Optical magic at the Marriott Marquis.

A bicyclist passes reflections on the glassy two-level ballroom of the Marriott Marquis.
A bicyclist passes reflections on the glassy two-level ballroom of the Marriott Marquis.

Here are two magical photos. Bright reflections of nearby high-rises were captured by my camera as I walked past the new ballroom expansion of the Marriott Marquis. I love San Diego’s beautiful waterfront.

Optical magic on glass windows.
Optical magic on glass windows.

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!

Funny sign: Quit stealing our letters!

Town and Country Hotel sign reads: CUIT 5TEALING O R LETT3RS
Town and Country Hotel sign reads: CUIT 5TEALING O R LETT3RS

I was heading home from work today when I spied something funny through the bus window. The big Town and Country Hotel sign now reads: CUIT 5TEALING O R LETT3RS. Either a crook has stolen the missing letters, or somebody is providing us with a good laugh!

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!

Buildings rise and fall along San Diego’s waterfront.

First of two photos from about a week ago. Construction of a new fire station at Pacific Highway and Cedar Street. When finished this station will serve the North Embarcadero and Little Italy.
Construction of a new fire station at Pacific Highway and Cedar Street. When finished this station will serve the North Embarcadero and Little Italy.

Many cranes now fill the sky in downtown San Diego. They seem to be concentrated in East Village and along the waterfront. I’ve lived in downtown for a long time, and I don’t recall seeing this amount of construction activity in many, many years.

As you might have noticed, I like to walk along the Embarcadero. During the past few months I’ve been watching the progress of several construction projects not far from the water. Every time I go for a stroll it seems that I have to tilt my head farther and farther back…

It’s fascinating to watch new buildings slowly rise into the sky–and to watch as old buildings are swept away. It seems that human ambition is like an ocean that crashes wave after wave, unceasingly changing the cityscape. The things we see today will in time be replaced, and, like ourselves, become a small bit of history.

Here are some photos. Most I took late this afternoon. (The first four photos, which show the new fire station construction, were taken very recently.)

Read the captions!

