Sand sculpture murals show San Diego history!

Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.
Two bas-relief sand sculpture panels by renowned artist Charles R. Faust in the lobby of 2550 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.

Two amazing works of art can be viewed inside an office building in Bankers Hill. The small murals–sculptures made of sand that appear as bas-relief panels–decorate a wall in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, the building best known as the home of Mister A’s restaurant.

Commissioned by the now defunct Great American First Savings Bank to celebrate their Centennial in 1985, the two panels depict important San Diego landmarks and aspects of local history.

The two sand cast panels were created by Charles R. Faust (1922 – 2000), a prolific artist who for many years worked as the director of architectural design at the San Diego Zoo. His invention of moated animal enclosures in the mid-1950’s revolutionized how the world famous zoo and their Wild Animal Park near Escondido exhibited animals. He also designed the San Diego Zoo’s huge walk-in aviary–the first of its kind in the world.

After retiring from that job, Charles opened Faust Sand Casting in Ocean Beach with his son. Over his creative lifetime the art of Charles Faust would also include fine drawings, watercolors and oil paintings, many of which depicted life in the Old West, a theme he loved.

His sand sculpture murals have added beauty to many locations around San Diego. I photographed a couple of these murals in the past for Cool San Diego Sights, without realizing at the time they were created by Charles Faust. You can spot them here and here!

Yesterday morning I spoke to a security guard in the lobby of 5th & Laurel, and he said these two “sand art” panels were moved from a suite in the building where there used to be a bank. I believe they were in Suite 120, once the home of Pacific Premier Bank, and the future home of an upscale Italian restaurant. But I’m not sure about the exact history of these particular panels. If you know anything more about them, please leave a comment!

(Please note these photographs make the panels seem more yellowish than they are in reality, due to the indoor lighting and my modest camera.)

The left panel depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
The panel on the left. It depicts early San Diego history, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ranchos.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
A friar outside the Spanish mission. The man on horseback might be a soldier from the old presidio.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in California.
The bells of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, first Spanish mission in Alta California.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego.
Scenes from the Old West in San Diego, including an old wagon and a ride on a bucking horse.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
A rancher or vaquero, and a herd of cattle.
The right panel depicts more San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
The panel on the right. It depicts many later San Diego landmarks. Images include Balboa Park, a streetcar, Coronado ferry, naval ship, farm and Victorian houses.
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL - 100 YEARS - 1885-1985
GREAT AMERICAN CENTENNIAL – 100 YEARS – 1885-1985
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an old Navy warship.
A sailboat and birds share San Diego Bay with a pre-bridge Coronado ferry and an early 20th century Navy warship. In the upper right corner I spy a tiny Old Point Loma Lighthouse!
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower.
I recognize the Cabrillo Bridge and the California Building and Tower of Balboa Park.
I think I recognize the Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill on the left. The house on the right might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but I'm not certain.
I think I recognize the historic Long-Waterman House of Bankers Hill. The house to the right of it might be a south view of the Britt-Scripps House, but it appears a bit different.

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An architectural landmark in University Heights.

Last weekend I enjoyed an easy walk through University Heights. My small adventure included a close look at an architectural landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Teacher Training School Building–San Diego State Normal School. Today the monumental old building, located inside the San Diego Unified School District’s Education Center Complex, is officially designated Teachers Training Annex 1.

The 1910 building, built by engineer Nathan Ellery and architect George Sellon, is in the Italian Renaissance Revival Style. According to the Save Our Heritage Organisation website: “It is the only structure remaining from the 1897 San Diego State Normal School’s University Heights campus, the forerunner to present day San Diego State University. Originally functioning as a living laboratory for student teachers, it was transferred to the City of San Diego Schools in 1931 and served as the original Alice Birney Elementary School until 1951.”

Many in the community hope to see the historic building renovated and transformed into a new University Heights library, replacing the small branch library on Park Boulevard a couple blocks to the south.

Here are some exterior photos…

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San Diego landmarks, mysterious in the fog!

San Diego's distinctive County Administration Building appears ghostly in a morning fog.
San Diego’s handsome County Administration Building in the fog.

