Photos of cool aviation event at Gillespie Field!

Someone looks at a restored North American L-17 aircraft on display at Gillespie Field during a special Air Group One event.
Someone looks at a restored North American L-17 airplane on display at Gillespie Field during a special Air Group One event.

Yesterday I enjoyed a very cool event at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. Air Group One, the San Diego wing of the Commemorative Air Force, put on a unique Warbird Expo and Aviation & Military Memorabilia Swap Meet out on the airfield’s tarmac!

All sorts of restored World War II aircraft were on display, as well as jeeps, vintage automobiles and other unique vehicles–even old tractors! I noticed that a few of the historical airplanes belong to Air Group One; others are stationed at Gillespie Field or flew in for the occasion.

The swap meet portion of the event featured all sort of artwork and aviation collectibles. Occasionally a World War II airplane would take off, land or roar by. Visitors could purchase a short ride around Gillespie Field! While Air Group One often participates in airshows, I was told this was their first ever event of this type. Hopefully it becomes an annual tradition!

Read the photo captions to learn more!

Checking out a row of shiny restored aircraft from the World War II era.
Checking out a row of shiny restored aircraft from the World War II era.
People were riding vintage military planes that helped the Allies to win World War II.
People were riding vintage military planes that helped the Allies to win World War II.
A banner explains that Air Group One's restored SNJ-5 is available for warbird rides for those who love the sound and feel of vintage round engines.
A banner explains that Air Group One’s restored SNJ-5 is available for warbird rides for those who love the sound and feel of vintage round engines.
Someone leaves the cockpit of "Sassy" after a ride around "The Patch" of Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
Someone leaves the cockpit of “Sassy” after a ride “around the patch” at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
This golf cart was modified to look like a tiny jet airplane! It even has a tailhook!
This golf cart was modified to look like a tiny jet airplane! It even has a tailhook!
Guys hang out beside a 1943 Ford GPW that was assigned to Captain Victor Lucky Moen of the 13th AAF on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War II.
Guys hang out beside a 1943 Ford GPW that was assigned to Captain Victor “Lucky” Moen of the 13th AAF on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War II.
I was surprised to see several old farm tractors out on display among the airplanes!
I was surprised to see several old farm tractors out on display among the aircraft!
Several restored Beechcraft T-34 Mentor aircraft were out on the Gillespie Field tarmac. These planes served as versatile military trainers after World War II.
Several restored Beechcraft T-34 Mentor aircraft were out on the Gillespie Field tarmac. These planes served as versatile military trainers after World War II.
This super nice guy was a pilot for the United States Air Force. He now flies T-34 aircraft as a member of the March Field Aero Club in Riverside.
This super nice guy was a pilot for the United States Air Force. He now flies T-34 aircraft as a member of the March Field Aero Club in Riverside.
Visitors to Air Group One's first ever Warbird Expo and Militaria Swap Meet check out more vintage airplanes at Gillespie Field.
Visitors to Air Group One’s first ever Warbird Expo and Militaria Swap Meet check out more vintage airplanes at Gillespie Field.
This Stearman (Boeing) Model 75 biplane from the World War II era was painted to honor victims of 9/11.
This Stearman (Boeing) Model 75 biplane from the World War II era was painted to honor victims of 9/11.
Victims of the September 11 attacks are remembered on either side of the historical airplane.
Victims of the September 11 attacks are remembered on either side of the historical airplane.
American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 77.
American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 77.
United Airlines Flight 175 and Flight 93.
United Airlines Flight 175 and Flight 93.
This particular 1945 Stearman PT-17, an Army primary trainer, was the last airplane owned and flown by legendary actor Steve McQueen. The N number N-3188 was McQueen's reform school number!
This particular 1945 Stearman PT-17, an Army primary trainer, was the last airplane owned and flown by legendary actor Steve McQueen. The N number N-3188 was McQueen’s reform school number!
Looking into the rear cockpit of Steve McQueen's old Stearman PT-17.
Looking into the rear cockpit of Steve McQueen’s old Stearman PT-17.
I saw lots of cool artwork at the Expo.
I saw lots of cool artwork at the Expo.
All sorts of miscellaneous aviation antiques, gear and parts were for sale at some swap meet tables.
All sorts of miscellaneous aviation antiques, gear and parts were for sale at some swap meet tables.
Many books could be found, including one about the history of soaring in San Diego.
Many books could be found, including one about the history of soaring in San Diego.
Aviation souvenirs and stuff for sale at the swap meet included pins and patches.
Aviation souvenirs and collectibles for sale at the swap meet included pins and patches.
Lots of vintage cars were also on display. The San Diego Model A Club was well represented.
Lots of vintage cars were also on display. The San Diego Model A Club was well represented.
Other vehicles at the event included an old San Diego Police paddy wagon and a unique patrol car and taxi combo that discourages drinking and driving.
Other vehicles at the event included an old San Diego Police paddy wagon and an eye-catching San Diego Police Museum patrol car/taxi combo that discourages drinking and driving.
Keep 'em Flying.
Keep ’em Flying.
Checking out a Ryan STM-2 manufactured in San Diego in 1940. It now belongs to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field.
Checking out a Ryan STM-2 manufactured in San Diego in 1940. It now belongs to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field.

