Restored Wildcat fighter lifted onto USS Midway.

Wildcat fighter plane arrives at Navy Pier.
Wildcat fighter plane arrives at Navy Pier.

Every so often a new plane is added to the Midway Museum collection.  The historic aircraft carrier USS Midway, active from 1945 to 1992, now has a couple dozen restored airplanes among its exhibits.  Today the latest addition was hoisted up onto the dockside elevator by crane from the pier below!  I was there to snap a few cool pics!

The last time I saw an airplane brought over from North Island, where the restorations take place, it was by barge.  So I was surprised this time when a plane arrived on the back of a truck.  This F4F Wildcat is a specimen  of the small carrier-based fighter that helped to win the Battle of Midway during World War II.  This particular plane was salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan.  Restoration in a special hangar at Naval Air Station North Island, across San Diego Bay, took three years.  You’ll notice the wings are missing from the fuselage.  They came in on a second truck!

The first photo shows the Wildcat arriving on the opposite side of Navy pier.

Historic airplane transported by truck to USS Midway.
Historic airplane transported by truck to USS Midway.

The truck has pulled alongside USS Midway’s dockside elevator, which is lowered and ready to receive the new exhibit.

Preparing to lift Wildcat onto USS Midway's elevator.
Preparing to lift Wildcat onto USS Midway’s elevator.

A small crane waits off to the left to lift the airplane.  Here we see some preliminary preparations.

Crane begins to lift F4F Wildcat onto USS Midway.
Crane begins to lift F4F Wildcat onto USS Midway.

Up it goes!  Everybody was extremely careful that no mishaps occurred!

Aircraft is placed on USS Midway while people watch from flight deck.
Aircraft is placed on USS Midway while people watch from flight deck.

And finally the F4F Wildcat is aboard its new home!  This plane will be part of a three dimensional theater exhibit called Battle of Midway Experience.  I can’t wait to see it!

San Diego Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden.

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An opening in a fence near Balboa Park’s theatre complex leads back south into the San Diego Museum of Art’s grassy Sculpture Garden. Step through with me!

After slowly crossing the outdoor space, gazing at interesting, often organic abstract artwork, we pause in the shade of the Sculpture Court and turn back for a photo. Here it is!

In the background, you can see the Museum of Man’s colorful dome and the California Tower. Behind us is an open air cafe.

UPDATE! Here are more photos that I took during various future visits!

California Tower high in the blue sky behind colorful, unique artwork.
California Tower high in the blue sky behind unusual, thought-provoking art.
Aim I, Alexander Liberman, 1980. Biased sliced aluminum tubes.
Aim I, Alexander Liberman, 1980. Biased sliced aluminum tubes.
Cubi XV, David Smith, 1964-64. Stainless steel.
Cubi XV, David Smith, 1964-64. Stainless steel.
Two Lines Oblique: San Diego, George Rickey, 1993. Stainless steel.
Two Lines Oblique: San Diego, George Rickey, 1993. Stainless steel.
Modern abstract sculptures are free to view in Balboa Park.
These interesting abstract sculptures are free to view in Balboa Park.
Figure for Landscape, Barbara Hepworth, 1960. Bronze.
Figure for Landscape, Barbara Hepworth, 1960. Bronze.
Reclining Figure: Arch Leg, Henry Moore, 1969. Bronze.
Reclining Figure: Arch Leg, Henry Moore, 1969. Bronze.
Peeking through one sculpture back across the lawn.
Peeking through one sculpture back across the lawn.
Another view of sculpture garden with lots of people about.
Another view of the Sculpture Garden on a day with lots of people about. In this shallow pool is Accelerated Point, made of copper, by artist Claire Falkenstein.
Turning to the north, we see more art to explore.
Turning to the north, we see more artwork in the Sculpture Court.
Sonata Primitive, Saul L. Baizerman, 1940-48. Copper.
Sonata Primitive, Saul L. Baizerman, 1940-48. Copper.
May S. Marcy Sculpture Court was dedicated in 1968.
The May S. Marcy Sculpture Court was dedicated in 1968.
Man cleans pool of water in San Diego Museum of Art's Sculpture Court.
Man cleans small pool containing fascinating art.
This sculpture is titled Night Presence II, 1976, by artist Louise Nevelson.
This sculpture is titled Night Presence II, 1976, by artist Louise Nevelson.
Cafe in building by San Diego Museum of Art's sculpture garden.
The cafe in San Diego Museum of Art’s unique Sculpture Court.