Early this morning an unusually heavy fog rolled into San Diego.

I love the dreamy quality of fog, so I took a long, quiet stroll around downtown before catching a trolley for work.

I floated around the County Administration Building, turned south when I reached the foggy bay, then steered east when I reached Broadway. Finally I ended up at Santa Fe Depot.

Please enjoy these photos of several San Diego landmarks engulfed by the gray, mysterious fog!

Mysterious photograph of foggy Waterfront Park and the County Administration Building.
Mysterious photograph of foggy Waterfront Park and the County Administration Building.
The historic tall ship Star of India appears through the fog on San Diego's Embarcadero.
The historic tall ship Star of India appears through a heavy fog on San Diego’s Embarcadero.
The beautiful Star of India appears to cut through a fog that hides San Diego Bay.
The beautiful Star of India appears to cut through a fog that conceals San Diego Bay.
A jogger stretches on the observation platform near Broadway Pier, beside the fog covered water.
A jogger stretches on the observation platform near Broadway Pier, beside the fog covered water.
United States Navy ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) docked in the fog at Broadway Pier, awaiting public tours during Fleet Week this weekend.
United States Navy ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) docked in the fog at Broadway Pier, awaiting public tours during Fleet Week this weekend.
People head down the sidewalk in the early morning fog.
People head down a San Diego sidewalk in early morning fog.
The tall Pacific Gate building rises through the gray fog in downtown San Diego.
The tall Pacific Gate building rises through the deep gray fog.
The iconic Santa Fe Depot in the fog, seen from the west.
The historic Santa Fe Depot in the morning fog, seen from the west.
Trolley tracks lead through a fog past Santa Fe Depot in San Diego.
Trolley tracks lead through a fog past Santa Fe Depot in San Diego.
The historic train station's Santa Fe sign stands out when contrasted with nearby fog engulfed high-rises.
The old train station’s Santa Fe sign stands out when contrasted with fog engulfed high-rises.

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!

A walk from Middletown to Broadway Pier.

Part of a long mural on the back of a building behind the Park 'N Fly Lot 1 on Pacific Highway.
Part of a cool mural on a building behind the Park ‘N Fly Lot 1 on Pacific Highway.

Today I got off from work a little early, so I decided to use my extra time for a walk from the Middletown trolley station down to the Embarcadero.

My main intention was to get photographs of a long mural I’ve glimpsed while driving along Pacific Highway near San Diego International Airport. The mural is a fair distance from the street, on the back of an old building behind the Park ‘N Fly Lot 1.

I snapped some photos of the cool mural, but as you can see, the results were not all that great. After doing some internet searching, I still know nothing about this artwork.

My walk turned west on Laurel Street as a series of airplanes came in for landings overhead. My eyes moved right and left searching for interesting sights, but nothing struck my fancy until I came to the big white anchor in the grassy median at the intersection of Harbor Drive and Laurel Street.

I vaguely recall learning something about this historical anchor–where it came from–but now when I do some searching I come up with nothing. The big anchor has been a landmark occupying that spot for as long as I can remember.

My leisurely walk south along the Embarcadero stalled when I came to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I’m a member, so naturally I had to enjoy the elegant passenger deck of the steam ferry Berkeley to do some quiet reading. When I noticed through a window that the sun was about to slip behind clouds, I ventured outside and took more photos.

The photograph of Sea Shepherd’s vessel Farley Mowat reminds me that I blogged about their mission to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise a couple years ago.

My walk then resumed, and I proceeded along the water to Broadway Pier.

