I support restoring the Palisades in Balboa Park.

Some supporters of Balboa Park, including The Committee of One Hundred, would like to restore the Palisades area of the park to its former glory. I learned about this visionary effort on Labor Day while grabbing some napkins at the cafe inside the Casa de Balboa. A stack of postcards had been placed nearby. I picked one up. Here’s a photo:

Photos on a postcard created by The Committee of One Hundred shows Balboa Park's Palisades area in 1935 and 2017.
A postcard created by The Committee of One Hundred shows Balboa Park’s Palisades area in 1935 and 2017.

As you can see, in 1935, during the California Pacific International Exposition, the Palisades contained spacious lawns, flowers and benches where today you’ll find a large ugly parking lot.

Sounds familiar? For decades the Plaza de Panama on El Prado contained a similarly ugly parking lot. But after that parking lot’s removal and replacement with tables, umbrellas, potted greenery and public art, the Plaza de Panama has become a bustling hub of activity full of people enjoying the sunny San Diego outdoors, as was originally intended.

Now back to the Palisades area. After a little more research, I’ve learned The Committee of One Hundred is already working to replace the four long-lost murals that used to be above the entrance of the 1935 California State Building, which is home to the San Diego Automotive Museum. To see more about that project, check out The Committee of One Hundred’s 2017 newsletter.

Given what I’ve read and know, I must say I’m in full agreement with the idea of restoring the Palisades. The parking lot is an absolute eyesore and many of the surrounding buildings appear bare and decayed. Most people who park here don’t linger. They immediately head in the direction of El Prado.

The Palisades parking lot seems completely unnecessary. Today, without spending a penny in construction, it appears to me there’s already plenty of parking across Park Boulevard south of the Veterans Museum–that huge lower lot is usually mostly empty. Simply add signage and one or two more stops for the parking shuttle.

When San Diego Comic-Con opens their new museum in the Federal Building next year, I imagine many more visitors will be drawn into the Palisades area. It seems to me the energetic people at Comic-Con International and other museums who would greatly benefit from a revitalization of the Palisades–the San Diego Air and Space Museum in particular–could use their considerable combined influence to help speed a beautiful restoration.

And why must it be an exact restoration? Why not add more flowers, some new outdoor art, and even a lively, splashing fountain? Why not both restore history and make history? Balboa Park should be forward-looking, optimistic, alive! San Diego’s world-renowned gem could shine even more brightly! Just imagine!

A perfect summer Sunday in Balboa Park.

Musicians entertain Balboa Park visitors at the House of Hungary's festive lawn program.
Musicians entertain Balboa Park visitors at the House of Hungary’s festive lawn program.

Another perfect summer Sunday. I found myself once again in Balboa Park. This afternoon, there was no better place in the world.

Please enjoy some photos…

A warm summer afternoon. A man and his dog rest beneath a dinosaur near the San Diego Natural History Museum.
It’s a warm summer afternoon. A man and his dog rest beneath a dinosaur near the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Sunshine on the south side of the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
Sunshine on the south side of the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
San Diego Civic Youth Ballet had a Fairy Tale Village set up today in the Casa del Prado's outer courtyard.
San Diego Civic Youth Ballet had a Fairy Tale Village set up today in the Casa del Prado’s outer courtyard.
The laps of two Western characters await people with tired feet in Spanish Village Art Center.
The laps of two Western characters await people with tired feet in Spanish Village Art Center.
Beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival architecture at the west end of the Casa de Balboa, photographed from El Prado.
Beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival architecture at the west end of the Casa de Balboa, photographed from El Prado.
People walk past ornate arches connecting the Casa de Balboa and the House of Hospitality.
People walk past ornate arches connecting the Casa de Balboa and the House of Hospitality.
Looking through one of those arches at cool greenery between the two historic buildings.
Looking through one of those arches at cool greenery between the two historic buildings.
Folks walk down toward the Casa del Rey Moro Garden.
Folks walk down toward the Casa del Rey Moro Garden.
A beautiful view few visitors see. Part of the rear of the House of Hospitality and nearby Casa de Balboa.
A beautiful view few visitors see. Part of the rear of the House of Hospitality and nearby Casa de Balboa.
Flowers beside outdoor dining at The Prado at Balboa Park.
Flowers beside outdoor dining at The Prado at Balboa Park.
A tranquil and shady place to sit on a summer day in the Japanese Friendship Garden. I worked for a while on a short story here.
A tranquil and shady place to sit in the Japanese Friendship Garden. I worked for a while on a short story here.
The Sunday afternoon lawn program today at the International Cottages was put on by the House of Hungary.
The Sunday afternoon lawn program today at the International Cottages was put on by the House of Hungary.
Hungarian sausage and crepes were being prepared at one end of the lawn!
Hungarian sausage and crepes were being prepared at one end of the lawn!
I confess I had a tasty sausage with lots of mustard on a delectable roll of bread. But those crepes do look good.
I confess I had a tasty sausage with lots of mustard on a delectable roll of bread. But those crepes do look good. I’ll try one next year.
Ladies play cards on the grass at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Ladies play cards on the grass at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Folks sit under the Spreckels Organ Pavilion colonnade and listen to a free Sunday performance. Four finalists are auditioning to become San Diego's new Civic Organist.
Folks sit under the Spreckels Organ Pavilion colonnade and listen to the free Sunday performance. Four finalists are auditioning to become San Diego’s new Civic Organist.
Looking beyond the fountain in front of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Looking beyond the fountain in front of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Riding a bike through Balboa Park on a perfect summer Sunday.
Riding a bike through Balboa Park on a perfect summer Sunday afternoon.
A banner by door to the Balboa Park Visitors Center. Enjoy every little bit of summer.
A banner by door to the Balboa Park Visitors Center. Enjoy every little bit of summer.

