Aztec Bowl sign at North Park apartments!

I was walking up 30th Street in North Park a couple weekends ago when I saw what appeared to be a bowling alley sign rising in front of an apartment complex. As you might imagine, I did a double take! And snapped a few photos.

A little online research reveals that before these apartments were built, Aztec Bowling Lanes was located here.

Aztec Bowl was established in 1959. For 40 years–from 1960 To 2001–the place also featured entertainment in its Turquoise Lounge, where people would gather to enjoy retro decor and live bands. Music was also performed by the lanes as people bowled!

Over time the popularity of bowling slowly faded. Aztec Bowl was demolished in 2001 to make way for the residential buildings you see in my photographs. But the neon Aztec Bowl sign, recalling a little bit of San Diego history, remains!

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!

Paint and love for the Balboa Park Carousel!

I saw today that the Balboa Park Carousel is receiving new paint and some much deserved love!

The historic 1910 Herschell-Spillman carousel has been out of operation for most of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the idle time is being well spent. The Friends of Balboa Park have already applied new coats of paint to various elements of their carousel, including much of the structural framework that holds the wooden horses and other carved animals.

You can see in the second-to-last photo how recently painted parts of the Armored Horse like the saddle appear brand new. All of the animals will get the same treatment!

Want to read some Fun Facts concerning this carousel? Visit this page!

I’m told the Balboa Park Carousel will reopen eventually–the timing depends on the future course of the coronavirus pandemic in San Diego.

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!

Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park unveils new plan!

A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. No known copyright restrictions image from Flickr.
A performance in the Ford Bowl (now the Starlight Bowl) during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.

I just learned that the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park has announced big plans for their future!

The long-hoped-for renovation of Starlight is now moving ahead! You can see the phased plan, including several renderings, by visiting their website page concerning the project here.

The visionary plan includes multiple stages, enhanced seating, a concession stand with healthier food offerings, and a digital media center that will be used by students across the county. As they explain: “Our goal is to empower students with an interest in the creative arts. Through seminars and a hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology, students gain the tools they need to pursue a future utilizing multimedia arts, and have the opportunity to connect with Balboa Park.”

I personally have very fond memories of the Starlight Bowl, which I’ve mentioned in the past. I remember that as a young man my family and I watched performances under the San Diego stars of several plays, including Kiss Me, Kate and The Pirates of Penzance. But that was decades ago, long before the San Diego Civic Light Opera went belly up in 2011.

For many years this large historic amphitheater in the Palisades area of Balboa Park has gone unused. Occasionally groups of volunteers have assembled to pull weeds between rows of seats.

Not only is the entire South Palisades area presently receiving a major upgrade (a new pedestrian plaza, the coming Comic-Con Museum and a beautified Automotive Museum with fantastic murals), but it appears that the Starlight Bowl is now set to enjoy a very bright and vibrant future!

Check out their amazing plans and perhaps become involved 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!

The colorful Catrinas of Old Town San Diego!

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is coming up on Sunday. This popular Mexican holiday is a special time to remember and pray for loved ones who’ve passed on from this world.

Día de los Muertos has many rich traditions that have evolved over time, and one is the Catrina. Elegantly dressed skeletons with sugar skulls symbolize death. In Mexico, Day of the Dead is a time for the celebration of past lives, not mourning.

This year, celebrations of Día de los Muertos will be limited because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In Old Town San Diego State Historic Park the annual procession and festival have been cancelled.

But I did notice during a walk through Old Town late this afternoon that many very colorful Catrinas are on display in the large outdoor courtyard of Fiesta de Reyes!

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 mural painted at Vin de Syrah.

Yesterday I stumbled upon something very cool!

I was heading through the Gaslamp Quarter up Fifth Avenue when I noticed a new mural was being painted. An artist was working in the outside stairwell entrance of Vin de Syrah, a “hidden” subterranean wine parlor. Over the years, I’ve noticed that new murals appear in this stairwell every so often, but until I performed a little research today I hadn’t known where these steps led.

