Historical markers at entrance to Presidio Park.

Several historical markers can be found near the northwest entrance to Presidio Park. If you’ve ever driven along Taylor Street just past Morena Boulevard and the Presidio Recreation Center, you might’ve glimpsed them. They stand beside a sidewalk that comes to an abrupt end, in a place where almost nobody walks.

The three markers were placed years ago near three sites of historical importance: the Serra Palm, Derby Dike, and the La Playa Trail.

I’ve transcribed the words on each plaque.

I was told by a park ranger who happened to be parked nearby that the Serra Palm is long gone. He said it was probably blown over in a windstorm, and pointed out a pine tree that was toppled by our most recent storms.

The Serra Palm was planted in 1769 by Padre Junípero Serra, and marked the beginning of El Camino Real.

I’ve photographed a similar La Playa Trail marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá. To view that photo, click here.

According to Wikipedia: “In 1934, six commemorative terra cotta plaques were placed along the length of the trail by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other groups, based on a relief designed by sculptor Rose M. Hanks. The original six were located at Mission San Diego de Alcala; at the foot of Presidio Hill in Old Town; near the intersection of Rosecrans St. and Midway Blvd. in the Midway area; at the corner of Rosecrans and Lytton streets in Loma Portal, across from the Naval Training Center San Diego golf course; at the corner of Rosecrans and Byron streets in Roseville; and at the site of the fuel depot at Naval Base Point Loma…”

SERRA PALM

TRADITIONALLY THE EARLIEST PLANTED TREE IN
CALIFORNIA. DIRECTLY IN THE REAR, BENEATH
THE BROW OF THE HILL, LIE THE DEAD OF THE
SACRED EXPEDITION OF 1769, BURIAL PLACE OF
OUR FIRST UNKNOWN SOLDIERS.
STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 67
MARKER PLACED BY CALIFORNIA CENTENNIALS COMMISSION
IN COOPERATION WITH
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS COMMITTEE
DEDICATED SEPTEMBER 2, 1950

DERBY DIKE

UNTIL 1853 THE ERRATIC SAN DIEGO RIVER DUMPED TONS
OF DEBRIS INTO THE HARBOR OR POURED INTO FALSE
BAY, NOW MISSION BAY. AT TIMES IT THREATENED TO DE-
STROY OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO. LIEUTENANT GEORGE
HORATIO DERBY, U.S. TOPOGRAPHICAL CORPS, BUILT A
DIKE THAT DIVERTED THE WATERS INTO FALSE BAY. THIS
WAS THE FIRST EFFORT TO TAME THE RIVER, AND ONE
OF THE FIRST U.S. GOVERNMENT PROJECTS IN CALIFOR-
NIA. THE RIVER WAS NOT FULLY HARNESSED UNTIL THE 1950s.
CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 244
FIRST REGISTERED JUNE 10, 1936. PLAQUE PLACED BY THE
STATE DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION IN CO-
OPERATION WITH THE SAN DIEGO DEPARTMENT OF PARKS
AND RECREATION AND SQUIBOB CHAPTER, E CLAMPUS
VITUS, AUGUST 4, 1990.

LA PLAYA TRAIL
JEDEDIAH STRONG SMITH
PATHFINDER OF THE SIERRAS
HERE COMPLETED THE FIRST TRAIL FROM
THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC JAN. 1827
ERECTED BY
SAN DIEGO CHAPTER D.A.R. 1937

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Colorful photos of Founders Day in Old Town.

Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego's Founders Day to celebrate our city's diverse history.
Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego’s Founders Day to celebrate our city’s diverse history.

Founders Day is being celebrated in Old Town this weekend. The unique Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce event, which is inspired by our city’s 250th anniversary, is being held along San Diego Avenue, just south of the State Park.

I walked around at noontime today and took photos!

The colorful Founders Day festival will continue tomorrow. There will be street vendors and music and dancing and a whole lot of history to experience. If you can, head to Old Town San Diego and check it out!

San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego's 250 year history.
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego’s 250 year history.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego's history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego’s history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Historical reenactors from Old Town's African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
Historical reenactors from Old Town’s African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Many people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city's complex and fascinating 250 years of history.
Diverse people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city’s complex and uniquely fascinating 250 years of history. During the opening ceremony, words of optimism were expressed for the future!

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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Revisiting history on San Diego’s 250th Anniversary.

An event of great historical importance is scheduled for this evening.

At five o’clock, on Presidio Hill near the Serra Museum, a ceremony will be held to mark the 250th Anniversary of San Diego. I plan to be there.

