Grizzly bears ready for Balboa Park rooftop!

Two huge golden grizzly bears have come to life in San Diego, and are ready to stand on a Balboa Park rooftop!

Yesterday the two amazing sculptures were previewed. I took photographs!

The life-size bronze bears–each weighing about 400 pounds–will soon be placed atop the roof of the 1935 California State Building, which today is home of the San Diego Automotive Museum. The sculptures will stand on the front corners of the building, as bears once did almost a century ago, back when the building debuted for the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition.

Artists Mike and Kevin Matson of Bellagio Precast have been busy working on these new bear sculptures at their San Diego studio. Perhaps you remember my blog post from late 2021 with photos of one partially cold cast bronze bear.

The two huge bears are now one hundred percent finished and ready for transportation to Balboa Park! Once the roof of the San Diego Automotive Museum is structurally prepared for the heavy sculptures, they will be lifted by crane up to their respective corners. All of this should occur in April. Watch for it!

As I mentioned, the original 1935 bears were only temporary (likely made of plaster-like material) and disappeared long ago. A few old photographs show them atop the California State Building. Here’s one:

In the above enlarged photograph, you might also glimpse a flagpole over the building’s front entrance. Two flagpoles are also returning to the historic California State Building! Brackets for them have already been created:

The new bears and flagpoles are part of an ongoing effort by the Balboa Park Committee of 100 to restore the Palisades area of Balboa Park to something more like its original 1935 appearance. The organization has been working to preserve Balboa Park’s historic architecture, gardens and public spaces since 1967.

The Committee of 100’s initial undertaking in the Palisades was the reproduction of historical murals above the entrance to this same building. Perhaps you’ve seen those beautiful tile murals. If you haven’t, click here.

The California State Building’s new life-size bears have been years in the making. At yesterday’s event we were shown small working models that preceded the finished sculptures. Kevin Matson held them up for examination:

So how exactly were life-size cold cast bronze bears made?

Each of the finished bear sculptures has a Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete skin that is about 3/8″ to 1/2” thick. Two sculpture halves are joined together with a stainless steel frame inside. Each bear’s volume is then filled with a high density urethane foam.

How awesome are these golden grizzlies? Take a look!

The Balboa Park Committee of 100 is engaged in another fantastic project! They are recreating a large historical mural that will be placed above the entrance of the Municipal Gymnasium building. It, too, will be breathtaking!

I’ll be blogging about that shortly!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Tribute to coastal advocate at San Dieguito Lagoon.

As I walked along the Coast to Crest Trail a couple days ago, a bit south of the San Andres Drive trailhead, I came upon a sign that pays tribute to Peter Douglas. He was an important coastal advocate who worked to protect the nearby San Dieguito Lagoon.

I learned that I was walking beside the Peter Douglas Wetlands.

As you gaze at the beauty of the San Dieguito Lagoon, watch birds flying, diving and foraging in the wetlands and wildlife scampering among the scrub and chaparral, you can appreciate the vision that led to the conservation and restoration of this scenic and biologically diverse open space, known as the Peter Douglas Wetlands.

Peter Douglas (1942-2012), one of California’s most visionary and inspirational environmental advocates, led a successful grass roots effort in 1972 that resulted in the creation of the California Coastal Commission…

The support and passion of Peter Douglas significantly influenced the ability…to realize (a) collective dream of preserving these wetlands in perpetuity…

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark and swing on by occasionally!

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 into history down Mule Hill Trail.

Walk down Mule Hill Trail at the south end of Escondido and you’ll find yourself stepping into history.

A while back I blogged about the forgotten town of Bernardo. A hundred years ago it was located in farmland near this trail, prior to the creation of Lake Hodges.

Down this same trail information signs mark the location of Mule Hill, where a skirmish took place during the Mexican-American War.

Seeking shelter among rocky outcroppings, General Kearny established a defensive position against pursuing Californios, as his U.S. Dragoons retreated toward San Diego after the Battle of San Pasqual.

The precise location of this skirmish was in debate for many years. Here are some interesting articles.

Today, after a short, easy walk south down Mule Hill Trail, you’ll see the outcroppings rising above several signs. You can find the wide dirt trail just east of Interstate 15, off Bear Valley Parkway, before Beethoven Drive.

Beginning south down Mule Hill Trail, part of the San Dieguito River Park.

The wide, easy trail leads south toward both Mule Hill and the forgotten town of Bernardo.

Off to the right near river trees, a solitary sign beckons.

Start of the Engagement, December 7, 1846

“Late in the evening, when we had arrived within about four hundred yards of the water where we intended to camp, they charged us, coming on in two bodies and compelling us to retreat to a pile of rocks about two hundred yards away on our left . . . ” source–Kit Carson’s Autobiography

Continuing our walk south. Jumbled boulders can be seen on the hill to our left.

We’ve arrived at three signs near a pair of rock outcroppings that figure in the early history of San Diego. The signs explain what happened here at Mule Hill.

Mule Hill Standoff

On December 7, the American soldiers, sailors and volunteers under command of Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny, were attacked from the rear by Mexican forces 250 yards northwest of this location…

The Mexican forces recruited for the defense of their homeland were led by Captain Andres Pico . . . The forces were primarily comprised of Californios, residents of California at that time who descended from Mexican and Spanish colonialists…

The Americans were short of food and resorted to eating their mules, hence the name “Mule Hill” for this site…

…Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale volunteered to sneak through the Mexican lines to seek help from San Diego, and he asked that army scout Kit Carson go with him.

Standoff Continues

On December 8, after the sun had set, Beale, Carson and a Native American (identity unknown to us) sneaked through three lines of Mexican sentries…Nearing San Diego, they separated…The Native American arrived in San Diego first…

On December 9, with little food, water or supplies and a number of wounded men, General Kearny made the decision to fight his way to San Diego…

On December 10, Sergeant John Cox died and was buried at Mule Hill…

On December 11… A relief column of 100 sailors and 80 marines, sent by Commodore Robert Stockton, had arrived. The Mexican force, now outnumbered, withdrew. Later that morning the Americans left Mule Hill and marched to what is now Old Town, San Diego, thus completing a 2,000 mile march from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark and swing on by occasionally!

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!

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.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!