In the past, fantastic murals that I’ve seen at the entrance to Vin de Syrah have often included elements from Alice in Wonderland.

When I noticed the muralist at work below, I looked down and said hello, but it didn’t appear that she heard me. Her style seems familiar, but I can’t identify the artist. I have a hunch I’ve photographed the work of this artist elsewhere in San Diego!

Today I walked past this new Vin de Syrah mural and took the following photograph:

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!

Contemporary art sculptures at UTC mall.

I stopped by the UTC mall in University City last Saturday on my way from downtown San Diego to North County.

Laugh if you want, but it’s probably thirty or forty years since I last took a leisurely stroll around what used to be called University Towne Center. (When I was a young man, a friend and I would visit the arcade above the ice skating rink and play pinball, Defender, Galaga, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede…)

Over the past ten years, Westfield UTC has been renovated and enlarged. Today it’s not just a popular outdoor mall, but a major entertainment destination. (And before long the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, the construction of which appears to be making great progress, will terminate at the UTC Transit Center.)

As I wandered randomly about the mall last weekend, I noticed a number of very interesting sculptures along a stretch of its perimeter. Out came my camera. I read on some plaques that the three Beverly Pepper sculptures belong to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

After I got home and did a little research, I found out I’d missed other sculptures scattered throughout the mall. Perhaps I’ll have to make another visit in the future!

Here’s what I saw:

Three Graces (Madam in Bloom, Madam Elegance, Madam Beauty), Yuriy Akopov, 2016/2017…

Octo, Anthony Howe, 2015…

The First Amphitheater, Beverly Pepper, 1965…

West Coast School, Laddie John Dill, 2017…

Severio Column, Beverly Pepper, 1978…

Zeus Triad, Beverly Pepper, 1997-1999…

Radix, Joshua Koffman, 2017…

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!

Colorful banners celebrate Italian Americans.

Jim Croce.
Jim Croce.

Occasionally, over the years, I’ve shared photographs of colorful banners hung from street lamps in Little Italy. Many can be found along India Street. Most celebrate famous Italian Americans.

The face you see might be of a popular musician, or an Oscar winner, or an inventor, or a Major League Baseball player, or a religious leader, or a powerful politician or businessman . . . you get the idea.

During walks through Little Italy in the past few weeks I noticed many banners that I hadn’t photographed yet.

In no particular order, here they are:

Mother Cabrini.
Mother Cabrini.

Bruce Springsteen.
Bruce Springsteen.

Jerry Lewis and Frank Busalacchi (San Diego restauranteur).
Jerry Lewis and Frank Busalacchi (San Diego restauranteur).

Vito Marcantonio.
Vito Marcantonio.

Fiorello La Guardia.
Fiorello La Guardia.

Louis Prima.
Louis Prima.

Dana Reeve.
Dana Reeve.

Al Pacino.
Al Pacino.

Francis Ford Coppola.
Francis Ford Coppola.

Jimmy Durante.
Jimmy Durante.

Giada De Laurentiis.
Giada De Laurentiis.

Joe Pass.
Joe Pass.

Russ Columbo.
Russ Columbo.

Robert Mondavi.
Robert Mondavi.

Jennifer Capriati.
Jennifer Capriati.

Roger Enrico.
Roger Enrico.

Ernest and Julio Gallo.
Ernest and Julio Gallo.

Frank Capra.
Frank Capra.

Carlo Vinci.
Carlo Vinci.

Dean Martin.
Dean Martin.

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!

An amazing center for creativity in Chula Vista!

Interior photo of Chula Vista's Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.
Interior photo of Chula Vista’s very unique Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.

Check out the amazing interior of Art on Third in the heart of Chula Vista!

I was walking down Third Avenue on Saturday, taking photos of interesting things, when I peered through the windows of what appeared to be a colorful art gallery. And out comes Rich Walker, the super friendly artist who runs the place!

