La Jolla Playhouse enlivens Horton Plaza Park!

Someone in downtown San Diego peers through a spy hole into a tiny red house in Horton Plaza Park.
Someone in downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park peers through a spy hole into a tiny Model Home.

The La Jolla Playhouse has invaded Horton Plaza Park! Several red houses have been placed inside the downtown San Diego park, and inside these tiny houses professional actors and actresses perform. A public audience can freely watch through spy holes!

Model Home is the name of this improvisational performance art concept, and anyone can check it out through Sunday. It’s a part of the La Jolla Playhouse’s annual Without Walls Festival which this year takes place in venues around downtown.

The genius behind Model Home is Mimi Lien, and I believe the idea is to inspire thought about what makes a home, and about those things in a home that individuals deem to be important.

A home is like an enclosed stage where humans act out much of their lives. As one nearby sign says, houses aren’t just structures, but contain human identity, memory and experience. Peering through the various spy holes in these Model Homes is like secretly peering into the mind of another person. It’s an inner life that the observer can never truly know.

I spoke to a couple of friendly La Jolla Playhouse folks and learned the actors and actresses inside the houses perform all day long, with periodic breaks. They are aware that eyeballs are staring in at them, but as trained acting professionals they aren’t fazed at all.

I also learned that at certain times the tiny house that is dangling from a crane is swung around through the air in a Crane Ballet! Perhaps I’ll “swing” by again this weekend and “crane” my neck at what must certainly be an unusual sight!

If you’re in downtown this weekend, you really should check it out!

Inside one tiny house I see an actor in a small kitchen baking bread!
Inside one tiny house I saw an actor in a small kitchen baking bread!
Model Home, in downtown San Diego's Horton Plaza Park, is part of the La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls WOW festival!
Model Home, in downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park, is part of the La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls WOW festival! (Click image to enlarge.)
Several plain red houses stand in Horton Plaza Park--and one is dangling high in the sky from a crane!
Several tiny red houses stand in Horton Plaza Park–and one is dangling high in the sky from a crane!
People pause to read a sign that describes some very unique and thought-provoking performance art that can be enjoyed freely by anyone passing by.
People pause to read a sign that describes some very unique and thought-provoking performance art that can be enjoyed freely by anyone passing by.
Peering through one of the spy holes...
Peering through one of the spy holes…
Inside this very bare Model Home someone sleeps in apparent poverty. But every small set and performance is open for the viewer's own interpretation.
Inside this very bare Model Home an actor seemed to be sleeping in poverty. But every small “stage” and improvised performance invites the viewer’s personal interpretation.
Inside another Model Home are the remains of a birthday party. I'm guessing the kids went outside to play...
Inside another Model Home were the abandoned remnants of a birthday party. I didn’t see an actor. (Perhaps the kids ran outside to play…)
And inside this Model Home an actress is studying a feather, holding it up and turning it in the light. She seems to be quietly thinking.
And inside this Model Home an actress was studying a feather, holding it up and turning it about in the soft light. She seemed to be quietly thinking.

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!

Quick peek at the SoCal Etsy Guild Market!

The SoCal Etsy Guild Market took place today in Horton Plaza Park.
The SoCal Etsy Guild Market took place today in Horton Plaza Park.

My walk downtown today took me through Horton Plaza Park, where I came upon a very cool event.

The SoCal Etsy Guild Market had drawn a nice crowd of curious shoppers! Lots of handmade, original goodies were for sale by all sorts of crafts makers and artists…

I took a few photos as I wandered through…

Lots of cool crafts and artwork was for sale!
Lots of cool crafts and artwork was for sale!
Shoppers wore big smiles.
Shoppers wore big smiles.
Izzy's Sounds is on Etsy. He makes one-of-a-kind bluetooth speakers out of vintage radios and other interesting objects.
Izzy’s Sounds is on Etsy. He makes one-of-a-kind bluetooth speakers out of vintage radios and other interesting objects.
An artist advises us to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air. Sounds wise to me!
An artist advises us to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air. Sounds wise to me!
It appears a good crowd turned out for SoCal Etsy Guild Market in downtown San Diego!
It appears a good crowd turned out for SoCal Etsy Guild Market in downtown San Diego!