The extensive mural on the building is blocked by parked cars and too distant from the street for a good photograph.
The long mural near Pacific Highway is blocked by parked cars and too distant from the sidewalk for a good photograph.
An airplane comes in for a landing at San Diego International Airport near the intersection of Pacific Highway and Laurel Street.
An airplane comes in for a landing at San Diego International Airport near the intersection of Pacific Highway and Laurel Street.
Here comes another plane for a late afternoon arrival.
Here comes another plane for a late afternoon arrival.
A plane lands at San Diego International Airport, just beyond a large white anchor at Harbor Drive and Laurel Street.
A plane lands at San Diego International Airport, just beyond the large white anchor at Harbor Drive and Laurel Street.
A closer photo of the historical anchor.
A close photo of the anchor. If I obtain more information about its history, I’ll post an update.
Circling the big anchor, my camera captured the skyline of downtown San Diego.
After I circled the big anchor, my camera captured the skyline of downtown San Diego.
Now I'm on the Embarcadero by the water, in the Crescent Area that I visited in my last blog post.
Now I’m on the Embarcadero by the water, in the Crescent Area that I visited in my last blog post.
Photo from the Steam Ferry Berkeley of Farley Mowat which is now docked in San Diego. Sea Shepherd's vessel will soon return to the Sea of Cortez to protect the vaquita.
Photo from the steam ferry Berkeley of the Farley Mowat, which is presently docked in San Diego. Sea Shepherd’s vessel will soon return to the Sea of Cortez to resume its urgent mission protecting the critically endangered vaquita.
The sun is still shining on the floating barge behind the Berkeley.
The sun is still shining on the floating barge behind the Berkeley.
People enjoy a look inside the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.
People enjoy exploring the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.
The sun shines out from behind clouds, and the masts of America, Californian and San Salvador.
The sun shines out from behind clouds . . . and the masts of America, Californian and San Salvador.
People relax on one of the benches along the edge of Broadway Pier. The fog-like marine layer is coming in over Point Loma as nightfall approaches.
People relax on one of the benches along the edge of Broadway Pier. The fog-like marine layer is coming in over Point Loma as nightfall approaches.
Spirit of San Diego is coming in from a harbor cruise.
Spirit of San Diego is coming in from a harbor cruise.
Piloting the incoming ship, with the USS Midway Museum in the background.
Piloting the incoming ship, with the USS Midway Museum in the background.
Downtown buildings reflected in windows of the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier.
Downtown buildings reflected in windows of the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier.
Late sunlight shines from beautiful high-rise buildings in downtown San Diego.
Late sunlight shines from high-rise buildings in beautiful 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!

Fascinating photos of the Centre City Building.

The Centre City Building, which rises just north of Civic Center Plaza in San Diego, was built in 1927. The fourteen story office building was designed by noted architect Frank W. Stevenson, and once was the tallest building in all of downtown. Today the historical landmark can seem lost among dozens of more recent high-rises.

Whenever I walk pass this building to the east or north, I like to look up at the elegant decorative brick and granite facade. The much more plain and faded west and south sides of the building provide a fascinating visual contrast.

Light at different times of the day can either make the building seem golden and regal, or like a gradually vanishing page from San Diego’s history.

Here are a variety of photos that I’ve taken during several walks.

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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A short architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot.

Photo of Santa Fe Depot as it appears today. Big changes to the historic building are likely in its future.
Photo of Santa Fe Depot as it appears today. Some changes to the historic building are possibly in its future.

I went on a short tour of the Santa Fe Depot last week during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.

I’ve posted about the depot several times in the past. One fact-filled post concerned an historical exhibit inside the waiting room; another shared hundred year old photos of the building. During our tour I learned even more and enjoyed looking at additional old images.

This downtown San Diego landmark was designed by Bakewell and Brown to welcome the many anticipated visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. The depot’s construction began on May 28, 1914. The building officially opened on March 7, 1915. Materials that were used include a steel frame with wood trusses, concrete slabs, brick arcades and hollow clay tile infill walls. The architects Bakewell and Brown also designed San Francisco City Hall, the Coit Tower and Pasadena City Hall.

During the course of its history, there have been various changes to the building and its forecourt. The original arched forecourt, pictured in some of the following photos, was demolished in 1954 to make way for a parking lot. The current outdoor plaza featuring a fountain and colorful tiled benches replaced the parking lot in the 1980s.

The gentleman providing the tour indicated that recent new ownership of the Santa Fe Depot has opened up the possibility of future development. I learned an unused second story of the depot, once containing a manager’s apartment, telegraph room and railroad worker bedrooms, might be converted into office spaces, but an elevator, heating and electricity are now lacking.