To remember the birth of our city (which began precisely where the above photo was taken), I’ve decided to revisit that history and provide links to various past blog posts.

If you plan to attend today’s event, there’s a trail to the top of Presidio Hill that starts near the small golf course east of Old Town. Today my feet will again follow that path.

The following photo of a display inside the Serra Museum shows the location of the original Spanish presidio, now a ruin hidden beneath grassy mounds.

The following blog posts contain a great deal of information about San Diego’s early history.

Here are the links:

Walk from Old Town to the San Diego Presidio.

Photos of historical plaques on Presidio Hill.

Photos of The Padre sculpture in Presidio Park.

San Diego’s early history at the Serra Museum.

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!

Banner celebrates San Diego’s 250th Anniversary!

Huge banner on sail of Star of India celebrates the 250th Anniversary of San Diego!
Huge banner on sail of Star of India celebrates the 250th Anniversary of San Diego!

The City of San Diego has placed an enormous banner on a sail of the historic tall ship Star of India. Its bold message can be seen from many spots downtown. The banner celebrates San Diego’s 250th Anniversary!

In 1769, on the hill that overlooks what would eventually become Old Town, Spain began its settlement of the region by building El Presidio Reál de San Diego. Attached to the fort, the original Mission San Diego de Alcalá was established by Junípero Serra in the same year.

Back then the land was wide open and mostly wilderness. The mountains, hills, rivers and coast were home to the Native American Kumeyaay. European settlement brought about an abrupt change in the region’s history. For better or worse, 250 years later San Diego is quite a bit different!

What will San Diego look like in another 250 years? As our civilization evolves, and as technological breakthroughs accelerate, can anyone possibly imagine?

Together we sail into the future!

SAN DIEGO 250 - EST. 1769 - WHERE CALIFORNIA BEGAN
SAN DIEGO 250 – EST. 1769 – WHERE CALIFORNIA BEGAN

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!

San Diego’s 250th Anniversary coming in 2019!

Close photo of bowed head of The Padre on Presidio Hill.
Arthur Putnam’s sculpture The Padre on Presidio Hill.

If one considers San Diego’s founding to have occurred in 1769, the year both Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the El Presidio Reál de San Diego were established on Presidio Hill, then 2019 will be our city’s 250th Anniversary!

That’s no small thing! One would suppose that huge celebrations are being planned!

Well, when I perform an internet search, I can find no plans for celebrations mentioned, apart from Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá’s announced church events, and a Founders’ Day Festival in Old Town.

It’s hard to believe, but I find almost no discussion of the city’s upcoming 250 year anniversary.

Unfortunately, as many of you might remember, the occasion of Balboa Park’s Centennial in 2015 was not celebrated with the fanfare that would have been appropriate.

I do hope that behind the scenes serious plans are being made for the appropriate celebration of San Diego’s 250th birthday! Or that plans will be made!

Just a thought from a silly blogger who loves San Diego!

UPDATE!

The City of San Diego has placed a huge 250th Anniversary banner on a sail of Star of India. You can see photos here!

UPDATE!

The City of San Diego has created a website dedicated to its 250th Anniversary. It lists several events that commemorate this special year. Visit the website here!

UPDATE!

In May, 2019, I noticed San Diego 250 banners have appeared along streets all over downtown!

IMG_5747z

UPDATE!

On July 1, 2019, a gigantic 250th anniversary banner appeared on the County Administration Building.

It celebrates the fact that San Diego was California’s first port and first city! I posted several photos of the banner here!

Photos of The Padre sculpture in Presidio Park.

The Padre, by Arthur Putnam, 1908. The public artwork stands on a patch of grass among trees on Presidio Hill.
The Padre, by Arthur Putnam, 1908. The public artwork stands on a patch of grass among trees on Presidio Hill.

Walk up to the top of Presidio Park from Old Town and you’ll discover a variety of fascinating, historical sights. Possibly the most amazing, apart from the impressive Serra Museum building, are two extraordinary bronze sculptures, The Indian and The Padre, by renowned sculptor Arthur Putnam.

The Padre was cast in 1908. The figure of a Spanish friar stands in a small, quiet space among trees, not far from the spot where Junípero Serra founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769, which began as a temporary church at the Spanish presidio. Five years later the mission would be moved a few miles east up the San Diego River to its present location.

Here are photos of The Padre which show the sculpture’s quiet beauty.