Here come two bonus pics taken in early 2015! A cool new eatery, Panama 66, has been operating now for many months in the Sculpture Court…

Sign directs people to Panama 66 in Balboa Park.
Sign directs people to Panama 66 in Balboa Park.
Diners enjoy Panama 66 food and refreshment in the cool Sculpture Court of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Diners enjoy Panama 66 food and refreshment in the Sculpture Court of the San Diego Museum of Art.

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!

Pleasant stroll toward the Old Globe Theatre.

old globe theatre comes into view

Here comes the famous Old Globe Theatre into view! It’s the round Tudor-style building there on the left. More about it in my next blog post…

museum of man and california tower from the east

Turning for a moment to the left, we see the east side of the Museum of Man’s colorful dome and the picturesque California Tower.

a pleasant nook in balboa park

A pleasant nook below with benches. That’s the Craig Noel Garden, named after the Old Globe Theatre’s founding director. This is a great place to take a rest, or read a book!

Water splashes from face in fountain at west end of the Craig Noel Garden.
Water splashes from face in fountain at west end of the Craig Noel Garden.
Plaque explains how Craig Noel helped to found the Old Globe Theatre.
Plaque explains how Craig Noel helped to found the Old Globe Theatre.
Passage by Museum of Man leads back toward El Prado.
Passage by Museum of Man leads back toward El Prado.

Beer, headhunters, and instruments of torture.

beer, headhunters, and instruments of torture

What’s that? Huh?

Check out these two banners! They’re hanging in the courtyard in front of the Museum of Man, at the west end of El Prado in Balboa Park.

The first advertises an exhibition about the history of beer. Beerology seems to include the study of imbibing pharaohs and thirsty headhunters. Drink up!

The second depicts a chair covered with sharp spikes. Presumably one of those can be found on display in the museum, along with other delightful instruments of torture. A quite memorable cultural experience!

People walk through plaza in front of the Museum of Man.
People walk through plaza in front of the Museum of Man.

Peek into the San Diego Firehouse Museum.

sign at the firehouse museum in little italy

If you’re ever in the Little Italy neighborhood in downtown San Diego, you might want to check out the small but jam-packed Firehouse Museum.

Shiny red fire trucks, interesting historical photos, old fire fighting apparatus, memorabilia and even Smokey Bear are on display. And excited kids can climb into one of the cool fire engines!

This sign by the sidewalk invites tourists and passersby to take a peek into the firehouse.

a peek at a cool firetruck and smokey bear

I took a photo from outside, aiming left.

old firetrucks in san diego firehouse museum

And then the above photo aiming right.

The next pic was taken on a later day, in the early morning when the museum was still closed…

The San Diego Firehouse Museum in the early morning.
The San Diego Firehouse Museum in the early morning.

A plaque appeared on the museum’s exterior in mid to late 2015!

Old Fire Station Number Six. From 1915 to 1970, San Diego Fire Department's original Fire Station 6 proudly served the community of Little Italy.
Old Fire Station Number Six. From 1915 to 1970, San Diego Fire Department’s original Fire Station 6 proudly served the community of Little Italy.

The plaque includes this fascinating information:

In the workshop on this site some of America’s most significant fire service innovations were created by the specialty trade-skilled firefighters who worked here, including the world’s first gas engine powered fireboat, the Bill Kettner. In 1963 the National Fire Protection Association declared the national standard thread the official fire hose thread of the United States of America. The machine which enabled this federal legislation was invented here six years earlier by inventor and battalion chief Robert Ely. The common thread allowed thousands of American firefighters to connect their fire hoses together, allowing them to work as one. As a result, countless lives and priceless amounts of property and the environment have been saved.

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Jet fighter on elevator of USS Midway Museum.

fighter jet on uss midway elevator

Usually the huge elevator on the south side of the USS Midway Museum contains a few tables and chairs. When I walked by and took the above photo, it featured an F-4 Phantom II jet fighter that flew during the Vietnam War!

The historic USS Midway, a modern aircraft carrier converted into a museum, has become one of the most popular attractions in San Diego. It’s docked on the old Navy Pier right next to downtown. Over a million people visit the Midway each year!

Over time the museum continues to add refurbished military aircraft exhibits. The flight deck is now crowded with them, and the hangar below is filling up. The old airplanes are fixed up and painted by volunteers at Naval Air Station North Island across San Diego Bay, then brought over to the Midway on a barge and lifted onto the flight deck with a big crane. I saw this happen once years ago and it was a very cool sight!

