Frank the Trainman mural Train of Wisdom.

A mural titled Train of Wisdom, painted in 1989 by local Chicano artist Mario Torero and students from O’Farrell High School of Performing Arts and Roosevelt Junior High School, decorates the back side of a building located on the northwest corner of Park and El Cajon Boulevard.

Today very few people venture around the building to enjoy the faded 100-foot-long, 40-foot-high mural, which depicts a colorful train driven by young people. Optimistic symbolism fills the mural. On the south end of the building, astute passersby will see the historic, animated neon Frank the Trainman sign at the top of a flight of stairs, which form the mural’s triangular cowcatcher.

This was the original location of the Frank the Trainman model railroad store, which Frank Cox opened in the 1940s. He eventually retired and passed his business on to fellow model train buff Jim Cooley, who sold the property to Mission Federal Credit Union in 1987. To honor the history of Frank the Trainman, the architectural firm of Bradshaw and Bundy altered the building’s exterior into the outline of a locomotive, and the Train of Wisdom was subsequently painted.

(Jim moved the original train store to today’s location just down Park Boulevard and added to it his own unique collectibles museum, which includes some extremely rare antique automobiles. I blogged about that here.)

I walked behind the building yesterday and took the following photographs of the large, nearly 30 year old mural, to help preserve a little bit of San Diego history…

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Colorful new street art in Barrio Logan!

Female face flows like sand through an hourglass. Beautiful street art on a utility box on Cesar E. Chavez Parkway in Barrio Logan.
Female face flows like sand through an hourglass. Beautiful street art on a utility box on Cesar E. Chavez Parkway in Barrio Logan.

Every so often I drive up Cesar E. Chavez Parkway through Barrio Logan. Recently I noticed that there’s a bunch of new street art decorating electrical boxes at intervals along both sidewalks. So last Sunday I took a walk through the neighborhood to check it out.

The photos of street art on walls, doors and windows you see were taken on Main Street just north of Cesar E. Chavez Parkway. The many electrical boxes were observed along the parkway between Main Street and National Avenue.

As I took those final two photos of the painted dogs Princess and Chato, I was startled by a nearby voice. A gentlemen at the nearby house greeted me from over his fence. I learned many of the boxes along the street were painted by various local artists about a month and a half ago. He was pleased that his neighborhood is getting “cleaned up” and graffiti has made way to all the colorful artwork.

I was also surprised to learn Princess and Chato were actual living dogs! As we spoke, a woman came out of the house proudly holding the two dogs! After I departed, I regretted not asking whether I could take photos of their pets. As you can see, Princess and Chato’s street art portraits are very true-to-life!

