Images of the pandemic tragedy downtown.

As I walk around San Diego, I try to find what is uplifting and keep a positive attitude. But these photographs from the past few days aren’t happy. They show tragic aspects of the long COVID-19 pandemic nightmare.

Throughout downtown San Diego it seems time has stopped. It seems the life of my city keeps draining away.

It’s now December and I still see posters for events scheduled last March or April. I see hundreds of boarded windows and a steadily increasing number of For Lease signs. I see people avoiding people. I see more and more who are homeless. And now we’re told a second lockdown in San Diego is imminent.

They tell us this terrible pandemic will finally end in the coming months as vaccines are distributed. But for the time being the tragic scene downtown seems to only worsen.

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 beautiful, living art of Tree.

Tree has returned to San Diego. She has been travelling.

This morning Tree had her beautiful art on display on a downtown sidewalk. I happened to see her as I walked down Broadway near the Santa Fe Depot.

Tree is a passionate artist, full of life and energy. She’s always happy to greet passersby with a big smile.

Her small abstract watercolor paintings are like splashes of life seen through prisms. They are created with a careful eye and fine brush. Every complex design is a surprise. The colors are brilliant like jewels.

Next time you walk down Broadway just south of the Santa Fe Depot, keep your eyes open. You might discover unexpected treasures spread at your feet. And a smiling Tree.

Urban art at 1835 Creative Studios building.

I took photos of these colorful urban art murals several weeks ago during a walk along Imperial Avenue. They’re spray painted on the 1835 Creative Studios building, at the corner of Imperial and 19th Street, just east of downtown San Diego and Interstate 5.

Sadly, as you can see in a couple photos, many homeless people find refuge in this neighborhood. It’s a grittier part of the city, where one is likely to find all sorts of lively graffiti and urban artwork.

I believe I recognize the unique styles of both the first and last murals–very similar street art can be seen elsewhere in San Diego–but I’m afraid I don’t know the artists. I tried to decipher the signatures, to no avail.

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!

Walking east along the Sweetwater River.

A couple weekends ago I walked a very short segment of the Sweetwater River Bikeway, from Hoover Avenue west to the Pier 32 Marina. You can revisit those photos here.

Today I returned to the Sweetwater River and walked east along the bikeway from Hoover Avenue all the way to Plaza Bonita.

I was struck by the contrasts.

The rocky-sided river channel, as seen looking down from Interstate 5, appears almost barren, but when you walk along the bike path you notice many plants among the broken rocks, and the ones that are deep-rooted were very green in the summer sunlight.

During the day bicyclists and runners passed me by as I slowly walked, and the nearby busy westbound lanes of U.S. Route 54 sometimes came into view. But late at night, the scene is obviously very different. There was graffiti which increased as I progressed east to Interstate 805. There was trash and frequent evidence of homelessness. As I came into the vicinity of Interstate 805, I passed several active homeless encampments. And the graffiti spoke of gang activity, with references to drugs and death.

But as I headed east, the river also became more alive. A marshy wetland appeared with discarded shopping carts and happily paddling ducks. Trees began to flourish along the banks, and eventually grew so thick they concealed a river full of reeds and lush greenery.

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!

A strange mixture of sights downtown.

Go on any walk through downtown San Diego and you’ll see a strange mixture of sights. Sometimes you have to stop in your tracks to look again.

Many of the visions that rise before your eyes seem contradictory. Urban hipsters drinking coffee and listening to live music . . . a few steps away from people who are homeless. The boarded window of a looted Gaslamp shop . . . and spray painted messages of empathy and kindness.

And there are the sights that are wonderfully odd. Downtown’s reggae dog. A surprising tree in a surprising place. An insurance company for sharknados.

So much strangeness is mixed in the ordinary life of a city.

The mysteries appear everywhere.

I took these photographs during several walks the past few days.

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!

Stuff the Bus online to help students in need!

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Stuff the Bus campaign is being held entirely online this year!

You can help San Diego students who are in need–including those who are homeless–by providing them with school supplies. SDCCU has partnered with the San Diego County Office of Education to make your participation easy. Simply go to this GoFundMe page and make a donation!