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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

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Photos aboard historic steam ferryboat Berkeley.

Golden light on the steam ferryboat Berkeley, hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I believe I took this photo a year or two ago.
Golden light on the steam ferryboat Berkeley, hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I believe I took this photo a year or two ago.

Over the years, I’ve taken many photos around and aboard the historic steam ferryboat Berkeley. The beautiful old ship is the hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of these photographs. Read the captions to learn a little about the Berkeley’s fascinating history.

Berkeley, built in 1898, was originally operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad on San Francisco Bay. It was used to ferry up to 1700 passengers per trip between the transcontinental train terminus at the Oakland Pier and the San Francisco Ferry Building across the bay. The Berkeley was also used after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to rescue thousand of refugees, which were brought out of the fire-devastated city safely over to Oakland.

Berkeley was acquired by the Maritime Museum of San Diego in 1973, and today she houses a large number of fascinating historical exhibits on her lower deck. She is both a National Historic Landmark and California State Historical Landmark, and a cool sight that many like to visit on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Personally, I love to head up the stairs to the McKinney Deck, where passengers used to cross the water in elegance. I have often seen ferry visitors and members of the Maritime Museum of San Diego sitting on the beautiful wooden benches simply reading or enjoying a relaxing moment. It’s like being transported back into another era. The atmosphere is quite amazing, as you will see…

