A rainbow and sunlight on St. Joseph Cathedral.

Early morning sunshine brightens the east side of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego.
Early morning sunshine brightens the east side of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego.

Yesterday morning, just before I walked down from the top of Cortez Hill, I saw an incredible sight.  My eyes discerned a very faint rainbow to the west–even though only a few wispy clouds were in the blue sky.

To my surprise, the rainbow arched downward to touch the gleaming cross atop St. Joseph Cathedral. Amazed by the sight, I walked along Beech Street to take photos of bright morning sunlight on the cathedral itself.

The rainbow is so faint in my zoomed, cropped photo that I must confess I changed the contrast and brightness a million different ways and debated whether it even merited a blog post. I’ve decided it does.

Cool San Diego Sights might be a tad philosophical at times, but it intentionally avoids supporting any particular religious (or political) view. Because a sense of wonder and a love for beauty are shared by many. And because there’s enough bitter debate in this old world.

Whatever one might believe, seeing the rainbow above the shining gold was something wonderful to behold.

Sunlight on the high cathedral tower.
Sunlight on the high cathedral tower.
A very faint rainbow ends at the golden cross atop St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego. Photo taken the morning of February 20, 2017 from Cortez Hill--the corner of Cedar Street and Seventh Avenue, to be exact.
A faint rainbow ends at the golden cross atop St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego. Photograph taken the morning of February 20, 2017 from Cortez Hill–the corner of Cedar Street and Seventh Avenue, to be exact.  Brightness and contrast were altered to bring out the rainbow.
A beautiful morning provides inspiration.
A beautiful morning and early sunlight provide inspiration.

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!

How you can help beat leukemia and blood cancers!

Generous young ladies have a bake sale in Point Loma to collect donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Generous young ladies have a bake sale in Point Loma to collect donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

During my walk around Liberty Station on Sunday I passed some young ladies with a table set up at an intersection near The Rock Church. They had baked lots of treats and were trying to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

If you enjoy my photographic treats, perhaps you’ll consider visiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s website, which shows ways you can help beat cancer!

More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with, or are in remission from, a blood cancer. You can help!
More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with, or are in remission from, a blood cancer. You can help!

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!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Photos of Little Italy procession to bless tuna fleet.

A colorful religious procession makes its way through San Diego's historic Little Italy neighborhood.
A colorful religious procession makes its way through San Diego’s culturally rich Little Italy neighborhood.

Early this afternoon, the historic Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Little Italy celebrated Catholic Mass then held a grand procession. Parishioners marched from State Street in front of their church down to San Diego’s Embarcadero, where a fishing boat representing the local tuna fleet was blessed. I witnessed the procession a few years ago, but took no photos. So today I decided to walk along the sidewalk with my camera.

Forgive me for not knowing the details of the religious procession. I do know a large host of the faithful, in all manner of dress, many of Italian descent, and many carrying images of Jesus and Virgin Mary, marched joyfully north up India Street, then turned west down Hawthorn Street until they reached Harbor Drive. At the Hornblower dock, the fishing boat Patty Jo, which is a common sight out on San Diego Bay, was blessed by the priests of Our Lady of the Rosary. It’s a unique San Diego tradition that dates from the early 50s. At the completion of the religious ceremony, which was not open to the public, fireworks resounded in the overcast October sky!

In the early afternoon few were near the front entrance of the Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Little Italy. That would soon change.
In the early afternoon few were near the front entrance of the Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Little Italy. That would soon change.
Plaque on Our Lady of the Rosary Church. Historical monument dedicated December 20, 1925.
Plaque on Our Lady of the Rosary Church. Historical monument dedicated December 20, 1925.
Banner declares Sunday, October 4 is Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church's much anticipated Festa 2015.
Banner declares Sunday, October 4 is Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church’s much anticipated Festa 2015.
Mass was celebrated at noon in a large outside tent in nearby Amici Park.
Mass was celebrated at noon in a large outside tent in nearby Amici Park.

