A great place to watch small commercial fishermen unload their catch or load up with ice is the dock just north of Seaport Village, opposite the Chesapeake Fish Company. Folks walking past can also peer through a glass window nearby and see workers in a refrigerated room cleaning and processing the fresh fish that ends up at restaurants throughout the region. I once heard the Chesapeake Fish Company is the largest fish broker west of the Mississippi.
The sign in this photograph details the history of San Diego’s fishing industry–tuna fishing and canning in particular. At one time San Diego had the largest tuna fishing fleet in the world. Many of the fishermen were Italian migrants, which gave rise to the Little Italy neighborhood, about a mile to the north on downtown’s waterfront.
Tuna Harbor, adjacent to this dock, now is home to a ragtag group of local fishing boats. It’s also a great place to spot sea lions!
One of the best things about Seaport Village is its historic carousel. I like to buy a hot dog or onion rings from the nearby food court, or an ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s, then sit down at a shady table and watch families and kids flock to the merry-go-round. It’s also pleasant to take in a bit of live music from local artists who perform near the carousel on weekends.
This fun Looff carousel was built in 1895 and features over fifty colorful animals including a dragon, a giraffe, a teddy bear, a lion, and two horse-drawn chariots. Master wood carver Charles Looff is famous for inventing the uniquely flamboyant Coney Island style of carousels. In his lifetime he produced many popular carousels, amusements parks, roller coasters and Ferris wheels. Very cool!
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A large plaque affixed to a boulder near the House of Hungary in Balboa Park’s International Cottages remembers San Diego’s first sheriff, Agoston Haraszthy.
Haraszthy, born in 1812, was the first Hungarian to settle permanently in the United States. Before coming to San Diego, he founded the oldest incorporated village in Wisconsin and operated the first commercial steamboat on the upper Mississippi River.
After moving to San Diego, he formed a partnership with Juan Bandini and began many business and agricultural projects. He planted fruit orchards, operated a livery stable and stagecoach line, and opened a butcher shop. He was instrumental in organizing a large portion of San Diego called Middletown, which many called Haraszthyville. He imported grape vines and planted a vineyard near the San Diego River.
In 1850 he was elected first sheriff of San Diego County.
I took this photo while strolling down El Prado, Balboa Park’s breathtakingly beautiful central promenade. Lined with fountains, fine museums and Spanish Colonial Revival buildings designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, it is one of the most scenic walks in San Diego.
I caught this man taking a stroll with his dog in front of Casa del Prado, one of the spectacular buildings along El Prado.
The lady in this ticket booth in front of Horton Plaza seems unconcerned that a dark silent person looms ominously beside her! That person, in the form of a statue, is Ernest Hahn. He’s a famous San Diego developer and the driving force behind the popular Horton Plaza shopping mall.
What you see in the first pic is a colorful scene near the entrance of Horton Plaza. An obelisk with a tile mosaic juts out of the underground entrance to the Lyceum Theater, which is home of the San Diego Repertory Theatre. The domed building in the upper left corner of the photograph belongs to the Balboa Theatre.
Across from the statue of Ernest Hahn is a bronze representation of Alonzo Erastus Horton, a gold miner, shop owner, and finally an influential real estate developer in the second half of the 19th century. He purchased cheap land for development adjacent to San Diego Bay where ships docked, well south of the established settlement below the old Spanish presidio. Alonzo Horton’s New Town had supplanted Old Town in importance by the beginning of the 20th century.
The third statue stands a bit to the west, on the other side of Horton Square. You can find it in the shade of a tree. The figure is Pete Wilson, who served as San Diego mayor from 1971 to 1983. He went on to serve as United States Senator and governor of California.
The historic El Cortez Hotel, now converted into condominiums, has been an iconic landmark in San Diego since 1926. Decades before gleaming skyscrapers rose to shape our modern skyline, the El Cortez dominated Cortez Hill and was the city’s tallest building.
The large sign on top, illuminated at night, brightly flashes the sequenced letters of “El Cortez” like a beacon out of the past. The El Cortez years ago had the world’s very first outside glass elevator. Known as the Starlight Express, the elevator brought visitors to the hotel’s penthouse restaurant, which featured amazing views of the growing city and the bay below. The hotel also had the world’s first motorized moving sidewalk!
I live several blocks from this wonderful building and love to gaze at it whenever I walk or drive past!
In downtown San Diego, on Kettner and A Street not far from Little Italy and the Santa Fe Depot, you might spot this old advertisement painted on a building wall. It promotes Dr. Pepper and Hires Root Beer. According to some googling I’ve done, the colorful artwork was revealed when an adjacent building was demolished. Looks to me like this building was a soda bottling plant years ago.