Fantastic architecture at Oceanside Civic Center.

Uniquely beautiful civic centers can be found all around San Diego County. I’ve photographed many of them. But the Oceanside Civic Center might be my favorite.

I walked randomly about the Oceanside Civic Center complex last weekend and was amazed by everything I saw.

As you can see from various plaques I photographed, the original Oceanside Fire Station (also called Oceanside Engine House and Police Station) was built in 1929/1930, and the original City Hall and Library were completed in 1934. They were designed by Irving Gill, a renowned San Diego architect who is now a recognized major figure in the modern movement. His welcoming simplicity, unadorned classic lines and graceful arches have appeared in various places on my blog. His style has been described as cubist. You can see that signature style in these photographs as well. Designing buildings for the City of Oceanside was the final monumental project of his career.

As you can see on another plaque, a City Hall renovation was completed in 1957, and as you can read in this article, a large new Oceanside Civic Center and Public Library were completed in 1990. The large complex “designed by Charles Moore emulated the styling of Irving Gill (with) the white arches and simple architecture…Moore remarked about Gill’s legacy: “We use his plain white walls, his unadorned concrete arcades, disciplined fenestration and flat roofs as our architectural vocabulary, and then allow ourselves the exuberance of bright colors with tiles in niches at the entrances, in the jambs and soffits of deep set openings, and through the contrast of palms and broad-leafed plants surrounding our structure.”

The Oceanside Museum of Art, with its exquisite 1972 Opus sculpture by James Hubbell situated near the entrance, is another beautiful part of the large civic center complex. It occupies the original City Hall.

In the same article, you can read that “After renovation of the interior of building, the Museum of Art opened to the public on October 6, 1997. In 2008, a new addition to the Oceanside Museum of Art was dedicated in 2008. The contemporary, three-level 15,000 square foot addition designed by architect Fredrick Fisher sits alongside the historic building designed by architect Irving Gill, who redefined the architectural landscape of Southern California.”

Should you ever visit Oceanside, California, look for the big colorful fountain at the corner of North Coast Highway and Pier View Way. Then take a stroll through one of the most fantastic civic centers you’re likely to ever see!

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Old mural that encourages voting vanishes!

American's future: your choice. VOTE.
An old mural painted on a building in downtown San Diego. America’s future: your choice. VOTE.

For years and years, the above mural has decorated the side of a building on Broadway near the City College trolley station. It encourages voting.

The familiar old mural will soon completely disappear as new construction in front of it rises.

It’s an election year, so I figured this mural deserved one final look!

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 public art in Vista’s Civic Center Park!

I was pleased to discover some truly amazing public art inside Vista’s Civic Center Park last weekend. The small but beautiful park is situated adjacent to the Civic Center complex, and was very quiet on an early Sunday afternoon.

In addition to a fantastically strange and wonderful sculpture titled Wind Beams, I found four very fine bronze sculptures of children reading and at play!

I’ve tried to determine who created the bronze sculptures of children, but I can find nothing on the internet, and I could find no artist’s name on any plaque. If anyone knows the artist, leave a comment! The sculptures depict a small girl reading a book, a child riding a bike with arms outspread, kids and their friendly dog crossing a curved bridge or log, and two small children riding a large tortoise. The plaque that I photographed, which is mounted near the reading girl, explains these four bronze sculptures were dedicated in October 2012 as a tribute to retired Vista City Manager Rita L. Geldert.

The extremely cool Wind Beams sculpture was created by artist Robert Rochin. The year given is 2010. It’s an unbelievable thing made of four 10 feet long I-beams that move about in the slightest breeze. All I can say is these heavy steel beams must be well lubricated and perfectly balanced! Watching the beams move silently about like immense metal arms whirling in the sky is really strange, even surreal!

Wind Beams, by artist Robert Rochin, 2010.
Wind Beams, by artist Robert Rochin, 2010.

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!

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Last year, at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s annual Fourth of July celebration, diverse people from our community joined together on stage to read parts of the Declaration of Independence.