UPDATE!  I took the next photo on a sunny day the following summer…

This A-4 Skyhawk of the Black Knights attack squadron was once based on USS Oriskany.
This A-4 Skyhawk of the Black Knights attack squadron was once based on USS Oriskany.

ANOTHER UPDATE!  Here come two more pics that I took in late 2014.  It seems the A-4 Skyhawk is now a permanent feature on the elevator…

Small boat passes near USS Midway aircraft carrier on San Diego Bay.
Small boat passes near USS Midway aircraft carrier on San Diego Bay.
USS Ronald Reagan seen docked at Naval Air Station North Island across San Diego Bay.
USS Ronald Reagan seen docked at Naval Air Station North Island across San Diego Bay.

ANOTHER! Why not add another pic? This one was taken in early 2016…

Birds large and small in a photo taken from the edge of San Diego Bay.
Birds large and small in a photo taken from the edge of San Diego Bay.

Is this the most haunted house in America?

perhaps the most haunted house in america

Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, the world famous Whaley House is undeniably an interesting place!

This rather plain-looking house, located near the center of Old Town at 2476 San Diego Avenue, fairly oozes with history. And it is said by some to be the most haunted house in America!

Now a museum, the Whaley House was built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley, a New York businessman who originally came to California for the gold rush of 1849. It was the very first two-story brick building in San Diego, built in the Greek Revival architectural style. In addition to being the Whaley family residence, at different times it served as the location of a general store, a county courthouse, a commercial theater, a ballroom, a school and polling place.

Various murders, hangings, suicides and untimely deaths have occurred in and around the Whaley residence. Up to half a dozen different dead Whaleys are said to linger as ghosts. The place has developed such a reputation as a haunted house that the museum offers late night ghost hunting tours. Over 100,000 people visit the museum annually.

Several months ago I happened to find myself near the Whaley House with a little free time. Seeing a docent dressed in a period costume standing on the front porch, I made my way over to speak with her.

She was very friendly. She seemed sincere when she claimed to have had several ghostly experiences in the Whaley House. She claimed that she’s heard footsteps pacing in the upstairs theater when nobody was present. She’s also seen a strange shadow moving back and forth on an upstairs wall, with no perceptible source.

The cashier at the gift shop next door claimed to have seen the mysterious shadow, as well. I asked her if she believed in ghosts, and she carefully remained neutral. I was interested to see that almost every book and souvenir in the gift shop exploited the museums’s spooky reputation, including shirts that read “Got Ghosts?”

Life Magazine and Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted have both called the Whaley House the most haunted house in America. The Whaley House has appeared on numerous popular television shows and firmly established itself in the popular culture.

Old Town's historic Whaley House.
Old Town’s historic Whaley House.
Gazing toward Whaley House past gas lamp on San Diego Avenue.
Gazing toward Whaley House past gas lamp on San Diego Avenue.
The luxurious Whaley House served as granary, store, courthouse, school and theater.
The luxurious Whaley House served as granary, store, courthouse, school and theater.
Whaley House, built 1856-57, is the oldest brick structure in southern California.
Whaley House, built 1856-57, is the oldest brick structure in southern California.
Boy ventures into supposedly haunted Whaley House.
Boy ventures into supposedly haunted Whaley House.

Cannon in San Diego’s Old Town plaza.

cannon in san diego's old town plaza

One of my favorite areas in San Diego is Old Town. There’s so much to see and enjoy wherever you turn. For lovers of history, it’s a treasure trove of discoveries.

Here’s a photo taken inside the central Plaza de las Armas, the heart of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This old Spanish cannon is called El Capitan. It was one of ten cannons that long ago protected Fort Guijarros near the entrance to San Diego Bay. The Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point out of adobe.

El Capitan was likely fired during the Battle of San Diego in 1803, when the Spanish attacked the American brig Lelia Byrd which was smuggling otter skins. This cannon was likely fired again at the American smuggler ship Franklin in 1828, when the fort was under Mexican control. The only other surviving cannon from Fort Guijarros is called El Jupiter, and can be seen in the Serra Museum atop nearby Presidio Hill.

Old Town is all about history. The grassy plaza, containing the cannon, historical plaques, a high flagpole and picnic benches, is surrounded by old adobe buildings preserved and recreated from the early 1800’s. San Diego originated right here, at the base of a bluff where a Spanish military outpost stood. The outpost, called the Presidio, was built by Gaspar de Portola in 1769. That same year, Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded on Presidio Hill by the ambitious Spanish Franciscan friar, Father Junipero Serra. This made Old Town the site of the very first European settlement in California.

