Unrestored vintage Silver Line trolley car.

unrestored vintage silver line trolley

Here’s a photo of an unrestored vintage trolley car. It belongs to the San Diego trolley and one day will run on downtown’s Silver Line loop!

One vintage car has already been beautifully restored and is running during special hours. I’ll try to get a good pic of it one of these days.

Five cars are scheduled for restoration. They are relatively elegant post-war Presidents Conference Committee (PCC) cars, which ran in the city until 1949. Some would like to see these revitalized cars run up a new trolley line from downtown along Park Boulevard to the San Diego Zoo and beyond. It makes sense to me. Balboa Park and the zoo would be more easily reached by out-of-town visitors.

Streetcars have been a part of San Diego history since the 1890’s. The first were open-air coaches pulled by mules and horses. Eventually, electric streetcars ran from downtown to Hillcrest and east through many local communities, including North Park, Kensington and East San Diego. With the rise of the motorcar, they vanished. That is, until the modern red trolleys began service in 1981.

This photograph was taken at the 12th and Imperial trolley station, right next to the train and MTS trolley yard. You can see the tall bayside Hilton hotel in the background.

A pile of cute teddy bears in a downtown window!

a pile of teddy bears in a window

Here’s another fun pic taken during a recent walk down B Street. A law enforcement teddy bear collection drive has filled several windows of the downtown Merrill Lynch building with warm fuzzy cuddly cuteness! I’m guessing that some less fortunate kids in San Diego are in for a bit of unexpected love!

Downtown Donut Bar’s window of treats!

downtown donut bar's window of treats

While walking to the Fifth Avenue trolley station yesterday morning, I passed the window of the Donut Bar on B Street. They’d just filled it with the day’s freshly-baked yummy treats and were preparing to open for business. I almost began to drool right there on the sidewalk!

The Donut Bar is frequently listed as one of the top doughnut shops in the entire country!  Wow!

Thought you’d like to have a peek! Good morning!

A pic taken later…

Oh no! The Donut Bar is Sold Out!
Oh no! The Donut Bar is Sold Out!

Look at this bonus pic!

Homer Simpson was out greeting a long line of Donut Bar customers one Saturday morning!
Homer Simpson was out greeting a long line of Donut Bar customers one Saturday morning!

Just walking along toward Petco Park.

Padres fans descend steps, anticipating baseball.
Padres fans descend steps, anticipating baseball.

Look at these folks enjoying a walk across the new Harbor Drive bridge, over trolley and train tracks, on the way from the San Diego Convention Center and waterfront Hilton toward Petco Park. It’s hard to believe this incredible sports stadium is already ten years old. It seems like it was built only yesterday!

Should you ever attend a Padres baseball game, you’ll be treated to views of glistening downtown skyscrapers beyond the outfield, not to mention beautiful weather and lots of friendly fans.

Here’s a cool pic I converted to grayscale:

Heading down and up the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge.
Heading across the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge.
Padres fans walk from Harbor Drive bridge to Petco Park.
Padres fans walk from Harbor Drive bridge to nearby Petco Park.

Here are a couple more similar pics taken in April of 2015…

Climbing the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge from a path near the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.
Padres fans climb the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge from a sidewalk near the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.
Walking along toward Petco Park, anticipating a Padres win.
Strolling toward Petco Park, anticipating a Padres win.

Stairs up and down: Horton Plaza, Lyceum Theater.

Stairs head up into Horton Plaza. Lyceum entrance is below.
Stairs head up into Horton Plaza.  Lyceum entrance is below.

Just a few quick pics.  In the above one you can get a glimpse of the underground entrance to the Lyceum Theater, home of the San Diego Repertory Theatre. In the photograph’s center are the main stairs that sweep upward into the Horton Plaza shopping center. The red building to the left has walkways on each level that provide fantastic views of the mall’s colorful, surprising interior.

During my walks I’ve taken many pics inside Horton Plaza. I’ll blog about that one day!

Near the north entrance of Horton Plaza.
Near the colorful main entrance of Horton Plaza.
Broad stairs ascend into San Diego's Horton Plaza.
Broad stairs ascend into San Diego’s unique Horton Plaza shopping mall.
Gazing down at unique entrance of the Lyceum Theatres.
Gazing down into the unique underground entrance of the Lyceum Theater.

Here’s a bonus pic I happened to take many months later…

Musician heads down stairs toward entrance of the Lyceum Theater.
Musician heads down stairs for a rehearsal.