People from all walks of life, converging from different places, each with their own unique struggles, ambitions and experiences, remembered some of the enduring principles that underlie a free society.

During the event, anyone in the crowd was invited to come up onto the stage to read, and many did.

Of all the photos I took at the event, the above photograph to me is the most powerful.

Even with all of our human differences–the millions of unique personal beliefs and desires that frequently conflict–there are high ideals that are cherished by one and all.

We all want to live. We all want to be free. We all seek happiness.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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!

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!

Light, water and beauty at Escondido City Hall.

Escondido City Hall was built in 1988. Its design remains remarkable today. Walk around the stately but welcoming building, and you’ll be greeted by light, water and beauty.

I enjoyed a look at City Hall’s award-winning architecture during my visit to Escondido last weekend. In the past I’ve been able to venture inside, and I can tell you the functional interior is just as spacious and friendly.

You can learn more about the history of the Escondido Civic Center here.

My photos include the large fountain by Grape Day Park and the fantastic open dome at the building’s entrance.

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!

Behind the scenes look at the City Archives!

Old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center.
Stacks of old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center.

Yesterday I stepped into City Hall to enjoy an educational event open to the public during the City Clerk’s 3rd Annual Archives Month. When I entered the Archives Center in the basement of the San Diego City Administration Building, I didn’t really know what I might experience.

I saw and learned more from this behind the scenes tour than I expected!

I and a few others were led into a small lecture room and introduced to City of San Diego Archivist Jerry Handfield. He’s an energetic historian and professional archivist who in the past has served as State Archivist for both Indiana and Washington.

Jerry Handfield presented an overview of his job and explained the critical importance of maintaining genuine, reliable, trustworthy public records.

We learned that good governance depends on maintaining accurate records. Trustworthy public records protect the rights of citizens and promotes public trust in government. A healthy democracy relies on trust in its institutions.

Archives play such an important role that in 1850, when San Diego was a tiny town with very limited resources, the city’s newly created common council directed that a very expensive iron safe be appropriated to the clerk for the safekeeping of city records.

As an archivist, Jerry Handfield provided a list of reasons why records matter: they protect life (medical records), protect the public from disasters (maps and floor plans), protect property rights (deeds), and include all sorts of other critical information. He mentioned insurance and bank records, marriage licenses, work licenses and business records.

We learned that for an archivist preservation is a constant war. It’s a war against time, negligence, disasters like floods and mold, decay caused by acids in paper, and other often unpredictable factors. Some media that store records, such as floppy disks and magnetic tape, degrade over time, become corrupted or technologically obsolete.

Some of the City Archive’s older paper documents are given a special chemical treatment to help preserve them. Many are placed in acid-free sleeves or boxes and placed in a temperature and humidity controlled cold vault.

The City Clerk Archives is continuously working to digitize its many hard copy records–to preserve them for all time and make them readily available to the public via the internet. But there remain thousands upon thousands of documents and photos to be scanned and classified.

After the lecture we stepped into the cold vault and saw shelves stacked high with archival material. Then we stepped into a room where photos and negatives are scanned and digitized.

Ranged all around the main room of the Archives Center are additional interesting displays. I saw many Mayoral Artifacts that were presented as gifts to the city from all over the globe. Among these are an assortment of beautiful decorative plates.

Enough of my inadequate written description. Let’s look at a few photos and you’ll get a better idea of what I experienced!

San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.
San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.

Stacks of special boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.
Stacks of boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.

Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including some that contain City Council Resolutions.
Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including many that contain past City Council Resolutions.

In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized in order to be digitized for easy public access.
In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized by trained volunteers, in order to be digitized for easy public access.

Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls!
Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls of this room!

Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.
Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.

First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.
First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.

A treasure trove of San Diego history at one's fingertips!
A treasure trove of San Diego history at one’s fingertips!

Mayoral artifacts displayed at the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center include many gifts from around the world.
Mayoral artifacts displayed in the main room of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center include gifts from other cities and people around the world.

Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.
Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.

Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.
Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.

Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820's).
Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820’s).

While walking about the City Archives I spied the cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.
While walking about the main room of the City Archives I spied this cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.

Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!
Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!

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 might say this blog is a sort of digital archive. 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!

City Clerk’s Archives Month: Hidden Treasures!

Original concrete figure from San Diego Museum of Art, 1915-1916.
Original concrete figure from San Diego Museum of Art, 1915-1916.

Today I walked to the City Administration Building in downtown San Diego to view a unique historical exhibit. During City Clerk’s Archives Month, from September 30th to October 31st, the public can step inside the lobby of City Hall and discover Hidden Treasures!

The San Diego City Clerk has partnered with the San Diego History Center to display a variety of documents and artifacts from our city’s past. In addition to this exhibit, Archives Month features many free educational events including lectures, movies and workshops.

(I attended one of the lectures today, and took a tour behind the scenes in the City Administration Building’s basement, where the City Archives are safely preserved. I’ll be blogging about that awesome experience shortly!)

2019 Archives Month Lecture and Tour Schedule. (Click image to enlarge.)
Sign shows 2019 Archives Month Lecture and Tour Schedule. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)

City Clerk Archives Month in 2019 features an exhibit of Hidden Treasures in the lobby of the City Administration Building.
City Clerk Archives Month in 2019 features an exhibit of Hidden Treasures in the lobby of the City Administration Building.

Many historical documents in the exhibit provide fascinating glimpses into San Diego's past.
Many historical documents in the exhibit provide fascinating glimpses into San Diego’s past. (I was pleased to see a Dog Tax Receipt featuring San Diego’s famous town dog, Bum.)

Historical documents on display includes an announcement for the Presidio Hill Park dedication in 1929.
Documents on display include an announcement for the Presidio Hill Park dedication in 1929. Pictured is the Junípero Serra Museum, original home of the San Diego Historical Society.

A collection of old City Clerk seal embossers.
A collection of old City Clerk seal embossers.

Posters describe 18th century San Diego and Presidio Excavation Artifacts from 1965.
Posters describe life in 18th century San Diego. Nearby are Presidio Excavation Artifacts from 1965.

These fragments from an olive jar might date as far back as 1769.
These fragments from an olive jar might date as far back as 1769.

The exhibit includes fragments of bottles, jars, bowls and plates from early San Diego.
The exhibit includes fragments of bottles, jars, bowls and plates from early San Diego.

Roof Tile, Presidio, 1869.
Roof tile from the Presidio.

Presidio artifacts include cannon and musket balls.
Presidio artifacts include cannon and musket balls.

Artifacts on display include the New Town Excavation Collection from the 1980s.
Other artifacts on display include the New Town Excavation Collection from the 1980s.

New Town artifacts include pistol fragments, 1850-1870.
New Town artifacts include pistol fragments, 1850-1870.

Other early artifacts from New Town include a broken bottle, ceramic wire insulators and a clay effigy.
Other artifacts from 19th century New Town include a broken bottle, ceramic wire insulators and a clay effigy.

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!

Student posters celebrate Freedom of Speech.

Free Speech, Press and Society.
Free Speech, Press and Society.

I was making my way through downtown this morning when I spotted something important that I’d like to blog.

As I walked past the Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse, I noticed a new crop of student posters has appeared in the building’s windows. These posters were submitted by local kids for the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2019 Law Week Poster and Video Contest.

The theme this year is Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.

We the People...
We the People…

Natural Rights. First Amendment.
Natural Rights. First Amendment.

Free As a Bird. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
Free As a Bird. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Freedom. Rights. Responsibility.
Freedom. Rights. Responsibility. May all our voices be heard!

Express your opinion. Peacefully protest or assemble.
Express your opinion. Peacefully protest or assemble.

Liberty requires freedom of expression for everybody.
Liberty requires freedom of expression for everybody.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is vitally important to me. I’m a writer.

If you value individual liberty and a free and open society, its protections are fundamental.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.