community, right up into the 1970s, made it hard for women attorneys to gain employment.

I also learned how one woman achieved unique success. Madge Bradley, who was appointed to the San Diego Municipal Court bench in 1953, was the first woman to serve on a judicial bench in San Diego County.

When Madge Bradley retired, there again were no women on the bench, and only 24 women practicing law in all of San Diego County. So six female lawyers, who sought to challenge gender bias in their profession and elevate the status of women, started the Lawyers Club in 1972.

Over the decades, the Lawyers Club of San Diego has helped to greatly advance the cause of women, and equal rights, not only in the legal profession, but throughout society.

But there is still work to do. For several decades women have graduated from law school at the same rate as men, but they still make up a minority of judges.

One display explains how to make change happen: by voting, advocacy, speaking out, raising awareness, leadership, finding allies, and giving back.

In 2022, the Lawyers Club is celebrating their 50th Anniversary!

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!

Californian’s cannon salute to Star of India.

If you’ve ever heard two very loud booms in downtown San Diego on a Sunday afternoon, chances are you’ve heard cannons on San Diego Bay.

Around 3:30 pm, when the tall ship Californian returns from a four-hour sail and approaches its Maritime Museum of San Diego home, it fires two cannons to salute world-famous museum ship Star of India.

I was out on the deck of the Maritime Museum’s steam ferry Berkeley when a docent advised everyone there would soon be a very loud noise! I got my camera ready, aimed it at Californian, and snapped photos at the first sign of smoke.

Startling booms followed shortly thereafter, echoing off nearby downtown skyscrapers!

The two cannon salute to Star of India, oldest active sailing ship in the world, is now a San Diego tradition. The booms have been echoing downtown for as long as I can remember.

The handsome schooner Californian, built in San Diego in 1984, is the official tall ship of the State of 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!

Old Town’s windmill–the only one of its kind in the world!

This might surprise you, but the windmill that stands in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is the only windmill of its kind in the entire world!

The tall Tustin style windmill located in the yard behind Seeley Stable is an accurate 2009 reconstruction of the one built in 1870 for Albert Seeley’s Cosmopolitan Hotel. Back then, its design represented the latest in windmill technology.

The Tustin style windmill was invented by pioneering manufacturer William Isaac Tustin, who came to California in a wagon train in 1845. His first job was working for John A. Sutter before the discovery of gold several years later at Sutter’s Mill.

Tustin claimed that he built California’s very first windmill, in Benica in 1849.

The unique Tustin style windmill is self-regulating, with a wheel that turns to face the wind at variable angles, controlling the speed of the blades’ rotation.

Originally, this windmill was erected to raise water from a well and store it in a wooden cistern, which you can see in my photos.

And it still works today!

Old Town’s one-of-a-kind, historic windmill is usually disabled, however, because the noise it makes when operating is quite loud!

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!

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!