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The procession slowly assembles after Mass in front of the church.
The procession slowly assembles after Mass in front of the church.
An elegant canopy emerges from the Catholic Church.
An elegant canopy emerges from the Catholic Church.
The unique religious procession, led by a youthful band, is ready to begin.
The colorful religious procession, led by a youthful band, is ready to begin.

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The procession is now heading north up India Street.
The procession is now heading north up India Street.

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Approaching a banner announcing that next Sunday is Little Italy's popular neighborhood Festa.
Approaching a banner announcing that next Sunday is Little Italy’s popular neighborhood Festa.
Passing under the landmark Little Italy sign on India Street.
Passing under the landmark Little Italy sign on India Street.

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I caught an airplane coming over Bankers Hill preparing to land at Lindbergh Field.
I caught an airplane coming over Bankers Hill preparing to land at Lindbergh Field.
Now proceeding down Hawthorn. The threatened rain held off for the event!
Now proceeding down Hawthorn. The threatened rain held off for the event!
You can see that hundreds participated in this truly grand spectacle.
You can see that hundreds participated in this truly grand spectacle.

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Finally arriving at San Diego Bay.
Finally arriving at San Diego Bay.
A Harbor Patrol boat gives a water cannon salute for the occasion.
A Harbor Patrol boat gives a water cannon salute for the occasion.
Priests and those instrumental in blessing the tuna boats head onto the Hornblower dock at Grape Street.
Priests and those instrumental in blessing the tuna boats head onto the Hornblower dock at Grape Street.
My camera could just catch a glimpse of the elaborate Catholic ritual beside the Patty Jo fishing boat.
My camera could just catch a glimpse of the elaborate Catholic ritual beside the Patty Jo fishing boat.
Fireworks launched from a nearby pier burst loudly in the air like exultant sparks.
Fireworks launched from a nearby pier burst loudly in the air like exultant sparks.
Little puffs of smoke hover in the heavens after the fireworks.
Little puffs of smoke hover in the heavens after the fireworks.
The Patty Jo now confidently heads off across the gray water, hoping for safe ocean journeys and bountiful catches.
The Patty Jo now confidently heads off across the gray water, hoping for safe ocean journeys and bountiful catches.

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Celebrating San Diego history at Festival of the Bells.

Five church bells hang in the distinctive facade of the historic Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded by Junipero Serra on July 16, 1769.
Five church bells hang in the distinctive facade of the historic Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded by Junipero Serra.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our lives will soon become history. And that the lives of people, no matter how imperfect, create a rich, varied tapestry that reaches centuries back in time, and forward into the future.

Young and old–representatives from several generations–came together this weekend in San Diego to again celebrate the Festival of the Bells. The annual event is held at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first Spanish mission to be built in California. Food, song and dancing accompanied colorful religious rituals such as the Blessing of the Bells and the Blessing of the Animals. Everyone was welcome to enjoy the free festival.

The original San Diego del Alcala was founded in 1769–almost 250 years ago–at the site of the old Spanish presidio, near the edge of San Diego Bay.  The current mission building was erected by Father Serra in 1774, a few miles up the San Diego River where the land was more fertile.

The distinctive facade and bells of this historical landmark are often used as a symbol for our city, and the ringing of the bells are like echoes from a complex, often strife-filled, but fascinating past. The youngest generation, seeing this old world with fresh, optimistic eyes, jumping free and loving life in the festival’s bounce house, will remember today decades in the future as just another small moment in the journey of history. Hopefully that memory is good.