I learned that the fountain in the forecourt’s plaza is leaking and permanently turned off. This valuable property between the main depot building and Broadway might be developed into a space for downtown eateries.

I also learned the large iconic Santa Fe sign atop the depot dates from the mid 50’s, and that there are plans to light it up at night using LED lighting.

Read the captions for some additional fascinating facts about this architectural marvel!

Looking up at one tiled tower. The black material is holding together cracked terracotta columns on chicken wire. The 1915 depot was built for the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Looking up at one tile-domed tower. The black material is holding together cracked terracotta columns on chicken wire. The 1915 depot was built for the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Amtrak passengers move through the Santa Fe Depot's large waiting room. The building's architecture is in the Mission Revival style with Spanish Colonial Revival influences.
Our tour group and a few Amtrak passengers move through the Santa Fe Depot’s large waiting room. The building’s architecture is in the Mission Revival style with Spanish Colonial Revival influences.
We learn about the beautiful tilework throughout the depot.
We learn about the beautiful tilework throughout the depot.
The depot's glazed Kaospar tiling was created by California China Products Co. of National City, the same company that produced tile for Balboa Park's 1915 exposition.
The depot’s glazed Kaospar tiling was created by California China Products Co. of National City, the same company that produced all of the tile for Balboa Park’s 1915 exposition.
Raised levels of the gorgeous tiles feature different colors!
Raised levels of these gorgeous tiles each feature a different color!
We're shown an old postcard image of the original Main Waiting Room. Ticket and vending kiosks lined the west side of the depot's interior.
We’re shown an old postcard image of the original Main Waiting Room. Ticket and vending kiosks lined the west side of the depot’s interior. There used to be a Fred Harvey lunch room near the current ticket area at the building’s north end.
Looking up at the amazing ceiling. Most of the woodwork has never been painted. The original bronze light fixtures have an appearance that is masculine and sturdy.
Looking up at the amazing ceiling. Most of the woodwork has never been painted. The original bronze light fixtures have an appearance that is masculine and sturdy.
More woodwork around a door that leads to an old Stair Hall on the waiting room's east side.
More handsome woodwork around a door that leads to an old Stair Hall on the waiting room’s east side.
Our group heads outside to the forecourt's sunny plaza.
Our group heads outside to the forecourt’s sunny plaza.
Looking at the south side of the depot. Sadly, the fountain leaks and is turned off.
Looking at the south side of the depot. Sadly, the fountain leaks and is turned off.
We are shown more old images. This is an illustration of the original arched forecourt structure on Broadway. I also see the tower of the original 1887 Victorian station to the west (the other side of the tracks) before it was demolished.
We are shown more old images. This is an illustration of the original arched forecourt structure on Broadway. I also see the tower of the original 1887 Victorian station to the west (the other side of the tracks) before it was demolished.
Here's the old parking lot.
Here’s the old parking lot. (I see the distinctive County Administration Building to the left.)
Streetcars used to run along Broadway right up to the old forecourt!
Streetcars used to run along Broadway right up to the old forecourt!
A photo of the now unused second floor of the Santa Fe Depot.
A photo of the now unused second floor of the Santa Fe Depot.
Another historical photo. This one decorates one side of the information kiosk presently inside the depot.
Another historical photo. This can be found on one side of the information kiosk presently inside the depot.
Our tour guide collects old postcards. Here's another that shows the arched west side of the depot, beside the railroad tracks.
Our tour guide collects old postcards. Here’s another that shows the arched west side of the depot, beside the railroad tracks.
Handout shows map of the Santa Fe System and the San Diego Depot. Today the depot is the 3rd-busiest train station in California and 13th-busiest in the Amtrak system.
Information sheet shows map of the Santa Fe System and the San Diego Depot. Today the depot is the 3rd-busiest train station in California and 13th-busiest in the Amtrak system. (Click image to enlarge it.)
Gazing from the forecourt's plaza over a tiled bench toward America Plaza and buildings along Broadway.
Gazing from the forecourt’s plaza over a tiled bench toward America Plaza and buildings along Broadway. This area might soon undergo changes!

