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.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego!  Are you curious?  There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

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!

Elegantly dressed skeletons discovered in old hotel!

Two elegantly dressed skeletons can be seen seated just inside the front entrance of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town.
Two elegantly dressed skeletons have been discovered seated inside the front entrance of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town.

I was stunned to observe that a large number of skeletons have been discovered in an old San Diego hotel. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, to be exact. The elegantly dressed skeletons, wearing frilly dresses or top hats, were seen standing about the hotel’s entrance, in the saloon, even seated on chairs behind a large wedding cake.

Huh?

I’m just having a bit of fun! The Cosmopolitan Hotel is part of Old Town, and dozens of elegantly dressed skeletons appear in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park every year as Día de los Muertos approaches.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is actually a celebration of ancestors and loved family members who have passed away. In Mexico, the deceased are remembered and prayed for, and certain joyful traditions are observed. One unusual tradition is derived from La Calavera Catrina, a famous etching by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, which depicts a female skeleton dressed in a fancy hat. Even though the image was originally created as satire, the Catrina has become a familiar sight in many places where Día de los Muertos is observed.

I snapped these photos at the historic Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town. The original building dates back to the late 1820s, when the wealthy Californio cattle rancher Juan Bandini built a “mansion” among the simple adobes in Old Town. When Bandini’s fortunes faded, he sold the house to Albert Seeley in 1869, who built a second story and converted the house into a hotel for a new San Diego stagecoach stop, which he also built nearby.

I believe I photographed a couple of the same skeletons a year or two ago, but I simply couldn’t help myself. They’re so much fun!

A covered wagon in front of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A covered wagon in front of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
In celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, two lady skeletons wearing frilly dresses greet visitors to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Here's one.
In celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, two lady skeletons wearing frilly dresses greet visitors to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Here’s one!
Here's the other!
Here’s the other!
Inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel's saloon, more extremely elegant but skeletal customers are observed.
Inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s saloon, another lavishly elegant but skeletal customer is observed.
A shy skeleton in quite fancy attire stands silently in the corner of the Old West 1800s saloon.
A shy skeleton in very fancy attire stands silently in the corner of the Old West 1800s saloon.
A bony customer at the bar. That must have been a stiff drink.
A bony customer at the bar. That must have been a stiff drink.
A wedding cake for a skeleton bride and groom! Día de los Muertos is a joyful holiday that celebrates past life.
A wedding cake for a skeleton bride and groom! Día de los Muertos is a joyful holiday that celebrates the past lives of loved ones.

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!

Son of Zorn invades San Diego for Comic-Con!

One of the three large Son of Zorn banners hung on the parking garage of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront for 2016 Comic-Con.
One of the three large Son of Zorn banners hung on the parking garage of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront for 2016 Comic-Con.

Zorn the friendly warrior has invaded downtown San Diego!  This morning I spotted him right next to the convention center! He’s “hanging out” on three enormous banners draping the parking garage of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront!

I’m not sure where his son is… Perhaps the two got separated in the large San Diego Comic-Con crowd depicted in the fun promotional graphic!

I haven’t observed any Comic-Con wraps applied to buildings yet; right now, the only huge building wrap near the San Diego Convention Center is that MLB All-Star Game one on the Marriott Marquis that I posted several days ago…

Hang tight!  The fun around here is just getting started!

The Son of Zorn, an imaginative combination of animation and live action, will premiere on September 25 on FOX.
The Son of Zorn, an imaginative television show combining animation and live action, will premiere on September 25 on FOX.
Zorn the friendly warrior seems to be walking about among a San Diego Comic-Con crowd. In addition to a sword, He's got his badge, a soda and smartphone handy!
Zorn the friendly warrior seems to be walking through a San Diego Comic-Con crowd. In addition to a sword, he’s got his badge, a soda and smartphone handy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Public art “Tide” rises in plaza by Marriott Marquis!

Construction workers carefully install new public art near the Marriott Marquis hotel's conference center. The colorful pylons are part of a sculptural creation titled Tide.
Construction workers carefully install new public art near the Marriott Marquis hotel’s recently completed conference center. These colorful vertical posts are part of a sculptural creation titled Tide.

Look at one of the cool things I stumbled upon during my walk around downtown San Diego this morning!  New colorful public art is being installed in the plaza by the Marriott Marquis hotel’s new conference center! The bright, imaginative sculpture is titled “Tide”. You can see why in these photos. Looks to me like sunlight reflected from rolling water, creating a bright spectrum of rising colors! I can’t wait to see this piece finished!

I spoke for a moment to the artwork’s two creators: Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann of After Architecture. The friendly designers work out of Boston, Massachusetts and have created all sorts of cool stuff that can be enjoyed in public spaces around the country!

(There’s even more to come from a truly awesome morning adventure…)

The creators of "Tide" smile! That's Kyle Schumann and Katie MacDonald of After Architecture.
The creators of “Tide” smile! That’s Kyle Schumann and Katie MacDonald of After Architecture.
Looking along the wavy length of the colorful tide. The art seems to undulate like water.
Looking along the wavy length of the colorful tide. The public art seems to undulate like water.
A big crane lifts sections of the artwork into position on a sunny Saturday morning in San Diego. The Marriott Marquis' brand new conference center shines in the background.
A big crane lifts sections of the artwork into position on a sunny Saturday morning in San Diego. The Marriott Marquis’ brand new conference center shines in the background.
The artists supervise the installation of their monumental art. It will be finished just in time for San Diego Comic-Con next month.
The artists supervise the installation of their monumental art. It will be finished just in time for San Diego Comic-Con next month.
San Diego continues to grow more interesting and beautiful as public art is installed near the waterfront!
San Diego continues to grow more interesting and beautiful as public art is installed near the waterfront!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!