Plaque in front of the ferryboat Berkeley, which was the first successful West Coast-built ferry to be driven by a screw propeller as opposed to side wheels.
Plaque in front of the ferryboat Berkeley, which was the first successful West Coast-built ferry to be driven by a screw propeller as opposed to side wheels.
Downtown San Diego skyscrapers and masts of HMS Surprise and Star of India can be seen in this photo of the upper passenger deck and one of two pilot houses.
Downtown San Diego skyscrapers and masts of museum ships HMS Surprise and Star of India can be seen in this photo of the Berkeley’s upper passenger deck and one of two pilot houses.
Southern Pacific Lines logo on a pilot house.
Southern Pacific Lines logo on one pilot house.
Photo over the roof of the ferryboat, with a black funnel projecting into the blue San Diego sky.
Photo over the roof of the ferryboat, with a black funnel projecting into the blue San Diego sky.
I'm getting ready to look inside the pilot house on the west end of the Berkeley. I see the County Administration Building.
I’m getting ready to look inside the pilot house on the west end of the Berkeley. I see the County Administration Building.
The wooden wheel, binoculars and other instruments used to pilot the ferry.
The wooden wheel, binoculars and other instruments used to pilot the ferry.
Many forms of communication were used during ferry operation. The Berkeley's pilot houses contained a radio receiver, the ship's whistle, and two voice tubes.
Many forms of communication were used during ferry operation. The Berkeley’s pilot houses contained radio receivers, the ship’s whistle, and two voice tubes.
Standing outside, peering into the elegant Dan McKinney Deck of the Berkeley.
Standing outside, peering into the elegant Dan McKinney Deck of the Berkeley.
Visitors aboard the Berkeley look at the beautiful long wooden benches and stained glass windows of the upper passenger deck.
Visitors aboard the Berkeley look at the beautiful long wooden benches and art glass windows of the upper passenger deck.
Different stained glass windows on the ship infuse the passenger deck with colored light.
Different art glass windows on the ship fill the passenger deck with many-colored light.
More exquisite stained glass. Passengers would cross San Francisco Bay in style.
More exquisite art glass. Passengers would cross San Francisco Bay in style.
Walking through the passenger deck.
Walking through the passenger deck.
Sunlight on one comfortable, warm wood bench. Wouldn't you like to sit here?
Sunlight on one comfortable, warm wood bench. Wouldn’t you like to sit here?
A painting of the ferry Berkeley and a relic from its history.
A painting of the ferry Berkeley and a relic from its history.
More beauty aboard the old ship, which is now docked in San Diego Bay.
More beauty aboard the old ship, which is now docked in San Diego Bay.
I assume the fancy B is for Berkeley, but I'm not sure.
I assume the fancy B is for Berkeley, but I’m not sure.
Refreshments used to be served here during bay crossings. Today the Berkeley is often used for special events and drinks are still served.
Refreshments used to be purchased here during bay crossings. Today the Berkeley is often used for special events and drinks are still served.
Over the years, many thousands of passengers were served.
Over the years, countless thousands of passengers were served.
Ferryboat Berkeley,1898, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This vessel possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.
Ferryboat Berkeley,1898, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This vessel possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.
One of four old photos on the passenger deck. Berkeley was launched on San Francisco Bay on October 18, 1898.
One of four old photos on the passenger deck. Berkeley was launched on San Francisco Bay on October 18, 1898.
Berkeley was never a car ferry. The open deck below carried luggage carts for passengers transiting between the end of the railroad at Oakland and San Francisco.
Berkeley was never a car ferry. The open deck below carried luggage carts for passengers transiting between the end of the railroad at Oakland and San Francisco across the bay.
The Berkeley was heroine of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake story. She carried refugees to safety nonstop for three days and nights.
The Berkeley was heroine of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake story. She carried refugees to safety nonstop for three days and nights.
In 1973, Berkeley was towed down the coast to San Diego to begin a second life as floating museum.
In 1973, Berkeley was towed down the coast to San Diego to begin a second life as floating museum.
And what a beautiful museum she is! Many exhibits can be seen on the lower deck, where ferry passengers used to haul their luggage carts.
And what a beautiful museum she is! I haven’t included them in this particular blog post, but many cool exhibits can be seen on the lower deck, where ferry passengers used to park their luggage carts.
Gazing down some steps at a museum workshop aboard the Berkeley.
Gazing down some steps at a museum workshop aboard the Berkeley.
Gazing from the passenger deck outside toward San Diego Bay. Other museum ships, including Californian and San Salvador, are docked along a float west of the Berkeley.
Gazing from the passenger deck outside toward San Diego Bay. Other museum ships, including Californian and San Salvador, are docked along a float west of the Berkeley.
One of the ferry's old lifeboats.
One of the ferry’s old lifeboats.
Looking up at the pilot house on the ferry's bay-facing end.
Looking up at the pilot house on the steam ferry’s bay-facing end.
Some folks on the other end looking out at downtown San Diego and the Waterfront Park.
Some folks on the other end looking out at downtown San Diego and the Waterfront Park.
An old sign above one doorway says a Lunch and Grill Room are on the Lower Deck.
An old sign above one doorway says Lunch and Grill Room on Lower Deck.
That old sign was uncovered beneath accumulated paint. Working on an old vessel is a bit like an archaeological dig.
That old sign was uncovered beneath accumulated paint. Working on an old vessel is a bit like an archaeological dig.
Looking from the Embarcadero at the Berkeley, over the Maritime Museum of San Diego's deep diving submarine USS Dolphin.
Looking from the Embarcadero at the Berkeley, over the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s deep diving submarine USS Dolphin.
The handsome steam ferryboat Berkeley now greets visitors on San Diego Bay.
The handsome steam ferryboat Berkeley now greets visitors on San Diego Bay.
People walk through history aboard a beautiful old vessel.
People walk through history aboard a beautiful old vessel.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

History at the Los Peñasquitos adobe ranch house.

Jogging and biking past the historic adobe ranch house in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
Jogging and biking past the historic adobe ranch house in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

The second oldest residence in San Diego County can be found inside Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. The adobe ranch house was built in 1823 by Captain Francisco María Ruiz, who was Commandante of San Diego’s presidio. He built two small adobe buildings on Rancho Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, his large 8,486-acre Mexican land grant north of the Presidio and Mission San Diego de Alcalá. It was first land grant made by the Mexican government in this area, just two years after Mexico became independent from Spain.

The historic adobe ranch house has been modified, enlarged and restored by various owners over the years, and today is a popular destination for visitors to Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. People often bike or hike through the picturesque ranch, and motorists can park in a nearby lot. Picnic tables are plentiful; there are goats and chickens to captivate children; and guided tours are available on weekends.

I toured the ranch recently and took photos of its various features. There are a variety of interpretive exhibits within the adobe house. Please read these informative displays (click to enlarge the images) to learn more about this fascinating place’s long and colorful history.

(What is the oldest structure in San Diego County? You’ll be completely surprised! I blogged about that here.)