Colorful animal obelisk in front of Horton Plaza!

colorful obelisk by horton plaza

Here’s a much better look at the obelisk in question. (See my last blog post.) It thrusts out of the ground right in front of Horton Plaza, marking the underground entrance to the Lyceum Theater. Animals of the water, land and air, fashioned out of colorful tiles, frolic together in a mosaic beneath a smiling crescent moon!

This playful work of art and the beautiful architecture of the building behind it is just a small hint of the fun that awaits visitors inside the Horton Plaza shopping mall!

Looking down at the obelisk and Lyceum Theatre.
Looking down at the obelisk and underground entrance to Lyceum Theater.
A closer view of colorful tile fish on the Horton Plaza obelisk.
A closer view of artistic fish on the Horton Plaza obelisk.

Statues of historical figures in front of Horton Plaza.

horton plaza statue beside ticket lady

The lady in this ticket booth in front of Horton Plaza seems unconcerned that a dark silent person looms ominously beside her! That person, in the form of a statue, is Ernest Hahn.  He’s a famous San Diego developer and the driving force behind the popular Horton Plaza shopping mall.

What you see in the first pic is a colorful scene near the entrance of Horton Plaza. An obelisk with a tile mosaic juts out of the underground entrance to the Lyceum Theater, which is home of the San Diego Repertory Theatre. The domed building in the upper left corner of the photograph belongs to the Balboa Theatre.

Ernest Hahn statue by Horton Plaza.
Ernest Hahn statue by Horton Plaza.

Across from the statue of Ernest Hahn is a bronze representation of Alonzo Erastus Horton, a gold miner, shop owner, and finally an influential real estate developer in the second half of the 19th century. He purchased cheap land for development adjacent to San Diego Bay where ships docked, well south of the established settlement below the old Spanish presidio.  Alonzo Horton’s New Town had supplanted Old Town in importance by the beginning of the 20th century.

Statue of Alonzo Horton, who helped steer the course of San Diego's history.
Statue of Alonzo Horton, whose ambitious business plans helped to steer the course of San Diego’s history.
Alonzo E. Horton established New Town where downtown San Diego exists today.
Alonzo E. Horton established his New Town where downtown San Diego exists today.

The third statue stands a bit to the west, on the other side of Horton Square. You can find it in the shade of a tree. The figure is Pete Wilson, who served as San Diego mayor from 1971 to 1983. He went on to serve as United States Senator and governor of California.

Statue of Pete Wilson, a popular San Diego mayor and prominent political figure.
Statue of Pete Wilson, a popular San Diego mayor and prominent political figure.

UPDATE!

Many years later I took a photo of a plaque at the feet of Pete Wilson…

San Diego’s success stems from the foresight of optimistic and dauntless leaders…Downtown redevelopment is one of his proudest achievements.

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San Diego’s landmark El Cortez Hotel.

san diego's landmark el cortez hotel

The historic El Cortez Hotel, now converted into condominiums, has been an iconic landmark in San Diego since 1926. Decades before gleaming skyscrapers rose to shape our modern skyline, the El Cortez dominated Cortez Hill and was the city’s tallest building.

The large sign on top, illuminated at night, brightly flashes the sequenced letters of “El Cortez” like a beacon out of the past. The El Cortez years ago had the world’s very first outside glass elevator. Known as the Starlight Express, the elevator brought visitors to the hotel’s penthouse restaurant, which featured amazing views of the growing city and the bay below. The hotel also had the world’s first motorized moving sidewalk!

I live several blocks from this wonderful building and love to gaze at it whenever I walk or drive past!

Looking up at the famous El Cortez sign.
Here’s the famous El Cortez sign.

The elegant front entrance of the El Cortez.
The elegant front entrance of the El Cortez.

Looking up at the stately old building.
Looking up at the stately old building.

Old Hires Root Beer ad on building wall.

old hires root beer ad on building wall

In downtown San Diego, on Kettner and A Street not far from Little Italy and the Santa Fe Depot, you might spot this old advertisement painted on a building wall. It promotes Dr. Pepper and Hires Root Beer. According to some googling I’ve done, the colorful artwork was revealed when an adjacent building was demolished. Looks to me like this building was a soda bottling plant years ago.

View of faded Hires Root Beer ad from across street.
View of faded Hires Root Beer ad from across street.

America’s Finest City newspaper mural.

America's Finest City newspaper mural

This large mural on the Arte Building on Sixth Avenue has become iconic in downtown San Diego. It was painted in 1989 by artists Kathleen King and Paul Naton and conveys a strong pro-multicultural message. Time has somewhat faded the once bold mural, but it still catches the attention of those venturing through the heart of the city.

America's Finest City mural in downtown San Diego.
America’s Finest City mural in downtown San Diego.