Street art fuses a human face with elements from the Mexican flag's coat of arms.
Street art fuses a human face with elements from the Mexican flag’s coat of arms.
A pink flamingo painted by a blue door on Main Street in Barrio Logan.
A pink flamingo painted by a blue door on Main Street in Barrio Logan.
Glashaus remains painted on a shipping container long after the nearby art studios were vacated.
Glashaus remains painted on a shipping container long after the nearby art studios were vacated.
Shark painted on wall by Ol' Fashioned Lumber.
Shark painted on wall by Ol’ Fashioned Lumber.
Happy sun painted on a long colorful wall at Perkins Elementary School.
Happy sun painted on a long colorful wall at Perkins Elementary School.
A very flowery Frida Kahlo, painted on a door at The iN Gallery.
A very flowery Frida Kahlo, painted on a door at The iN Gallery.
Tree-like art on a screen door at 1878 Main Street.
Tree-like art on a screen door at 1878 Main Street.
Cool art enlivens a nearby window.
Cool art enlivens a nearby window.
Cesar Chavez art in Barrio Logan on the street that bears his name. His words concerning courage and the non-violent struggle for justice live on.
Cesar Chavez art in Barrio Logan on the street that bears his name. His words concerning courage and the non-violent struggle for justice live on.
Huelga in Spanish means strike.
Huelga in Spanish means strike.
Symbols fill one side of an electrical box. You are in Chicano Park.
Symbols fill one side of an electrical box. You are in Chicano Park.
Fun street art on another side of the electrical box on Cesar E. Chavez Parkway includes a face.
Fun street art on another side of the electrical box on Cesar E. Chavez Parkway includes a face.
Another side. Two birds, a red flower, the moon and sun.
Another side. Two birds, a red flower, the moon and sun.
A poem. Flores para los Muertos - Flores de los Enamorados... Flowers for the Dead - Flowers of the Lovers...
A poem. Flores para los Muertos – Flores de los Enamorados… Flowers for the Dead – Flowers of the Lovers…
Stunning street art in Barrio Logan abundant with ancient symbolism.
Stunning street art in Barrio Logan abundant with ancient symbolism.
A painted calavera among flowers, topped with a hat-like gramophone.
A painted calavera among flowers, topped with a hat-like gramophone.
A Mexican ballet folklórico dancer, with a skirt made of a red rose.
A Mexican ballet folklórico dancer, with a skirt made of a red rose.
One box depicts the mythological Aztec story Quetzalcoatl escapes from Migtlan (a part of the underworld).
One box depicts the mythological Aztec story Quetzalcoatl escapes from Migtlan (a part of the underworld).
Mictlantecuhtli, god of the dead and the king of Mictlan, and his wife Mictecacihuatl seem upset that Quetzalcóatl escaped!
Mictlantecuhtli, god of the dead and the king of Mictlan, and his wife Mictecacihuatl seem upset that Quetzalcóatl escaped!
One box seems to be a work in progress, with a yellow skull and empty white oval.
One box seems to be a work in progress, with a yellow skull and empty white oval.
Colorful prickly pears decorate one utility box.
Colorful prickly pears decorate one utility box.
Another side.
Another side.
Among many symbols in the Barrio Logan street art, I spy the logo of the San Diego Padres!
Among many symbols and motifs in the Barrio Logan street art, I spy the logo of the San Diego Padres!
A corner of one otherwise bare box.
A corner of one otherwise bare box.
RAZA with colorful, dynamic imagery.
RAZA with colorful, dynamic imagery.
Chicano Rocks--looks sort of like an Aztec version of the rock band KISS.
Chicano Rocks–looks sort of like an Aztec version of the rock band KISS.
Legendary musician Santana has a third eye.
Legendary musician Santana has a third eye.
Amazing street art in Barrio Logan. Painting of a face decorated for Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Amazing street art in Barrio Logan. Painting of a face decorated for Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Boy carries earthen jug. Agua es vida. Water is life.
Boy carries earthen jug. Agua es vida. Water is life.
Happy dog street art, with tongue hanging out.
Happy dog street art, with tongue hanging out.
Another side of the same box--another happy dog.
Another side of the same box–another happy dog.
Aztec god of the night and conflict, jaguar Tezcatlipoca.
Aztec god of the night and conflict, jaguar Tezcatlipoca.
Scorpion street art in Barrio Logan.
Scorpion street art in Barrio Logan.
Dog's head street art.
Dog’s head street art.
Street art of Princess, an actual dog who lives at a nearby house!
Street art of Princess, an actual dog who lives at a nearby house!
And this is Chato, a second dog who lives at the same house!
And this is Chato, a second dog who lives at the same house!

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!

Colorful photos of Chicano Park Day celebration!

Cool graphics on the side of a customized lowrider on display at this year's Chicano Park Day Celebration. Many of the cars were fitted with hydraulic systems.
Cool graphics on the side of a customized lowrider on display at this year’s Chicano Park Day celebration.

I headed down to Barrio Logan this morning to enjoy a bit of the 47th Annual Chicano Park Day celebration!

The big festival celebrating Mexican and Chicano culture drew huge crowds as usual from all around Southern California. There was traditional folklorico dancing, Aztec indigenous dance, and a huge contingent of lowriders and motorcyclists who converged to enjoy the scene and showcase their cool rides. Families enjoyed great food, the park’s playground, and a look at artwork and unique gifts at the many vendor tents. It was fun to just hang around, absorbing San Diego’s warm sunshine and the lively entertainment. The famous murals of Chicano Park infuse the much-loved event with a sense of history and potent meaning. The murals tell of the hard-fought struggle for civil rights.