The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Guided tours are at 11:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday.
The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Guided tours are at 11:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday.
The ranch house is nestled among some shady trees. Two small adobe buildings were originally built in 1823. The house was enlarged by Captain George Alonzo Johnson in 1862.
The ranch house is nestled among some shady trees. Two small adobe buildings were originally built in 1823. The house was enlarged by Captain George Alonzo Johnson in 1862.
Plaque describes the establishment of the Johnson-Taylor Adobe Ranchhouse in 1862. The residence and later additions were used as a hotel, bunkhouse, and quarters for a working cattle ranch into the 1960s.
Plaque describes the establishment of the Johnson-Taylor Adobe Ranchhouse in 1862. The residence and later additions were used as a hotel, bunkhouse, and quarters for a working cattle ranch into the 1960s.
A sculpture inside the courtyard, located on the east side (rear) of the ranch house. The planters were probably used to grow herbs and flowers.
A sculpture inside the courtyard, located on the east side (rear) of the ranch house. The planters were probably used by the residents to grow herbs and flowers.
Part of the ranch house's long porch beside the courtyard.
Part of the ranch house’s long porch beside the courtyard.
Inside a room that contains museum-like exhibits, looking north out a window at various small structures on the ranch, including a chicken coop and goat pen.
Inside a living room that today contains museum-like exhibits, looking north out a window at various small structures on the ranch, including a chicken coop and goat pen.
The Californio Period, 1821 to 1850, included vaqueros (cowboys) living at Peñasquitos. The American Rancher Period, 1850-1970, began after California became a state.
The Californio Period, 1821 to 1850, included vaqueros (cowboys) living at Peñasquitos. The American Rancher Period, 1850-1970, began after California became a state.
1823-1834 timeline of the Mexican land grant of Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, that was made to Captain Francisco María Ruiz.
1823-1834 timeline of the Mexican land grant of Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, that was made to Captain Francisco María Ruiz.
In 1859 Captain George Alonzo Johnson married Maria Estéfana Alvarado, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado, who bought the ranch from Ruiz in 1837.
In 1859 Captain George Alonzo Johnson married Maria Estéfana Alvarado, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado, who bought the ranch from Ruiz in 1837.
A hand blown and painted glass pitcher and drinking glass that belonged to Maria de Jesus Alvarado de Sepulveda, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado.
A hand blown and painted glass pitcher and drinking glass that belonged to Maria de Jesus Alvarado de Sepulveda, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado.
The large earthenware olive jar was found under the ranch house floor during an excavation in 1983. Used for food storage, it was probably made in Spain or Portugal in the early to mid 1700s.
The large earthenware olive jar was found under the ranch house floor during an excavation in 1983. Used for food storage, it was probably made in Spain or Portugal in the early to mid 1700s.
Captain George Alonzo Johnson, a pioneer and businessman, came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He became a rancher and horse breeder.
Captain George Alonzo Johnson, a pioneer and businessman, came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He became a rancher and horse breeder.
Historical newspaper articles describe the ranch house, outbuildings and grounds of George Alonzo Johnson's ranch.
Historical newspaper articles describe the ranch house, outbuildings and grounds of George Alonzo Johnson’s ranch.
Floor plan of Rancho Peñasquitos from 1975 HABS survey.
Floor plan of Rancho Peñasquitos from 1975 HABS survey.
A drawing of the Los Peñasquitos residence of Colonel Jacob Shell Taylor, who purchased the property in 1882. He raised Durham cattle and thoroughbred horses and would found Del Mar.
A drawing of the Los Peñasquitos residence of Colonel Jacob Shell Taylor, who purchased the property in 1882. He raised Durham cattle and thoroughbred horses and would found Del Mar.
Various branding irons on display in the adobe house that were discovered around the ranch. Included are early Spanish irons used by rustlers.
Various branding irons on display in the adobe house that were discovered around the ranch. Included are early Spanish irons used by rustlers.
Rancho Peñasquitos courtyard photo taken circa 1889, showing ranch employee H. T. Sandford and his family.
Rancho Peñasquitos courtyard photo taken circa 1889, showing ranch employee H. T. Sandford and his family.
Photo of the San Diego-Escondido Stage Line circa 1906. In the mid-1800s Peñasquitos was a way station on the wagon road between San Diego and Warner's Ranch.
Photo of the San Diego-Escondido Stage Line circa 1906. In the mid-1800s, Peñasquitos was a way station on the wagon road between San Diego and Warner’s Ranch.
Porch along the front (or west) side of the adobe ranch house, which faced the so-called Road to Yuma.
Porch along the front (or west) side of the adobe ranch house, which faced the so-called Road to Yuma.
I spotted someone riding a horse past the ranch house. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is an ideal place for those who love to ride down peaceful trails.
I spotted someone riding a horse past the ranch house. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is an ideal place for those who love to ride down peaceful trails.
Looking west at a meadow north of Peñasquitos Creek. I posted photos of those sycamores in the distance a few weeks ago.
Looking west at a meadow north of Peñasquitos Creek. I posted photos of those sycamores in the distance a few weeks ago.
An artificial pond south of the ranch house was filled with water from the nearby spring house for irrigation of a nearby grove.
An artificial pond south of the ranch house was filled with water from the adjacent spring house for irrigation of a nearby citrus grove.
The rock Spring House was constructed around an artesian spring. Water from the spring was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for as many as 12,000 years!
The rock Spring House was constructed around an artesian spring. Water from the spring was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for as many as 12,000 years!
The Mohnike Barn was constructed in 1912 of adobe and wood. Charles Mohnike, a rancher who purchased the property in 1910, was the builder.
The Mohnike Barn was constructed in 1912 of adobe and wood. Charles Mohnike, a rancher who purchased the property in 1910, was the builder.
The Mohnike Barn is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with the other ranch structures.
The Mohnike Barn is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with other ranch structures.
An octagonal concrete reservoir to the north, uphill from the ranch house. Photographic evidence shows water might have been pumped up here by windmill.
An octagonal concrete reservoir to the north, uphill from the ranch house. Photographic evidence shows water might have been pumped up here by windmill.
More ranch structures just west of the barn.
More ranch structures just west of the barn.
These friendly goats like to greet hikers and those on bicycles.
These friendly Nubian goats like to greet hikers and those on bicycles.
These chickens were wondering what I was up to.
These chickens were wondering what I was up to.
The southeast corner of the adobe ranch house.
The southeast corner of the adobe ranch house.
One last photo of the courtyard, a focal point of the ranch house, which has seen many lives, much history.
One last photo of the courtyard, a focal point of the ranch house, which has seen many lives, much history.