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!

Comic-Con events announced for Horton Plaza Park!

A huge IMAX movie screen is being set up in Horton Plaza Park for 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!
A huge IMAX movie screen is being set up in Horton Plaza Park for 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!

I just learned a bunch of cool events are coming to Horton Plaza Park for 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!

On Thursday at 7:30pm there will be an exclusive IMAX movie. I saw them setting up the equipment an hour or so ago. At the time of this posting I still don’t know what movie! (UPDATE! The movie is NOT Atomic Blonde as I surmised, but something else entirely. It’s called #IMAXandThrill, an exclusive IMAX Experience, featuring the one-of-a-kind IMAX pop-up theatre that you see in my photo!)

On Friday from 10am-4pm Netflix will be giving away branded koozies in the park.

On Saturday from 12pm-4pm there will be a Nickelodeon ice cream cart with free ice cream sandwiches. They will be promoting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

On Saturday 6pm-7:30pm there will be an ATOMIC BLONDE fan event that requires a Comic-Con badge.

On Sunday 4pm-4:30pm there will be a Cartoon Network Steven Universe music video taping open to the public, and a big surprise is promised!

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!

Elegant interior of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel.

The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.
The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.

During last weekend’s San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017, I ventured into one of the event’s featured downtown locations: the historic U.S. Grant Hotel. I was able to get some photos of the hotel’s elegant interior!

The U.S. Grant was built by Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., the son of American President Ulysses S. Grant. The building was designed by architect Harrison Albright and built in the same spot where Alonzo Horton had his 1870 Horton House Hotel, which was demolished.

The U.S. Grant Hotel opened in 1910. It featured a steel and reinforced concrete framework to counter the threats of fire and California earthquakes. For over a hundred years the grand old hotel has stood prominently at the center of downtown San Diego. Notable guests have included 15 United States Presidents (there are 3 different presidential suites), Albert Einstein and Charles Lindbergh.

It’s also interesting to note the very first San Diego Comic-Con was held in the U.S. Grant, back in 1970.

The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel's entrance on Broadway.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel’s entrance on Broadway.
The U.S. Grant Hotel's front desk.
The U.S. Grant Hotel’s front desk.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Colorful map shows San Diego neighborhoods!

Cool map made of colorful words shows different neighborhoods, lakes, beaches and parks in San Diego.
Cool map made of colorful words shows different neighborhoods, lakes, beaches and parks in San Diego.

I was walking through the Horton Plaza shopping mall this morning when I spotted this awesome map of San Diego decorating one side of a vendor’s cart. It shows our city’s neighborhoods using their colorful names! It’s so cool I had to take a picture!

I’m not sure whether this graphic is available for purchase, however. The vendor hadn’t opened yet.  If I recall, they were on the ground level not far from the Jessop’s Clock.

Christmas lights turn downtown bright red and green!

The recently restored 1910 Broadway Fountain is lit with red and green light during the Christmas season at Horton Plaza Park in downtown San Diego.
The recently restored 1910 Broadway Fountain is lit with red and green light during the Christmas season at Horton Plaza Park in downtown San Diego.

Look at these colorful photos! Horton Plaza Park and the U.S. Grant Hotel are putting on quite a show for Christmas. Bright red and green lights have turned downtown San Diego into a cheerful wonderland this holiday season!

A closer photo of the handsome Broadway Fountain lit up at night with traditional Christmas colors.
A closer photo of the handsome Broadway Fountain lit up at night with traditional Christmas colors.
Light changes from red to green as water splashes in the beautiful 1910 Broadway Fountain designed by noted architect Irving J. Gill.
Light changes from red to green as water splashes in the beautiful 1910 Broadway Fountain designed by noted architect Irving J. Gill.
Across Broadway from Horton Plaza Park, the historic U.S. Grant hotel is also lit in Christmas colors for the holiday season.
Across Broadway from Horton Plaza Park, the historic U.S. Grant hotel is also lit in Christmas colors for the holiday season.
People sit at tables near the outdoor Starbucks at Horton Plaza Park one early mid-December evening.
People sit at tables near the outdoor Starbucks at Horton Plaza Park one early mid-December evening.
The bright Balboa Theatre sign invites passersby on Fourth Avenue behind the Horton Plaza Park sign.
The bright Balboa Theatre sign invites passersby on Fourth Avenue behind the Horton Plaza Park sign.
People have gathered for the evening in and around the Horton Plaza Park amphitheater. Downtown San Diego is lit beautifully for Christmas.
People have gathered for the evening in and around the Horton Plaza Park amphitheater. Downtown San Diego is lit beautifully for Christmas.
The Broadway Fountain and U.S. Grant Hotel put on a cheerful show of Christmas lights in San Diego.
The Broadway Fountain and U.S. Grant Hotel put on a cheerful show of Christmas lights in San Diego.

