Weathered yellow arches and a bold blue door.

Photo of shuttered windows taken through dark, weathered archway.
Photo of old, shuttered windows taken through dark, weathered archway.

During my recent ramble around NTC Liberty Station, I did some nosing around. I took a few interesting photos of a lonely portion of the old Naval Training Center San Diego that has yet to be renovated. A row of old, weathered barracks along the North Promenade are vacant and locked shut. But if you listen closely, and use a little imagination, it might be possible to hear the echoing footsteps of naval recruits from decades ago.

The old Naval Training Center in Point Loma is a fascinating place with a significant place in United States history. The idea of training sailors in San Diego was first explored in 1915 by Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. When the complex was finally built in 1921, it was a modest affair, with several barracks, a mess hall, dispensary, and a few other buildings. It expanded over the years, and during World War II accommodated as many as 25,000 naval recruits. The center remained a vital resource of the United States Navy until 1997, when it was finally closed. Today around 50 original buildings along the beautiful promenade (which also includes the old base’s command center and parade ground) have been restored. Liberty Station has become a popular destination for shopping, recreation and a variety of cultural attractions.

In the following photos, you might note the architecture is mostly based on the Spanish Colonial Revival style, particularly the long arcades. The design of the Naval Training Center was directly influenced by buildings constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Looking along the length of long-abandoned Barracks 5 at NTC Liberty Station.
Looking along the length of long-abandoned Barracks 5 at NTC Liberty Station.
Some old base signs still can be seen at the historic Naval Training Center San Diego.
Some old military base signs still can be seen at the historic Naval Training Center San Diego.
Buildings 18 and 25 remain empty. Most structures in the complex are renovated and have commercial or nonprofit tenants.
Buildings 18 and 25 remain empty. Most structures in the complex are renovated and have commercial or nonprofit tenants.
Simple geometry of functional architecture influenced by the Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Simple geometry of functional architecture influenced by the Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Peeling yellow paint on buildings where new United States Navy recruits used to train.
Peeling yellow paint on buildings where new United States Navy recruits used to train.
There's something strangely picturesque in this image of lonely decay.
There’s something strangely picturesque in this image of lonely decay.
With a bit of imagination, one can picture newly recruited sailors moving and marching through the Naval Training Center years ago.
With a bit of imagination, one can picture newly recruited sailors moving and marching through the Naval Training Center years ago.
This boldly painted blue door really catches the eye!
This boldly painted blue door really catches the eye!
Walking around NTC Liberty Station is like taking a small voyage back into history.
Walking around NTC Liberty Station is like taking a small voyage back into history.

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The fun, artistic benches of Liberty Station.

A happy sun shines above beach and ocean on this unique bench, where anyone might sit and relax.
A happy sun shines above beach and ocean on this unique bench, where anyone might sit and relax.

Liberty Station is a wonderful place to spend the day in Point Loma. Its beautiful promenade contains many small museums, art studios and cultural attractions. When you walk around the grounds of this brilliantly converted Naval Training Center, you’ll notice a number of artistic benches placed around the old barracks, military buildings and plazas. I recently took photos of many benches. Just for fun!

Photo of creative guy working near The Hot Spot walk-in art studio at Barracks 14.
Photo of creative guy working near The Hot Spot walk-in arts and crafts studio at Barracks 14.
One of several colorful benches inside Building 202, home to small museums and galleries.
One of several colorful benches inside Building 202, home to small museums and galleries.
This wildly creative work of art is just too much fun!
This wildly creative work of art is just too much fun!
An outdoor bench welcomes visitors to history-rich San Diego attraction NTC Liberty Station.
An outdoor bench welcomes visitors to history-rich San Diego attraction NTC Liberty Station.
Looks to me like we're supposed to sit here!
Looks to me like we’re supposed to sit here!
Shops and restaurants around Liberty Station provide many treats. So does this seat!
Shops and restaurants around Liberty Station provide many treats. So does this seat!
Cool scene of breaching whales decorates this bench found on the North Promenade.
Cool scene of breaching whales decorates this bench found on the North Promenade.  The artist is David Mandel.
Another super fun whale bench awaits walkers with tired feet.
Another fun whale bench awaits people at Liberty Station with tired feet.  Colorful ocean art by David Mandel.
Check out this Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City bench, straight from the Wizard of Oz!
Check out this Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City bench, straight from The Wizard of Oz!
Smiling, active people, playful dogs and a whole lot of heart!
Smiling, active people, playful dogs and a whole lot of heart!
If music be the food of love, play on!
If music be the food of love, play on!

