The unexpected Egyptian Garage in City Heights.

The Egyptian Garage building in City Heights is a fascinating example of Egyptian Revival architecture.

This building with a rather unexpected appearance is located at University Avenue and Euclid Avenue. It’s adjacent to two other unique, historical buildings–directly west of the prominent Euclid Tower, and south across the street from the Silverado Ballroom (both of which you can see in a few of the following photographs).

To learn about the history of the Egyptian Garage, I’ve had to sort out conflicting dates from several web pages. Apparently the building was constructed in 1923, at the end of the old East San Diego trolley line. It was one of three Egyptian Revival streetcar electrical substations that were built. It was sold only two years after beginning operation.

After a remodel in 1925 by David H. Ryan, the building served from 1926 to 1932 as the Egyptian Garage, complete with gas pumps in front. An addition was made on the south side in 1927. Since 1957 it has been the home of Big City Liquor.

Today you can see pharaoh heads atop pilasters on a couple sides of the building, horizontal vulture wings containing cobras and suns up by the rooftop, and an obelisk-like projection on the garage’s south end with a hieroglyphic design featuring ibis-headed Egyptian moon god Thoth.

To learn much more, you can read a detailed article about the Egyptian Garage building’s history and the phenomenon of Egyptian Revival architecture in the 1920’s here.

A few other examples of the Egyptian Revival architectural style can be found in San Diego, most notably in Hillcrest. Years ago I took some fun photos in Hillcrest’s Egyptian Quarter and posted them here.

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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Balboa Park’s new Moreton Bay Fig tree platform.

On Sunday I finally stepped onto the new platform that recently opened in Balboa Park under the huge Moreton Bay Fig tree, north of the San Diego Natural History Museum. The shady platform with welcoming wooden benches made of old logs was built by the Friends of Balboa Park.

The platform is the perfect place to relax, eat a snack or read, while listening to a strumming guitarist, or birds in branches, or happy laughter from nearby picnickers.

I took a photograph from the Moreton Bay Fig’s new platform of a sign down by some huge roots. The sign describes the history of this impressive, very beautiful tree.

I’ve transcribed the above words:

A Legacy of the 1915 Exposition

This Moreton Bay Fig Tree was planted over a hundred years ago in a formal garden created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. While it has not moved, its surroundings have changed. The garden, designed for the Southern California Counties Building was later replaced by the San Diego Natural History Museum.

It has grown to be the largest Moreton Bay Fig in Balboa Park and one of the largest in California. It exceeds 70 feet in height, the canopy extends 125 feet in width and the trunk is 16 feet in diameter.

Balboa Park becomes even more wonderful as the years roll on…

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Old sculptural figures at San Diego High School.

I’ve often wondered about these sculptural figures that surround the rim of a planter in front of San Diego High School. Depicting academic and athletic endeavors, the figures are very weathered.

San Diego High School, the oldest high school in our city, began as the Russ School in 1882. In 1907 a new building, often referred to as the Grey Castle, opened. South of the Grey Castle, Russ Auditorium was dedicated in 1926.

The Russ School, Grey Castle and Russ Auditorium are all long gone. You can read the fascinating history of San Diego High School here and here and here.

After searching the internet, I must assume these amusing figures are the gargoyles from the façade of Russ Auditorium mentioned in the first two articles. Was the planter at one time a fountain? I’ve searched for old photographs that might provide clues, but without success.

Do you know anything about these old figures, which are seen in front of San Diego High School’s entrance when heading up Park Boulevard? If you do, please leave a comment to help preserve a little history!

Football.
Geography.
Geometry.
Music.
Mathematics.
Baseball.

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 hidden Memorial Day plaque in Balboa Park.

A plaque that was dedicated on May 30, 1939 can be found in a seldom seen nook in Balboa Park.

At the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, behind the large bronze tablet that honors Ernestine Schumann-Heink, a small memorial plaque is set in the wall at the rear of a fountain.

The plaque appears to have been placed there by the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary. But I can find absolutely nothing concerning it on the internet.

The plaque reads:

MEMORIAL
FLANDER’S POPPIES
DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO
REST IN FLANDERS FIELD
CITY SERVICE POST AND UNIT 537
MAY 30, 1939 A.D.

Flanders Fields poppies are often associated with May 30, or Memorial Day, which in earlier times was known as Decoration Day. Red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers in World War I resulted in Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields, and, later, the internationally recognized remembrance poppy.

The American Legion adopted the poppy as their official symbol of remembrance in 1920.

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 look at the Stratford Square building in Del Mar.

Possibly the most unique and well known building in Del Mar is Stratford Square. Located at Camino del Mar and 15th Street, the English Tudor style architecture makes Stratford Square instantly recognizable.

This historical landmark was constructed in 1927 and was originally called the Kockritz Building. Today it’s the home of a couple dozen offices and a few small shops and eateries.