The Festival of the Bells is an annual event which celebrates the establishment and long history of California's first Spanish mission.
The Festival of the Bells is an annual celebration which memorializes the establishment and long history of California’s first Spanish mission.
Young people provide free family entertainment for the public at the 2015 Festival of the Bells.
Young people provide family entertainment free to the public at the 2015 Festival of the Bells.
A large audience had gathered in the mission's spacious courtyard, even as rain threatened on Sunday afternoon.
A large audience had gathered in the mission’s spacious courtyard-like quadrangle, even as rain threatened on Sunday afternoon.
Folks hang out around the central fountain, eating yummy food and taking in sights, smells and sounds during a lively San Diego tradition.
Folks hang out around the central fountain, eating food and taking in sights, smells and sounds during a lively San Diego tradition.
Proceeds from sales of food, crafts and gifts benefited Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, which is an active Catholic church.
Proceeds from sales of food, crafts and gifts benefited Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, which is an active Catholic church.
Who can resist root beer floats?
Who can resist root beer floats?
Put a friend in the mission jailhouse to raise some money!
Put a friend in the jailhouse to raise some money!
San Diego de Alcalá was the first of 21 Spanish mission in California, established by Father Junipero Serra in 1769.
San Diego de Alcalá was the first of 21 Spanish missions in California, established by Father Junipero Serra in 1769.
Small statues along walkway at front of San Diego de Alcala depict Saints who inspired California mission names. This is Mission Santa Clara de Asis, founded 1777.
Small statues along walkway at front of San Diego de Alcala depict Saints who inspired California mission names. This is for Mission Santa Clara de Asis, founded 1777.
Sign in the mission's garden explains The Campanario. (Click to enlarge.)
Sign in the mission’s garden explains The Campanario. (Click to enlarge.)

The campanario is 46 feet high and holds the Mission bells. The crown-topped bell on the lower right is named Ave Maria Purisima–Immaculate Mary. It weights 805 pounds and was cast in 1802 . . . The bells played an important role in the everyday life of the Mission . . . They were used to announce times for Mass, work, meals and siestas. The bells signaled danger, rang solemnly to honor the dead, and pealed joyously to celebrate feast days, weddings and fiestas.

Of the five church bells, one original bell dates back to 1802.
Of the five church bells, one original bell dates back to 1802.

San Diego is an endlessly interesting place!  You can enjoy photos from many varied walks by following on Facebook or Twitter.

Early photos of San Diego’s big Greek Festival.

Classic images of Greeks and ancient Greece are sprinkled about the festival.
Classic images of Greeks and ancient Greece are sprinkled about the festival venue.

I enjoyed a wonderful long walk this morning. But it seems my poor old brain forgot some important information. Because when I arrived at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church at 3655 Park Boulevard, I learned that San Diego’s big annual Greek Festival wouldn’t begin for over an hour!

I was allowed to walk about the area behind the church where the festival takes place and snap a few photos. Folks were setting up tents and preparing food. All the people I spoke to were very friendly. According to one, this annual festival is about 40 years old! The three day event features Greek food, music and dancing, and draws thousands from around San Diego. It will be open until 10pm tonight, and again tomorrow from 11am to 8pm.

My legs wanted to continue walking, so here are some photos of morning preparations…

Each year a Greek Festival is held at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church.
Each year a big Greek Festival is held at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church.
An hour before the event opens, preparations are being made for coming crowds.
An hour before the event opens, preparations are being made for coming crowds.
Flags, decorations and colorful wares are a feast for the senses outside St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church.
Flags, decorations and colorful wares are a feast for the senses outside St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church.
Orthodox religious icons displayed by one tent include familiar Christian symbols.
Orthodox religious icons displayed by one tent include familiar Christian symbols.
Icons of Mary and infant Jesus appear as if they're gilded in the San Diego morning sunshine.
Icons of Mary and infant Jesus appear as if they’re gilded in the San Diego morning sunshine.
Looking up at the church from the parking lot behind it, where the festival is held each year.
Looking up at the church from the parking lot behind it, where the festival is held each year.
Lots of people will be following the arrow to Greek coffee and pastries.
Lots of people will be following the arrow to Greek coffee and pastries.
One fun area contains tables, umbrellas and eventually yummy food. Unfortunately, I was much too early!
One fun area contains tables, umbrellas and eventually yummy food. Unfortunately, I was much too early!
Pita bread is stacked up waiting at one end of this Greek Deli tent.
Pita bread is stacked up waiting at one end of this Greek Deli tent.
An ancient scene seems to have sprung from the pages of the Iliad. Are those Greek warriors stirring up some Nescafé?
An ancient scene seems to have sprung from the pages of the Iliad. Are those Greek warriors stirring up some Nescafé?