Chicano Park Day this year was dedicated to Ramón Chunky Sánchez, a very popular musician and a leader of San Diego’s Chicano community who passed away late last year. Speakers also provided emotional tributes to the four who died last year at the annual La Raza Run motorcycle festival in Chicano Park when a car tragically plummeted onto the crowd from a ramp to the Coronado Bay Bridge.

On a happier note, I must mention that in January Chicano Park was designated a National Historic Landmark! Chicano Park contains our nation’s largest collection of outdoor murals.

Please enjoy some colorful photos from this morning!

A family heads toward Chicano Park, where a big annual celebration of Latino history and culture took place today.
A family heads toward Chicano Park, where a big annual celebration of Latino history and culture took place today.
The first thing that caught my attention were lots of awesome vehicles. Southern California lowrider culture is unmatched in the entire world.
The first thing that caught my attention were lots of awesome vehicles. Many were fitted with hydraulics. Southern California lowrider culture is unmatched in the entire world.
Cool cars in a world-famous park.
Cool cars in Barrio Logan’s world-famous park.
Motorcycles and their proud owners also rode in from far and wide for the event.
Motorcycles and their proud owners also rode in from far and wide for the event.
One corner of one mural. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil porque soy Chicano!
One corner of one mural. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil porque soy Chicano!
Vendor has lots of fun gifts ready for the growing crowd.
Vendor has lots of fun gifts ready for the growing crowd.
These guys were enjoying the lively scene from one of the public park's picnic tables.
These guys were enjoying the lively scene from one of the public park’s picnic tables.
Some old photos at one booth show Chicano Park being claimed and created by activist community members in 1970.
Some old photos at one booth show Chicano Park being claimed and created by activist community members in 1970.
A variety of images that tell some of the history of Chicano Park.
A variety of images that tell some of the history of San Diego’s unique Chicano Park.
A memorial still remains in Chicano Park, where four were tragically killed last year when a driver veered off the bridge above.
A memorial still remains in Chicano Park, where four were tragically killed last year when a driver veered off the bridge above.
A large crowd had gathered around the pavilion to hear family members remember the deceased and thank the community for its undying love.
A large crowd gathered around the pavilion to hear surviving family members remember the deceased and thank the local community for its undying love.
A large crowd, and the festival had barely opened.
A large crowd, and the festival had barely opened.
And then the entertainment began!
And then the entertainment began!
People enjoy Chicano Park Day Celebration among the many expressive murals.
People enjoy Chicano Park Day among the many expressive murals.  A beautiful image of Virgin Mary has a shrine at its base.
Another photo of the festival today.
Another photo of the festival today.
The folklorico dancing produces smiles, cheers and applause. The park's pavilion, also called the Kiosko, was designed to look like a pre-Colombian Mesoamerican temple
The folklorico dancing produces smiles, cheers and applause. The park’s pavilion, also called the Kiosko, was designed to look like a pre-Colombian Mesoamerican temple.
Traditional Mexican ballet folklorico is a delightful slice of Latino culture and much loved in San Diego.
Traditional Mexican ballet folklorico is a delightful slice of Latino culture and much loved in San Diego.
Some bold artwork on display at the festival. I spotted lots of Aztec and Dia de los Muertos designs.
Some bold artwork on display at the festival. I spotted lots of Aztec and Dia de los Muertos designs.
And more cool stuff.
And more cool stuff!
Photograph at one table shows the late Chicano musician Ramón Chunky Sánchez.
Photograph at one table shows the late Chicano musician Ramón Chunky Sánchez.
Many dancers who would perform at the Chicano Park Day Celebration wore resplendent Aztec costumes.
Many dancers who would perform at the Chicano Park Day celebration wore resplendent Aztec-inspired costumes.
Another fantastic sight in culturally rich San Diego.
Another fantastic sight in culturally rich San Diego.
The High Class Car Club out of Los Angeles had lots of amazing lowrider vehicles on display at nearby Mercado del Barrio.
The High Class Car Club out of Los Angeles had lots of amazing lowrider vehicles on display at nearby Mercado del Barrio.
A cool design on the side of one very cool car!
A cool design on the side of one very cool car!