Stratford Square was built across 15th Street from the now long-vanished 1909 Stratford Inn. The Stratford Inn, later called the Hotel Del Mar, had a very similar Tudor appearance. It became a gathering place for many of Hollywood’s stars after Bing Crosby built the Del Mar Racetrack.

The spot where the old Stratford Inn stood overlooking the Pacific Ocean is now the location of the L’Auberge Del Mar luxury hotel.

As you travel through Del Mar, you might notice a few other buildings with an English Tudor appearance. Like Stratford Square, they were inspired by the original Stratford Inn.

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!

Cool photo memories from May 2016.

Public events in San Diego are gradually making a comeback as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. As more residents and visitors become vaccinated, hopefully our beautiful city will return to something more like normalcy before too long.

Five years ago the situation was quite different! During the month of May so many unique events were recorded on Cool San Diego Sights that it’s difficult to choose just a few to revisit!

Click the upcoming links and you’ll find all sorts of colorful photographs that I took back in May of 2016.

You’ll see photos of newly opened Horton Plaza Park, the San Diego Zoo’s big centennial festival, the steepest part of a Tour de California bicycle race, a Women’s National sailing race on San Diego Bay, a floral wagon parade in Balboa Park, a fun stickball game in Little Italy, an inspiring Memorial Day at Fort Rosecrans, and more.

I was even invited to observe the recording of a cool live local TV show!

Click the following links to enjoy lots of photographs…

History is made–and remembered–at Horton Plaza Park!

Cool knight in golden armor stands guard in San Diego!

Fun photos of San Diego Zoo Centennial Festival!

Tour de California elite bicyclists race up Laurel Street hill!

Cool entertainment: a live television talk show in San Diego!

Fun photos of San Diego’s Bike to Work Day!

College sailing: Women’s National race on San Diego Bay!

Floral Wagon Parade at Balboa Park’s Garden Party!

San Diego stickball: Sidewalk Slammers vs. Street Rookies!

Photos of Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans.

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!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Del Mar history in a pocket park.

A pocket park near the corner of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street features a series of banners that illustrate local history.

Pedestrians coming down the sidewalk have the opportunity to rest and view photos from Del Mar’s past in this quiet nook near L’Auberge Del Mar, across 15th Street from Stratford Square’s distinctive Tudor style building.

Last weekend I enjoyed a look at these fascinating historical images and descriptions, which are provided by the Del Mar Historical Society. I took photographs of the banners, moving from left to right.

Then I spotted a friendly sea lion perched on a nearby bench!

To learn more about Del Mar’s history, including how the North County beach town got its name from a once-popular poem titled “The Fight for Paso Del Mar”, check out this website!

The history of Del Mar begins in 1885 with the new California Southern Railroad, connecting Los Angeles to San Diego. The first hotel, opened in 1886, was Casa Del Mar. The Natatorium at the end of 10th and 11th Street featured a dance pavilion on the beach and a large saltwater swimming pool.
A 1000 foot pier was built in 1912 near the end of 15th Street. When it became too damaged by the passage of time and many storms, it was demolished in 1959 by the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team!
The Hotel Del Mar (originally called the Stratford Inn) attracted the rich and famous after Bing Crosby built the Del Mar Racetrack in 1937. Parties featured entertainers such as Bob Hope, Al Jolson and Danny Thomas. Frequent guests included Buster Keaton, Mickey Rooney, Betty Grable, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Durante and many others.
Photos of celebrities at the Del Mar Racetrack, including Ava Gardner, Ronald Reagan, J. Edgar Hoover, Cary Grant and Red Skelton.
The Stratford Inn opened in 1909 and attracted Hollywood’s silent film stars. It was finally demolished in 1967. The posh L’Auberge Del Mar, which stands on the site now, was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
This is Sally the Sea Lion!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Sign marks original terminus of historic U.S. Route 395.

A sign marks the original southern terminus of historic U.S. Route 395 in downtown San Diego. I spotted the sign for the very first time this weekend, as I walked down Park Boulevard just north of Market Street.

I believe the sign is fairly new–either that or I simply haven’t noticed it before.

According to Wikipedia: “US Highway 395 once extended to 11th and Ash in downtown San Diego…From Murrieta the old route follows Interstate 15 again to east of Fallbrook where the original US 395 still exists as a frontage road. ‘Old US 395’ can be followed from north of State Route 76 through Escondido where it meets Interstate 15 again. Finally, State Route 163, the old routing of US 395, splits off Interstate 15 at the south end of Miramar and follows the Cabrillo Freeway into downtown San Diego.”

The historic route into San Diego existed until 1964. Around that time large Southern California stretches were replaced by modern freeways.

Today, the existing U.S. 395 runs from British Columbia, Canada down to the Mojave Desert at Interstate 15 near Hesperia.

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!