Unexpected movie star in the Gaslamp Quarter!

San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter has attracted celebrities from all around the world, particularly during big international events like Comic-Con. But did you know there’s one movie star that calls the Gaslamp home?

Walk down Fifth Avenue past the 7-Eleven and you’ve spotted a “movie star” that has appeared in two films. The convenience store occupies the 1930 Manila Cafe building, which was used as a “backdrop for scenes in the movies In God We Trust, with Marty Feldman, and Writer’s Block, with Morgan Fairchild.” That’s what a corroded historical marker by the 7-Eleven’s front door reads!

According to this article, the old Manila Café building has been occupied by a variety of restaurants over the years, and by a billiard hall during World War II. In 2014 the exterior was renovated, but the roof with its red Spanish tiles and Asian contours, and the building’s distinctive upper story, haven’t changed.

Have you watched either movie? Have you spotted San Diego’s “famous” Manila Cafe building in the background?

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!

Historical uniforms inspire a Fashion Redux!

Anyone in San Diego who is interested in history, fashion, or the evolution of fashion should visit the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

A new exhibit opened on Sunday titled Fashion Redux 2021. Collaborating with the History Center, inspired by four plain-looking late 19th to mid 20th century woman’s uniforms, students from Mesa College’s Fashion Program have designed similar but more contemporary clothing!

The four articles of clothing in the museum’s collection that were considered by the students are: a WWII Uniform, Navy Nurse Corps, c. 1940s; a ZLAC Rowing Uniform, c. 1895; a Girl Scout Uniform, c. 1919; and a Knights of Columbus Uniform, c. late 19th or early 20th century.

Just seeing those old uniforms in the San Diego History Center is interesting in itself, but to see how fashion design students have chosen to alter century-old styles provides a glimpse into the creative human mind, and perhaps a sense of our culture’s present day aesthetic tastes.

The exhibit allows visitors to compare the different clothing in detail, and learn about the talented students who are participating in this Fashion Redux.

Here is some of what you’ll see…

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!

National Carousel Day in Balboa Park!

Everyone got a free ride on the Balboa Park Carousel today! That’s because it’s National Carousel Day!

Lots of excited kids and families were waiting for their ride on the historic carousel when I walked by. Every year on National Carousel Day people head to Balboa Park just for the special occasion!

The wonderful old carousel was built in 1910 by Herschell-Spillman Co. in North Tonawanda, New York. It ran for a few years in Luna Park, Los Angeles, then was moved to Coronado’s Tent City in 1913. In 1922 it was transported to Balboa Park where the Fleet Science Center is today. Finally it was moved to its present location near the San Diego Zoo in 1968.

Whenever I pause by the whirling carousel, I enjoy looking at the amazing carved animals, the carnival-like lights and mirrors, and the nostalgic art painted on passing panels. And I love listening to stirring music from the original band organ. I also gaze into a display case that contains historical information and artifacts concerning this special merry-go-round!

I’ve included two photos of the carousel being built back in 1910. Creating the carved animals required true artistry.

When beloved author Ray Bradbury turned a carousel into a time machine, I think he was onto something. Because whenever I ride one, I find that I’m a young boy again.

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!

San Diego’s two historic Civil War cannons.

Two cannons dating from the American Civil War now make their home in San Diego. You can find them floating above the bay on the barge behind the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

According to plaques at the museum and this very detailed article from the The Journal of San Diego History, these two “Napoleon guns” (also called a 12-pounder Gun, Model 1857) were utilized by the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1886 they were brought to our city by the U.S. Army and placed at the San Diego Barracks. The old barracks was located near today’s Seaport Village. (You can see a photo of the historical plaque marking the old barracks site here.)

The two “bronze” or “gun metal” cannons are named Big John and El Justin. Each cannon without the carriage weighs over 1,200 pounds. At the barracks they were fired at sunrise and at sunset, and whenever visiting ships came into San Diego harbor.

