Restoring history at the Gymnasium in Balboa Park!

The Municipal Gymnasium in San Diego’s Balboa Park is a popular destination for local athletes playing basketball. I like to venture inside during a weekend to watch part of a game.

I often wonder if those playing hoops in the old gym know they’re inside a historically important building that was constructed for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.

The Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries building–today’s gymnasium–still retains an indication of its unique origin. Look down as you approach the front door and you’ll see this artwork in the entry…

I learned yesterday from local architect Robert Thiele (whose many accomplishments include designing the beautiful rotunda fountain inside the San Diego Museum of Art) that big changes are coming to this historic building. Decorative elements of the 1935 Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries are being restored!

Later this summer a fantastic 12′ x 20′ cold cast bronze panel will be hung above the entrance with bands of ornament above and below. You can see the bronze panel in that very first photograph.

Several architectural visualizations show how Balboa Park’s Municipal Gymnasium will appear once the panel is installed. Grand ornamental flourishes will crown both the building’s entrance and panel. Compare the following images.

Quite an amazing difference!

I’ve asked people who might be knowledgeable if this historic building, located next to three important San Diego museums, will continue to be used as a gym in the future, but that seems uncertain at this point. If anyone has more information concerning the Municipal Gymnasium’s fate, please leave a comment!

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Mayan ornamentation added to Automotive Museum!

Uniquely beautiful Mayan ornamentation has been added to the front of the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park!

This sculptural artwork, completed recently, has made the Automotive Museum’s historic 1935 California State Building even more amazing!

A little over a month ago, four permanent tile murals were installed above the Automotive Museum’s front entrance. In my opinion the new Mayan designs frame and complement the murals handsomely. (To learn more about the colorful tile murals, and to compare how the California State Building looked before the addition of Mayan ornamentation, you can click here.)

One thing I noticed is that the Mayan decoration now aesthetically links the California State Building to the old Federal Building, which is also located in Balboa Park’s Palisades, but on the opposite side of Pan American Plaza.

The Federal Building, future home of the Comic-Con Museum, has its own entrance uniquely graced with pre-Columbian style ornamentation. The 1935 California Pacific International Exposition architect Richard Requa, according to this web page, “had conceived an architectural plan for the Palisades showing how the forms of indigenous architecture in the American southwest and in Mexico could be used to produce a distinctive American style of architecture…”

For comparison, here’s an old photo of the Federal Building’s entrance after the closure of its last occupant, the San Diego Hall of Champions…

When the Comic-Con Center for Popular Culture moves into the Federal Building in 2018, will visitors wear costumes?

And here is the amazing new entrance to the San Diego Automotive Museum…

I also learned today that the Palisades’ nearby Municipal Gymnasium, which back in 1935 was the California Pacific International Exposition’s Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries, is also to be renovated and made equally amazing!

Stay tuned!

Here are two more pics I took this afternoon of the Automotive Museum..

UPDATE!

Here’s an architectural visualization I received of the California State Building with two flagpoles, and grizzly bears on the roof corners. In front of the building, at the center of a fully enlarged Pan American Plaza, you can see the proposed recreation of the 1935 Firestone Singing Fountains.

This is how the Automotive Museum might appear should plans finally come to fruition (without the palm trees and hanging vines)!

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 fence comes down, a city grows.

Early yesterday morning, workers were pulling down the construction site fence that surrounds a brand new building in downtown San Diego. The adjacent 20-story 450 B Tower is adding additional office and retail space in the heart of the city.

While many of us were hunkered down indoors during the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction continued throughout San Diego. It seems nothing will stop the city from growing.

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 new Aztec Stadium begins to take shape!

This afternoon I headed over to a spot west of the SDSU Mission Valley construction site. I was curious to see if San Diego State University’s new Aztec Stadium is taking shape yet.

It is–but the work is still in a very early stage!

I took these photographs from a distance. You can see where some lower level seating in the stadium will be.

If you want to see a rendering of the finished Aztec Stadium, and compare it to the construction so far, click here.

Because I work nearby, I’ll occasionally swing by in the future to check on the stadium’s progress and update my blog with new photos.

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!

Demolition of Navy Broadway Complex resumes.

The demolition of the immense, old Navy Broadway Complex on San Diego’s Embarcadero has resumed!

This morning I happened to notice a good chuck of the large remaining Navy building has vanished!

In 2017 demolition began on an adjacent section of the complex, to make room for the new 17-story U.S. Navy Region Southwest Headquarters, which was completed in September of 2020.

Four years ago I posted photographs of that phase of the demolition, and other construction activity along San Diego’s waterfront, here.