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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More art pops up in breezeway by MCASD.

A big cat roars a bouquet.
A big cat roars a bouquet.

A new batch of public art has popped up in the breezeway between the Santa Fe Depot and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. I believe these pieces were all created by youth.

On Saturday I took a few photos after stepping off the trolley. Enjoy!

Half face of husky.
Half face of husky.
Ali times eight.
Ali times eight.
Pink face with closed eyes.
Pink face with closed eyes.
Defying gravity. Something appears odd.
Defying gravity. Something appears odd. Can you spot it?
King, with a Dream.
King, with a Dream.
Patchwork elephant.
Patchwork elephant.

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!

To read some short fiction I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

The fantastic art of Richard Deacon in San Diego!

Double Talk by artist Richard Deacon, winner of the Turner Prize. Laminated wood and imitation leather. 1987.
Double Talk by artist Richard Deacon, winner of the Turner Prize. Laminated wood and imitation leather. 1987.

Look at these photos! Enjoy a taste of some wonders that have materialized inside the San Diego Museum of Art!

My docent friend took me on a tour yesterday morning of the jaw-dropping exhibition Richard Deacon: What You See Is What You Get. The abstract artwork of this world-renowned British contemporary sculptor, winner of the Turner Prize, is being shown for the first time in a major American museum–right here at the San Diego Museum of Art!

I don’t know how to begin explaining the various pieces. I did plainly see that Richard Deacon takes joy in inventive creation, working diverse materials, seeing organic forms bubble and expand into life. Gazing at his often huge pieces, I felt myself tumbling through a space filled with living shapes, mythological symbols, dreamlike visions. His muscle-crafted marvels have been extracted from infinite possibility, bent into reality.

I don’t know what else to say. I’ve added a little more description in my photo captions. But words are insufficient. What you see is what you get!

It’s great news that this special exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art has been extended through Labor Day, September 04, 2017. Go feast your eyes!

Richard Deacon. What you see is what you get. To see it, head over to the San Diego Museum of Art!
Richard Deacon. What you see is what you get. To see it, head over to the San Diego Museum of Art!
Eyes are met with an astonishing work of abstract art. Dancing in Front of My Eyes, 2006. Wood, aluminum.
Eyes are met with an astonishing work of abstract art. Dancing in Front of My Eyes, 2006. Wood, aluminum.
In places the screws, glue, and the wood itself seem to be unfinished parts of a living whole. The fluid piece undulates from the hand of its inventive creator.
In places screws, glue, and the wood itself seem to be “unfinished” parts of a living whole. The fluid piece undulates from the hand of its inventive creator.
An intangible tangle of shadow on the floor seems to be an important part of the sculpture. The artist calls himself a fabricator.
An intangible tangle of shadow on the floor seems to be an important part of the sculpture. The artist calls himself a fabricator.
An amazing creation, that seems to me like active muscles or tendons in a living body. Dead Leg, 2007. Steamed oak, stainless steel.
An amazing creation, that seems to me like active muscles or tendons in a living body. Dead Leg, 2007. Steamed oak, stainless steel.
The wood is artistically bent using steam and heat. During this process, Richard Deacon has about two minutes to permanently alter the wood’s shape.
This looks to me like supple leather. A portion of Fish out of Water. Laminated hardboard, screws. 1986-87.
This looks to me like supple leather. A portion of Fish out of Water. Laminated hardboard, screws. 1986-87.
Richard Deacon creates astonishing art using many different materials. These huge pieces are ceramic. They seem to have bubbled up from the Earth, or the artist's mind.
Richard Deacon creates astonishing art using many different materials. These huge pieces are ceramic. They seem to have bubbled up from the Earth, or the artist’s mind.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow C. Glazed ceramic. 2000.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow C. Glazed ceramic. 2000.
Housing 10, 2012. Marbling on folded STPI handmade paper, constructed with magnet button.
Housing 10, 2012. Marbling on folded STPI handmade paper, constructed with magnet button.
Richard Deacon enjoys playful, suggestive language and has called this huge piece Double Talk. The viewer can decide what is meant.
Richard Deacon enjoys playful, suggestive language and has called this huge piece Double Talk. The viewer can decide what is meant.
The abstract sculpture stretches and curves in an inviting way. It is both natural and larger than life.
The abstract sculpture stretches and curves in an inviting way. It is both natural and larger than life.
Falling on Deaf Ears, No. 1. Galvanized steel, canvas. 1984. My docent friend explained this represents the ship of Odysseus, as he sailed by the treacherous Sirens.
Falling on Deaf Ears, No. 1. Galvanized steel, canvas. 1984. My docent friend explained this represents the ship of Odysseus, as he sailed past the treacherous Sirens.
Across this room soars Like a Bird. Laminated wood, 1984. Richard Deacon creates spacious wonders that tickle the mind and expand the spirit.
Across this room soars Like a Bird. Laminated wood, 1984. Richard Deacon creates spacious wonders that tickle the mind and expand the spirit.