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Powerful symbols of love for bridge crash victims.

A large memorial remains in Chicano Park, almost four weeks after a tragic accident here took the lives of four people.
A large memorial remains in Chicano Park, almost four weeks after a tragic accident here took the lives of four people.

Almost a month after a tragic accident in Chicano Park, a large, spontaneously created memorial remains. It was created by many hands and hearts in the Barrio Logan community.

The memorial contains flowers, candles and other tokens of love, along with photographs of the deceased. Four were killed on October 14 when an automobile driven by a drunk driver plummeted from the Coronado Bay Bridge.  Remembered are Annamarie Contreras, Cruz Elias Contreras, Andre Christopher Banks and Francine Denise Jimenez. Also remembered is Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, who recently passed away. He was a beloved musician and inspiring leader in the local Chicano community.

Many candles are kept lit.

Candles, flowers and other expressions of love stand beside a Chicano Park mural. They memorialize Cruz Elias Contreras, Andre Christopher Banks and Francine Denise Jimenez.
Candles, flowers and other powerful expressions of love stand beside a Chicano Park mural. They memorialize Annamarie Contreras, Cruz Elias Contreras, Andre Christopher Banks, Francine Denise Jimenez and Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez.
Potent symbols of love, grief and memory.
Traditional symbols of love, grief and memory.

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

Expressive faces painted in Chicano Park.

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This morning I walked through Chicano Park. It had been a while since I last wandered among the park’s many famous murals. My camera was searching for no one thing in particular. But I couldn’t stop admiring the many expressive faces that have been artfully painted: faces from our Hispanic community that contain a whole range of emotions, including pride, hope and resolve. The expressive faces reflect humanity and inner beauty.

I’ve blogged about this amazing collection of outdoor murals (the largest in the country) on several occasions, providing a little more information. Today, I simply present a few photos of painted human expression.

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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 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!

More photos of murals around Chicano Park.

Ser humano, to be human.
Ser humano, to be human.

Here are even more pics from Barrio Logan!  These photos were taken on the north side of Chicano Park, from the basketball court to Cesar Chavez Boulevard, including a stretch under the I-5 overpass.

As I mentioned before, some of these images might be considered controversial.  To see previous photos, click the Chicano Park tag at the bottom of this post and scroll down.  I have one more batch of photos coming up.  Please feel free to share anything on this blog!

Raza mural decries Operation Gatekeeper.
Raza mural decries Operation Gatekeeper.
Cesar Chavez Blvd mural under busy freeway.
Cesar Chavez Blvd mural under busy freeway.
Arriba Mexico on I-5 underpass mural.
Arriba Mexico on I-5 underpass mural.
Painted family greets traffic in Barrio Logan.
A painted Cesar Chavez and two youth greet traffic in Barrio Logan.
Aztlan mural on Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
Aztlan mural on Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
Pedestrians near Chicano Park walk past public art.
Pedestrians near Chicano Park walk past public art.
Mural at edge of Chicano Park opposes retrofitting.
Mural at edge of Chicano Park opposes retrofitting.
Painted images on Interstate 5 north of Chicano Park.
Painted images on Interstate 5 north of Chicano Park.
Utility box painted with El Corazon.
Utility box painted with El Corazon, the heart.
Mural supports Race, opposes the Border Patrol.
Mural supports Race, opposes the Border Patrol.
Elaborate mural on handball court in Chicano Park.
Elaborate mural containing ancient symbolism on a handball court in Chicano Park.
Painted jaguar crouches near basketball court.
Painted jaguar crouches near basketball court.
A very detailed mural in Chicano Park.
A very detailed and colorful mural in Chicano Park.
Aztec mural painted near chain link fence.
Aztec mural painted near chain link fence.
Utility box with colorful figures.
Utility box with colorful figures, including a mariachi.
Classic cars depicted on a concrete pillar.
Classic cars depicted on a concrete pillar.
San Diego Lowrider Council mural in Chicano Park.
San Diego Lowrider Council mural in Chicano Park.