The Padre stands alone in a green, gentle place.
The Padre stands alone in a green, gentle place.
A Spanish friar seems to walk out of San Diego's very early history.
A Spanish friar seems to walk out of San Diego’s very early history.
The Padre by Arthur Putnam. Given to San Diego Historical Society by the descendants of E.W. Scripps.
The Padre by Arthur Putnam. Given to San Diego Historical Society by the descendants of E.W. Scripps.
Markings at the sculpture's base indicated it was cast by Louis de Rome's bronze foundry in San Francisco, the city where Arthur Putnam lived for many years.
Markings at the sculpture’s base indicated it was cast by Louis de Rome’s bronze foundry in San Francisco, the city where Arthur Putnam lived for many years.
A quiet bronze statue among trees near San Diego's now ruined and vanished Presidio.
A quiet bronze statue among trees near San Diego’s now ruined and vanished Presidio.
A spider's web and small fallen leaves above folded hands.
A spider’s web and small fallen leaves above folded hands.
The Padre seems to be lost in prayer or silent contemplation.
The Padre seems to be lost in prayer or silent contemplation.
Close photo of bowed head of The Padre on Presidio Hill.
Close photo of bowed head of The Padre on Presidio Hill.

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Photos of historical plaques on Presidio Hill.

View of the Serra Museum through trees atop Presidio Hill, near the spot where European civilization first took root in California in 1769.
View of the Serra Museum through trees atop Presidio Hill, near the spot where European civilization first took root in California in 1769.

A few years ago I walked from Old Town San Diego up to the top of Presidio Hill and wrote a simple blog about what I saw. You can revisit that post here.

What I failed to do at the time was photograph many of the historically important plaques that can be found around various sites and monuments, so I thought it would be proper to finally correct that omission.

I’ve included one informative sign which stands near the ruins of the old Spanish presidio’s chapel, and a variety of plaques. One of the plaques is at the base of the Padre Cross; two are near The Padre sculpture; one is on an observation structure near the Junipero Serra Museum parking lot; and several others are found at Fort Stockton, where the Mormon Battalion camped after their 2000-mile march from Iowa to San Diego.

Click the photos and they will enlarge for easier reading.

Sign marks the Old Presidio Historic Trail. Grassy mounds on the hill below the Serra Museum are the ruins of the old presidio chapel.
Sign marks the Old Presidio Historic Trail. Grassy mounds on the hill below the Serra Museum are the ruins of the old presidio chapel. It was built for the garrison’s soldiers after the original Spanish mission was relocated up the valley.
A large cross marks the location of the first Spanish mission in Alta California, established by Junipero Serra.
The large Padre Cross, made in 1913 of tiles from the Presidio ruins, marks the location of the first Spanish mission in Alta California, established in 1769 by Junipero Serra.
Plaque at base of cross remembers the Indian village of Cosoy, named San Miguel by Cabrillo in 1542, then San Diego de Alcala by Vizcaino in 1602.
Plaque at base of the Padre Cross remembers the Indian village of Cosoy, named San Miguel by Cabrillo in 1542, then San Diego de Alcala by Vizcaino in 1602.
Near the Padre Cross, a plaque covers a time capsule that was created two centuries after the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcala. It is to be opened on July 16, 2069.
Between the Padre Cross and The Padre sculpture, a plaque covers a time capsule that was created two centuries after the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcala. It is to be opened on July 16, 2069.
A plaque behind The Padre sculpture, placed on December 29, 1981 by the Presidio Hill Society Children of the American Revolution.
A plaque in the ground behind The Padre sculpture, placed on December 29, 1981 by the Presidio Hill Society Children of the American Revolution.
Photo taken behind The Padre on Presidio Hill. The 1908 bronze sculpture is by Arthur Putnam.
Photo taken behind The Padre on Presidio Hill. The 1908 bronze sculpture is by Arthur Putnam.
A plaque can be seen on the observation structure near one corner of the Serra Museum parking lot.
A plaque can be seen on the observation structure near one corner of the Serra Museum parking lot.
The plaque begins: Sylvester Pattie, pathfinder, leader of the first party of Americans into Alta California over Southern trails. Arrived at San Diego Presidio March 27, 1828.
The plaque begins: Sylvester Pattie, pathfinder, leader of the first party of Americans into Alta California over Southern trails. Arrived at San Diego Presidio March 27, 1828.
Mural at Fort Stockton depicts the long march of the Mormon Battalion.
Mural at Fort Stockton depicts the long march of the Mormon Battalion.
California Historical Landmark plaque at Fort Stockton. The top of Presidio Hill was fortified by Carlos Carrillo in 1838. From July to November 1846 the fortification was called Fort Dupont when American forces temporarily held Old Town.
California Historical Landmark plaque at Fort Stockton. The top of Presidio Hill was first fortified by Carlos Carrillo in 1838. From July to November 1846 the site was called Fort Dupont when American forces temporarily held Old Town.

