Unusual traffic signal box memorial in Balboa Park.

You rarely find a traffic signal box with a special dedication plaque. There’s one such box in San Diego, and it’s located in Balboa Park at the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents Way.

This traffic signal box memorializes Walter J. Sarnaw. The plaque reads:

THIS TRAFFIC SIGNAL SYSTEM
IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF
WALTER J. SARNAW
IN APPRECIATION FOR HIS
DEDICATED SERVICE TO THE
SAFETY OF THE CITIZENS OF
SAN DIEGO

I can find no biography of Walter J. Sarnaw online, apart from some basic information on this Find a Grave page. It indicates Walter Julian Sarnaw was born in 1916 in Illinois, attended San Diego State College, was a member of the campus Engineer’s Association, served in the Army at the end of World War II, and died in 1973 in San Diego.

And we know for certain that he was dedicated to the safety of the San Diego community. Which made him an important contributor to the life and history of our city.

If you know more about Walter J. Sarnaw, please leave a comment!

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!

Gravestones at Pioneer Park in Mission Hills.

Pioneer Park is a city park in Mission Hills that’s popular with neighborhood families and children. It features a playground, green grass, many shady trees . . . and well over a thousand unseen graves. If you don’t wander into the southeast corner of the park, you might never know it’s also a cemetery.

Pioneer Park was originally Calvary Cemetery. The Catholic cemetery was established in the 1870s, then converted a century later into a Mission Hills community park. According to this article: “All the 800-odd memorial markers were taken away in the 1970s except for a line of tombstones left on the park’s edge. Left as a memorial, they’re still there…” Sadly, the gravestones that had been removed were callously dumped by those then living into a ravine at distant Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Many of San Diego’s earliest residents remain buried under the grass at Pioneer Park. Even after the passage of many years, surviving gravestones show historically important names like Cave Johnson Couts and Father Antonio Ubach. But all of the names are gradually fading away. Time does that.

Six nearby plaques list the names of those who are interred in the park, and it is said there might be many more.

On any given day, life goes on cheerfully above the grass. And beneath it lie the remains of those who once lived, dreamed, toiled and loved exactly like you and me.

Here are some photographs, to provoke thought, and to help preserve a little history…

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Rosa Parks and the Quiet Strength bus stop.

One bus stop at San Diego Mesa College is extraordinary. It’s a place where the quiet strength of Rosa Parks is remembered and celebrated.

When you do the right thing, but many are against you, it requires strength. That’s what Rosa Parks had back in 1955, when she refused to give up her front seat on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama city bus.

This special MTS bus stop at Mesa College, referred to as the Rosa Parks Transit Center, features signs that describe the history of civil rights activist Rosa Parks and her visits to the school in the 1990’s. It also includes a graceful bench to one side, with the words QUIET STRENGTH.

The Rosa Parks Memorial Project was finished in 2010. Passengers waiting for the bus here are encouraged to reflect. Perhaps they will realize that they, too, are part of history.

Rosa Parks visited San Diego Mesa College in 1992, 1993 and 1995.
Rosa Parks’ act of quiet courage mobilized the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century.
QUIET STRENGTH

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Monuments to freedom by Escondido City Hall.

Several plaques and monuments honoring military veterans can be found around Grape Day Park in Escondido. One tribute, the Wall of Courage, I previously photographed here.

At the east end of the park, between Broadway and Escondido’s City Hall, two marble monuments stand together in the shade of trees.

The four sides of an obelisk display the United States Constitution’s first Ten Amendments, the Bill of Rights, which guarantees our individual rights and liberty. According to a plaque at its base, the obelisk was presented by the Escondido Rotary Club to the City of Escondido on July 4, 1976, during our nation’s Bicentennial.

The second monument honors all veterans who serve to defend that freedom. The memorial was dedicated twenty years later, in 1996 on Veterans Day.

It reads: The eternal gratitude of the citizens of Escondido and the nation is extended to every man and woman, living or dead, who wore the uniform of our military services with honor past, present and future.

A flag flies above both.

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!

Día de los Muertos altar remembers COVID victims.

An altar at the County Administration Building in downtown San Diego was created for Día de los Muertos this year. It remembers loved ones from all around San Diego County who have died from COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has brought an abrupt end to so many lives.

Photographs represent just some of the family members, friends and loved ones. Every victim of this terrible pandemic is remembered.

The altar stands through today.

Tomorrow memories of smiles, laughter and love will live on.

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!

View a Día de los Muertos altar in Normal Heights.

(Photograph courtesy Melody De Los Cobos.)

A special altar for Día de los Muertos is now on display in Normal Heights.

The community altar is dedicated to loved ones who have passed from this world. Among those remembered is Albert Jurado, who was well known in the San Diego, South Bay and Tijuana music communities.

You are invited to contribute a photograph, candle or special object to the altar to remember your own loved one.

The beautiful altar is located at 4720 32nd Street. It will be on display through Monday, November 2nd, 2020.

(Photograph courtesy Melody De Los Cobos.)
(Photograph courtesy Melody De Los Cobos.)

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!

Kobe Bryant tribute mural in Normal Heights.

An amazing mural honoring and remembering Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who passed away in a tragic airplane crash early this year, was painted this summer in Normal Heights. Today I walked down Adams Avenue and snapped a couple photos.

