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!

A small story inside the Coronado Library.

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time reading in the Coronado Public Library.

I was sitting comfortably in the library’s Reading Room, my eyes resting on Donal Hord’s sculpture Mourning Woman, when I became aware of happy, excited voices drifting in from the Children’s Room.

And a small story whispered into my mind.

The story isn’t about Death–it’s about Life. So I changed the Mourning Woman to the Silent Woman. I also changed the season, and the appearance of the Reading Room.

If you’d like to have this very small story whisper to you, click here.

World-famous fine art inside the Coronado Library.

Rear view of Mourning Woman, 1966, the last sculpture by Donal Hord, which now is displayed in the Coronado Public Library.
Rear view of Mourning Woman, 1966. This last sculpture by Donal Hord is now displayed inside the Coronado Public Library.

Displayed inside the Coronado Library are many beautiful works of art. Several of these works are important pieces by internationally famous artists.

The two world-renowned artists are Donal Hord and Alfredo Ramos Martinez.

Donal Hord’s iconic sculptures can be found in various places around San Diego. He was one of the artists who exhibited in the 3rd Sculpture International held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1949.

Alfredo Ramos Martínez is considered to be the Father of Mexican Modernism. He served as the Director of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City. He was founder of the Open Air (Aire Libre) School of Painting in Mexico. His students included Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueros, and Rufino Tamayo.

I took these photographs a couple weeks ago during a visit to Coronado.

You can learn more about the history of these amazing pieces and other artwork in the library here.

Donal Hord's granite sculpture Mourning Woman stands in the Coronado Library's Spreckels Reading Room. It took ten months to complete.
Donal Hord’s granite sculpture Mourning Woman stands in the Coronado Library’s Spreckels Reading Room. It took ten months to complete.
Tapestry designed by Donal Hord titled Earth Mother or Fruits of the Earth. Woven by Marian Kendall, U. Kelley, and F. Manchester in 1939.
Tapestry designed by Donal Hord titled Earth Mother or Fruits of the Earth. Woven by Marian Kendall, U. Kelley, and F. Manchester in 1939.
Canasta de Flores, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. The mural, painted for the La Avenida Café, is now located inside the Coronado Public Library.
Canasta de Flores, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. The mural, painted for the La Avenida Café, is now located inside the Coronado Public Library.
El Dia del Mercado, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. Fresco originally located at the La Avenida Café, now behind the front desk of the Coronado Library.
El Dia del Mercado, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 1938. Fresco originally located at the La Avenida Café, now behind the front desk of the Coronado Library.
Section of fine art mural El Dia del Mercado by Alfredo Ramos Martínez inside the Coronado Library.
Section of fine art mural El Dia del Mercado by Alfredo Ramos Martínez.

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!

Wizard of Oz glass panels at Coronado Library.

Five years ago I blogged about the Wizard of Oz festival which was held in Coronado’s Spreckels Park. After checking out the festival, I took three photos of the beautiful Wizard of Oz glass panels inside the Coronado Library, which is located across Orange Avenue from the park.

Last weekend during my visit to Coronado I enjoyed looking at the panels again. I had stepped into the library to photograph pieces of art by two internationally famous artists. (I’ll post those photos at some point in the future, probably after Comic-Con.)

The thing is, as I paused in front of the wonderful Wizard of Oz artwork at the entrance to the children’s room, I suddenly realized I hadn’t posted photos of all the fun scenes. So I will right now!

This colorful Wizard of Oz Children’s Library Entry Portal was created by artist Brenda Smith.

Enjoy!

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!

Beautiful complexity at La Jolla’s Athenaeum.

Some amazing art is currently on display at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla.

My favorite pieces in the Athenaeum’s 2018 San Diego Art Prize exhibition are by nationally renowned local sculptor Anne Mudge. Her stainless steel wire mobiles radiate a strangely organic quality that captivates the eye. As the pieces slowly rotate, casting mysterious shadows on the gallery walls, the complex, silvery structures dance through space and time.

I took some close photos, hoping to capture a fraction of the beautiful complexity.

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!

Walking up the Snake Path at UCSD.

If you dare, walk with me up the Snake Path at UCSD. We will proceed from innocence to knowledge.

We’ll begin at a spot near the Jacobs School of Engineering, then head west up a hill toward the amazing Geisel Library. Our path is the winding 560-foot length of a scaly snake.

Snake Path, part of the UC San Diego Stuart Collection, was created by Alexis Smith in 1992. The scales of the snake are hexagonal pieces of colored slate.

We’ll pass a monumental granite book, none other than Milton’s Paradise Lost. On the cover is engraved: “And wilt thou not be loathe to leave this Paradise, but shalt possess a Paradise within thee, happier far.”

We’ll linger at a bench in a small Garden of Eden. Written on the bench are Thomas Gray’s words: “Yet ah why should they know their fate/When sorrow never comes too late/And happiness too swiftly flies/Thought would destroy their Paradise/No more, where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.”