 

Plaque by mural, commemorating the heroic sacrifice and history-making achievements of the Mormon Battalion.
Plaque by mural, commemorating the heroic sacrifice and history-making achievements of the Mormon Battalion.
More plaques nearby explain the history of the Mormon Battalion, which blazed the first wagon trail to the Pacific over the southern route.
More plaques nearby explain the history of the Mormon Battalion, which blazed the first wagon trail to the Pacific over the southern route.
Members of the Mormon Battalion worked to improve San Diego by making the first kiln in California, the first pumps to draw water, and the first blacksmith shop and bakery.
Members of the Mormon Battalion worked to improve San Diego by making the first kiln in California, the first pumps to draw water, and the first blacksmith shop and bakery.
The two plaques depicted above are near the Mormon Battalion Monument, a bronze sculpture by Edward J. Fraughton.
The two plaques described above can be found near the Mormon Battalion Monument, a bronze sculpture created by Edward J. Fraughton.
Another nearby plaque explains the history of the sculpture. It was a gift to the City of San Diego in 1969 by the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.
Another nearby plaque explains the history of the statue. It was a gift to the City of San Diego in 1969 by the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.
A plaque by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers also stands at the site of old Fort Stockton.
A plaque by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers also stands at the site of old Fort Stockton.
Women of the Mormon Battalion. Almost eighty women and children accompanied the soldiers during the long march. Four wives traveled the entire distance to San Diego.
Women of the Mormon Battalion. Almost eighty women and children accompanied the soldiers during the long march. Four wives traveled the entire distance to San Diego.
Flags of the United States, Spain and Mexico fly atop Presidio Hill, birthplace of California. Here many chapters of history are remembered.
Flags of the United States, Spain and Mexico fly atop Presidio Hill, birthplace of California. Here many chapters of history are remembered.

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.

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!

San Diego’s early history at the Serra Museum.

The Junipero Serra Museum of the San Diego History Center was built in 1928 on Presidio Hill, where European civilization was established in Alta California.
The Junipero Serra Museum of the San Diego History Center was built in 1928 on Presidio Hill, where European civilization was established in Alta California.

I recently visited one of San Diego’s most fascinating museums. The Junipero Serra Museum is located atop Presidio Hill, in a distinctive Mission Revival architectural style building overlooking San Diego Bay and the San Diego River, just east of Old Town. It stands near the site of San Diego’s historic Spanish presidio, built in 1769. The presidio was the birthplace of European civilization in Alta California.

The Serra Museum is operated by the San Diego History Center, which is headquartered today in Balboa Park. Back in 1929, when the building was dedicated, it became home of what was then called the San Diego Historical Society. The important San Diego institution was established by civic leader George W. Marston.

Can you believe it? I’ve lived in San Diego for 15 years . . . and this was the very first time I ventured into the Serra Museum. (I can thank my blog for that!)

What I discovered was an absolutely amazing place that both residents and visitors to San Diego should definitely not miss.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll see…