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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Photos inside America’s most haunted Whaley House!

I learned a past visitor to the Whaley House photographed these old dolls and was surprised to see the eyes--which are painted--closed!
I learned a past visitor to the Whaley House photographed these old dolls and was surprised to see the eyes–which are painted–closed!

Did I see any ghosts inside the Whaley House?

During my recent visit to Old Town San Diego, I ventured into the unknown. I took my very first look inside the Whaley House, widely considered to be the most haunted house in America. I also took lots of photographs, which you are about to see!

The Whaley House has been the subject of many serious paranormal investigations, and has appeared on many television programs.  It was featured on Syfy Channel’s Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, the Travel Channel’s episode America’s Most Haunted on Ghost Adventures, and the Biography Channel’s show The Haunting of Regis Philbin. The house’s reputation for supernatural activity has been discussed widely in the media and adopted by the popular culture.

LIFE magazine, a serious publication, has stated that the Whaley House is “the most haunted house in America.” The Travel Channel has agreed with that conclusion.

So, did I see any ghosts, spirits or apparitions–any spooky or weird stuff?

As I took the self-guided tour and peered into the various rooms, my eyes were primarily searching for ideal shots for my camera. But in the back of my mind, I also anticipated perhaps glimpsing something unusual.

Perhaps I’d see the ghost of Yankee Jim, who was hanged in a particularly gruesome way in 1852, on the same plot of land where the Whaley House was built in 1857. The Whaley’s youngest daughter Lillian was absolutely convinced that he haunted their home.

Or I might see the ghosts of Thomas or Anna Whaley who built the house when they came to San Diego from San Francisco. Thomas is said to appear in the parlor or on the upper landing; Anna in the downstairs rooms or outside garden.

Or perhaps I might get a ghostly glimpse of someone or something else…

Three of the docents I spoke to during my recent visit related their own bizarre experiences. Two docents once saw a gilded cup in a display case begin to vibrate for no apparent reason. Nothing had shaken the house or case. No other artifacts near the cup moved. The cup’s peculiar motion continued for 30 to 45 seconds, they attested. Another docent told me that she twice smelled lavender perfume inexplicably while sitting near a window in the upstairs theater. Nobody was nearby.

Several years ago, when I passed the Whaley House and spoke to a docent standing outside the front door, they told me they’d heard inexplicable footsteps in the theater and had seen a strange shadow moving on an upstairs wall. The cashier in the gift shop next door had seen the same weird shadow. I blogged about that here.

Okay. So what exactly did I see? Look at the photographs! And read the captions for more history concerning this fascinating and historically important house.

If I experienced anything unusual inside the Whaley House, it was that I felt a bit like a time traveler. A tour through this historic house is like stepping back into another time, when day-to-day life was both simpler and in many ways more dangerous, unpredictable and difficult. In my mind’s eye I could almost see the people of that era moving about the house–performing ordinary tasks–people who really weren’t that different than you or me. I could almost put myself in their shoes. In my imagination.

Take a look at these photographs and what do you see? If a few images seem to contain glare or strange effects of light, it was probably caused by my camera’s flash and the necessity of taking some photos through glass.  The photo of the children’s bedroom, for example, was taken through a glass pane.

The only adjustments I made to these photos were cropping, brightness, contrast and the GIMP filter for sharpness. And the photos I altered were changed just slightly to make them appear a little bit nicer on your screen!

Leave a comment if you see something ghostly!

