Elegant interior of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel.

The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.
The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.

During last weekend’s San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017, I ventured into one of the event’s featured downtown locations: the historic U.S. Grant Hotel. I was able to get some photos of the hotel’s elegant interior!

The U.S. Grant was built by Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., the son of American President Ulysses S. Grant. The building was designed by architect Harrison Albright and built in the same spot where Alonzo Horton had his 1870 Horton House Hotel, which was demolished.

The U.S. Grant Hotel opened in 1910. It featured a steel and reinforced concrete framework to counter the threats of fire and California earthquakes. For over a hundred years the grand old hotel has stood prominently at the center of downtown San Diego. Notable guests have included 15 United States Presidents (there are 3 different presidential suites), Albert Einstein and Charles Lindbergh.

It’s also interesting to note the very first San Diego Comic-Con was held in the U.S. Grant, back in 1970.

The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel's entrance on Broadway.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel’s entrance on Broadway.
The U.S. Grant Hotel's front desk.
The U.S. Grant Hotel’s front desk.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.

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Native garden near Old Town San Diego’s McCoy House.

Photo of historic McCoy House in Old Town San Diego from the Native Garden. Today's garden is located in a spot once close to the San Diego River, before it was diverted to the north, through Mission Valley.
Photo of historic McCoy House in Old Town San Diego from the Native Garden. Today’s garden is located in a spot that was once very close to the San Diego River, before the river was diverted to the north, through Mission Valley.

A small, ragged but beautiful native garden can be found in the northwest corner of San Diego’s Old Town, next to the McCoy House Museum. The Native Plant Garden contains vegetation which grows naturally along the rivers of our semi-arid region.

Long before Europeans arrived in Southern California, the Native American Kumeyaay lived where Old Town was eventually established; the Kumeyaay village at the base of Presidio Hill was called KOSA’AAY, or Cosoy. Many of the plants in the garden were used by the Kumeyaay people in everyday life.

Read the photo captions to learn much more. Click the garden plans and the two signs, and those images will expand providing additional information!

Plans of the Native Plant Garden in Old Town State Historic Park. Included are species used by the Native American Kumeyaay for food, shelter and medicine. Their village Cosoy was located here.
Plans of the Native Plant Garden in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Included are species used by the Native American Kumeyaay for food, shelter and medicine. Their village Cosoy was located here.
Looking northwest from the second floor of the McCoy House Museum in Old Town San Diego. The Native Garden is a bit dry and scraggly--but that's how local vegetation naturally appears.
Looking northwest from the second floor of the McCoy House Museum in Old Town San Diego. The Native Garden beyond the fence is a bit dry and scraggly–but that’s how local vegetation naturally appears.
150 years ago the San Diego River flowed nearby, bringing explorers, settlers, boats and traders to Old Town. California native trees and shrubs have been planted that once grew along the riverbank.
150 years ago the San Diego River flowed nearby, bringing explorers, settlers, boats and traders to Old Town. California native trees and shrubs have been planted that once grew along the riverbank.
Dirt paths meander through the small Native Garden at the northwest corner of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Dirt walking paths meander through the small Native Garden at the northwest corner of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Yarrow was used by the Kumeyaay as a treatment for various medical conditions, including burns, inflammation, and pain from toothache, headache and arthritis.
Yarrow was used by the Kumeyaay as a treatment for various medical conditions, including burns, inflammation, and pain from toothache, headache and arthritis.
Tall stalk of a yucca that already flowered still juts into the sky in Old Town San Diego.
Tall stalk of a yucca that already flowered still juts into the sky in Old Town San Diego.
The Kumeyaay people have lived here for at least ten thousand years. Their innovations in managing San Diego's resources in wet winters and dry summers are still used today.
The Kumeyaay people have lived here for at least ten thousand years. Their innovations in managing San Diego’s resources in wet winters and dry summers are still used today.
A variety of native plants found naturally in coastal San Diego's semi-arid climate.
A variety of native plants found naturally in coastal San Diego’s semi-arid climate, including sages and prickly pear cactus.
Fibers from the yucca were used by the Kumeyaay to produce cords, nets, shoes and other useful items.
Fibers from the yucca were used by the Kumeyaay to produce cords, nets, shoes and other useful items.

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!

A hike from Kumeyaay Lake to the Old Mission Dam.

