Photos of Balboa Park’s unique magic at dusk.

Lights come on inside Casa del Prado in Balboa Park as the day ends.
Lights come on inside Casa del Prado in Balboa Park as another day ends.

Balboa Park in San Diego’s bright sunshine is wonderful. At night it becomes magical.

As darkness seeps in and night gentles the world, Balboa Park transforms into an entirely different place. Take a look…

Plaster statues of Spanish painters become shadowy in courtyard of Casa del Prado.
Plaster statues of Spanish painters become shadowy in courtyard of Casa del Prado.
Faces above blue-lit fountain by Botanical Building.
Faces above blue-lit fountain by Botanical Building.
Ornate building facades on El Prado take on new depth at dusk.
Ornate building facades on El Prado take on new, amazing depth at dusk.
Walking down an elegant, golden corridor as night descends.
Walking down an elegant, golden corridor as night descends.
Passage along El Prado becomes mellow and mysterious.
Passage along El Prado becomes mellow and mysterious.
The sky becomes dark blue after sunset and faint stars slowly emerge.
The sky becomes dark blue after sunset and faint stars slowly emerge.
Balboa Park after dark transforms into a fantastic, fairytale world.
Balboa Park after dark transforms into a fantastic, fairy tale world.
Foliate capitals on the columns of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion colonnade.
Foliate capitals on the columns of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion colonnade.
Illuminated fountain beside patio beneath The Prado restaurant in Balboa Park.
Illuminated fountain beside patio beneath The Prado restaurant in Balboa Park.
One last juggle by darkening fountain near Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
One last juggle by the slowly darkening fountain near Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

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Unknown Navy plaque: Mystery partially solved!

I just received an email from the Port of San Diego.  It concerns a blog post I wrote last month about a mysterious Navy plaque on the Embarcadero.  The plaque stands near the USS Midway Museum, among other military monuments and works of art on the Greatest Generation Walk.

Here’s the body of the reply, which provides a little more of the history of two interesting plaques:

“The plaque in question, which is on the Harbor Drive side of the stone, is a 30” x 22” cast bronze bas relief that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Navy – 1773 to 1973. We don’t have information on the exact date it was created and installed but it was most likely cast and mounted around the time of the anniversary in 1973. The sponsor of this plaque was the U.S. Navy. The images in the plaque include representative ships and planes used by the Navy during its first 200 years. From left to right they include: (1) a sailing warship, probably a frigate; (2) a Civil War era ironclad monitor; (3) a pre-World War I battleship or armored cruiser; (4) a modern (circa 1973) aircraft carrier; (5) a nuclear powered submarine; and (6) two F-4 Phantom jet fighter planes. The plaque also includes a circular rendering of the U.S. Navy emblem showing an anchor and eagle and the words “United States Navy”. There is also an oval shaped emblem that includes an anchor superimposed by the dates 1773 and 1973 and the words “United States Navy – Building on a Proud Tradition.” (See image below, which is also attached.) This plaque was originally located on Broadway Pier at a bench and planter area. After the extensive renovation of Broadway Pier some years ago, the plaque was remounted in its current location near the USS Midway by the Port of San Diego’s General Services department.”

Photo of Navy 200 year commemoration plaque courtesy the Port of San Diego.
Photo of Navy 200 year commemoration plaque courtesy the Port of San Diego.

“The Pearl Harbor Survivors plaque, which you mentioned, was also originally displayed on Broadway Pier prior to the above-mentioned renovations. This plaque was sponsored by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Carnation Chapter, San Diego, and dedicated during the Chapter’s annual remembrance ceremony on December 7, 1984. From the image attached and shown below, you can read the inscription on the plaque. The five circular emblems are those of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.”

Photo of Pearl Harbor Survivors plaque courtesy the Port of San Diego.
Photo of Pearl Harbor Survivors plaque courtesy the Port of San Diego.

The exact origin of the first plaque still seems a bit mysterious to me.  Was it unique to the Broadway Pier?  Were more of these plaques created?

Thanks go to the Port of San Diego, who provided the above descriptions and the photographs!

Thanks also go to gpcox, who spent a good bit of time searching for answers to this fascinating mystery!

UPDATE!

William Abell wrote the following comment on the original blog post:

My name is William Abell and I was an ML3 aboard the USS Ajax AR6 and I helped create this plaque in the ship’s foundry in 1975. I have a certificate from Admiral J L Holloway III commemorating the plaque’s creation and my part in its creation. The date on the certificate is Oct 13, 1975. The plaque was to be a gift to the City of San Diego. I am now a retired police commander living in Monroe WA.

UPDATE!