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Museum celebrates diversity in American baseball.

The New Americans Museum at NTC Liberty Station opens an important exhibit. Becoming All-American Diversity, Inclusion, and Breaking Barriers in Major League Baseball.
The New Americans Museum at NTC Liberty Station opens an important exhibit titled Becoming All-American: Diversity, Inclusion, and Breaking Barriers in Major League Baseball.

Today I experienced something undeniably cool. The New Americans Museum, located at NTC Liberty Station, held Becoming All-American Family Day. The fun event celebrated the opening of the museum’s new exhibit, Becoming All-American: Diversity, Inclusion & Breaking Barriers in Major League Baseball.

In keeping with the small museum’s American immigration and diversity theme, this inspiring exhibit showcases Major League Baseball players who broke through racial barriers during the long history of the quintessentially American sport.

If you live in San Diego and you’re a fan of history or baseball, make sure to check it out! You might also visit the many other interesting museums nearby! Liberty Station, the redeveloped site of the old Naval Training Center, is brimming with flowers, sunshine, fountains, shops, culture and history.

Becoming All-American: Diversity, Inclusion, and Breaking Barriers in Major League Baseball runs April 24 to July 5.

The New Americans Museum is located at the beautifully redeveloped old Naval Training Center in Point Loma.
The New Americans Museum is located at the beautifully redeveloped old Naval Training Center in Point Loma.
Becoming All-American Family Day was held to celebrate a fascinating new exhibit.
Becoming All-American Family Day was held to celebrate a fascinating new exhibit.
Cool displays in a unique immigrant-themed museum showcase diverse players through the history of professional American baseball.
Cool displays in a unique immigrant-themed museum showcase diverse players through the history of professional American baseball.
Colorful painting of Gene Locklear, Native American of Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. He played for several teams, including the San Diego Padres.
Colorful painting of Gene Locklear, Native American of Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. He played for several teams, including the San Diego Padres.
A quote from Gene Locklear. Education, that's the only way it's going to change...
A quote from Gene Locklear. “Education, that’s the only way it’s going to change…”
Black, white...and shades of gray. In American society, Jews, Irish, Latinos and Asians were sometimes considered white...and sometimes not.
Black, white…and shades of gray. In American society, Jews, Irish, Latinos and Asians were sometimes considered white…and sometimes not.
Museum display honors the legacy of Roberto Clemente with his quote. My greatest satisfaction comes from helping to erase the old opinion about Latin Americans and blacks.
Museum display honors the legacy of Roberto Clemente with his quote. “My greatest satisfaction comes from helping to erase the old opinion about Latin Americans and Blacks.”
Timeline on wall shows notable baseball players through history, eventually shattering racial stereotypes and barriers.
Timeline on wall shows notable baseball players through history, eventually shattering racial stereotypes and barriers.
Harry Kingman in 1914, the only Major League player to have been born in China.
Harry Kingman in 1914, the only Major League player to have been born in China.
Putting on a baseball uniform was like wearing the American flag. Japanese baseball player and manager Kenichi Zenimura, placed in internment camp during WWII, organized a league.
Putting on a baseball uniform was like wearing the American flag. Japanese baseball player and manager Kenichi Zenimura, placed in internment camp during WWII, organized a league.
Museum visitor reads display about Ted Williams, American baseball legend who grew up in San Diego. He had Welsh, Irish, Mexican, Basque, Russian and Native American roots!
Museum visitor reads display about Ted Williams, American baseball legend who grew up in San Diego. He had Welsh, Irish, Mexican, Basque, Russian and Native American roots!
Padres baseball mascot the Swinging Friar plays with kids at the batting inflatable outside during the museum event.
Padres baseball mascot the Swinging Friar plays with kids at the batting inflatable outside during the museum’s family event.
The wisdom of courageous hero Jackie Robinson. A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
The wisdom of courageous hero Jackie Robinson. “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

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52 Boats Memorial at NTC Liberty Station.