Around the Plaza de las Armas visitors can check out numerous interesting small museums, including the original one-room schoolhouse, an old blacksmith shop, San Diego’s very first newspaper office, an early courthouse, and a stable with a large collection of antique wagons and stagecoaches. Tourists can find gifts and souvenirs in a smattering of craft-filled shops. Families can dine at several colorful restaurants. Plus, there are many additional historical and commercial attractions along San Diego Avenue to the south of the plaza.

Can you guess another thing I like? Admission to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and all of its museums is free!

Girl walks past cannon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Girl walks past a cannon named El Capitan in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Man walks dog past Casa del Prado.

man walks dog by casa del prado

I took this photo while strolling down El Prado, Balboa Park’s breathtakingly beautiful central promenade. Lined with fountains, fine museums and Spanish Colonial Revival buildings designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, it is one of the most scenic walks in San Diego.

I caught this man taking a stroll with his dog in front of Casa del Prado, one of the spectacular buildings along El Prado.

This closeup photo was taken on a different day:

Ornate plaster designs on Spanish Colonial Revival buildings.
Ornate plaster elements add elegance to the Spanish Colonial Revival building.

And here’s one more pic!

Casa del Prado facade photographed as evening approaches and lights turn on.
Casa del Prado facade photographed as evening approaches and lights turn on.

The beautiful California Building and Quadrangle.

Elaborate facade of the beautiful Museum of Man in Balboa Park.
Elaborate facade of the beautiful California Building in Balboa Park.

Here’s one iconic sight in Balboa Park I always lift my eyes to enjoy. The elaborate facade of the California Building, home of the San Diego Museum of Man, contains sculpted historical figures molded from clay and plaster. These figures include Junipero Serra, father of California’s Spanish missions, and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered San Diego Bay nearly five centuries ago in 1542.

This fantastic building, inspired by the church of San Diego in Guanajuato, Mexico, was erected for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, an event that celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and promoted San Diego as a destination. Like other similar buildings to the east along El Prado, it is in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, which was largely developed by Bertram Goodhue.

The California Building and adjacent California Tower, and the more simple structure to the south across El Prado–housing Evernham Hall and the St. Francis Chapel–form the California Quadrangle. The courtyard-like area at the quadrangle’s center, where visitors can sit at tables and through which cars today travel, is called the Plaza de California.

Every few years I venture into The Museum of Man just to refresh my memory. There are a number of interesting anthropological exhibits, including a whole room full of spooky Egyptian mummies!

Here are some more pics…

Gazing up at the colorful dome and the California Tower.
Gazing up at the colorful dome of the California Building, and the California Tower.
People on the street in front of the Museum of Man.
People on the street in front of the Museum of Man. El Prado runs through the Plaza de California.
Plaster figures from local history adorn the ornate facade.
Plaster figures from local history adorn the ornate facade.
Three exhibits running at the Museum of Art.
Banners near the entrance show current exhibits at the Museum of Man.
Plaque by Museum of Man commemorates Cabrillo's discovery of California.
Plaque a bit west of the Museum of Man, beside the archway into Balboa Park’s California Quadrangle, commemorates Cabrillo’s discovery of California.
Sitting at table under an umbrella near Museum of Man.
Sitting at a table under an umbrella near the beautiful Museum of Man.

Here are even more photos from a later date…

Sign in the California Quadrangle. Built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the Plaza de California and surrounding buildings served as the grand west entrance for the exposition.
Sign in the California Quadrangle. Built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the Plaza de California and surrounding buildings served as the grand west entrance for the exposition.
Photo toward the southeast corner of the California Quadrangle shows Mission Revival style arches.
Photo toward the southeast corner of the California Quadrangle shows Mission Revival style arches.
Photo of the iconic California Tower from a point east on El Prado.
Photo of the iconic California Tower from a point east on El Prado.
The ornate upper levels of the California Bell Tower.
The ornate upper levels of the California Bell Tower. Tours up the tower’s stairs provide amazing views of Balboa Park and San Diego.
Photo of the beautiful California Building from the east, near the Old Globe Theatre.
Photo of the beautiful California Building from the east, near the Old Globe Theatre.
Elaborate ornamentation around the archway outside the east side of the California Quadrangle.
Elaborate ornamentation around the archway outside the east side of the California Quadrangle.
Colorful dome tiles, part of the Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece of exposition architect Bertram Goodhue.
Colorful dome tiles, part of the Spanish Colonial Revival masterpiece of exposition architect Bertram Goodhue.

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!