The purple and gold mural can be found on the east wall of El Zarape Mexican Cantina, next to a tiny parking lot, directly opposite a great Prince mural I photographed three years ago here.

I believe this Kobe tribute artwork was produced by graffiti artists Shark and Hasler.

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!

Photos of Codi, Old Town’s Favorite Horse!

State Park ranger Richard “Dick” Miller and Codi. Photo courtesy Richard Miller.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a mysterious horseshoe and plaque at the top of some stairs at the Old Town Transit Center. The small monument memorializes Codi, Old Town’s Favorite Horse. (See my blog concerning the horseshoe here.) I asked whether anybody remembered Codi, and I’ve subsequently received photographs and a little information!

I learned that Codi was the horse of Richard Miller, who patrolled Old Town San Diego SHP as a mounted state park ranger. Richard “Dick” Miller retired in 2001 and came back to Old Town for another 12 years as an interpreter. He also started the group known as TRVEA, the Tijuana River Equestrian Association.

Codi and Dick Miller patrolled both Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and Border Field State Park. Codi was a Morgan grade horse who weighed 1400 lbs, and when he passed he was about 22 years old.

After Codi’s passing, the horseshoe monument was made possible by the Old Town Transit Center contractor’s inspector, who had become a friend of Dick Miller.

Do you recognize Codi in these old photographs? If you have lived in or visited San Diego, perhaps Codi has a place in your memories, too!

Codi and Dick Miller at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Photo courtesy Richard Miller.
Codi and Dick Miller at the 1985 Sandcastle Parade in Imperial Beach. Photo courtesy Richard Miller.
Painting of Dick Miller riding Codi in front of the Casa de Estudillo in Old Town San Diego, by artist Miguel Chavez. Photo courtesy Richard Miller.

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!

More discoveries on historic Presidio Hill.

Last weekend I walked all over Presidio Park. Looking around, I noticed several historical plaques, benches and signs on Presidio Hill that I hadn’t seen or observed closely before.

After wandering around Inspiration Point and taking in the view of Mission Valley here, and checking out the park’s little known monument to a White Deer here, I headed down one of the park’s canyon trails and soon arrived at the expanse of grass enclosed by Cosoy Way, where families were picnicking on the green slope above a bench…

The inscription on the bench reads:

THIS MEMORIAL TO

TOMMY GETZ

PLACED HERE BY HIS FRIENDS. JULY. 1935.

After taking a few photos, I crossed Presidio Drive and climbed the short distance to the site of old Fort Stockton, where I looked again at the historical markers and public artwork that I once photographed here and here.

Then I began down Presidio Hill toward the site of the centuries-old, long-vanished Spanish presidio, the “birthplace” of California.

As I slowly wound between trees I came upon the following bench, and a small nearby plaque…

The plaque reads:

DEDICATED IN MEMORY OF

FATHER FRANCISCO PALOU

BIOGRAPHER OF FR. SERRA

BY SAN DIEGO PARLOR 208

N.D.G.W. JULY 13, 1929.

(A little research reveals N.D.G.W. means Native Daughters of the Golden West, and their Parlor 208 represents San Diego County.)

A little farther down I found two more plaques by two trees. Sadly, the second tree and its plaque had been vandalized with red spray paint…

CONGRESSMAN JIM BATES

SAN DIEGO

CITY BEAUTIFUL OF SAN DIEGO

TRUTH- BEAUTY- FELLOWMAN

MARCH 30, 1984

IN HONOR OF

MARY VAUGHN

APRIL 20, 1987

LIFE MEMBER

CITY BEAUTIFUL SAN DIEGO

TRUTH – BEAUTY – FELLOWMAN

When I arrived at the old observation structure in a corner of the parking lot below the Junipero Serra Museum, I discovered a plaque on the ground that I hadn’t seen before. To read the larger plaque affixed to the wall, you can click here.

1782 SYLVESTER PATTIE 1828

UNITED STATES

DAUGHTERS OF 1812

SAN DIEGO CHAPTER – APRIL 1992

Then I walked down to the grassy area where San Diego’s 1769 presidio and original mission stood. You can learn more about the big Padre Cross here.

The above tiles I believe were part of the old Presidio and its chapel, whose ruins are now covered by grassy mounds.

This nearby sign explains how this was the site of the Royal Presidio de San Diego during the time of Spanish settlement during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was the first permanent European settlement in what is today the State of California.

Grassy mounds now cover what remains of the Presidio ruins.

Finally, I gazed across Presidio Drive at The Indian, a sculpture by renowned artist Arthur Putnam. Learn more and see a closer photo here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Two special trees at Alvarado Hospital.

I had to wait a few minutes at the Alvarado trolley station this afternoon, so I walked across the street to look at some brilliantly shining green trees.

The beautiful trees stand in front of Alvarado Hospital Medical Center. Each had a plaque at its base.

I read the words..

Anthony J. Wapnick, M.D. - Dedicated and caring physician - He will never be replaced in the hearts of those whose lives he touched.
Anthony J. Wapnick, M.D. – Dedicated and caring physician – He will never be replaced in the hearts of those whose lives he touched.
Judy Cherry - Microbiologist - A special friend and colleague.
Judy Cherry – Microbiologist – A special friend and colleague.

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!