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Gravestones tell stories of early San Diego history.

El Campo Santo cemetery in Old Town San Diego contains much history.
El Campo Santo cemetery in Old Town San Diego contains much history.

El Campo Santo, a cemetery located in Old Town, contains many of San Diego’s earliest residents. By walking respectfully among the gravestones, one can learn much about the city’s interesting history and what life was like for its diverse people. Real-life characters buried here include ranchers, gold miners, sailors, Californios, Native Americans, soldiers, politicians, merchants, actors, children and outlaws.

Established in 1849, the graveyard is the final resting place of nearly five hundred souls. Just a handful are shown in this blog post.

I took photographs of grave sites, headstones and many small signs in the “Holy Field” that describe what is known about the deceased. With a little editing, I’ve provided information here from many of those signs, and from a few other online sources.

Melchior was a Native American who lived to be 97 years old.
Melchior was a Native American who lived to be 97 years old.

Melchior, born 1770, died 1867, age 97 years. Very little is known about the Indian Melchior. He was born a year after the arrival of Junipero Serra in San Diego. He was baptized by the missionaries and became a Roman Catholic Christian. During his long life, he saw San Diego grow from a small pueblo to a city.

Thomas W. Tanner ran an acting troupe that performed at the Whaley House.
Thomas W. Tanner ran an acting troupe that performed at the Whaley House.

Thomas W. Tanner was buried December 22, 1868, age 55 years. He ran an acting troupe that performed on the second floor of the Whaley House in December 1868. Tanner’s troupe offered moral, chaste and versatile entertainment consisting of drama, farce, comedy, singing and dancing. Unfortunately, Tanner died 17 days after his troupe opened. He was married to Policarpia de la Rosa and was a native of Baltimore, Maryland.

Anita Gillis was a young child.
Anita Gillis was a young child.

Anita Gillis was a child when she died. Her funeral is remembered as follows on a plaque by the grave. A funeral procession wound across the Plaza and ended at the old church. The child lay in a tiny white coffin, which rested on a small white table. The cover was off, and the coffin and table were filled with flowers. Six little girls dressed in white with wreaths on their heads carried the table. The priest and two boys carrying crosses walked ahead, the mourners behind. Musicians played the violin and accordion, and boys firing off firecrackers brought up the rear of the procession. She was carried to the church, and the coffin placed under a small white catafalque, draped in Spanish lace and surrounded by candles. A simple, solemn mass was said. She was then carried to the old cemetery and buried with a simple white wooden cross bearing her name erected at the head of her grave.

Juan Mendoza worked on a ranch and was shot in the back.
Juan Mendoza worked on a ranch and was shot in the back.

Juan Mendoza died February 6, 1865. He was the victim of a fatal shotgun blast to the back. The assailant was Cave Johnson Couts, a local landowner and prominent San Diegan born in Tennessee. As the story goes, Mendoza worked as majordomo, or chief steward, on one of Cave Couts’ ranches. Couts claimed that Mendoza had threatened his life and in a hasty act of revenge killed Mendoza in broad daylight. The action violated the legendary “Code of the West” which prohibited “shooting an unarmed man” and “shooting a man in the back”. Couts was tried by jury for his crime and found not guilty. This was received “with much applause” from local citizens since threatening the life of a man, as Mendoza allegedly did, gave Couts the right to stand his ground and kill him.

Edward Lynch Greene was a gold miner who became member of the state legislature.
Edward Lynch Greene was a gold miner who became member of the state legislature.