Once the last remnants of the Navy Broadway Complex are finally removed, construction can begin in earnest of the Manchester Pacific Gateway, which will feature a total of six new buildings.

According to the site plan, there will be a 1.9 acre plaza across Harbor Drive from the Broadway Pier and USS Midway Museum, a 34-floor Convention Center hotel with retail on Broadway by Pacific Highway, and office space in the five other, smaller buildings.

If you want to learn more about this project, which has evolved over its many years of planning, click here.

It appears the new bayfront hotel and its outdoor park will be called One Broadway Hotel & Plaza.

UPDATE!

One of my blog’s readers has informed me that I’m not quite up-to-date about this project. An article in the Union Tribune last September relates how “IQHQ real estate investment group…completed its acquisition of around two-thirds — or five city blocks — of the development site known as Manchester Pacific Gateway. The transaction paves the way for what IQHQ is calling the San Diego Research and Development District…”

So it seems the plans for this property have continued to evolve…

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!

Amazing, monumental The Shell nears completion!

Oh my goodness! Look at these photos! I took them today during a walk along San Diego’s waterfront, at Embarcadero Marina Park South.

San Diego Symphony’s monumental The Shell is nearing completion and it’s more amazing than I anticipated!

As I understand it, the San Diego’s Symphony’s popular summer concerts will resume this year, after being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And for the very first time, Bayside Summer Nights will be held at this permanent outdoor venue.

I spoke to a construction worker and he said the project is indeed nearing completion. I could see that landscaping is now underway, and that most of the structures seem about ready to go.

If you’d like to compare how the project appeared in late 2019, as it was just getting started, you can check out photos I took here. At the time the venue was referred to as Bayside Performance Park.

Today this outdoor stage, the only venue of its kind on the West Coast, whose acoustic quality is said to be as good as any indoor concert hall, and whose white “shell” is made of the same material as the San Diego Convention Center’s iconic sails, is simply called The Shell.

As I walked outside the construction fence peering at The Shell, I could immediately see that this extraordinary landmark will help further distinguish San Diego from every other city in the world, and is destined to become a beloved part of the already beautiful skyline.

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 stadium falls. A university rises!

The last standing part of old San Diego Stadium, once home of the football Chargers and baseball Padres, is about to fall. Meanwhile, San Diego State University’s new Mission Valley campus has begun to rise!

I took photos this morning from the west side of the now vanished stadium parking lot that show the final section of stands being demolished. In the foreground, you can see the grading and initial construction work that will ultimately result in SDSU Mission Valley!

I posted photographs of earlier stages of the stadium’s demolition that were taken from its east side here.

To learn more about the future SDSU Mission Valley, its new Aztec Stadium, River Park and more, check out this web page!

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!

Installing beautiful new murals in Balboa Park!

Four beautiful new murals above the entrance of the San Diego Automotive Museum are presently being installed!

As I walked through Balboa Park’s new Pan American Plaza this afternoon, I noticed workers were carefully cementing finished ceramic tiles to the Automotive Museum’s historic 1935 California State Building.

If you’re curious about these colorful tile murals, and wonder how they’ll appear when finished, click here. You’ll see photos of identical, but temporary printed murals that appeared above the museum entrance several years ago.

You’ll also learn how these new ceramic murals are based on past artwork created for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park!

UPDATE!

A couple weeks later I peered through the scaffolding and saw this…

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!

Famous house from movie Top Gun is restored!

The famous Top Gun House, where Maverick ate dinner with Charlie in the popular 1980’s movie Top Gun, has been restored!

I passed the iconic house today during a long walk through Oceanside, and the beachfront cottage appears completely changed from a few years ago. When I last took a look at the Top Gun House, back in 2018, the color scheme and porch were quite different, as you can see in today’s photos and my old blog post here.

The beautiful little 1887 Queen Anne Cottage has been restored to its original appearance. Learn about the Graves House’s historical importance in Oceanside and see a photo of how it looked when built over a century ago by clicking here.

The house has not only been restored, but it has been relocated a short distance up North Pacific Street, to a spot in front of the newly built Oceanside Beach Resort, which is scheduled to open later this year.

The following photo is one that I took in August of 2018…

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!

New life shines at the Starlight Bowl!

Today I got a quick glimpse of the progress that has been made in renovating Balboa Park’s historic, long-unused Starlight Bowl!

The non-profit organization Save Starlight has been getting the 4,000 seat outdoor amphitheater ready for a brand new chapter in its life.

Not only is there new paint inside and outside, but the stage, electrical systems and other critical parts of the amphitheater are being restored and improved!

I see there are plans to open an outdoor café by the entrance to the Starlight Bowl this spring!

Check out the Save Starlight web page here. They are always looking for volunteers to help in this effort.

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!