Hikers head from the Kumeyaay Campground at Mission Trails Regional Park toward a shady nature trail that runs beside Kumeyaay Lake.
Hikers head from the Kumeyaay Campground at Mission Trails Regional Park toward a shady nature trail that runs beside Kumeyaay Lake.

I enjoyed an amazing walk last weekend at Mission Trails Regional Park. The guided hike met under the flagpoles of the Kumeyaay Campground, and started down a pleasant nature trail at nearby Kumeyaay Lake. The hike then proceeded at a leisurely, easy pace along several trails by the San Diego River, ending up at the Old Mission Dam.

Every month, anyone can go on a variety of free interpretative nature walks at Mission Trails Regional Park. The walks are led by experienced trail guides, who point out the native flora and fauna, and relate the fascinating history of this mountainous wilderness in the city. To learn more check out the park’s website.

Please enjoy my photos and read the descriptive captions to join me on a virtual hike. Not only will you experience natural beauty, but you’ll learn a bit about early San Diego history!

A couple walks slowly along the Kumeyaay Nature Trail, enjoying a beautiful November day.
A couple walks slowly along the Kumeyaay Nature Trail, enjoying a beautiful November day.
Signs along the nature trail include descriptions of wildlife that can be found around Kumeyaay Lake (once called Hollins Lake). Open water can be glimpsed beyond cattails.
Signs along the nature trail include descriptions of wildlife that can be found around Kumeyaay Lake (once called Hollins Lake). Open water can be glimpsed beyond cattails.
At Mission Trails Regional Park, birds of all feathers include quail, gnatcatchers, herons, egrets, ducks, woodpeckers, scrub jays, owls, and the endangered least Bell's vireo!
At Mission Trails Regional Park, birds of all feathers include quail, gnatcatchers, herons, egrets, ducks, woodpeckers, scrub jays, owls, and the endangered least Bell’s vireo!

The sign includes the following: “Because of our diverse habitats, San Diego County has 486 bird species–more than any other county in the United States! Birds from as far as the tip of South America to north of Siberia pass through, many stopping here either to breed in the summer or to winter in our mild climate.”