The new fire station is west of the railroad and trolley tracks, in order to avoid potential delays when dispatched to emergencies by San Diego's harbor.
The new fire station is west of the railroad and trolley tracks, in order to avoid potential delays when fire engines are dispatched to emergencies near San Diego’s harbor.
I took this photo and the next a couple of days ago. Huge steel beams have appeared!
I took this photo (and the next) about a week after those first two photos. Huge steel beams have appeared!
A new bayside firehouse is being built in San Diego!
A new bayside firehouse is being built in San Diego!
Graphic on a banner on the fence surrounding the old, closed Anthony's Fish Grotto. A new waterside dining experience is coming called Portside Pier.
Graphic on the fence surrounding the now closed Anthony’s Fish Grotto. A new waterside dining experience is coming called Portside Pier.
Portside Pier will be just south of the Star of India and include a dock for visiting boats. Interesting that this graphic doesn't show Point Loma or any land across San Diego Bay.
Portside Pier will be just south of the Star of India and include a dock for visiting boats. (Interesting that this graphic doesn’t show Point Loma, North Island or any land across San Diego Bay!)
Portside Pier will include Brigantine, Miguel's, Ketch Grill and Taps, and Portside Coffee and Gelato.
Portside Pier will include Brigantine, Miguel’s, Ketch Grill and Taps, and Portside Coffee and Gelato.
Demolition of the Navy Broadway Complex has been underway for several weeks. I believe a remote robot is being used to destroy this building floor by floor, starting at the top level.
Demolition of the Navy Broadway Complex has been underway for several weeks. I believe a remotely-controlled robot is being used to destroy the old building floor by floor, starting at the top level.
Another look at the old Navy Broadway Complex being slowly removed. Heaps of debris are growing.
Another look at the old Navy Broadway Complex being slowly removed. Heaps of debris are growing.
Photo taken from Ruocco Park shows the Navy Broadway Complex demolition, plus the construction of the new InterContinental Hotel (left crane) and Pacific Gate by Bosa (right crane).
Photo taken from Ruocco Park shows the Navy Broadway Complex demolition, plus the construction of the new InterContinental Hotel (left crane) and Pacific Gate by Bosa (right crane).
The Navy Broadway Complex is being demolished to make way for Manchester Pacific Gateway, which will include four office buildings, a retail promenade, tourist attractions, a park and two hotels.
The Navy Broadway Complex is being demolished to make way for Manchester Pacific Gateway, which will include four office buildings, a retail promenade, tourist attractions, a park and two hotels.
A look at the demolition so far from Pacific Highway. The Navy Broadway Complex has evolved since the early 1900's and has served the Pacific Fleet in various capacities.
A look at the demolition so far from Pacific Highway. The Navy Broadway Complex has evolved since the early 1900’s and has served the Pacific Fleet in various capacities.
Pacific Gate by Bosa appears to be nearing completion. Photo taken just south of intersection of Broadway and Pacific Highway.
The tall Pacific Gate by Bosa appears to be nearing completion. Photo taken near intersection of Broadway and Pacific Highway.
Construction continues near the base of Pacific Gate, a high-rise luxury condo. Photo taken from across Broadway.
Construction continues near the base of Pacific Gate, a high-rise luxury condo.
Pacific Gate rises behind construction of the new InterContinental Hotel, located at the site of old Lane Field. Photo taken across Harbor Drive.
Pacific Gate rises in the distance, behind the construction of a new InterContinental Hotel, located at the site of old Lane Field. Photo taken from across Harbor Drive.
When finished, this InterContinental Hotel will provide 400 luxury waterfront rooms for visitors to San Diego.
When finished, this InterContinental Hotel will provide 400 luxury waterfront rooms for visitors to San Diego.
I took some photos of ground floor construction as I walked along Pacific Highway north of Broadway.
I took some photos of ground floor construction as I walked along Pacific Highway north of Broadway.
Another photo of construction of San Diego's new InterContinental Hotel.
Another photo of construction of San Diego’s new InterContinental Hotel.
Looking upward.
Looking upward.
Lots of cranes are in San Diego's blue sky! A dynamic city grows and continues to evolve.
Lots of cranes are in San Diego’s blue sky! A dynamic city grows and continues to evolve.

Here are a couple later pics!

The new InterContinental Hotel rises.
The new InterContinental Hotel rises.
The old Navy Broadway Complex falls.
The old Navy Broadway Complex falls.

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!

Two observation windows high above San Diego!

View from the Top of the Hyatt. The Marriot Marquis and Marina can be seen below, sparkling in the San Diego sunshine.
View from the Top of the Hyatt. The Marriott Marquis and its marina can be seen below, sparkling in the San Diego sunshine.

Perhaps the best view of downtown San Diego can be enjoyed through two observation windows on the 40th floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Stand on Harbor Drive and face the beautiful hotel–the older, taller tower on the left is where you need to go.

Take the guest elevator to the 40th floor after 3pm, to the bar at the Top of the Hyatt, and the two observation windows await on either side of the elevator. No need to enter the bar.

Check out the amazing views to the north and to the south!

At the top of this 497 foot tower, the highest waterfront building on the West Coast, one can peer through two observation windows and enjoy phenomenal views of San Diego.
At the top of this 497 foot tower, the highest waterfront building on the West Coast, one can peer through two observation windows and enjoy phenomenal views of San Diego.
Approaching the south observation window on the 40th floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
Approaching the south observation window on the 40th floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
Looking to the south across San Diego Bay and past the Coronado Bay Bridge.
Looking to the south across San Diego Bay and past the Coronado Bay Bridge.
From the same window, gazing to the southeast. A portion of downtown is visible. San Miguel Mountain and Otay Mountain rise in the distance.
From the same window, gazing to the southeast. A portion of downtown is visible. San Miguel Mountain and Otay Mountain rise in the distance.
At the other window, looking northwest, past the hotel's second tower, one can see a slice of San Diego Bay and Point Loma.
At the other window, looking northwest, past the hotel’s second tower, one can see a slice of San Diego Bay and Point Loma.
To the north one can see another part of downtown, near the North Embarcadero.
To the north one can see another part of downtown, adjacent to the North Embarcadero.
Written on the window are words from a popular children's book. Oh the places you'll go. Dr. Seuss.
Written on the window are words from a popular children’s book. Oh the places you’ll go. Dr. Seuss.