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Visit a world-class map museum in La Jolla!

World Map (Ptolemy), Johann Schnitzer, 1482 or 1486.
World Map (Ptolemy), Johann Schnitzer, 1482 or 1486.

I was surprised to learn recently that a world-class map museum is located in San Diego. The Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla is considered to be one of the best dedicated map museums in the entire world!

Out of curiosity, I swung by the small museum yesterday and lingered for at least an hour. I could have spent the entire day looking at the amazing collection of historical maps that fill several themed galleries.

Many of the rare maps are antique, dating from centuries ago when the world’s outlines were unknown, and sea monsters inhabited the watery margins. Every map in the collection is original and authentic, including the first map ever printed!

As I stepped through the door I was greeted by Richard, the friendly director of the museum. I learned that this free museum was founded by Michael Stone, a local businessman and collector with a love for maps. In his youth he collected baseball cards, stamps and coins, before maps and cartography became his passion. At any given time, about ten percent of his vast collection is on display. I was told that Michael is one of the top half dozen map collectors in the world.

There are antique maps showing Earth as the center of Creation, maps from the Age of Exploration, maps from the Revolutionary War, Victorian maps, tourist maps, even maps showing early San Diego. There’s a woodcut map that was created by Benjamin Franklin! There are artistic maps, humorous maps, playing card maps, practically every variety of map or atlas ever conceived by the human mind. There are also historical instruments used by the old explorers and map makers.

For history lovers, the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla is a jaw-dropping delight! Visitors might feel they’ve stepped into the vaults of the Smithsonian or National Archives. The collection is that extraordinary!

Richard wandered about the museum during my visit, greeting people and providing tidbits of fascinating information. He informed me many students come by the museum, where they can study history, cartography, design and art.

The museum contains such an abundance of cool stuff, I don’t know where to possibly begin. To provide an idea of what you will see, I offer a sampling of photos. I’ve roughly arranged these maps in chronological order. Read the captions!

In my opinion, this little-known attraction in San Diego is an absolute must see! You can find it in the lower courtyard level of the office building at 7825 Fay Avenue in La Jolla. Check out their website for hours and more info, including special exhibitions.

Visitors look at an amazing collection of historic maps at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla.
Visitors look at an amazing collection of historic maps at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla.
I was shown the museum's work room, containing a library containing many books that the public can access. A variety of projects like the scanning of historic documents is also done here.
I was shown the museum’s work room, containing a library of books that the public can access. A variety of museum projects like the scanning of maps and historical documents is also done here.

The following is a tiny┬ásample of the many original, rare maps you’ll see when you visit the museum:

The world's first printed map of a certain date, 1472. This woodcut T-O shaped world map is from Isidorus Hispalensis (Isidore of Seville).
The world’s first printed map of a certain date, 1472. This woodcut T-O shaped world map is from Isidorus Hispalensis (Isidore of Seville).
World Map, anonymous, 1491. This map was often hung in medieval monasteries or palaces. It first appeared in the Rudimentum Novitiorum of 1475.
World Map, anonymous, 1491. This map was often hung in medieval monasteries or palaces. It first appeared in the Rudimentum Novitiorum of 1475.
World Map (Ptolemy), Martin Waldseemuller, 1513. Even after the discovery of America, Ptolemaic maps devoid of a Western Hemisphere were still printed.
World Map (Ptolemy), Martin Waldseemuller, 1513. Even after the discovery of America, Ptolemaic maps devoid of a Western Hemisphere were still printed.
North Atlantic, Jacob Ziegler, 1532. Information for this map was obtained from two Archbishops in Rome. Newfoundland is Terra Bacallaos, or land of codfish.
North Atlantic, Jacob Ziegler, 1532. Information for this map was obtained from two Archbishops in Rome. Newfoundland is Terra Bacallaos, or land of codfish.
America, Sebastian Munster, Basle, 1540. This depiction of North America came from reports by explorer Giovanni da Verrazano.
America, Sebastian Munster, Basle, 1540. This depiction of North America came from reports by explorer Giovanni da Verrazano.
Eastern North America, Girolamo Ruscelli, 1561. Little was known about the inland geography.
Eastern North America, Girolamo Ruscelli, 1561. Little was known about the inland geography.
North America, Paolo Forlani, 1565. A map that shows America and Asia separated with a strait.
North America, Paolo Forlani, 1565. A map that shows America and Asia separated with a strait.
China, Japan and Korea, Jodocus Hondius, 1606. Copperplate engraving from the Mercator Atlas.
China, Japan and Korea, Jodocus Hondius, 1606. Copperplate engraving from the Mercator Atlas.
View of Macao, Theodore de Bry, 1607. A stylized map, the first published image of Macao.
View of Macao, Theodore de Bry, 1607. A stylized map, the first published image of Macao.
The Low Countries in the Form of a Lion, Petrus Kaerius, 1617. A map of the Netherlands and Belgium.
The Low Countries in the Form of a Lion, Petrus Kaerius, 1617. A map of the Netherlands and Belgium.
Northeast North America, Jan Jansson and Nicholas Visscher, 1655.
Northeast North America, Jan Jansson and Nicholas Visscher, 1655.
Second Hemisphere with the Christianized firmament, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The twelve apostles supplanted the old zodiacal constellations in this map.
Second Hemisphere with the Christianized firmament, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The twelve apostles supplanted the old zodiacal constellations in this map.
The Sizes of the Celestial Bodies, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The heavenly bodies compared with Earth, according to Ptolemy.
The Sizes of the Celestial Bodies, Andreas Cellarius, 1660. The heavenly bodies compared with Earth, according to Ptolemy.
English colonies, Richard Daniel, ca. 1679. The first printed map of the colonies depicting roads.
English colonies, Richard Daniel, ca. 1679. The first printed map of the colonies depicting roads.
California on early maps was depicted as an island.
California on early maps was depicted as an island.
Southern and Southeast Asia, Frederick de Wit, ca. 1680. A standard Dutch published map.
Southern and Southeast Asia, Frederick de Wit, ca. 1680. A standard Dutch published map.
Eastern North America, Hermann Moll, 1715. Beautiful illustration on what is commonly called the beaver map, which was copied from an earlier 1698 map by Nicolas de Fer.
Eastern North America, Hermann Moll, 1715. Beautiful illustration on what is commonly called the beaver map, which was copied from an earlier 1698 map by Nicolas de Fer.
Nova Orbis Terraquei Tabula Accuratissime Delineata, Pieter Van Der Aa, 1713. I love the extensive Latin name given to this highly ornate copper-plate engraving Dutch map!
Nova Orbis Terraquei Tabula Accuratissime Delineata, Pieter Van Der Aa, 1713. I love the extensive Latin name given to this highly ornate copper-plate engraving Dutch map!
A display case at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla includes geographic playing cards from the early 18th century.
A display case at the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla includes geographic playing cards from the early 18th century.
Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, Benjamin Franklin, 1733. Franklin likely cut the woodblock himself. The map shows the newly delineated boundaries of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, Benjamin Franklin, 1733. Franklin likely cut the woodblock himself. The map shows the newly delineated boundaries of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Battle of Long Island, Samuel Holland, 1776. A section of a map that shows the plan of the first major battle in the American Revolution.
Battle of Long Island, Samuel Holland, 1776. A section of a map that shows the plan of the first major battle in the American Revolution.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, William Faden, 1777. Plan of the Operations of General Washington, against the King's Troops in New Jersey.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, William Faden, 1777. Plan of the Operations of General Washington, against the King’s Troops in New Jersey.
Philadelphia, William Faden, 1777. Lower half of the map includes copy of the earliest known printed image of Independence Hall.
Philadelphia, William Faden, 1777. Lower half of the map includes copy of the earliest known printed image of Independence Hall.
The Wonderground Map of London Town, MacDonald Gill, 1915. This small section shows some of the delightful retail map's humor.
The Wonderground Map of London Town, MacDonald Gill, 1915. This small section shows some of the delightful retail map’s humor.
Mission Beach, San Diego, 1915. Map of the projected development of Mission Beach.
Mission Beach, San Diego, 1915. Map of the projected development of Mission Beach.
San Diego, Joseph Jacinto Mora, 1928. Corner of a map containing historic illustrations and important places, like the pictured Union Station (now Santa Fe Depot), Horton House (where the U.S. Grant Hotel stands today), Army and Navy YMCA, and Casa de Estudillo in Old Town, which was then called Ramona's Marriage Place.
San Diego, Joseph Jacinto Mora, 1928. Corner of a map containing illustrations of local history and important places, like the pictured Union Station (now Santa Fe Depot), Horton House (where the U.S. Grant Hotel stands today), Army and Navy YMCA, and Casa de Estudillo in Old Town, which was then called Ramona’s Marriage Place.
Another section of the same map showing areas around San Diego Bay including downtown, National CIty, Coronado and Point Loma.
Another section of the same map showing areas around San Diego Bay including downtown, National City, Coronado and Point Loma.
A Map of Ceylon showing her Tea and Other Industries, MacDonald Gill, ca. 1934.
A Map of Ceylon showing her Tea and Other Industries, MacDonald Gill, ca. 1934.
Mail Steamship Routes, MacDonald Gill, 1937.
Mail Steamship Routes, MacDonald Gill, 1937.
The Time and Tide Map of the United Nations, MacDonald Gill, 1948.
The Time and Tide Map of the United Nations, MacDonald Gill, 1948.
Southern California, Roads To Romance, a tourist map ca. 1958.
Southern California, Roads To Romance, a tourist map ca. 1958.
Thomas Jeffery's brass theodolite, part of the museum's collection. Jeffery was geographer to King George III. The antique theodolite is pictured in the book The Cartographical Collection of Michael R. Stone.
Thomas Jefferys’ brass theodolite, part of the museum’s collection. Jefferys was geographer to King George III. The antique theodolite is pictured in the extraordinary book The Cartographical Collection of Michael R. Stone.
The Location of the Earth, Encircled by the Celestial Circles, Andreas Cellarius, 1660.
The Location of the Earth, Encircled by the Celestial Circles, Andreas Cellarius, 1660.