Photo of the San Diego River emerging from Kumeyaay Lake. This is near an outdoor amphitheater and fire pit. The park is a perfect place to learn about nature from rangers, and for stargazing at night!
Photo of the San Diego River emerging from Kumeyaay Lake. This is near an outdoor amphitheater and fire pit. The park is a perfect place to learn about nature from rangers, and for stargazing at night!
An Autumn wildflower at Mission Trails Regional Park.
An Autumn wildflower at Mission Trails Regional Park.
We head from the lake back toward the campground. Our pleasant hike has just begun.
We head from the lake back toward the campground. Our pleasant hike has just begun.
Non-native plants can cause serious damage to natural areas and wildlife. Park staff and volunteers work to protect the natural ecosystems.
Non-native plants can cause serious damage to natural areas and wildlife. Park staff and volunteers work to protect the natural ecosystems.
Hiking down the Grasslands Crossing Trail, my guide and I pass over the San Diego River. It has been a typically dry summer, and the pooled water here is still.
Hiking down the Grasslands Crossing Trail, my guide and I pass over the San Diego River. It has been a typically dry summer, and the pooled water here is still.
Leaves and reflections of trees in the quiet water.
Leaves and reflections of trees in the quiet water.
We spied a wood rat's nest of twigs and branches near the hiking trail. I learned these nests contain several rooms with different functions, not unlike a human home.
We spied a wood rat’s nest of twigs and branches near the hiking trail. I learned these nests contain several rooms with different functions, not unlike a human home.
Larry the trail guide showed me a photo of a wood rat.
Larry the trail guide showed me a photo of a wood rat.
Now we are heading along the easy Grasslands Loop Trail, following the north bank of the San Diego River. Riparian trees such as willows, sycamores and cottonwoods thrive along the river.
Now we are heading along the easy Grasslands Loop Trail, following the north bank of the San Diego River. Riparian trees such as willows, sycamores and cottonwoods thrive along the river.
Mountain bikers enjoy a warm, sunny morning at Mission Trails Regional Park.
Mountain bikers enjoy a warm, sunny morning at Mission Trails Regional Park.
Approaching an overlook of the Old Mission Dam.
Approaching an overlook of the Old Mission Dam.
Photo of the Old Mission Dam from the north. The dam was built around 1813 and powered a water wheel that drove a grist mill. A tiled flume brought water to the mission, about five miles away.
Photo of the Old Mission Dam from the north. The dam was built around 1813 and powered a water wheel that drove a grist mill. A tiled flume brought water to Mission San Diego de Alcala, about five miles away.
Families play on the rocks near the Old Mission Dam at Mission Trails Regional Park.
Families play on the rocks near the Old Mission Dam at Mission Trails Regional Park.
Lush trees along the San Diego River. Autumn leaves have yellowed a bit.
Lush trees along the San Diego River. Autumn leaves have yellowed a bit.
We have descended onto Oak Canyon Trail, and are working our way down to the river and the historic dam.
We have descended onto Oak Canyon Trail, and are working our way down to the river and the historic dam.
Standing on the north end of the Old Mission Dam. Materials used in constructing the dam include volcanic rock found in this area.
Standing on the north end of the Old Mission Dam. Materials used in constructing the dam include abundant volcanic rock found in this area.
A slot in the dam wall where a water wheel was located. The river water, after driving the wheel, flowed along an aqueduct south to the mission, where it was used to grow crops.
A slot in the dam wall where a water wheel was located. The river water, after driving the wheel, flowed along a tile-lined aqueduct south to the mission, where it was used to grow crops.
Walking along the Oak Canyon Trail. Mission Trails Regional Park is like a small wilderness in the city of San Diego. At 5,800 acres, it's the largest city park in California.
Walking along the Oak Canyon Trail. Mission Trails Regional Park is like a small wilderness inside the city of San Diego. At 5,800 acres, it’s the largest city park in California.
Riparian plants recover quickly after a fire because all are vigorous resprouters as long as they have a steady water supply.
Riparian plants recover quickly after a fire because all are vigorous resprouters as long as they have a steady water supply.
Granitic rocks seen along the trail.
Granitic rocks seen along the trail.
South Fortuna Mountain, elevation 1094 feet, rises to the south. It's sides are covered with native chaparral and sage scrub.
South Fortuna Mountain, elevation 1094 feet, rises to the south. Its sides are covered with native chaparral and sage scrub.
Crossing the San Diego River via a steel footbridge.
Crossing the San Diego River via a steel footbridge.
Looking down at the San Diego River. During rains, the river swells. The water runs down into Mission Valley and finally to the Pacific Ocean, sustaining an estuary near Mission Bay.
Looking down at the San Diego River. During rains, the river swells. The water runs down into Mission Valley and finally to the Pacific Ocean, sustaining an estuary near Mission Bay.
Larry, my knowledgeable trail guide, informed me that the tiny green vegetation is duckweed, an aquatic plant that floats on the water's surface.
Larry, my knowledgeable trail guide, informed me that the tiny green vegetation is duckweed, an aquatic plant that floats on the water’s surface.
Sign at one end of the Oak Canyon Trail, near the Old Mission Dam.
Sign at one end of the Oak Canyon Trail, near the Old Mission Dam.
A cool 3-D model of the Old Mission Dam beside the trail. The dam was constructed from granite boulders and limestone mortar. At the gap there was a 12-foot wide floodgate.
A cool 3-D model of the Old Mission Dam beside the trail. The dam was constructed from granite boulders and limestone mortar. At the gap there was a 12-foot wide floodgate.
It's possible to walk out onto the old dam, but one must be careful!
It’s possible to walk out onto the old dam, but one must be careful!
A vertical groove in the dam wall shows where the floodgate used to exist. The dam was completed around 1813, and the long flume to Mission San Diego was completed several years later.
A vertical groove in the dam wall shows where the floodgate used to exist. The dam was completed around 1813, and the long flume to Mission San Diego was completed several years later.
Inscription in a boulder dated 1941, by the Daughters of the American Revolution. OLD MISSION DAM. Built 1813-1816. A part of the first permanent irrigation project by Padres and Indians in California.
Inscription in a boulder dated 1941, by the Daughters of the American Revolution. OLD MISSION DAM. Built 1813-1816. A part of the first permanent irrigation project by Padres and Indians in California.
A plaque by the old dam. In memory of Edwin L. Feeley. 1917 - 1971. Artist - Dreamer - Doer who as a gift to his city, moved rocks and people to bring about the restoration of this historic site.
A plaque by the old dam. In memory of Edwin L. Feeley. 1917 – 1971. Artist – Dreamer – Doer who as a gift to his city, moved rocks and people to bring about the restoration of this historic site.
Bright fluttering leaves of a river tree growing beside the Father Junipero Serra Trail, a road that leads past the Old Mission Dam.
Bright fluttering leaves of a river tree growing beside the Father Junipero Serra Trail, a road that leads past the Old Mission Dam.
Heading to the parking lot by the Old Mission Dam, also called the Padre Dam.
Walking to the parking lot by the Old Mission Dam, also called the Padre Dam.
The site is a California historical landmark. A dam and flume system was finished between 1813 and 1816 by Indian laborers and Franciscan missionaries. It provided a reliable source of water for crops and livestock for Mission San Diego de Alcala. The system continued until 1831 when it fell into final disrepair.
The site is a California historical landmark. A dam and flume system was finished between 1813 and 1816 by Indian laborers and Franciscan missionaries. It provided a reliable source of water for crops and livestock for Mission San Diego de Alcala. The system continued until 1831 when it fell into final disrepair.
Wonderful hiking opportunities, and a fascinating bit of San Diego and California history can be found at Mission Trails Regional Park.
Beautiful hiking trails, and a fascinating look back at early San Diego and California history await at Mission Trails Regional Park.