Toward innocence or knowledge. Which direction is best?

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!

Art and history around the Chula Vista Library.

Photo from 4th Avenue beside the Chula Vista Public Library Civic Center Branch.
Photo from 4th Avenue beside the Chula Vista Public Library Civic Center Branch.

Yesterday I walked around the Chula Vista Library’s big Civic Center Branch. I took a look at a beautiful sculpture outside, saw an El Camino Real bell and bronze bust in nearby Friendship Park, then entered the building’s front entrance to check out more art and local history. I particularly enjoyed looking about the library’s unique Chula Vista Heritage Museum.

Come along with me and please read these photo captions…

Pleasant Tree, 2003, by artist Jorge Blanco. An abstract sculpture stands near the Chula Vista Library.
Pleasant Tree, 2003, by artist Jorge Blanco. An abstract sculpture stands near the Chula Vista Library.
Art should always be available to us, to surround us and uplift us.
Art should always be available to us, to surround us and uplift us.
Pleasant Tree from another angle, with eucalyptus and palm trees behind.
Pleasant Tree from another angle, with eucalyptus and palm trees behind.
North of the library, at the west edge of Friendship Park stands an El Camino Real bell, donated by the City of Chula Vista, County of San Diego, and California Federation of Women's Clubs.
North of the library, at the west edge of Friendship Park stands an El Camino Real bell, donated by the City of Chula Vista, County of San Diego, and California Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Green grass and shady trees fill the Will T. Hyde Friendship Park, north of the Chula Vista Library.
Green grass and shady trees fill the Will T. Hyde Friendship Park, north of the Chula Vista Library.
A bronze bust near the center of Chula Vista Friendship Park.
A bronze bust near the center of Chula Vista Friendship Park.
The bronze likeness of Will T. Hyde, who helped create Friendship Park. By sculptors T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.
The bronze likeness of Will T. Hyde, who helped create Friendship Park. By sculptors T.J. Dixon and James Nelson.
Plaque shows that Will T. Hyde was Mayor of Chula Vista from 1977 to 1981.
Plaque shows that Will T. Hyde was Mayor of Chula Vista from 1977 to 1981.
Will T. Hyde seems to gaze across the beautiful park.
Will T. Hyde seems to gaze across the beautiful park.
The front of the Chula Vista Public Library, seen from the parking lot entrance.
The front of the Chula Vista Public Library, seen from the parking lot entrance.
A large wall inside the front entrance of the Chula Vista Library contains many historical photos of the community.
A large wall inside the front entrance of the Chula Vista Library contains many historical photos of the community.
A photo mosaic on the library's entrance wall shows Chula Vista Heritage.
A photo mosaic on the library’s entrance wall shows Chula Vista Heritage.
In one corner of the quiet library the public can visit the Chula Vista Heritage Museum.
In one corner of the quiet library the public can freely visit the Chula Vista Heritage Museum.
A photographic timeline wall around the perimeter of the museum's space shows notable events from Chula Vista history.
A photographic timeline wall around the perimeter of the museum’s space shows notable events from Chula Vista history.
Chula Vista history in the 2000s includes Park View Little League becoming World Champions in 2009.
Chula Vista history in the 2000s includes Park View Little League becoming World Champions in 2009.
Historical artifacts fill display cases. This plastic replica was cast from a Chula Vista walrus - Valenictus chulavistensis. The fossil was found in 1989 at Otay Ranch Village.
Historical artifacts fill display cases. This plastic replica was cast from a Chula Vista walrus – Valenictus chulavistensis. The fossil was found in 1989 at Otay Ranch Village.
The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge includes 1068 acres of diked salt evaporation ponds. Migratory birds are carefully protected.
The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge includes 1068 acres of diked salt evaporation ponds. Migratory birds are carefully protected.
Historical 1919 letter from Hercules Powder Company, which produced potash and acetone from harvested ocean kelp at Gunpowder Point. They supplied the British with munitions during World War I.
Historical 1919 letter from Hercules Powder Company, which produced potash and acetone from harvested ocean kelp at Gunpowder Point. They helped to supply the British with munitions during World War I.
Photos of an osprey and feeding white pelicans in the museum's current exhibition, Natural History and the Indigenous People of the South Bay.
Photos of an osprey and feeding white pelicans in the museum’s current exhibition: Natural History and the Indigenous People of the South Bay.
Large sculpted medallion in a wall near the entrance to the Chula Vista Public Library. Scenes depicted include Rohr Aircraft Company, the San Diego Country Club, home of golf legend Billy Casper.
Large sculpted medallion in a wall near the entrance to the Chula Vista Public Library. Scenes depicted include the original Rohr Aircraft Company, and the San Diego Country Club, home of golf legend Billy Casper.

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