We talked. He showed me inside his fantastic Art on Third. I learned that it’s far more than a gallery. It’s a creative space and cultural event venue, where there are concerts, poetry readings, and a whole variety of community gatherings. It’s a place where eyes are dazzled no matter which way they turn! I felt as through I had stepped into a completely different world. A world of uninhibited freedom, joy and creativity!

Take a look at these photographs!

Rich explained he’d like downtown Chula Vista to become even more dynamic–to become a magnet for artists and those who love the arts. To become a popular, widely-known destination.

I don’t see why that shouldn’t happen. There are cool eateries and intriguing little shops up and down Third Avenue’s historic business district. Chula Vista has plenty of artists. And there’s the ideal location. Chula Vista sits smack dab in the middle of two major international cities: San Diego and Tijuana.

And, of course, there’s the very unique Art on Third–a truly amazing place with a smiling proprietor who believes in the following: Enjoy Life. Be Creative. Laugh Often.

At Chula Vista's cool Art On Third, love should be the loudest voice!
At Chula Vista’s cool Art On Third, love should be the loudest voice!

Photo of creative space Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.
Photo of creative space Art on Third, courtesy Rich Walker.

Crowd comes together for a concert at Art on Third, photo courtesy of Rich Walker.
Crowd comes together for a concert at Art on Third, photo courtesy of Rich Walker.

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!

Cool photo memories from September 2015.

Five years ago in September a whole lot of activity could be found in San Diego. No coronavirus pandemic back then! I must’ve been really busy walking around the city, checking out cool events, because I posted lots of photographs!

Following are links to a variety of interesting blog posts from five years ago.

As you can see, there was a US Sand Sculpting Challenge and Festival of Sail the Labor Day weekend of 2015. And there were other great events that September, including Fiestas Patrias in Old Town, the Trolley Dances, and the Pacific Islander Festival. On top of that, a unique new city park had just opened in East Village and a huge fantastic mural had been painted downtown…

Click the following links for lots of fun photos!

Team USA Olympics sand sculpture in San Diego!

Museum exhibit brings Coney Island to San Diego!

Beautiful tall ships visit San Diego for Festival of Sail!

Listen to the Earth whisper at Fault Line Park!

Photos of Fiestas Patrias in Old Town San Diego.

Photos of Coastal Cleanup Day in Ocean Beach!

Get out of jail free at old police headquarters!

Fun photos of Trolley Dances in water fountain!

Smiles, life and culture at Pacific Islander Festival!

Cool new parking garage mural in downtown San Diego!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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Statue of Frankie Laine in Little Italy.

Statue of Frankie Laine, legendary singer, songwriter, actor and entertainer, on India Street in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood.
Statue of Frankie Laine, legendary singer, songwriter, actor and entertainer, on India Street in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.

A life-size bronze statue of legendary entertainer Frankie Laine (born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio) was dedicated this summer in Little Italy. It now stands in front of Nonna, an Italian restaurant owned by Frankie’s long-time friend Joe Busalacchi. You can learn a little more about this statue at the Team Frankie Laine blog here.

Frankie Lane lived the latter part of his life in San Diego’s Point Loma community and frequently visited Little Italy.

The popular singer scored many big hits in the United States and internationally. Some of his best known songs include That’s My Desire, That Lucky Old Sun, Mule Train, Jezebel, High Noon, Save Your Sorrow, I Believe, Cool Water and Rawhide. Western movie theme songs he recorded include 3:10 To Yuma, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Blazing Saddles. His rock, jazz, folk and blues recordings made him one of the most popular entertainers in the 1940’s and 1950’s. His hits continued right into the 1970’s.

A small plaque can be found on the outside wall of Nonna next to the bronze sculpture. A larger plaque, depicting Frankie Laine with uplifted arms, is also nearby.

I took a photo of the larger plaque six years ago, when it was located elsewhere on India Street, and I transcribed the words written on it 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!