Funds received will purchase backpacks full of school supplies like pencils, pens, binders and crayons for those kids who might otherwise go without. The backpacks will be distributed to schools all around San Diego County.

Last year, over 6,800 backpacks filled with school supplies were handed out!

The SDCCU Stuff the Bus campaign runs through July 31, 2020.

Visit the donation page here!

A tale of two San Diegos.

Many of these photos aren’t cool. But they represent reality.

There is a tale of two San Diegos that can be read every day.

One San Diego is optimistic. The other is bleak.

We are all participants in this tale of two San Diegos.

The story is complex and heart-breaking, and has uncounted pages.

There are many ways to help San Diego’s homeless. If that’s something you’d like to do, click here.

A hopeful New Year in the Gaslamp.

It’s New Year’s Eve. This morning and afternoon I walked through the Gaslamp Quarter to see what’s in store for the midnight celebrations.

Up and down Fifth Avenue the restaurants, bars and hotels were getting ready. Workers were sweeping sidewalks, putting up balloons.

I see the Gaslamp Quarter has big plans for the future. According to some information you can read in one photo, Fifth Avenue is to become the Gaslamp Promenade–a sprawling urban plaza. I’m sure it will be opulent and amazing.

Apart from one photo in particular, in the morning I didn’t point my camera at the numerous homeless, who sleep on the sidewalk and in doorways before being ushered along.

The Gaslamp Quarter contains some very stark contrasts. There is material self-indulgence, and there is despair.

Hopefully, in the New Year, there’s more heart.

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!

Street art and a little history in Linda Vista.

I walked through Linda Vista yesterday, up Linda Vista Road from Comstock Street to Genesee Avenue. I discovered great examples of street art and some fascinating local history!

Linda Vista is an old San Diego neighborhood whose origin is tied to World War II. According to Wikipedia: “Many of the homes in Linda Vista were built in 1940-41 as part of a government project to house aircraft workers for the war effort. A construction project that was assisted by Reuben H. Fleet beginning in October 1941 resulted in 3,001 houses built within 200 days.”

One of the first shopping malls ever built in the United States was built in this community. As I walked up Linda Vista Road past the Sieu Thi Thuan Phat Supermarket, I came upon a bronze plaque that describes that history.

Today, as you can see from my photographs, many who live in Linda Vista have an Asian heritage.

The plaque reads:

THIS SITE WAS THE LOCATION OF ONE OF
THE FIRST PLANNED SHOPPING CENTERS
IN THE UNITED STATES

The Linda Vista area was developed as a government
housing project for aircraft and shipyard defense
workers during World War II. The original shopping
center was built to serve the residents and was
dedicated in 1942 by Eleanor Roosevelt. Demolition of
the original shopping center occurred in 1972.

LINDA VISTA COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, 2009

Above is the photo of a beautiful mural by local artist Gloria Muriel, spray painted on the wall of Hot Wash Coin Laundry. Love and Respect.

There’s a tragic phenomenon in the large cities of California that I rarely photograph. In Linda Vista, as in most of San Diego, drugs and homelessness are now encountered everywhere one walks.

A heartbreaking photo.

To see what I see during my walks, follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter.

How you can help artists who are homeless.

Do you love art?

Would you like to help people who find themselves homeless?

Every work of art you see was made by a unique someone who is homeless in San Diego. They are all hopeful people who’ve been provided a creative outlet and opportunity to make a little bit of income by the nonprofit organization HEAL. Right now many of their canvases are on display at the San Diego Central Library. That’s where I took these few photographs.

What you see is just some of the original artwork that you can buy. With their painted canvases, homeless artists earn money. All of these pieces tell a story from the perspective of a unique human being. See all of the artwork that is for sale by those who want a brighter future by clicking here.

According to the HEAL website:

HEAL-SD (Homeless Empowerment through Art and Leadership) is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for creative self-expression and personal growth for individuals experiencing homelessness in San Diego…

Art sales give the artists the ability to earn an income through their hard work, as well as helping to confirm their talent, self-worth, and ability to contribute to their community in a meaningful way.

To view the many works of art that are for sale, click here. Then please make sure to share that page so many others will see it.

Should you purchase a piece, your life will be enriched, too.

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!

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