People arrive at the Serra Museum, where San Diego's early Spanish history comes alive.
People arrive at the Serra Museum, where San Diego’s early Spanish history comes alive.
Junipero Serra Museum dedicated July 16, 1929 to the memory of the founder of the California missions. The original Mission San Diego de Alcalá was established nearby in 1769.
Junipero Serra Museum dedicated July 16, 1929 to the memory of the founder of the California missions. The original Mission San Diego de Alcalá was established nearby in 1769.
A quick look at the rear of the museum.
A quick look at the rear of the museum.
The Serra Museum building was designed by noted architect William Templeton Johnson. It reflects Spanish Revival architecture.
The Serra Museum building was designed by noted architect William Templeton Johnson. It reflects Mission Revival style architecture.
Large wine press in front of the museum was a gift from the Spanish island of Mallorca, Father Junipero Serra's birthplace.
Large wine press in front of the museum was a gift from the Spanish island of Mallorca, Father Junipero Serra’s birthplace.
Plaque near entrance reads George White Marston 1850-1946. FRIEND OF HIS FELLOW MEN - LOVER OF ALL GROWING THINGS. Piece by piece through many years he acquired these acres...
Plaque near entrance reads George White Marston 1850-1946. FRIEND OF HIS FELLOW MEN – LOVER OF ALL GROWING THINGS. Piece by piece through many years he acquired these acres…
Elegant interior of the Serra Museum contains many exhibits pertaining to San Diego's early Spanish history.
Elegant interior of the Serra Museum contains many exhibits pertaining to San Diego’s early Spanish history.
Researchers discovered this sketch of the Royal San Diego Presidio dated 1820. It shows the layout of the old buildings which no longer exist.
Researchers discovered this sketch of the Royal San Diego Presidio dated 1820. It shows the layout of the old buildings which no longer exist.
Modern graphic illustration of the fortified presidio, which was located a short distance below the Serra Museum's front entrance.
Modern graphic illustration of the fortified presidio, which was located a short distance below the Serra Museum’s front entrance.
Old Spanish cannon named El Jupiter, cast in Manila in the 18th century. El Jupiter stood in Fort Guijarros at Ballast Point, the first defensive fortifications for San Diego Bay
Old Spanish cannon named El Jupiter, cast in Manila in the 18th century. El Jupiter stood in Fort Guijarros at Ballast Point, the first defensive fortifications for San Diego Bay.
Leather armchair made in Catalan, Spain in the 17th century. This "friar's chair" was part of the original Serra Museum's furnishings.
Leather armchair made in Catalan, Spain in the 17th century. This “friar’s chair” was part of the original Serra Museum’s furnishings.
Old violin with bow, a branding iron used by rancheros to identify cattle, and iron spurs are among the many historical objects on display.
Old violin with bow, a branding iron used by rancheros to identify cattle, and iron spurs are among the many historical objects on display.
Another look at the beautiful interior of the Serra Museum in San Diego.
Another look at the beautiful interior of the Serra Museum in San Diego.
Large wooden beams in a truly amazing ceiling.
Large wooden beams in a truly amazing ceiling.
Stairs lead up to the Serra Museum's tower. Painted on the wall is a map showing the sea journey of the Spanish Expedition which founded San Diego in 1769.
Stairs lead up to the Serra Museum’s tower. Painted on the wall is a map showing the sea journey of the Spanish expedition which founded San Diego in 1769.
March 9-20, 1769. Desperate to replace drinking water which leaked from the ship's casks, Captain Vicente Vila commands the Spanish galleon San Carlos near Isla de Cedros.
March 9-20, 1769. Desperate to replace drinking water which leaked from the ship’s casks, Captain Vicente Vila commands the tacking Spanish galleon San Carlos near Isla de Cedros.
A room halfway up the tower. Numerous displays recall San Diego's history, most notably at the time when the Serra Museum was dedicated in 1929.
A room halfway up the tower. Numerous displays recall San Diego’s history, most notably around the time when the Serra Museum was dedicated in 1929.
Old photo of the crowd attending the Serra Museum's dedication ceremony on July 16, 1929.
Old photo of the crowd attending the Serra Museum’s dedication ceremony on July 16, 1929.
A fascinating look at Presidio Hill almost a century ago.
A fascinating look at Presidio Hill almost a century ago.
A lovely watercolor sketch of the Junipero Serra Museum atop Presidio Hill.
A lovely watercolor sketch of the Junipero Serra Museum atop Presidio Hill.
On the wall are many historical photos and artifacts, including an image from around 1930 of a cigar factory on 4th Street in San Diego.
On the wall are many historical photos and artifacts, including an image from around 1930 of a cigar factory on 4th Street in San Diego.
A reproduction of the west elevation drawing of the Serra Museum by architect William Templeton Johnson.
A reproduction of the west elevation drawing of the Serra Museum by architect William Templeton Johnson.
Now we're heading up to the very top of the tower.
Now we’re heading up to the very top of the tower.
Looking west from the Serra Museum tower along Interstate 8. Point Loma is on the left and Mission Bay is to the right.
Looking west from the Serra Museum tower along Interstate 8. Point Loma is on the left and Mission Bay is to the right.
Looking east into Mission Valley.
Looking east into Mission Valley.
Visitors at the Serra Museum head back down from the tower, after looking at old photos which show a less-developed surrounding landscape.
Visitors at the Serra Museum head back down from the tower, after looking at old photos which show a much less-developed surrounding landscape.
A small theater in the Serra Museum contains additional exhibits about life in and around the old Presidio.
A small theater in the Serra Museum contains additional exhibits about life in and around the old Presidio.
Examples of what life was like for the Native American Kumeyaay, who occupied this region long before it was discovered by the Spanish.
Examples of what life was like for the Native American Kumeyaay, who occupied this region long before it was discovered by the Spanish.
Stories of two people who lived on a local Rancho. Click the image to enlarge, if you'd like to read it.
Stories of two people who lived on a local Rancho. Click the image to enlarge, if you’d like to read it.
Map of the old Presidio's archaeological site. You can see where the fort was located in relation to the Serra Museum.
Map of the old Presidio’s archaeological site. You can see where the fort was located in relation to the Serra Museum.
Explanation of the excavation process utilized by researchers. Some artifacts that were unearthed are on display in the museum.
Explanation of the excavation process utilized by researchers. Some artifacts that were unearthed are on display in the museum.
Artistic rendition of a Mexican presidio soldier circa 1830, and a horse's bit.
Artistic rendition of a Mexican presidio soldier circa 1830, and a horse bit.
An olive press, granite mill stones, and an ox yoke.
An olive press, granite mill stones, and an ox yoke.
Small artifacts include this carved polychrome wood San Diego de Alcala Santo from 18th century Spain.
Small artifacts include this carved polychrome wood San Diego de Alcala Santo from 18th century Spain.
Sign describes the life of Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra, and his work to establish the California Missions under the flag of Spain. He was recently made a Catholic Saint.
Sign describes the life of Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra, and his work to establish the California Missions under the flag of Spain. He was recently made a Catholic Saint.
Painting. Oil on canvas. San Diego del Alcala de Henares. Mid 18th century, Spanish or Mexican.
Painting. Oil on canvas. San Diego del Alcala de Henares. Mid 18th century, Spanish or Mexican.
Olla and bowl. Kumeyaay or neighboring culture.
Olla and bowl. Kumeyaay or neighboring culture.
The Serra Museum in San Diego provides a fascinating look at our uniquely diverse city's very early history.
The Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego provides a fascinating look at our culturally diverse city’s very early history.