52 Boats Memorial at NTC Liberty Station.
52 Boats Memorial at NTC Liberty Station.

52 U.S. Navy submarines were lost at sea during World War II.  3,505 submariners lost their lives.

At NTC Liberty Station, the 52 Boats Memorial remembers the sacrifice of these men.

The unique memorial runs along two beautiful walkways, and consists of 52 American Liberty Elm trees, 52 flags and 52 black granite markers.  The history of each submarine and the names of lost crew members are recounted for future generations to remember.

USS Grayling (SS-209) on eternal patrol.
USS Grayling (SS-209)  sunk in World War II is on eternal patrol.
American flag shelters one of the solemn black marble markers.
American flag shelters one of the solemn black marble markers.
USS Pompano (SS-181) on eternal patrol.
USS Pompano (SS-181) and crew remain on eternal patrol.
Beautiful bird of paradise flowers along pathway through 52 Boats Memorial.
Beautiful bird of paradise flowers along pathway through 52 Boats Memorial.
USS Runner (SS-275) on eternal patrol.
USS Runner (SS-275) remembered over half a century later.
Submariners who lost their lives in World War II in incidents that did not involve the loss of a boat.
Submariners who lost their lives in World War II in incidents that did not involve the loss of a boat.
A new plaque respectfully recounts those Boats and Men Lost at Times Other Than WWII. A faded, identical plaque has been replaced in this photo, which I took at a later time.
A new plaque respectfully recounts those Boats and Men Lost at Times Other Than WWII. A faded, identical plaque used to stand here.
Someone honors submariner heroes by leaving flowers beside a black granite marker that remembers the USS Pickerel (SS-177).
Someone honors submariner heroes by leaving flowers beside a black granite marker that remembers the USS Pickerel (SS-177).

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My favorite sailor my grandpa.

My favorite sailor my grandpa.
My favorite sailor my grandpa.

Hundreds of colorful tiles encircle a large playground at Liberty Station.  Each tile was carefully painted by a child.  This one contains a special message.

UFO spotted above Rotary clock at Liberty Station.

UFO spotted above Rotary clock at Liberty Station.
UFO spotted above Rotary clock at Liberty Station.

I was going through some of the photos I took while walking along the boat channel at Liberty Station.  This elegant clock donated by the Rotary Club has always struck me as odd–it stands for no reason on what is essentially a nature path among palm trees.

But something else seemed a bit weird in this pic.  There seemed to be a small dot directly above the clock.  I magnified the image and discovered a UFO!  Looks to me like a distant flying saucer!

I thought the strange dot might be an aircraft taking off from nearby Lindbergh Field, but it’s way too small and doesn’t look like any airplane.  What is it???

It looks like a flying saucer to me!
It looks like a flying saucer to me!

Grounded warship signals Seasons Greetings.

USS Recruit with Seasons Greetings sign.
USS Recruit with Seasons Greetings sign.

How did this guided missile frigate end up sitting on the ground? Why does it have a tinsel sign that spells out Seasons Greetings? Did Santa drop it like an oversized toy from the sky?

This unusual sight is often glimpsed by San Diegans motoring along Harbor Drive between downtown and Point Loma. Built right there on the ground in 1949 to train Navy recruits, today this two-thirds model of a real warship is situated at the southwest end of the redeveloped NTC Liberty Station. The landlocked “non-ship” is officially named the USS Recruit and was originally modeled after a destroyer, and commissioned as a regular Navy ship!

