Riding the world’s first outdoor glass elevator!

If you’re familiar with the history of the El Cortez in downtown San Diego, you probably know it featured the world’s very first outdoor glass elevator. (Although I’ve also seen information that says it was the first such elevator in the United States, second in the world.)

Based on an idea suggested by a hotel bellboy, an outdoor glass elevator, called the Starlight Express, was installed in 1956 on the side of the El Cortez Hotel, then the highest building in San Diego. People from all around Southern California would converge on the elegant hotel to be swept dizzily skyward to the chic Starlight Room restaurant on the twelfth floor.

Today I came across a black and white 1956 newsreel that has been released by Universal City Studios into the public domain. It shows thrilled passengers going up and down what was then the brand new, incredible, jaw-dropping Starlight Express!

Check out the “futuristic” costume (uniform?) of the smiling elevator operator! And check out how downtown San Diego appeared in the 1950s. A bit different than today, right?

I snipped sequential images from the old newsreel so you can enjoy a fun look!

By the way, the El Cortez Hotel also featured the world’s first moving sidewalk! You know–the sort of thing you might stand on in an airport terminal or at an amusement park. It was called the Travolator. Both the Starlight Express and Travolator were removed many years ago.

Read much more about the El Cortez and its extraordinary history in this detailed Wikipedia article. Among other things, you’ll learn how this Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style landmark was built on property once owned by a son of President Ulysses S. Grant, how a third of San Diego’s population showed up for the hotel’s opening day, and how it had an anti-aircraft battery on its roof during World War II!

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!

Photos of Family Court building’s demolition.

Yesterday morning, as I walked down from the top of Cortez Hill, I had to pause at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Cedar Street. I noticed that the now vacant old San Diego Superior Court Family Court Building is finally being demolished!

I’ve read that an 8-story affordable housing building called “Kindred” will be built where the past courthouse stood.

When I took a little detour to walk around the block, I observed those colorful murals on the rooftop that I photographed earlier this year here are vanishing, too!

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!

Neighbor releases butterflies in San Diego park!

A neighbor in San Diego’s Cortez Hill community has released butterflies in a city park. She accomplished this with a paintbrush and stencils!

Take a look!

I learned from Joe Ciavarella of Friends of Tweet Street Park that the beautiful butterflies–and birds, flowers and dragonflies–you see in my photos were painted on planters and stones recently by Victoria Villavicencio, who periodically visits Cortez Hill.

Tweet Street Linear Park at the top of Cortez Hill becomes ever more inviting over time, thanks not only to the friendly workers of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Department, but to unselfish community volunteers who devotedly plant, tend and clean the garden-like park.

From one who lives a few steps away: Thank You!

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Discover the Cortez Hill neighborhood loops!

A bunch of stickers were recently applied to sidewalks around the downtown San Diego neighborhood of Cortez Hill. These round purple stickers mark the locations of the Long and Short Loop, where people can walk, jog or ride in wheelchairs, to get some outdoor exercise and fresh air, or perhaps make a short trip to the store.

Today I happened to notice that a sign went up describing the neighborhood’s many Jacaranda trees. The sign provides a good map of the two loops.

I see that the Short Loop is one easy mile. The Long Loop, which passes the place where I live, is a moderate 1.5 miles, including a short but somewhat steep climb to the very top of beautiful Cortez Hill.

If you want a better look at the map, click my photo and the image will enlarge!

Satellite map shows Short and Long Loop in downtown San Diego's Cortez Hill neighborhood.
Satellite map shows the Short and Long Loop in downtown San Diego’s Cortez Hill neighborhood.

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!

Mural on roof of old Family Court Building.

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Because I live nearby on Cortez Hill, I frequently see the colorful mural in the above photograph. It was painted last year at one end of the rooftop of the old, now vacant San Diego Superior Court Family Court Building. (Years ago the Family Court moved to another downtown location.)

For a while last year, during a larger than average influx of refugees, the unused building was turned into a temporary shelter for asylum-seeking families. At the time I often saw kids playing outdoors on the roof, to one side of the parking area.

One day the mural appeared. Some cheerful color to brighten the lives of children, who were experiencing a very stressful moment in their lives through no fault of their own.

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!

Essential supplies at cost for elderly, vulnerable.

If you live in San Diego, here’s an exceptional offer you might want to check out!

I frequently walk past the Flamin’ Phó and Sushi Bar in downtown San Diego, located on Sixth Avenue at the base of Cortez Hill. Recently, during the current coronavirus pandemic, I’ve noticed a large sign in their window.

They are selling at cost essential supplies for the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, and delivery is available! Their Facebook page is here. According to the sign, they are providing this service with the help of our local Office Depot.

If you think this might help you, please read the info in my photograph and contact Flamin’ Phó and Sushi Bar to make sure the offer is still good and whether you qualify.

(I must say that over the years I’ve dropped by the restaurant from time to time for take out food, and it’s great!)

What an awesome way to help during the coronavirus pandemic! Neighbors coming together will help us all get through this difficult period.

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!

Between morning showers downtown.

The brunt of our latest storm hit yesterday and overnight. This morning a few brief showers were passing through downtown.

I walked from Cortez Hill down into canyons of skyscrapers with my umbrella at the ready.

Today is Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and it appears few people had to work. This morning downtown felt like an early Saturday or Sunday. Few cars and empty sidewalks. Very quiet.

And a little wet!

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!

Dramatic clouds, a change in weather.

San Diego’s first “winter storm” is here. This morning the clouds were already gathering, making for a sensational sunrise. I got a beautiful photo from the top of Cortez Hill!

A bit later in the morning, bright slanting sunlight made the clouds over Mission Valley very dramatic. I took a few photos near Hazard Center (you can see the trolley line) and the San Diego River. I captured some cool reflections!

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 cool exhibition of photographs on Cortez Hill.

I’m an amateur photographer. When I see an exhibition of photography by experts who actually know what they’re doing, I’m filled with wonder and a little bit of jealousy.

This evening I was walking through downtown, heading for my home atop Cortez Hill, when I saw a cool collection of photographs inside the front room gallery of Safelight Labs. About every month the exhibition in Safelight Labs changes, giving local photographers who use film a chance to showcase their work and perhaps sell a few pieces.

If you’re into photography, make sure to check out Safelight Labs, which is described as a community darkroom space.

Rob Cowan, the owner, is super knowledgeable and friendly. By offering workshops, classes, and an onsite studio and darkroom, he helps others to pursue their passion for photography!

The current gallery exhibition “One by Three: A Wide View of San Diego” is by photographer Carlos Lopez Medrano. He has taken many fantastic photos all around our beautiful city!

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!

Neighbors gather to beautify a city park!

This morning neighbors who live in San Diego’s downtown Cortez Hill community came together to beautify the Tweet Street linear park!

Lots of smiling folks were toiling along Tenth Avenue digging holes, planting new greenery, raking up leaves and spreading mulch . . . and having fun, too!

This special event was organized by the Friends of Tweet Street Park and Downtown San Diego Partnership’s Clean and Safe program. I was amazed at how quickly a lot of work got done when many volunteers pitch in together!

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!