Honorable Edward Lynch Greene died November 28, 1872, age 38 years. He was a native of Ireland who came to California in 1852 and was a miner for gold. He was naturalized in 1861. He became a member of the state legislature when he was elected to the Assembly from Calaveras County in 1869. He was staying in San Diego at the Era House when he died of consumption. He’d been ill for the past eighteen months. He left behind a young wife, Ann Greene.

Antonio Garra Sr. was a Native American who rebelled against taxation.
Antonio Garra Sr. was a Native American who rebelled against taxation.

Antonio Garra Sr. died January 10, 1852. He was a leader among his people, the Cupeno-Kavalim Clan. He was educated at Mission San Luis Rey and spoke as many as five Indian dialects, as well as Latin. He was one of the foremost chiefs with great power and influence among his people. The Cupeno were considered mission Indians and were subject to pay taxes in San Diego County. Garra, upset by the taxation of his people, helped to organize a resistance movement, comprised of attacks on Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. Against his wishes, a fatal attack was made on Warner’s Ranch. He was soon thereafter captured. On January 10, 1852 Garra was found guilty of murder and theft, but not treason, as he had never taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Before being executed by firing squad, Garra said in his last words: “Gentlemen, I ask your pardon for all my offenses, and expect yours in return.” Antonio Garra, Sr. is believed to be buried underneath what is now San Diego Avenue.

Magdalena was a Native American young lady.
Magdalena was a Native American young lady.

Magdalena was an Indian maiden who died on March 7, 1867 at age 21.

Maria de los Angeles was a Native American infant.
Maria de los Angeles was a Native American infant.

Maria de los Angeles was an Indian infant who died September 19, 1867.

Yankee Jim was hung for stealing the only rowboat in San Diego Bay.
Yankee Jim was hung for stealing the only rowboat in San Diego Bay.

James W. Robinson was known as Yankee Jim. He suffered an extreme penalty for stealing the only rowboat in San Diego Bay. He was sentenced to be hanged. He couldn’t believe that he would be hanged until the very last moment. He appeared to think it was all a grim joke, or at worst, a serious effort to impress him with the enormity of his evil ways. He was still talking when the deputy sheriff gave the signal. Yankee Jim converted to the Roman Catholic Church prior to his death, and so was given the baptismal name of Santiago (Spanish for James). His godfather was Philip Crosthwaite, the deputy sheriff who gave the signal for his execution.

Rosa Serrano de Cassidy and her husband owned a rancho in Pauma.
Rosa Serrano de Cassidy and her husband owned a rancho in Pauma.

Rosa Serrano de Cassidy died February 10, 1869, age 21 years. She was the first wife of Andrew Cassidy (a native of County Cavan, Ireland) who helped establish and operate the U.S. tidal gauge in La Playa (in present day Point Loma). Rosa was the daughter of Jose Antonio Serrano who served under Pio Pico in the Mexican War and was in the battle of San Pasqual. Rosa and her husband owned a rancho in Pauma. Her headstone is one of the few remaining originals in the cemetery. After cracking during an earlier restoration, it was placed flat on the ground in order to preserve it.

Don Miguel was a native of Spain, and one of the founding fathers of California.
Don Miguel was a native of Spain, and one of the founding fathers of California.

Don Miguel Telesforo de Pedrorena died March 21, 1850. Don Miguel was a native of Spain, belonging to one of the best families of Madrid. After receiving an education in his own country, he was sent to London, where he was educated in English. In 1845 he settled in San Diego. He married Maria Antonia Estudillo, daughter of Jose Antonio Estudillo, and the two had four children. They built their casa behind the Estudillo home. It was one of the first framed houses in Old Town, and still stands beside the San Diego Union print shop. Don Miguel became a leading merchant and citizen of old San Diego. He served as a delegate to the State’s Constituional Convention at Monterey in 1849 and became one of the founding fathers of California.

Juan Maria Marron was a ship's captain who became prominent politically.
Juan Maria Marron was a ship’s captain who became prominent politically.