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San Diego history in Old Town’s McCoy House.

The McCoy House Museum, in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, is a reconstruction of a home built in 1869 for Sheriff James McCoy.
The McCoy House Museum, in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, is a reconstruction of a home built in 1869 for Sheriff James McCoy.

While there are many small museums and historical attractions that visitors can enjoy in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the McCoy House Museum is the best place to see an extensive series of interpretive displays that describe the complete history of early San Diego.

The McCoy House, standing on the north end of Old Town, is a reconstruction of a home built in 1869 for Sheriff James McCoy and his family. James McCoy, who lived from 1821 to 1895, like many early San Diego residents was an ambitious man, working diverse jobs, filling many roles. At the age of 21 he sailed from Ireland to America seeking opportunity. He became a soldier, then a stagehand, then San Diego county assessor, then county sheriff in 1861. He acquired substantial real estate holdings and finally won election to the state senate in 1871.

The interpretive displays in the McCoy House Museum provide a good look back at San Diego’s formative years. They detail the life of the Native American Kumeyaay who’ve lived in the region for thousands of years, the first Spanish explorers, the establishment of the Spanish mission, the Mexican period and the subsequent American period.

If you’d like to read the displays, click my photographs to enlarge them.

This blog post covers the first floor of the museum. I’ll cover the second floor exhibits in a later post. After heading up some stairs, one can find information about the more prominent residents of Old Town, plus the town’s later history as it competed with New Town, which eventually rose to become downtown San Diego as we know it today.

Anyone who is a history buff must visit the McCoy House Museum. You’ll be transported back in time and see how life was exciting, difficult, and altogether different many, many years ago in San Diego.