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Images of Saint Junipero Serra in San Diego.

Molded plaster figure of newly canonized Saint Junipero Serra at top of the California Building’s facade in Balboa Park.
Molded plaster figure of Saint Junipero Serra at top of the California Building’s facade in Balboa Park.  The Museum of Man occupies this landmark building.  The ornate facade contains many sculpted historical figures and busts created by the Piccirilli brothers, famous marble carvers who immigrated from Italy in 1888.

Today, during Pope Francis’ historic first visit to the United States, Junipero Serra was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Father Serra was declared a saint by the Holy See at a ceremony conducted by Pope Francis at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Saint Junipero Serra played a large role in San Diego’s early history. The Franciscan friar established the first nine of 21 Roman Catholic Spanish missions in what today is California.  The very first of those nine, founded on July 16, 1769, was located in San Diego. The primary purpose of the missions was to convert the native peoples to Christianity; another purpose was to solidify a claim over this valuable corner of the New World for Spain.

The Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá is located in Mission Valley and remains to this day an active church. It’s popularity as a destination for tourists and the faithful will likely increase with the canonization of Serra.

Because of Saint Junipero Serra’s historical importance in San Diego, many images of him are found throughout our city. Some of the most prominent and well known representations can be seen in Balboa Park. The park’s Spanish Colonial Revival Style buildings created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition include lavish ornamentation, with many illustrations of people and scenes important to San Diego history.

The following notable bits of art in Balboa Park depict Saint Junipero Serra during his time in San Diego.

Ornamental art on Balboa Park's Casa del Prado depicts Saint Junipero Serra holding a cross among Spanish soldiers and native peoples in what today is California.
Ornamental art on Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado shows Saint Junipero Serra holding a cross among Spanish soldiers and native peoples in what today is California.  In 1769, San Diego was part of Alta California in the Province of Las Californias in New Spain.
More artwork seen from Balboa Park's historic El Prado shows Franciscan friar on a horse near the Roman Catholic Mission San Diego de Alcalá, which was founded in 1769.
More artwork seen on Balboa Park’s historic El Prado shows Franciscan friar on a horse near the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, which was built near the San Diego River, several miles inland from San Diego Bay.
Junipero Serra Memorial, created 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Food Products Building, of the Panama-California Exposition. Now located in the Sculpture Court.
Junipero Serra Memorial, created in 1914. Staff plaster original ornamentation from the Food Products Building, of the Panama-California Exposition. This elegant work of art was preserved and is now located in the Casa del Prado’s Sculpture Court.

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