Juan Maria Marron, born 1808, died at the age of 45. He was a ship’s captain before coming to San Diego in the early 1820’s. He was the owner of 13,311 acres called Rancho Agua Hedionda, which extends from modern day Vista to Carlsbad. He became prominent politically when he married Dona Felipa Osuna in 1834. She was the daughter of Juan Maria Osuna, who was the first alcalde of San Diego and the owner of Rancho San Dieguito. During the Mexican-American War, Marron supported the Americans against many of his Mexican friends. He was captured by Californios who threatened to execute him, but he was released, and his rancho was stripped of horses and cattle.

Jayme Lyons was a carpenter, merchant, blacksmith and sheriff.
Jayme Lyons was the son of a carpenter, merchant, blacksmith and sheriff.

Buried November 28, 1859, age 4 years, Jayme was one of probably thirteen children of George and Bernarda Lyons. Jayme’s father was a native of Donegal, Ireland, who came to San Diego in 1847. He had been a carpenter on a ship that came around Cape Horn from New Bedford, Massachusetts. He kept a store in Old Town, owned a blacksmith shop, and was sheriff for two terms. Jayme’s mother was Bernarda de Villar, the daughter of Lieutenant de Villar, who at one time was the Commandant of the San Diego Presidio.

Bill Marshall and Juan Verdugo were hanged nearby.
Bill Marshall and Juan Verdugo were hanged nearby.

Bill Marshall and Juan Verdugo were hanged on December 13, 1851. Bill Marshall was an American married to the daughter of a local Indian chieftain. He was a renegade sailor from Providence, Rhode Island, who’d deserted from a whaling ship at San Diego in 1844. After taking up habitation with the Indians, he took an active part in the Garra Indian uprisings in 1851. He and the Indian Juan Verdugo were caught and brought back to San Diego to be promptly tried by court martial. Both were found guilty. The Indian acknowledged his guilt, but Marshall insisted he was innocent. At two o’clock in the afternoon, a scaffold was erected near the old Catholic cemetery, the men placed in a wagon, the ropes adjusted about their necks, and the wagon moved on, leaving them to strangle to death.

Rafael Mamudes worked at chopping wood and digging wells. He dug the graves for the people of Old Town
Rafael Mamudes worked at chopping wood and digging wells. He dug the graves for the people of Old Town

Rafael Mamudes was a Native American born in Hermosillo, Mexico. He was a baker in Monterey, a miner in Calaveras County, and made a sea voyage to Guaymas. He owned a little plot of land in San Diego where the old jail stands. Legend has it he made a murderous attack upon his wife. To do penance, the priest gave Rafael the task of ringing the church bells when the occasion demanded. Rafael worked at chopping wood and digging wells. He dug the graves for the people of Old Town. He never missed a church service.

Jesus was a Native American who died of a blow to the head while drunk.
Jesus was a Native American who died of a blow to the head while drunk.

Jesus, an Indian, passed away December 15, 1879, age 25 years. He died of a blow to the head without receiving sacraments. According to the priest Juan Pujol, he was said to be drunk, so he was buried near the gate of the cemetery.

Hundreds of varied, rich life stories were concluded here in this early San Diego cemetery.
Hundreds of varied, rich life stories were concluded here in this early San Diego cemetery.

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Priest on steps of historic Old Town church.

priest on steps of historic old town church

I was fortunate to get this great photograph while walking past the Immaculate Conception Church last Sunday morning. (Yes, I did a lot of walking last weekend!) It’s located directly across the street from the colorful shop in the previous blog post.

This historic church in Old Town was built in 1917, and its bell tower contains one of two original bells from the centuries old San Diego Mission. The other bell can be found at Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley.

I believe that’s a Catholic priest by the front steps with his hand on an elderly gentleman. It’s a warm gesture and a beautiful photo!

Here are more pics taken on later dates…

Man looks up at entrance to church.
Man looks up at entrance to Old Town church.
One of the original mission bells.
One of the original San Diego Mission bells can be seen in tower above.

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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!

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