Sign in front of America's most haunted Whaley House. Like various other historic structures in San Diego, the house is preserved by SOHO--the Save Our Heritage Organisation.
Sign in front of America’s most haunted Whaley House. Like various other historic structures in San Diego, the house is preserved by SOHO–the Save Our Heritage Organisation.
Photo of the 1857 Greek Revival-style Whaley House from across San Diego Avenue. The famous house is located in Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego.
Photo of the 1857 Greek Revival-style Whaley House from across San Diego Avenue. The famous house is located in Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego.
The Whaley House, once designated an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department, has appeared on many television programs, including the Travel Channel's show America's Most Haunted.
The Whaley House, once designated an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department, has appeared on many television programs, including the Travel Channel’s show America’s Most Haunted.
The Whaley house is the oldest brick building in Southern California. It served as home, granary, store, courthouse, school and theater. It was the most luxurious residence in early San Diego.
The Whaley house is the oldest brick building in Southern California. It served as home, granary, store, courthouse, school and theater. It was the most luxurious residence in early San Diego.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego peer into the Whaley House window just left of the front door. That is where the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store was located.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego peer into the Whaley House window just left of the front door. That is where the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store was located.
The self-guided tour begins in the courtroom, behind the store. Originally a granary whose brick walls didn't stop rats, at different times the room served as school, church, ballroom and billiard hall.
The self-guided tour begins in the courtroom, which is located directly behind the store. Originally a granary whose brick walls failed to stop rats, at different times the room served as school, church, ballroom and billiard hall.
Photograph on the courtroom's back wall shows the Whaley House on the outskirts of tiny San Diego. It stands alone in barren place. It was built on a hanging ground not far from old El Campo Santo Cemetery.
Photograph on the courtroom’s back wall shows the Whaley House on the outskirts of tiny San Diego. It stands alone in a barren place. It was built on a hanging ground not far from old El Campo Santo Cemetery.
Another photo inside the courtroom. This served as the second County Courthouse in San Diego, in operation from 1869 to 1871.
Another photo inside the courtroom. This served as the second County Courthouse in San Diego, in operation from 1869 to 1871.
Inside the courtroom you'll find the Centennial Cannon. It was cast in 1876 and was used for various ceremonies before being moved to Horton Plaza.
Inside the courtroom you’ll find the Centennial Cannon. It was cast in 1876 and was used for various ceremonies before being moved to Horton Plaza.
Another photo in the courtroom shows San Diego's old stone jail in a crumbling state. It stands next to the chapel cabin and the old graveyard.
Another photo in the courtroom shows San Diego’s old stone jail in a crumbling state. It stands next to the chapel cabin and the old graveyard.
The Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store. Many items available for purchase included whiskey, wine, buckwheat, macaroni, codfish, pickles, catsup, tin ware, hardware, stationery, clothing and shoes.
The Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store. Many items available for purchase included whiskey, wine, buckwheat, macaroni, codfish, pickles, catsup, tin ware, hardware, stationery, clothing and shoes.
Shelves behind the store's counter contain products one might buy in the mid to late 1800's in San Diego. Goods that arrived by ship around Cape Horn were later obtained via transcontinental railroad.
Shelves behind the store’s counter contain products one might buy in the mid to late 1800’s in San Diego. Goods that arrived by ship around Cape Horn were later obtained via transcontinental railroad.
A nearby display case contains items belonging to various members of the Whaley family, including engraved silverware and china.
A nearby display case contains items belonging to various members of the Whaley family, including engraved silverware and china.
Inside the display one can see an old photograph of George H. R. Whaley, one of the six children of Thomas and Anna Whaley.
Inside the display case one can see an old photograph of George H. R. Whaley, one of the six children of Thomas and Anna Whaley.
Two docents told me how they were both present when the gilded cup began to vibrate without explanation. It did so for about 30 to 45 seconds. No other objects moved.
Two docents told me how they were both present when the gilded cup began to vibrate without explanation. It did so for about 30 to 45 seconds. No other objects moved.
More historical objects that belonged to the Whaley family, including a small snubnosed revolver.
More historical objects that belonged to the Whaley family, including a small snubnosed revolver.
Next on the self-guided tour is the circa 1860s dining room. The chairs are upholstered with woven horse hair. They've survived a century and a half in pretty good condition.
Next on the self-guided tour is the circa 1860s dining room. The chairs are upholstered with woven horse hair. They’ve survived a century and a half in pretty good condition.
The wallpaper with fleur-de-lis patterns reflects light like a sky full of shining, golden stars. The furnishings and silver are original.
The wallpaper with fleur-de-lis patterns reflects light like a sky full of shining, golden stars. The furnishings and silver are original.
The tour proceeds to the reconstructed kitchen, which seeks to replicate the original board and batten structure. The checked floor is typical of the era.