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An architectural masterpiece in San Diego.

An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.
An architectural masterpiece, the First Church of Christ, Scientist building by Irving Gill.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist building, designed by renowned architect Irving Gill and completed in 1910, is considered by many to be a masterpiece. I often pause a minute or two to admire its simple, rhythmic beauty when I walk near Second Avenue and Laurel Street in Bankers Hill.

During the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event a couple weekends ago, I ventured inside the church for the very first time.

I was interested to learn that when it was completed over a century ago, the mayor of San Diego considered the building such an amazing architectural accomplishment that he showed it to visiting dignitaries. I also learned that the church underwent a “modern” remodel in the 1950’s, which removed archways, windows and the beautiful glass dome. Thankfully the building was restored to its original appearance in 1998.

To my fascinated eyes, the arches, windows and tower are elegant, like notes of music. The white stucco enhances every perfect line and curve, as if a cloud were carved precisely with the architect’s pencil.

I took some photos! Read the captions for additional information.

Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
Simple arches and lines mount skyward like a cubist painting.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
First Church of Christ Scientist 1909. I believe the 1904 signifies the year of their first small downtown building, which stands at Third Avenue and Ash Street and is now occupied by the attorney King Aminpour.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE.
Balloons outside the entrance indicate this church is a participant in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation OPEN HOUSE.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space.
Arched windows inside admit light and create an impression of heavenly space. I’m reminded of a jewel’s bright facets.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
Like a crown of gold, organ pipes dominate the altar of a light-filled sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
The amazing stained glass dome above the church sanctuary.
A large poster containing photographs of the building's 1950's appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
A large poster containing photographs of the building’s 1950’s appearance and historic restoration. (Click image to enlarge.)
The poster's legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
The poster’s legend. The restoration brought back much of the natural light admitted by the original archways and glass dome.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950's. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Photo of the sanctuary in the 1950’s. Perhaps at the time this was considered tasteful, but today it seems very drab.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
Old photo of this famous Irving Gill building, the dome just visible on the rooftop.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
I was told these are some of the original Irving Gill blueprints. The are displayed with other documents and historical photos in a hallway near the church sanctuary.
An architectural marvel in San Diego's Bankers Hill neighborhood.
An architectural marvel in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.

