Behind the scenes look at the City Archives!

Old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center.
Stacks of old books contain important records in the cold vault of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center.

Yesterday I stepped into City Hall to enjoy an educational event open to the public during the City Clerk’s 3rd Annual Archives Month. When I entered the Archives Center in the basement of the San Diego City Administration Building, I didn’t really know what I might experience.

I saw and learned more from this behind the scenes tour than I expected!

I and a few others were led into a small lecture room and introduced to City of San Diego Archivist Jerry Handfield. He’s an energetic historian and professional archivist who in the past has served as State Archivist for both Indiana and Washington.

Jerry Handfield presented an overview of his job and explained the critical importance of maintaining genuine, reliable, trustworthy public records.

We learned that good governance depends on maintaining accurate records. Trustworthy public records protect the rights of citizens and promotes public trust in government. A healthy democracy relies on trust in its institutions.

Archives play such an important role that in 1850, when San Diego was a tiny town with very limited resources, the city’s newly created common council directed that a very expensive iron safe be appropriated to the clerk for the safekeeping of city records.

As an archivist, Jerry Handfield provided a list of reasons why records matter: they protect life (medical records), protect the public from disasters (maps and floor plans), protect property rights (deeds), and include all sorts of other critical information. He mentioned insurance and bank records, marriage licenses, work licenses and business records.

We learned that for an archivist preservation is a constant war. It’s a war against time, negligence, disasters like floods and mold, decay caused by acids in paper, and other often unpredictable factors. Some media that store records, such as floppy disks and magnetic tape, degrade over time, become corrupted or technologically obsolete.

Some of the City Archive’s older paper documents are given a special chemical treatment to help preserve them. Many are placed in acid-free sleeves or boxes and placed in a temperature and humidity controlled cold vault.

The City Clerk Archives is continuously working to digitize its many hard copy records–to preserve them for all time and make them readily available to the public via the internet. But there remain thousands upon thousands of documents and photos to be scanned and classified.

After the lecture we stepped into the cold vault and saw shelves stacked high with archival material. Then we stepped into a room where photos and negatives are scanned and digitized.

Ranged all around the main room of the Archives Center are additional interesting displays. I saw many Mayoral Artifacts that were presented as gifts to the city from all over the globe. Among these are an assortment of beautiful decorative plates.

Enough of my inadequate written description. Let’s look at a few photos and you’ll get a better idea of what I experienced!

San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.
San Diego City Archivist Jerry Handfield describes the importance of accurately recording and carefully preserving critical information.
Stacks of special boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.
Stacks of boxes containing official records fill the temperature and humidity controlled cold vault at the City Archives.
Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including some that contain City Council Resolutions.
Archivist Jerry Handfield shows visitors shelves of old canvas and leather-bound books, including many that contain past City Council Resolutions.
In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized in order to be digitized for easy public access.
In one room at the Archives Center, old photographs are scanned and categorized by trained volunteers, in order to be digitized for easy public access.
Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls!
Many cool historical photos of San Diego cover the walls of this room!
Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.
Man and Children in Halloween costumes, circa 1960.
First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.
First Official Map of San Diego, June 1867.
A treasure trove of San Diego history at one's fingertips!
A treasure trove of San Diego history at one’s fingertips!
Mayoral artifacts displayed at the San Diego City Clerk's Archives Center include many gifts from around the world.
Mayoral artifacts displayed in the main room of the San Diego City Clerk’s Archives Center include gifts from other cities and people around the world.
Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.
Armetale plate with Seal of City of San Diego.
Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.
Paper mache oni mask from Mizusawa, Japan.
Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820's).
Filner Mayoral Artifact RF-4. Ballast Point Whaling Station, San Diego, California (1820’s).
While walking about the City Archives I spied the cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.
While walking about the main room of the City Archives I spied this cover of an Official Views San Diego Panama-California Exposition souvenir book.
Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!
Boxes upon boxes hold tons of paper records in the basement of City Hall!

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 might say this blog is a sort of digital archive. 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 photos for you to enjoy!

Comic-Con cosplay photos and more on Pinterest!

If you like to use Pinterest, you might enjoy checking out a bunch of pins that I just now added to my San Diego Comic-Con Pinterest page!

The special page now contains almost 450 cosplay and other fun photographs that I’ve taken while walking around Comic-Con during the past five years!

To see all these cool photographs in one place, click here!

Cool San Diego Sights is now on Instagram!

I’ve finally done it!

People keep asking me if I’m on Instagram. Until now I’ve replied no.

For over five years I’ve posted tens of thousands of unique photographs here on Cool San Diego Sights, and to my other blog, Beautiful Balboa Park. So I figured it’s time to get in gear and start posting photos to Instagram, too!

My new Instagram page, titled coolsandiegophotos, can be found at https://www.instagram.com/coolsandiegophotos. Check it out!