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!

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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Faded signs painted on old downtown buildings.

Old tin shop sign still visible on the historic I.O.O.F. building in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. A remnant of a past era.
Old tin shop sign still visible on the historic 1882 Independent Order of Odd Fellows Building in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. A remnant of a past era.

While walking around downtown San Diego, I’m always pleased to make unexpected discoveries. Once in a while I’ll spot faded signs and advertisements that were painted years ago on historic old buildings. Unfortunately, many of those old signs are vanishing and will eventually be lost to time. Some of those walls will be painted, or new buildings will sprout up . . . That’s progress, I suppose.

I did some searching on the internet looking for information about the more mysterious signs, but with very little success. I increased the contrast of many photos to try to make out the faded words. If you know anything, leave a comment!

Most of these photos were taken in the morning, the last three or four days…

A faded sign is painted high on the 1888 Nesmith-Greely Building on Fifth Avenue. It is just visible from the street.
A faded sign is painted high on the 1888 Nesmith-Greely Building on Fifth Avenue. It is just visible from the street.
One can barely make out the words HOTEL . . . ROOMS 50c to $1.00
One can barely make out the words HOTEL . . . ROOMS 50c to $1.00
Old brick building at Seventh Avenue and G Street has words so obliterated I can't decipher anything.
Old brick building at Seventh Avenue and G Street has words so obliterated I can’t decipher anything.
The William Penn Hotel building at Fourth Avenue and F Street opened in 1913 as the elegant Oxford Hotel.
The William Penn Hotel building at Fourth Avenue and F Street opened in 1913 as the elegant Oxford Hotel.
Painted words from San Diego's past. The Windsor Hotel on Fourth Avenue was built in 1887. The first floor was once a pool hall; in the 1960s it contained cardrooms and nightclubs with go-go dancers.
Painted words from San Diego’s past. The Windsor Hotel on Fourth Avenue was built in 1887. The first floor was once a pool hall; in the 1960s it contained cardrooms and nightclubs with go-go dancers.
The 1910 Western Metal Supply Company Building is now an iconic part of Petco Park in San Diego.
The 1910 Western Metal Supply Company Building is now an iconic part of Petco Park in San Diego, home of the baseball Padres.
The faded word LYON on a building at the corner of K Street and Fourth Avenue.
The faded word LYON on a building at the corner of K Street and Fourth Avenue.
From a distance, a square space on the side of the Simmons Hotel on Sixth Avenue appears to be blank reddish bricks.
From a distance, a square space on the side of the Simmons Hotel on Sixth Avenue appears to be blank reddish bricks.
But a closer look reveals old words from many years ago. Perhaps you can figure out what they say.
But a closer look reveals old words from many years ago. Perhaps you can figure out what they say.
Faded words can also be spotted high on the Plaza Hotel building on Fourth Avenue.
Faded words can also be spotted high on the Plaza Hotel building on Fourth Avenue.
I can barely discern a few letters.
I can barely discern a few letters.
The building on the right is The McGurck Block, built in 1887. A drug store was located in it from 1903 to 1984. Actor Gregory Peck's father worked there as the night druggist.
The building on the right is The McGurck Block, built in 1887. A drug store was located in it from 1903 to 1984. Actor Gregory Peck’s father worked there as the night druggist.
High up, painted on the old brick building's side is a fading advertisement. A glimpse of San Diego's past.
High up, painted on the old brick building’s side is a fading advertisement. A glimpse of San Diego’s past.

I’ve blogged in the past about a variety of cool old painted signs and images in downtown San Diego. Here they are:

Old Hires Root Beer ad on building wall.

Caliente horse racing sign on downtown building.

Faded sign on abandoned San Diego building.

Old Hotel Churchill 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!

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!