A subsequent comment has directed my attention to the following information:

I am Molder Chief Petty Officer Jesse G. Lopez USN Ret. The foundry crew from Navy Repair Ship USS Ajax AR-6, created the pattern which was made by Patternmaker Chief Carlos De Santiago USN RET and molded by myself when I was a MLFN. Petty Officer Abell was our Third Class in charge of the molders.

AMAZING UPDATE!

I’ve received detailed information about the plaque, including photographs of its creation and creators! Click here!

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Help solve a Navy mystery in San Diego!

Corroded plaque shows tallship, ironclad, early warship, aircraft carrier and jets.
Corroded plaque shows tallship, ironclad, early warship, aircraft carrier and jets.

I’ve wondered for a long time about this mysterious plaque on San Diego’s Embarcadero. It’s located on the Greatest Generation Walk, right next to the USS Midway Museum, and stands back-to-back with a Pearl Harbor Survivors Plaque which I blogged about here.

Thousands of people walk by this old, corroded plaque every day, but I can find absolutely nothing on the internet about its origin. An image framed by rope includes several vessels, including a tall ship (perhaps the USS Constitution), an ironclad (perhaps the USS Monitor), an old warship with a side-mounted gun, an aircraft carrier, and some jets flying overhead. Words indicate the plaque commemorates the United States Navy’s 200 years of Building on a Proud Tradition. The United States Navy began in 1775 and celebrated its bicentennial in 1975.

Obviously, whoever placed the plaque at this location must know something about its history.  But even the Port of San Diego website, where the other monuments on the Greatest Generation Walk are listed and described, says nothing about it!

The slab that it’s embedded in appears very similar to the slab right next to it, containing the Pearl Harbor Survivors Plaque. But I’ve found nothing specific about that plaque, either!

Perhaps someone out there can identify this mystery plaque! What the heck is it? Where did it come from? Help solve this mystery!

Mysterious plaque by Midway Museum commemorates Navy's 200 year anniversary.
Mysterious plaque by Midway Museum commemorates Navy’s 200 year anniversary.

UPDATE!

I received more information about this plaque from the Port of San Diego. Please visit this blog post!

UPDATE!

William Abell wrote the following in the comment section:

My name is William Abell and I was an ML3 aboard the USS Ajax AR6 and I helped create this plaque in the ship’s foundry in 1975. I have a certificate from Admiral J L Holloway III commemorating the plaque’s creation and my part in its creation. The date on the certificate is Oct 13, 1975. The plaque was to be a gift to the City of San Diego. I am now a retired police commander living in Monroe WA.

UPDATE!

A subsequent comment directed me to the following information:

I am Molder Chief Petty Officer Jesse G. Lopez USN Ret. The foundry crew from Navy Repair Ship USS Ajax AR-6, created the pattern which was made by Patternmaker Chief Carlos De Santiago USN RET and molded by myself when I was a MLFN. Petty Officer Abell was our Third Class in charge of the molders.

AMAZING UPDATE!

I’ve received detailed information about the plaque, including photographs of its creation and creators! Click here!

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Street art rough sketches on a downtown bridge.

Sketch of female face and buildings on Sixth Avenue bridge above Interstate 5.
Sketch of female face and buildings, on Sixth Avenue bridge above Interstate 5.

Just before sundown yesterday I spotted these small unfinished works of art while I walked over the Sixth Avenue bridge that spans Interstate 5. They were down near the ground right next to the sidewalk, beneath the chain link fence overlooking the freeway.

I wonder who sketched these small scenes. Was it an art student? Are these works in progress? Are they the doodles of some inspired passerby, or a creative homeless person?

Had it not been for my blog and my endless quest for new material, I probably wouldn’t have noticed these faint drawings.

Mysterious unfinished street art of woman holding hamburger.
Mysterious unfinished street art of woman holding hamburger.
Stylish figure on couch with vase seems the work of a practiced artist.
Stylish figure on couch with vase seems the work of a practiced artist.
A miniature horse runs along a sidewalk in downtown San Diego.
A miniature horse runs along a sidewalk in downtown San Diego.

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Stylish street art in a dark, unexpected place.

Elegant street art found on Highway 163 underpass wall.
Elegant street art found on Highway 163 underpass wall.

I was surprised to discover this polished bit of street art in a place where few venture in Mission Valley:  in the darkness under Highway 163, along Camino de la Reina, among graffiti and windblown litter.  Joggers and the homeless pass through here, but not very often.  Who was the artist?  Why did they paint a stylish image in this location?  It’s a mystery!

UPDATE!!!

This morning, February 5th, exactly one day after the first photo was taken, I walked to work again and the street art and graffiti were painted over! I don’t know if this is pure coincidence, or the result of my blog yesterday…

The street art has been painted over!
The street art has been painted over!

UFO spotted above Rotary clock at Liberty Station.

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

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

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

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

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