In 1898, at the beginning of the Spanish-American War, the two Napoleon guns were moved to Fort Rosecrans where they defended the newly laid Ballast Point minefield, and they “were fired nightly, despite complaints that the noise frightened the horses…”

Afterward they were moved from place to place in San Diego, thrown aside as junk, then finally restored in the 1980’s. For much more information, read the detailed article here.

You can view historical black-and-white photographs of the two Napoleon guns in San Diego 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 historical Carriage Works building downtown.

There’s an unusual old building in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter called the Carriage Works. You can find it at the corner of Fourth Avenue and G Street.

If the Carriage Works with its wide arched doorways appears different from other historical buildings in the Gaslamp, that’s because it used to be a place where San Diegans would go to purchase horse-drawn buggies and wagons!

Today the Carriage Works is home to music venues and eateries including GARAGE Kitchen + Bar, Tin Roof, and The Shout! House.

I took these photos about a month ago. You can see how outdoor dining areas were set up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I also photographed a plaque that provides a brief description of the building’s history.

Carriage Works, 1890

Constructed to house the wholesale business of Todd and Hawley, which operated here until 1902. Their stock was purchased by Lyons Implement Company, which carried a complete line of Studebaker vehicles, including buggies and wagons. Along with Lyon, San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego Farm and Dairy Supply, a tent and awning company and the Volunteers of America have occupied the building.

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The new International Cottages in Balboa Park are completed!

The brand new International Cottages in Balboa Park are finally finished! The construction site fences are down and the House of Peru is already moving in!

Late today I walked though the two new sections of the now expanded House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. Five structures have been built for nine nations or cultural units. As you can see from my photographs, the new cottages are beautiful!

Two new structures on the northeast side of the International Cottages will showcase Mexico, Panama and the Philippines; three structures on the southwest side will showcase Korea, India, Peru, Palestine, Chamorro and Turkey.

After years and years of bureaucratic delays and financial struggle, this truly historic project is complete!

I peered through many new cottage windows as I walked around and saw mostly vacant space. But the House of Peru has begun to move in and they’ll have a “soft opening” for the public beginning tomorrow!

If you’d like to see photos of the big festive groundbreaking event almost five years ago, click 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!

Quiet beauty at Maxton Brown Park in Carlsbad.

A small but very beautiful public park can be enjoyed in Carlsbad at the corner of Laguna Drive and State Street.

Maxton Brown Park is a quiet place. One can sit on a bench to read a book or gaze out at Buena Vista Lagoon.

During my recent walk in Carlsbad I rested on one bench that had a view of the lagoon. It was very peaceful.

I then briefly explored the park and found several memorial plaques that honor loved ones.

Here are a few photos…

The above plaque overlooking the lagoon reads:

LT. MAXTON BROWN PARK

515th SQDN

MARCH 5, 1915 – JULY 8, 1943

BUENA VISTA LAGOON CONSERVATOR

AMERICAN LEGION POST 146 MARCH 5, 1976

I did a little searching on the internet and learned that during World War II, on July 8, 1943, 2nd Lieutenant Maxton Brown of Carlsbad was downed over Sicily. He flew with the 515th Bomb Squadron.

The Buena Vista Lagoon is home of the Maxton Brown Bird Sanctuary. According to this page of the Carlsbad Historical Society, prior to the war Maxton “spent many hours at the lagoon sighting and recording over 150 species of birds.”

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!

More history at the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto.

Last month the Friends of Balboa Park installed a new information sign at the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto. The sign provides a good description of the fountain grotto’s history in Golden Hill Park. The community park, with views of downtown and Florida Canyon, is located in the southeast corner of much larger Balboa Park.

Five years ago I posted photos of the grotto on my now dormant blog Beautiful Balboa Park. You can read what I wrote and see those photographs here. I walked to the grotto again last weekend to check out the newly installed sign.

The sign explains how Golden Hill Park, developed in 1889, was the site of San Diego’s first playground. The Golden Hill Fountain Grotto was a decorative park installation designed in 1907 by Henry Lord Gay. He was also responsible for downtown San Diego’s Western Metal Supply Co. building, which is now a part of Petco Park.

