Demolition and redevelopment at Horton Plaza!

Parts of Horton Plaza are now being demolished. The redevelopment of a downtown shopping mall that used to be a major tourist attraction is underway!

I walked around the old shopping mall and saw several places where the exterior facade is being torn down. At the south end, the large building that used to house Nordstrom (which closed its doors 4 years ago) and 24 Hour Fitness is wrapped up in white plastic. Check out the very odd-looking photograph above!

As you can see in another photograph, I walked past the small Post Office at Horton Plaza and it’s also now closed. Everything inside was being loaded onto a postal vehicle.

Horton Plaza Mall, when it opened in 1985, quickly became a popular San Diego tourist attraction, largely due to its unusual downtown location and wildly imaginative and colorful architecture.

I remember going there as a young man and being fascinated at how ramps and escalators led every which way, as if the mall were some crazy, asymmetric, three dimensional maze. The shopping center was designed using an idea relished by science fiction author Ray Bradbury. In his essay “The Aesthetics of Lostness” he extolled the virtues of getting safely lost in the world’s great cities, and how small adventures can result.

Horton Plaza, which gradually lost its popularity, is now being redeveloped into a 10-acre office campus that hopes to draw tech companies into downtown San Diego. There will be some retail space, too, with places to shop and eat. I’ve read that some of the interior bridges that I’ve always loved will be retained.

You can see photos that I took inside brightly colorful Horton Plaza many years ago here and 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!

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The old San Diego courthouse vanishes!

The old downtown San Diego Superior Court building has vanished! A city block that once contained the busy courthouse is empty!

Several years ago, a new 22-story Central Courthouse opened at Union Street and C Street, absorbing all of the functions of the sprawling old courthouse that was built in 1961. The demolition of the south part of the old courthouse has been ongoing for months, and when I walked by this morning, the entire block between Broadway and C Street was nothing but an empty lot!

A new high-rise building designed by Holland Partner Group is planned for this location. It will feature hundreds of apartments, plus office and commercial space.

A friendly construction worker who spoke to me through a fence said the next phase of the old courthouse demolition will be the section north of C Street. According to what I’ve read, the adjoining Old Jail, or Detention Center, will also be removed. A tunnel built beneath this property will connect the new Central Courthouse to the San Diego County Jail, which is located directly to the east across Front Street.

In my final photo you can see how a part of the old courthouse that bridged the trolley tracks is now being carefully removed. Check out the size of those steel beams! (In the background rises the sleek new Central Courthouse.)

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!

Major construction projects underway in Balboa Park!

Numerous major construction projects are now underway in Balboa Park!

It appears workers were very busy while the park was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today the center of Balboa Park reopened to the public, and as I walked around I was surprised to see all the construction activity!

The above photo and the one that follows shows the long-planned public viewing platform being built around the park’s landmark Moreton Bay Fig tree!

I once blogged more information concerning this project here.

The next three photos show how the Mingei International Museum’s major transformation is well underway! I believe the construction you see on one side of the building is going to be the Mingei’s new theater.

If you want an idea of how things will look when finished, you can visit my blog post concerning the Mingei’s transformation here.

I was really surprised to see that the Palisades area of Balboa Park has begun it’s historic transformation!

Half the old parking lot–the side nearest the San Diego Air and Space Museum–will be turned into a pedestrian plaza featuring lawns and a monumental fountain that will recall the Firestone Singing Color Fountains of the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition!

Finally, I saw a great deal of progress has been made building the five new structures at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages! The new cottages will be the future home of nine nations.

I’ve blogged about this long delayed project on several occasions. You can see a map of the project here, and see photos I took of the groundbreaking ceremony in 2016 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!

A new river park by Fashion Valley trolley station!

Northwest corner of Town and Country Resort and Convention Center's river park under construction. The new park will be across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
The northwest corner of Town and Country’s new river park is under construction. The public park will be directly across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.

A new linear river park is under construction near Fashion Valley!

An ugly old parking lot of the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center is being converted into park space. And the north side of the San Diego River, directly adjacent to the Fashion Valley Transit Center, will be part of this new public park, too!

The project, which includes almost 8 acres of restored natural habitat, and beautiful new pathways along the San Diego River, is part of the Town and Country hotel’s extensive property-wide renovation.

Today I found myself standing high up on the Fashion Valley trolley station platform. I looked down to see how the northwest corner of the new park is taking shape.

Because I frequently use this station, I’ll continue to monitor developments!

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!

Wildlife arrives at San Diego River Discovery Center!

Native birds and wildlife arrived today at the San Diego River Discovery Center! Or, to be more precise, banners featuring images of river critters were hung today on a construction fence that surrounds the future nature center!

Did you know something cool is being built next to the San Diego River in Mission Valley?

The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park is going to be where people of all ages gather to experience and learn about the natural environment along the San Diego River!