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

The new Horton Plaza Park in downtown San Diego makes history in 2016, just over a century after this important civic gathering place originated.
The new Horton Plaza Park in downtown San Diego makes history in 2016, just over a century after this important civic gathering place originated.

Early this morning I enjoyed a bit of history. During my walk, I paused to check out downtown San Diego’s brand new Horton Plaza Park!

The new park, located in the heart of our city, is just as fantastic as I anticipated. It contains cool public artwork, garden-like beauty, and loads of great modern features. But what I appreciated most, as I strolled through the park this morning, was its tangible sense of history.

Horton Plaza Park not only highlights the iconic Broadway Fountain, a true San Diego landmark, but preserves a number of fascinating historical markers and plaques that remember aspects of our city’s unique history.

Please read the photo captions, where I provide more information. I’ve also included three photographs taken about a week before the park opened, as last-minute preparations were being made.

People walk near west entrance of a greatly enlarged Horton Plaza Park the morning after its grand opening celebration. Historically the small city park was simply called Horton Plaza.
People walk near west entrance of a greatly enlarged Horton Plaza Park the morning after its grand opening celebration. Historically the small city park was simply called Horton Plaza. (When people say “Horton Plaza” today, they are usually referring to the popular shopping mall located directly to the south.)
About a week before the grand opening of the new Horton Plaza Park, many workers were applying the final touches.
About a week before the grand opening of the new Horton Plaza Park, many workers were applying the final touches.
The historic 1910 Broadway Fountain, designed by Irving Gill, is prepared for the amazing new Horton Plaza Park's grand opening.
The historic 1910 Broadway Fountain, designed by Irving Gill, is being renovated about a week before the amazing new Horton Plaza Park’s grand opening.
The modern, expansive Horton Plaza Park is a fantastic addition to downtown San Diego, but its creation took many years of planning and hard work. Another photo about a week prior to the grand opening.
The modern, expansive Horton Plaza Park is a fantastic addition to downtown San Diego, but its creation took many years of planning and hard work. One last photo that was taken about a week prior to the grand opening.
A tile walkway along the north edge of Horton Plaza Park preserves a century of history in San Diego.
The morning after the park’s grand opening.  A tile walkway along the north edge of Horton Plaza Park preserves a century of history in San Diego.
One plaque at the north entrance to the park dated 1985. It was laid down to mark the constantly evolving Horton Plaza's 75th anniversary.
One plaque, dated 1985, in the walkway at the north entrance to the park. It was laid down to mark Horton Plaza’s 75th anniversary.
San Diego's iconic Broadway Fountain, with the equally famous U.S. Grant Hotel in the background. The hotel was built by the son of Ulysses S. Grant and opened in 1910.
San Diego’s iconic Broadway Fountain, with the equally famous U.S. Grant Hotel in the background. The hotel was built by the son of President Ulysses S. Grant and opened in 1910.
One of four plaques near base of the Broadway Fountain. It reads Presented to The City of San Diego by Louis J. Wilde, 1909 A.D. Wilde was a banker, businessman and San Diego mayor.
One of four plaques near base of the Broadway Fountain. It reads Presented to The City of San Diego by Louis J. Wilde, 1909 A.D. Wilde was a banker, businessman and San Diego mayor.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Father Junipero Serra, founder of the first Spanish missions in California, including Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Father Junipero Serra, founder of the first Spanish missions in California, including Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered San Diego Bay during an expedition for Spain in 1542.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered San Diego Bay during an expedition for Spain in 1542.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Alonzo E. Horton. He created and promoted New Town, where downtown San Diego exists today. Before being sold to the city in 1895, Horton Plaza was originally used by guests staying at his Horton House Hotel.