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A quick peek inside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

View of St. Paul's Cathedral in Bankers Hill from across Fifth Avenue.
View of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral from across Fifth Avenue.

I swung by St. Paul’s Cathedral in Bankers Hill a couple weekends ago during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. A friendly gentleman named Bob who belongs to this Episcopal church showed me the original Great Hall which was completed in 1929, then the impressive interior of the cathedral, or “big house” as he called it, which was finally completed in 1951.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed by architect Philip Frohman, who is best remembered as the designer of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The building contains elements of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The original pipes of the historic church organ date from 1887. They were brought by ship around Cape Horn, to serve as the first organ in Old Town San Diego.

The cathedral was visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 during her trip to San Diego aboard Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia. I was told that she spoke to the congregation and enjoyed listening to Evensong.

I gleaned a few odd bits of information during the informal tour and have included them in my photo captions.

Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its many stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
A gentleman in the church's courtyard greeted visitors for the weekend architectural event.
A gentleman in the church’s courtyard greeted visitors during the weekend architectural event.
Construction of St. Paul's Parish House or Great Hall began in 1928.
Construction of St. Paul’s parish house or Great Hall began in 1928.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic pipe organ.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic Great Organ.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow light from the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It is used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a much smaller organ.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It’s used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a smaller organ.
The cathedra, or bishop's throne, off to one side.
The cathedra, or bishop’s seat, off to one side.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.

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A short architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot.

Photo of Santa Fe Depot as it appears today. Big changes to the historic building are likely in its future.
Photo of Santa Fe Depot as it appears today. Some changes to the historic building are possibly in its future.

I went on a short tour of the Santa Fe Depot last week during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.

I’ve posted about the depot several times in the past. One fact-filled post concerned an historical exhibit inside the waiting room; another shared hundred year old photos of the building. During our tour I learned even more and enjoyed looking at additional old images.

This downtown San Diego landmark was designed by Bakewell and Brown to welcome the many anticipated visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. The depot’s construction began on May 28, 1914. The building officially opened on March 7, 1915. Materials that were used include a steel frame with wood trusses, concrete slabs, brick arcades and hollow clay tile infill walls. The architects Bakewell and Brown also designed San Francisco City Hall, the Coit Tower and Pasadena City Hall.

During the course of its history, there have been various changes to the building and its forecourt. The original arched forecourt, pictured in some of the following photos, was demolished in 1954 to make way for a parking lot. The current outdoor plaza featuring a fountain and colorful tiled benches replaced the parking lot in the 1980s.

The gentleman providing the tour indicated that recent new ownership of the Santa Fe Depot has opened up the possibility of future development. I learned an unused second story of the depot, once containing a manager’s apartment, telegraph room and railroad worker bedrooms, might be converted into office spaces, but an elevator, heating and electricity are now lacking.

I learned that the fountain in the forecourt’s plaza is leaking and permanently turned off. This valuable property between the main depot building and Broadway might be developed into a space for downtown eateries.

I also learned the large iconic Santa Fe sign atop the depot dates from the mid 50’s, and that there are plans to light it up at night using LED lighting.

Read the captions for some additional fascinating facts about this architectural marvel!