I blogged about this project in the past here. They’ve made progress since then, as you can see in one upcoming photo.

If you want to learn about the future nature center and how you might help make this dream a reality, visit the San Diego River Discovery Center 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!

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!

Stonehenge, stacked blocks, and a La Jolla Project.

Looks somehow familiar?

No, this work of art in UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection isn’t titled Stonehenge. But that’s what many students call it.

Environmental artist Richard Fleischner created this monumental public art, La Jolla Project, in 1984. His artwork explores how universal architectural forms might be integrated into a natural setting. For his La Jolla Project, he used stones quarried in New England and cut near Providence, Rhode Island, on the other side of the continent. A whole lot of human calculation and labor was required to create something that appears extremely simple.

To me, it looks like an enormous giant sat down on a green patch of grass and stacked some toy blocks. The blocks are scattered and assembled in several ways, often forming columns, benches and arches. These simple blocks remind the viewer that all architecture–all existing physical matter in fact–can be broken down into the most rudimentary shapes we learn in basic geometry.

As you walk around La Jolla Project, you feel you’ve entered a strange otherworld that is somehow different from ordinary space and time. It’s a place where abstract forms have materialized in a familiar, park-like landscape. Did they descend from the stars? From the hand of a gigantic, playful child? From the realm of pure ideas? (As I think about it, these vertical forms almost appear like words spelled out with an alien alphabet, including a punctuation mark here or there.)

Should you ever visit UC San Diego, wander through this mazy construction and perhaps arrive at your own conclusion.

But first you must find La Jolla Project on the Revelle College lawn south of Galbraith Hall, beside Scholars Drive South, north of the La Jolla Playhouse.

Bring a compass.

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!

Mystery disappearance of historical tombstone?

Armchair detectives and San Diego history buffs, here’s a possible mystery to solve!

In January of 2017 I was walking by the west side of a long parking lot along Anna Avenue near the old location of the San Diego Humane Society, when I spotted a wooden tombstone. On it were the words: “Juan Mendoza. Feb. 6, 1865. Shot in the back while running away.”

Here’s my photo from back then…

Mysterious wooden tombstone with name of Juan Mendoza, who was shot by Cave Couts in the back with a double-barreled shotgun in Old Town San Diego, February 6, 1865.
Mysterious wooden tombstone with name of Juan Mendoza, who was shot by Cave Couts in the back with a double-barreled shotgun in Old Town San Diego, February 6, 1865.

Juan Mendoza was a person who figured in the early history of Old Town, which is located just south of this spot across the San Diego River.

At the time I couldn’t help but wonder about the mysterious wooden grave marker. Was it real? A prop? A prank? You can read about my strange discovery several years ago by checking out my old blog post here.

As I wrote in that original post: “Cave Couts built the wood-frame hotel called the Colorado House in 1851 and became an influential resident of early San Diego. But by some accounts he was a sketchy character. On February 6, 1865 he shot a disgruntled former employee (who worked on one of Cave Couts’ ranches) in the back with a shotgun. This violated the unspoken “Code of the West”. The unfortunate victim who died was Juan Mendoza.”

Well, look what I saw today. The wooden tombstone is gone. There’s some sort of covering and efforts at erosion control around the place where it stood. Was there a grave? Nearby I also observed objects that might be related to the Mid-Coast Trolley extension construction over Friars Road, and possible homeless activity.

Okay, maybe it’s nothing. I see nothing on the internet. I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to our city’s history. But I do know there are readers following this blog who are far more informed than me.

Is there an explanation?

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!

Sometimes I make seemingly mysterious discoveries!

And still I rise.

The pace of construction in downtown San Diego hasn’t appeared to lag during the coronavirus pandemic. The city grows and grows.

Even in times that seem dark, a human urge to press forward does not die.

I took these few photographs during my walk this morning.

And still I rise…

And still I rise.
And still I rise.

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 thousand abstract paintings on one wall.

This morning I had to hurry through downtown to catch the trolley for work. Given more time, I could’ve taken a thousand photographs of abstract paintings on one fantastic construction site wall.

(Okay, there are fragments of wood and old peeling paper. So you might say some of these “works” are mixed media collage.)

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 mess of creativity at a beautiful museum.

The creative process is messy. Heaps of old ideas and the peculiar shapes of new ideas are scattered on the ground around a busy creator.

With saw and hammer the pieces are cut and pounded until segments fit together. It’s sort of like a construction site.

In an essay you write for school, in a new work of fiction, a speech, invention, sculpture or painting . . . there are steel beams and two-by-fours, boards of drywall, sharp nails.

I walked past the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s historic La Jolla location yesterday. The already beautiful building is in the process of being altered, enlarged.

Along the construction site fence are images of paintings in the museum’s collection. Beyond the fence, you can see the messy but semi-ordered heaps. It’s a moment in the creative process. Once all the elements of that mess are integrated with creative energy, the finished building will be spectacular.

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!