Plaque near base of Broadway Fountain depicts Alonzo E. Horton. He created and promoted New Town, where downtown San Diego exists today. Before being sold to the city in 1895, the Horton Plaza park was originally used by guests staying at his Horton House Hotel.
A proud eagle perched within the elegant columns of San Diego's Broadway Fountain.
A proud eagle perched within the elegant columns of San Diego’s Broadway Fountain.
Looking east from the Broadway Fountain toward an historical marker: The Pacific Milestone.
Looking east from the Broadway Fountain toward an historical marker: The Pacific Milestone.
The citizens of San Diego in dedicating this Pacific Milestone, November 17, 1923, hereby gratefully acknowledge the untiring efforts of Col. Ed Fletcher in the construction of a Southern Transcontinental Highway.
The citizens of San Diego in dedicating this Pacific Milestone, November 17, 1923, hereby gratefully acknowledge the untiring efforts of Col. Ed Fletcher in the construction of a Southern Transcontinental Highway.
The points of the compass cap the Pacific Milestone.
Points of the compass cap the Pacific Milestone.
Pacific Milestone dedicated by our beloved President Calvin Coolidge November 17, 1923.
Pacific Milestone dedicated by our beloved President Calvin Coolidge November 17, 1923.
The Pacific Milestone in today's Horton Plaza Park marks the western terminus of The Old Spanish Trail, which traversed the American continent to St. Augustine, Florida.
The Pacific Milestone in today’s Horton Plaza Park marks the western terminus of The Old Spanish Trail, which traversed the American continent and ended in St. Augustine, Florida.
Old Spanish Trail. St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California.
Old Spanish Trail. St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California.
A familiar El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park. It was donated by the San Diego Woman's Club.
A familiar El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park. It was donated by the San Diego Woman’s Club.
Small plaque beneath the El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park.
Small plaque beneath the El Camino Real bell in Horton Plaza Park.
Another historical plaque in the tile walkway. First Pacific Terminal Jefferson Davis Highway. Presented to the City of San Diego May 12, 1926...
Another historical plaque in the tile walkway. First Pacific Terminal Jefferson Davis Highway. Presented to the City of San Diego May 12, 1926…
Starbucks occupies one of three food pavilions at the new Horton Plaza Park. The morning after the park's grand opening, this Starbucks is already busy.
Starbucks occupies one of three food pavilions at the new Horton Plaza Park. The morning after the park’s grand opening, this Starbucks is already busy.
People enjoying a morning Starbucks sit at tables above Horton Plaza Park's outdoor amphitheater. A cool new mural serves as a distinctive backdrop.
People who enjoy a morning coffee can sit at tables above Horton Plaza Park’s outdoor amphitheater. A cool new mural serves as a distinctive urban backdrop.
A better look at the central part of the park. This broad, shallow amphitheater will be the site of many concerts and civic events in downtown San Diego. It also contains an interactive fountain (off at the moment).
A better look at the central part of the park. This broad, shallow amphitheater will be the site of many concerts and civic events in downtown San Diego. It also contains an interactive fountain (off at the moment).
Walking along Fourth Avenue, viewing the new park through several 23-foot high sculptures. These luminaries have lights that change colors at night.
Walking along Fourth Avenue, viewing the new park through several 23-foot high metal sculptures. These luminaries have lights that change colors at night.
Rounding a corner, I see some workers are removing fencing and tables that were used for the grand opening yesterday evening.
Rounding a corner, I see some workers are removing fencing and tables that were used for the park’s big grand opening yesterday evening.
South side of the huge new public art mural in Horton Plaza Park.
South side of the huge public art mural in Horton Plaza Park.
A cool public space that is sure to become one of San Diego's most popular gathering places.
A cool public space that is sure to become one of San Diego’s most popular gathering places.
The morning after the new Horton Plaza Park has opened. History is being made in San Diego, and one gentleman takes it all in.
The morning after San Diego’s amazing new Horton Plaza Park has opened. History is being made, and one gentleman takes it all in.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! 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 fun photos for you to enjoy!