This morning I added several dozen photographs that I took in the past month to my Instagram page. From this point forward, I’ll post select photos as I continue to walk about San Diego!

I’ve also added an Instagram icon to my website’s sidebar. Do you see it under the word FOLLOW? Click it if you’d like! (Those other icons help you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.)

Cool San Diego Sights will continue to be my main blog and center of activity. It’s where all of my photographs appear, and where readers can enjoy descriptions of random walks and discoveries.

If you do choose to follow my Instagram, thank you!

Have a great day!

Richard

Cool San Diego Sights turns five years old!

This coming Friday, Cool San Diego Sights will celebrate its five year anniversary!

Huh? Seriously? How is that possible?

Apparently I’m having fun, because time is flying!

I keep telling myself that I’m going to slow down this blogging thing, but it doesn’t seem to happen. I keep on walking like crazy, and I keep seeing more “cool” stuff. And so the trusty old camera keeps rising up to snap photographs.

I suppose as long as my legs continue to move, Cool San Diego Sights will expand!

Thanks to all who visit this blog. Some of you I know personally, thousands of you I will never meet. Thank you for coming along on my semi-random walks around San Diego.

During the past five years, too many amazing things have happened to mention. Starting this blog has allowed me to see things I would never have seen, meet people I would never have met. It has completely changed my life.

When I hit the publish button for my first modest post, Ribbon of life mural by the San Diego River, I had no idea how this thing would grow. Cool San Diego Sights now features 1784 blog posts and nearly twenty thousand photographs. It’s approaching half a million page views.

Cool San Diego Sights has also been the successful launching pad for Short Stories by Richard. Writing fiction is my true passion. I still can’t believe that my short story One Thousand Likes has been read by a bunch of tenth grade students. That’s utterly amazing. What an honor.

So, here we are, moving through time, and I have no idea where my next walk will be. Probably from Cortez Hill to a downtown trolley station as I head off to my job this morning. And then I’ll just keep pushing forward.

As of this moment, the only material waiting in my computer are photos of cool street art along El Cajon Boulevard, which I’ll post in the next few days. Beyond that, who knows? Anything is possible!

Have a great week!

Richard

Jack Ryan Experience under construction!

It’s going to be gigantic! Check it out!

Amazon will be promoting their new Jack Ryan web television series in a big way during 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, and their cool offsite The Jack Ryan Experience is now under construction.

You’ll find it in that big parking lot off First Avenue, north of Harbor Drive, where Blade Runner 2049 was located last year.

UPDATE!

I took those first two photos this morning–Friday. This evening after work I swung on by again and noticed that red steps are now in place that climb up to a zip line.

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UPDATE!

I took more photos on Sunday afternoon. Some graphics are going up, plus what appears to be a large United States military helicopter in the middle of the parking lot. I’m told visitors to The Jack Ryan Experience will find themselves immersed in a Middle Eastern setting. It will be interesting to see what develops!

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UPDATE!

I’ve taken a bunch more photos! You can see how the construction has progressed by checking out one of my later San Diego Comic-Con blog posts, by clicking here.

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Final Space trolley wrap for 2018 Comic-Con!

I can’t believe it! There’s yet another trolley wrap for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con! That makes nine designs that I’ve spotted so far, with about a month still to go! There are three wraps for Syfy (each promoting two shows), four for FOX, and now two for TBS.

This fun trolley wrap promotes Season 1 of Final Space which is now available on the TBS App.

Enjoy some photos!

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!

Do smartphones make people more shallow?

I probably shouldn’t post this blog. I share some of the guilt. After all, I’m a producer of internet content.

During my walk through Balboa Park today, I felt creeping despair.

Balboa Park is an amazing, wonderful, special place. Lifted eyes see a world that is infinitely interesting and beautiful.

About one third of the people I observed had their eyes absolutely fixed to the tiny screens of their smartphones. They were too obsessed to notice the vast world around them. Nor other people around them.

Of these, many were grown adults searching for a virtual Pokemon, a game fit for the simple mind of a child. At least these people looked up from time to time.

Yes, I know some people were busy communicating with friends, or perhaps looking up information, or a map of the park.

I also know that our lives are complex and so is human psychology. Everyone is different. I, too, have my silly, simple pleasures. It’s hard to draw firm conclusions. Technology changes. The culture changes. People change. Fads come and go.

But it does appear that humans are powerfully drawn to stimuli on isolated screens.

And, of course, the wonderful thing about smartphones is they can make life so much easier. Eye-to-eye politeness is no longer required. The potential for vulnerability in spontaneously spoken words is thankfully avoided. Problem solving is automatic. Critical thinking is less and less necessary. Simple and self-comforting ideas flood social media. Self absorption is made as easy as pie. Narcissism is rewarded.

I often wonder, as virtual reality becomes increasingly prevalent, whether people will permanently insert their entire selves into shallow, shrinking virtual worlds. The Matrix, of our own choosing.

If it feels good, why fight it?