Looking up at one tiled tower. The black material is holding together cracked terracotta columns on chicken wire. The 1915 depot was built for the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Looking up at one tile-domed tower. The black material is holding together cracked terracotta columns on chicken wire. The 1915 depot was built for the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Amtrak passengers move through the Santa Fe Depot's large waiting room. The building's architecture is in the Mission Revival style with Spanish Colonial Revival influences.
Our tour group and a few Amtrak passengers move through the Santa Fe Depot’s large waiting room. The building’s architecture is in the Mission Revival style with Spanish Colonial Revival influences.
We learn about the beautiful tilework throughout the depot.
We learn about the beautiful tilework throughout the depot.
The depot's glazed Kaospar tiling was created by California China Products Co. of National City, the same company that produced tile for Balboa Park's 1915 exposition.
The depot’s glazed Kaospar tiling was created by California China Products Co. of National City, the same company that produced all of the tile for Balboa Park’s 1915 exposition.
Raised levels of the gorgeous tiles feature different colors!
Raised levels of these gorgeous tiles each feature a different color!
We're shown an old postcard image of the original Main Waiting Room. Ticket and vending kiosks lined the west side of the depot's interior.
We’re shown an old postcard image of the original Main Waiting Room. Ticket and vending kiosks lined the west side of the depot’s interior. There used to be a Fred Harvey lunch room near the current ticket area at the building’s north end.
Looking up at the amazing ceiling. Most of the woodwork has never been painted. The original bronze light fixtures have an appearance that is masculine and sturdy.
Looking up at the amazing ceiling. Most of the woodwork has never been painted. The original bronze light fixtures have an appearance that is masculine and sturdy.
More woodwork around a door that leads to an old Stair Hall on the waiting room's east side.
More handsome woodwork around a door that leads to an old Stair Hall on the waiting room’s east side.
Our group heads outside to the forecourt's sunny plaza.
Our group heads outside to the forecourt’s sunny plaza.
Looking at the south side of the depot. Sadly, the fountain leaks and is turned off.
Looking at the south side of the depot. Sadly, the fountain leaks and is turned off.
We are shown more old images. This is an illustration of the original arched forecourt structure on Broadway. I also see the tower of the original 1887 Victorian station to the west (the other side of the tracks) before it was demolished.
We are shown more old images. This is an illustration of the original arched forecourt structure on Broadway. I also see the tower of the original 1887 Victorian station to the west (the other side of the tracks) before it was demolished.
Here's the old parking lot.
Here’s the old parking lot. (I see the distinctive County Administration Building to the left.)
Streetcars used to run along Broadway right up to the old forecourt!
Streetcars used to run along Broadway right up to the old forecourt!
A photo of the now unused second floor of the Santa Fe Depot.
A photo of the now unused second floor of the Santa Fe Depot.
Another historical photo. This one decorates one side of the information kiosk presently inside the depot.
Another historical photo. This can be found on one side of the information kiosk presently inside the depot.
Our tour guide collects old postcards. Here's another that shows the arched west side of the depot, beside the railroad tracks.
Our tour guide collects old postcards. Here’s another that shows the arched west side of the depot, beside the railroad tracks.
Handout shows map of the Santa Fe System and the San Diego Depot. Today the depot is the 3rd-busiest train station in California and 13th-busiest in the Amtrak system.
Information sheet shows map of the Santa Fe System and the San Diego Depot. Today the depot is the 3rd-busiest train station in California and 13th-busiest in the Amtrak system. (Click image to enlarge it.)
Gazing from the forecourt's plaza over a tiled bench toward America Plaza and buildings along Broadway.
Gazing from the forecourt’s plaza over a tiled bench toward America Plaza and buildings along Broadway. This area might soon undergo changes!

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A tour inside the historic Spreckels Theatre.

A tour group has entered the Spreckels Theatre from the Grand Lobby of the Spreckels Theater Building in downtown San Diego.
A tour group has entered the Spreckels Theatre from the Grand Lobby of the Spreckels Theater Building in downtown San Diego.

Several years ago I wrote a short blog about the Spreckels Theater Building on Broadway. I took a few photos of the six-story office building’s exterior and Grand Lobby. You can see those here.

During the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event last weekend, I enjoyed a tour of the Spreckels Theatre, which is found inside the large mixed-use building. Our group met in the building’s Grand Lobby near the original old box office, which for many years had been hidden and forgotten behind a wall. We then ventured into the theatre’s smaller elegant Baroque lobby.

After learning some fascinating history, we headed down an aisle through the theatre, up over the orchestra pit and right up onto the stage! By tilting our heads back we could gaze six floors straight up at the stage’s complex workings, and by walking a few steps off the stage, we could poke our noses into the three “Star” dressing suites.