The tour proceeds to the reconstructed kitchen, which seeks to replicate the original board and batten structure. The checked floor is typical of the era.
Many of the dishes and utensils are original. Prepared food would be passed through to the adjacent dining room.
Many of the dishes and utensils are original. Prepared food would be passed through a window (that we are looking through) to the adjacent dining room.
Photo of rear of Whaley House. The white detached room is the kitchen. In case of fire, the burning walls of the kitchen would be pulled away from the main building by horse.
Photo of rear of Whaley House. The white detached room is the kitchen. In case of fire, the burning walls of the kitchen would be pulled away from the main building by horse. This type of construction was common in those days.
These stairs lead up to the second floor of the Whaley House, where there is a theater and three bedrooms.
These stairs lead up to the second floor of the Whaley House museum, where there is a theater and three bedrooms.
A docent explains the history of this first commercial theater in San Diego. The Tanner Troupe performed here from October 1868 to January 1869. The first performance reportedly attracted an audience of 150. The docent thought this number was improbable--for just one performance in this rather small room!
A docent explains the history of this first commercial theater in San Diego. The Tanner Troupe performed here from October 1868 to January 1869. The first performance reportedly attracted an audience of 150. The docent thought this number was improbable–for just one performance in this rather small room!
The painted backdrop of the stage, an original family trunk, and a raven, recalling the famous poem of Victorian-era American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe.
The painted backdrop of the stage, an original family trunk, and a raven, recalling the famous poem of Victorian-era American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe.
Another photo showing painted curtains. A docent sitting by the theater window told me she smelled sudden, mysterious lavender perfume on two occasions. Nobody was nearby.
Another photo showing painted curtains. On two occasions, a docent was sitting to the left of this stage by one of the second floor windows when she smelled sudden, mysterious lavender perfume. Nobody was nearby, she told me.
Advertisement framed on theater wall. Admission to see the Tanner Troupe perform was 50 cents. Audiences saw moral, chaste and versatile entertainments--drama, farce, comedy, singing and dancing.
Advertisement framed on theater wall. Admission to see the Tanner Troupe perform was 50 cents. Audiences saw moral, chaste and versatile entertainments–drama, farce, comedy, singing and dancing.
Painting in the theater from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. On the opposite wall hangs a painting from Othello.
Print in a gilded frame in the upstairs theater. It’s from a painting depicting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. On the opposite wall hangs similar artwork depicting Othello.
Outdoor stairs back then ascended to this outside balcony. Audiences entered the theater that way, without disturbing the Whaley House living quarters.
Outdoor stairs back then ascended to this outside balcony. Audiences entered the theater that way, without disturbing the Whaley House living quarters.
Photo of Thomas and Anna Whaley's master bedroom. According to the self-guided tour info, the walnut bedroom set is in the Renaissance Revival style. The writing desk was Anna's.
Photo of Thomas and Anna Whaley’s master bedroom. According to the self-guided tour info, the walnut bedroom set is in the Renaissance Revival style. The writing desk was Anna’s.
A visitor gazing into the children's bedroom said the dolls seemed very creepy. The crib just visible was used by four generations. An 18-month old Thomas Whaley Jr. died here from scarlet fever.
A visitor gazing into the children’s bedroom said the dolls seemed very creepy. The crib just visible was used by four generations. An 18-month old Thomas Whaley Jr. died here from scarlet fever.
Visitors look for ghosts in the children's bedroom. The theater is straight ahead.
Visitors look for ghosts in the children’s bedroom. The theater is straight ahead.
The rear bedroom could be used by up to four children and multiple visitors. The washbowl and pitcher were used for bathing.
The rear bedroom could be used by up to four children and multiple visitors. The washbowl and pitcher were used for bathing.
Now we are back downstairs. This is part of the elegant guest chamber in the southeast corner of the Whaley House. Important people stayed here, including General Thomas Sedgewick.
Now we are back downstairs. This is part of the elegant guest chamber in the southeast corner of the Whaley House. Important people stayed here, including General Thomas Sedgewick.
The adjacent study with desk and bookcase. During his time in San Diego, Thomas Whaley held many positions, including merchant, city clerk, notary public, realtor and railroad secretary. That sword was actually a prop used by the Tanner Troupe during their performances in the theater upstairs.
The study with desk and bookcase. During his time in San Diego, Thomas Whaley held many positions, including merchant, city clerk, notary public, realtor and railroad secretary. That sword was actually a prop used by the Tanner Troupe during their performances in the theater upstairs.
Looking from the study into the Rococo Revival Style parlor. The Whaleys were wealthier than most San Diego residents at the time. The room is full of art, paintings and splendid decorative objects.
Looking from the study into the Rococo Revival Style parlor. The Whaleys were much wealthier than most San Diego residents at the time. The room is full of art, paintings and splendid decorative objects.
There's no guarantee you will see a ghost at the Whaley House. But you will definitely observe a good deal of history and learn about San Diego's fascinating past.
There’s no guarantee you will see a ghost at the Whaley House. But you will definitely observe a good deal of history and learn about San Diego’s fascinating past.

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