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!

Rex the Lion sculpture debuts at San Diego Zoo!

An amazing Rex the Lion sculpture has debuted in front of the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park!
An amazing Rex the Lion sculpture has debuted in front of the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park!

Wow! Look what debuted this morning in the recently renovated plaza in front of the San Diego Zoo! A gigantic sculpture of Rex the Lion, whose roar during Balboa Park’s 1915 Panama-California Exposition inspired Dr. Harry Wegeforth to establish a city zoo!

The amazing, mind-boggling 27-foot sculpture is made of 10 tons of stainless steel and bronze. It was created by the obviously talented people of Blue Rhino Studio. This landmark public artwork is sure to become an iconic sight known by people all around the world!

When I saw a mysterious construction fence here weeks ago, I originally surmised the historic Jessop’s Street Clock presently in Horton Plaza would be installed near the zoo’s entrance. Boy, was I wrong!

During the ceremony this morning, colorful puppeteers and costumed stilt walkers entertained the crowd right next to the sculpture, while a couple brief speeches were made. I noticed lots of huge smiles lit up faces–including my own!

Super cool!

The 27-foot 10 ton sculpture of a lion that inspired the San Diego Zoo's founding stands in a newly renovated plaza by the zoo's entrance.
A 27-foot 10 ton sculpture of a lion that inspired the San Diego Zoo’s founding now stands in a newly renovated plaza by the zoo’s entrance.
Reporters and lovers of the zoo have gathered for a special dedication ceremony on Sunday morning.
Reporters and lovers of the zoo have gathered for a special dedication ceremony on Sunday morning.
People wait for the historic event to begin.
People wait for the historic event to begin.
I learned this cool It Began With a Roar t-shirt logo was designed by a lady in the zoo's marketing department. Very nice!
I learned this cool It Began With a Roar t-shirt logo was designed by a lady in the zoo’s marketing department. Very nice!
The ceremony is starting! Looks what's entering the area near Rex the Lion!
The ceremony is starting! Looks what’s entering the area near Rex the Lion!
A fun blue rhino circles around the sculpture to the delight of young and old alike!
A fun blue rhino circles around the sculpture to the delight of young and old alike!
These cool costumed stilt-walkers circled around from the other side!
These cool costumed stilt-walkers circled around from the other side!
Oh, man! What fun!
Giraffes, too! Oh, man! What fun!
Councilmember Chris Ward makes a short speech.
Councilmember Chris Ward makes a short speech. Who knew sparsely populated San Diego a century ago would originate one of the world’s most famous zoos?
In the plaza around the base of the Rex lion sculpture are a bunch of fun inlaid animals.
In the plaza around the base of the Rex lion sculpture are a bunch of fun inlaid animals.
Inlaid near the public art's base is the shiny inscription Rex's Roar. One Man - One Lion - One Encounter. 1916-2016. Celebrating 100 Years.
Inlaid near the public art’s base is the shiny inscription Rex’s Roar. One Man – One Lion – One Encounter. 1916-2016. Celebrating 100 Years.
I've spotted some flamingos nearby!
I’ve spotted some flamingos nearby!
Kids rush up to touch the golden sculpture!
Kids rush up to touch the golden sculpture!
Another nearby sign indicates Rex's Roar was made possible by a generous gift from Craig and Mark Grosvenor and their families.
Another nearby sign indicates Rex’s Roar was made possible by a generous gift from Craig and Mark Grosvenor and their families.
Everybody wants a close look!
Everybody wants a close look!
A gigantic golden lion now guards the entrance to the San Diego Zoo. It's Rex!
A gigantic golden lion now guards the entrance to the San Diego Zoo. It’s Rex, truly King of Beasts!
An historic day at the much-beloved San Diego Zoo.
An historic day at the much-beloved San Diego Zoo.
Parrots take flight underfoot.
Parrots take flight underfoot.
Rex the Lion, inspiration for the San Diego Zoo's creation, now lives eternally in Balboa Park!
Rex the Lion, inspiration for the San Diego Zoo’s creation, now lives eternally in Balboa Park!

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 phone or 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.