Our group was provided with in all sorts of cool information, but sadly I didn’t write it all down. We did learn that the Spreckels Theatre and the building that it’s housed in was built by San Diego entrepreneur and philanthropist John D. Spreckels, and was designed by Harrison Albight. The structure is built of concrete and steel–it actually contains more steel than nearby modern high-rises. The Grand Lobby outside the theatre entrance contains a vast quantity of beautiful onyx that was shipped in from Mexico.

When the theatre opened in 1912 it was the largest theatre of its kind west of New York City. The theatre originally had 1915 seats, to celebrate the 1915 Panama-California Exposition which would be held in Balboa Park. The theatre has been operating continuously for its entire existence–well over a hundred years. To this day, the theatre has one of the best acoustic ratings anywhere in the world.

Everyone in our tour group smiled when we heard about a 1923 production of Ben Hur, which included horse-drawn chariots actually racing across the Spreckel Theatre’s stage! Apparently the chariots raced in a circle through the lot behind the building, and would periodically come into the building to thunder across the stage!

The interior of the theatre was fairly dark during our tour, so many of my photographs didn’t come out very good. Please read the captions to learn some more about this very cool old theatre.

One additional thing! When questions were posed to the theatre’s manager, I asked whether Conan O’Brien would be returning to the Spreckels Theatre for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con. The answer was he almost certainly will!

The Grand Lobby shines with onyx brought in from Mexico. I learned this original box office was hidden for many years behind a wall and forgotten.
The Grand Lobby shines with onyx brought in from Mexico. I learned this original box office was hidden for many years behind a wall and forgotten.
A sign describes the Spreckels Theatre story. In the 1920's, it was transformed into a grand movie house, hosting Hollywood premieres and the leading stars of the day.
A sign describes the Spreckels Theatre story. In the 1920’s, it was transformed into a grand movie house, hosting Hollywood premieres and the leading stars of the day.
We've stepped into the lobby of the theatre. The amazing glass artwork above the entrance was created in 1983 by Yaakov Agam, commissioned by theatre President, Jacquelyn Littlefield.
We’ve stepped into the lobby of the theatre. The amazing glass artwork above the entrance was created in 1983 by Yaakov Agam, commissioned by theatre President, Jacquelyn Littlefield. Check out its very different reflection in the mirror!
The very elegant concession counter in the theatre, still in use today.
The very elegant concession counter in the theatre, still in use today.
Old photos in glass displays behind the lobby counter show the historic building, past movie stars and John D. Spreckels.
Old photos in glass displays behind the lobby’s counter show the historic building, past movie stars and John D. Spreckels.
Spreckels Theatre. Opening Night August 23, 1912.
Spreckels Theatre. Opening Night: August 23, 1912.
Looking up at light fixtures, one at the theatre lobby and one up some stairs at the Mezzanine.
Looking up at light fixtures, one at the theatre lobby and one up some stairs at the Mezzanine.
Portraits of Hollywood stars left of the front counter.
Portraits of Hollywood stars left of the front counter.
Early movie stars on the right side.
Early movie stars on the right side.
Resolution by San Diego City Council honoring Jacqelyn Littlefield Day, owner and operator of the beautiful Spreckels Theatre since 1970.
Resolution by San Diego City Council honoring Jacqelyn Littlefield Day, owner and operator of the beautiful Spreckels Theatre since 1970.
Cool poster from Conan O'Brien's appearance at the Spreckels Theatre during 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.
Cool poster from Conan O’Brien’s appearance at the Spreckels Theatre during 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.
Now we've entered the dark theatre where my camera struggles. Here's an idea of what you will see.
Now we’ve entered the dark theatre where my old camera struggles. Here’s an idea of what you will see.
Balcony seats surrounded by fantastic Baroque elegance.
Balcony seats surrounded by fantastic Baroque elegance.
One of two plaster sculptures by Charles C. Cristadoro, who would go on to work for Walt Disney.
One of two plaster sculptures by Charles C. Cristadoro, who would go on to work for Walt Disney.
Looking out toward some seats from the theatre's stage.
Looking out toward some seats from the theatre’s stage.
A distinctive Spreckels Theatre design at the end of every seat row.
The distinctive Spreckels Theatre design at the end of every seat row.
A quick peek into a modest suite to the side of the stage. A mirror, sink and restroom are reserved for the biggest stars.
A quick peek into a modest suite to the side of the stage. A mirror, sink and restroom are reserved for the biggest stars.
Our group learns some of the fascinating history of one of San Diego's most treasured places.
Our tour group learns some of the fascinating history of one of San Diego’s most treasured places.