Nicknamed by sailors the USS Neversail, she’s become something of a San Diego landmark. And every year around Christmas she wishes passersby a happy holiday!

UPDATE!

Here are a few pics taken during a walk in late September of 2014. The USS Recruit appears to be awaiting a new coat of paint!

Beautification in progress in late September 2014.
Beautification in progress in late September 2014.
Scaffolding along the side of the weathered old USS Recruit in Point Loma.
Scaffolding along the side of the weathered old USS Recruit in Point Loma.
A bicyclist passing the USS Recruit heads into Liberty Station.
A bicyclist passing the USS Recruit heads into Liberty Station.

I walked past the USS Recruit in early March, 2015. The ship has a new paint job! Of course, I had to take more photos…

This model of a destroyer escort helped instruct as many as 50,000 naval recruits annually in basic naval procedure. The Recruit was the Navy's only commissioned ship never to reach water.
This model of a destroyer escort helped instruct as many as 50,000 naval recruits annually in basic naval procedure. The Recruit was the Navy’s only commissioned ship never to reach water.
People walk past the newly painted USS Recruit near Liberty Station.
People walk past the newly painted USS Recruit at one end of Liberty Station.
Nicknamed the USS Neversail, this ship is an unusual sight that captures the attention of visitors to San Diego.
Nicknamed the USS Neversail, this ship is an unusual sight that captures the attention of visitors to San Diego.

Huge Liberty Station flag at half-mast.

Huge Liberty Station flag at half mast.
Huge Liberty Station flag at half-mast.

I took a nice long walk this chilly morning from Spanish Landing to the edge of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.  I followed dirt and paved walkways, staying mostly near the edge of the boat channel that runs between Point Loma’s Liberty Station and Lindbergh Field.

Here are pics of one sight that was very hard not to miss.  The gigantic flag at NTC Liberty Station was flying in the breeze at half-mast, most likely due to Nelson Mandela’s death today.

In the first photo you can see ladies getting a workout in the big grassy area, and some large guns that are monuments to the old Naval Training Center.

Today’s Liberty Station is a complex of stores, offices, museums, residential and park space.  It used to be Naval Training Center San Diego, which was closed in 1997 and eventually redeveloped using the historic old buildings.  The grassy expanse you see is Preble Field. It was the marching ground where Navy recruits assembled, marched and graduated from boot camp.

Flag at half mast at Ingram Plaza.
Flag at half mast beyond Ingram Plaza.

This plaque marks where Ingram Plaza used to be.  Ingram Plaza was the site of tent camps in the 1920s where incoming recruits were temporarily isolated to prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases.  Here they also got haircuts, new uniforms and physical training before joining the regular routines of the base.

The plaque reads:

THIS PLAZA IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF OSMOND K. INGRAM GUNNERS MATE FIRST CLASS UNITED STATES NAVY WHO SACRIFICED HIS LIFE IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE HIS SHIP AND SHIPMATES DURING AN ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN THE U.S.S. CASSIN AND A GERMAN SUBMARINE ON OCTOBER 15, 1917

“GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS'”

UPDATE!

Here are a few more photos I took on a later day:

Plaques at NTC Liberty Station remember the history of Naval Training Center San Diego.
Plaques at NTC Liberty Station remember the history of Naval Training Center San Diego.
Preble Field was a grinder or marching ground. However, it is most fondly remembered as the location of every boot camp graduation ceremony, where boys became men.
Preble Field was a grinder or marching ground. However, it is most fondly remembered as the location of every boot camp graduation ceremony, where boys became men.
Ingram Plaza was the site of the original tent camps in the 1920s. New recruits were isolated here for three weeks, and given haircuts, uniforms and physical training.
Ingram Plaza was the site of the original tent camps in the 1920s. New recruits were isolated here for three weeks, and given haircuts, uniforms and physical training.
An old anchor on display at Liberty Station. It sits across historic Preble Field from the American flag at full-mast.
An old Navy anchor on display at Liberty Station. It sits across historic Preble Field from the American flag now at full-mast.

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