Henry Lord Gay “created a sunken garden grotto built of stone and concrete with twin cobblestone stairways curving down to a sheltered fountain and seating area in a rugged canyon…Stones evoke mystery, creativity and contemplation; flowing water signifies life, and pathways lead out to the open sky…”

You can see in my photos how the fountain was made to appear like a natural spring whose pool trickles down into a hollowed rock.

Sadly, I observed evidence of homelessness and drug use in the secluded grotto. These tragic problems have become widespread in San Diego. Trash, graffiti and a burnt out fountain is probably not what Henry Lord Gay and the early residents of our city envisioned.

The Golden Hill Fountain Grotto is over a century old and is, according to the information sign, Balboa Park’s oldest designed feature.

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!

Photos of Carlsbad’s grand, historic Twin Inns.

Several impressive landmark buildings can be observed during a visit to Carlsbad.

Perhaps the most prominent landmark stands at the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard (the local stretch of old Highway 101) and Carlsbad Village Drive. It’s called the Twin Inns. Look for the big blue Victorian building next to the Carlsbad gateway sign.

Approach the Twin Inns and you’ll not only be impressed by its grand architecture, but you’ll have the opportunity to view an informative plaque that relates a good deal of fascinating history.

The plaque by the front steps reads:

TWIN INNS

This Victorian structure was built in 1887 for Gerhard Schutte, whose role in the development of the town led to his being called the “Father of Carlsbad.” Schutte and partners Samuel Church Smith and D.D. Wadsworth founded the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company and had as their vision “a town of small farms and gracious homes.” To that end they bought 400 prime acres at $40 per acre for development as a community. They laid out a townsite, lined roads with eucalyptus seedlings, and named the streets. This property was converted to the Twin Inns Restaurant circa 1917 by Whiting and Reed and was purchased by Ed and Neva Kentner in 1919. It was named the Twin Inns since the building was identical to the nearby Wadsworth home, also used as an inn. The building was extensively remodeled with a large octagonal dining room added in 1922. The Twin Inns was a popular summer dining area frequented by many of the Hollywood set after a day at the races and later figured prominently in Carlsbad’s history serving as the site of the first City Council meeting and deliberations on the city’s incorporation. The building was also famous for its fried chicken dinners, which were promoted by large plaster chickens out front. After 60 years as a family business, the Twin Inns was sold in 1984 and became part of the Village Faire Shopping Center.

COURTESY OF THE CARLSBAD HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION

On either side of the steps you’ll find two decorative signs…

The Twin Inns – Famous Chicken Dinners
Built by Alonzo Culver for Gerhard Schutte in 1887.
The north side of the Twin Inns.
The south side of the Twin Inns. You can see a sign for one small business that presently occupies the building, Sun Diego Boardshop.
The southeast corner of the Twin Inns. This part of the historic building is now used by Pedego Electric Bikes.

I was told by a friendly employee of Pedego Electric Bikes that the above door, on the building’s east side, used to be an entrance to a speakeasy back during Prohibition!

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!

4th of July celebrated in Balboa Park!

This afternoon at 2 pm there was a special celebration of the 4th of July in Balboa Park. A small crowd was drawn to the International Cottages where the House of the United States of America hosted the event.

Several members of the Sons of the American Revolution were present, and they had a table where I learned about the organization. They’re all about teaching a very important aspect of American history: its founding.

To join SAR you must be a verified descendant of someone who fought in the Revolutionary War. I was told that finding all that necessary documentation is an eye-opener. One quickly realizes that names recorded centuries ago were actual living breathing human beings, no different than you and me! (To see a list of the San Diego Chapter’s ancestors, click here!)

Members of SAR today work with schools and educators to teach American history. You can image how kids would be excited to talk to an actual honest-to-goodness descendant of our nation’s founders! If you’d like to learn more about and perhaps get in touch with these folks, click here!

Before the Independence Day ceremony got started, I got a hot dog with onions, mustard and ketchup and headed into the House of the USA cottage where I took some of the following photos.

Then it was time for the Sons of the American Revolution color guard to present the flag.

After the National Anthem was sung, a good old American rock and roll band entertained everyone!

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!