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Architecture and light at Timken Museum of Art.

The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park is designed to be filled with natural light.
The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park is designed to be filled with natural light.

Would you like to enter a truly magical place? Step into the Timken Museum of Art. Walls disappear, and suddenly you are surrounded by fine art masterpieces, natural light, and the greenery and open space of beautiful Balboa Park.

I took a special tour of the building during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. I jotted a few notes and will now try to describe my experience.

According to our tour guide, David Kinney, a Balboa Park Conservancy Board Member, the building housing the Timken Museum of Art is disimilar in many respects to the extremely ornate Spanish Colonial buildings lining El Prado, which were designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The Timken has clean, symmetric, simple lines. It is the only building in Balboa Park specifically designed for people to walk around. The museum was built in 1965 and incorporates many facets of modern architecture. It was designed by San Diego architect John Mock, who intended it to be a “see-through” museum, where boundaries are blurred and gardens and sky are visible from many points inside.

When built, the Timken was the most expensive building ever constructed in San Diego. The building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of mid-century Southern California Modernism and the International Style in the nation.

The abundant travertine, bronze and glass create a magical effect. Visitors to the museum feel surrounded by San Diego’s native sunshine. There are views of small gardens, the Plaza de Panama, the Lily Pond and families enjoying picnics on nearby grass.

By taking a few steps into the museum’s intimate galleries, visitors can view one of the most amazing small collections of fine art in the world. There are 60 major works, paintings by the likes of Copley, Johnson, Bierstadt, Veronese, Guercino, Clouet, Claude, David, Brueghel, Rubens, van Dyck, Zurbar├ín and Murillo. The Timken owns the only Rembrandt to be found in Southern California. Every work is partially bathed in indirect natural light, from hidden skylights along the walls in each gallery. During our tour, as we gazed at the Rembrandt, a cloud passed over the sun, and the light in the gallery dimmed. It was an extraordinary experience that infused additional life into the moody masterpiece.

Come along with me as I show you a few photos. Read the captions for more info!

Fences enclosing a small garden and sections of the museum seem like airy lacework. The building's white travertine reflects San Diego's sunlight.
Fences enclosing a small garden and sections of the museum seem like airy lacework. The building’s white travertine reflects San Diego’s sunlight.
Turning west, we can see the California Tower across the Plaza de Panama.
Turning west, we can see the California Tower across the Plaza de Panama.
Our tour guide describes an architectural marvel.
Our tour guide describes an architectural marvel.
This small garden by one large museum window was created in 1983 by a Japanese master designer.
This small garden by one large museum window was created in 1983 by a Japanese master designer.
Inside the central lobby of the museum. The seats are Italian made. Another large window allows light in from Balboa Park's beautiful Lily Pond.
Inside the central lobby of the museum. The seats are Italian made. Another large window allows light in from Balboa Park’s beautiful Lily Pond.
Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.
Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.
Lights along the ceiling perimeter include skylights, admitting natural indirect sunlight.
Lights along the ceiling’s perimeter include hidden skylights, admitting natural indirect sunlight.
Saint Bartholomew, Rembrandt van Rijn, oil on canvas, 1657.
Saint Bartholomew, Rembrandt van Rijn, oil on canvas, 1657.
The Timken's collection was begun by the Putnam sisters, who had a passion for fine art. They also loved Russian Orthodox religious icons, a few of which are housed in one gallery.
The Timken’s collection was begun by the Putnam sisters, who had a passion for fine art. They also loved Russian Orthodox religious icons, a few of which are housed in one gallery.
Our tour ventured into the Timken's employee lounge, where we saw the original blueprints of this iconic building.
Our tour ventured into the Timken Museum’s employee lounge and meeting room, where we saw the original blueprints of this iconic building.
Also displayed was one early Timken architectural design concept, where the building would have been circular.
Also displayed was one early Timken Museum architectural design concept, where the building would have been circular.
A very cool free museum in San Diego, the Timken combines the magic of sunlight, a carefree day in Balboa Park and fine art.
A very cool free museum in San Diego, the Timken combines the magic of sunlight, a happy, carefree day in Balboa Park and fine art.

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!