Sign lists important dates concerning the McCoy House. Today it's a museum containing exhibits that depict the fascinating history of Old Town San Diego.
Sign lists important dates concerning the McCoy House. Today it’s a museum containing exhibits that explain the fascinating history of Old Town San Diego.
Just inside the front door, this might have resembled the parlor of the original McCoy House, occupied by an upper middle class family in San Diego's Old Town.
Just inside the front door, this might have resembled the parlor of the original McCoy House, occupied by an upper middle class family in San Diego’s Old Town.
Framed photo on one wall from the San Diego Historical Society shows the original McCoy House.
Framed photo on one wall from the San Diego Historical Society shows the original McCoy House.
Interpretive exhibits inside the McCoy House Museum begin with the Spanish period of San Diego, from 1769 to 1821.
Interpretive exhibits inside the McCoy House Museum begin with the Spanish period of San Diego, from 1769 to 1821.
Quotes from the journeys of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Sebastian Vizcaino and Gaspar de Portola.
Quotes from the journeys of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Sebastian Vizcaino and Gaspar de Portola.
A string of missions was created by Spain in California to secure its claim to new territory. The first mission, in San Diego, was on Presidio Hill near the native Kumeyaay village of Cosoy.
A string of missions was created by Spain in California to secure its claim to new territory. The first mission, in San Diego, was originally established on Presidio Hill near the native Kumeyaay village of Cosoy.
An artistic representation of life among the Kumeyaay people. They often visited the nearby coast to hunt and gather food.
An artistic representation of life among the Kumeyaay people. They often visited the nearby coast to hunt and gather food.
For thousands of years, the Kumeyaay lived along the coast and interior valleys of what is now San Diego County. They moved with the seasons to take advantage of available resources.
For thousands of years, the Kumeyaay lived along the coast and interior valleys of what is now San Diego County. They moved with the seasons to take advantage of available resources.
The Kumeyaay built dome-shaped houses from oak, willow or sycamore branches. The simple structures were called ee-wahs.
The Kumeyaay built dome-shaped houses from oak, willow or sycamore branches. The simple structures were called ee-wahs.
The Kumeyaay saw the physical and spiritual world as one and the same.
The Kumeyaay saw the physical and spiritual world as one and the same.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum shows artifacts associated with the Kumeyaay, including a bark skirt, arrows, rabbit stick, child's sandals, gourd rattle and war club.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum shows artifacts associated with the Kumeyaay, including a bark skirt, arrows, rabbit stick, child’s sandals, gourd rattle and war club.
The Kumeyaay revolted against the Spanish missionaries in 1775, a year after the San Diego mission was relocated inland very close to a large Kumeyaay village.
The Kumeyaay revolted against the Spanish missionaries in 1775, a year after the San Diego mission was relocated inland very close to a large Kumeyaay village.
Once baptized, converted Kumeyaay followed a strict life. Mission bells signaled the day's activities, including the singing of hymns, Mass, meals and work assignments.
Once baptized, converted Kumeyaay followed a strict life. Mission bells signaled the day’s activities, including the singing of hymns, Mass, meals and work assignments.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 after a decade of bloodshed. Changes included a decline in support for the presidio and freedom from Spain's trade regulations.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 after a decade of bloodshed. Changes included a decline in support for the presidio and freedom from Spain’s trade regulations.
After the breakup of the Spanish missions, the era of the great ranchos began. Californios were often racially mixed descendants of soldier-settler families.
After the breakup of the Spanish missions, the era of the great ranchos began. Californios were often racially mixed descendants of soldier-settler families.
Vaqueros were the original cowboys. They worked on the extensive ranches and handled the large herds of stock.
Vaqueros were the original cowboys. They worked on the extensive ranches and handled the large herds of stock.
A fanciful picture of life on a rancho, with vaqueros at work and children at play.
A fanciful picture of life on a rancho, with vaqueros at work and children at play.
The Californios loved to celebrate feast days, weddings and religious festivals.
The Californios loved to celebrate feast days, weddings and religious festivals.
Cattle by the thousands roamed San Diego's hills. Their dried hides were used in trade and were sometimes referred to as California banknotes.
Cattle by the thousands roamed San Diego’s hills. Their dried hides were used in trade and were sometimes referred to as California banknotes.
Illustration of loading cow hides onto a carreta. Hides were gathered by ships along the coast to be transported around Cape Horn to the eastern United States.
Illustration of loading cow hides onto a carreta. Hides were gathered by ships along the coast to be transported around Cape Horn to the eastern United States.
Exhibit inside the McCoy House Museum recreates the small shop of a Boston trader. The brig Pilgrim of Two Years Before the Mast brought people aboard to buy wares and finished goods that weren't available in San Diego.
Exhibit inside the McCoy House Museum recreates the small shop of a Boston trader. The brig Pilgrim of Two Years Before the Mast brought people aboard to buy wares and finished goods that weren’t available in San Diego.
Illustrations of cow hides being cured. This activity took place at La Playa, a point on San Diego Bay near Ballast Point in Point Loma.
Illustrations of cow hides being cured. This activity took place at La Playa, a point on San Diego Bay near Ballast Point in Point Loma.
Diagram of the brig Pilgrim, made famous in Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s classic Two Years Before the Mast. Dana collected cattle hides up and down the California coast.
Diagram of the brig Pilgrim, made famous in Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s classic Two Years Before the Mast. As an ordinary seaman, Dana collected cattle hides up and down the California coast.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum details local history during the Mexican–American War from 1846 to 1848.
Exhibit in the McCoy House Museum details local history during the Mexican–American War from 1846 to 1848.
During the war, U.S. occupation of San Diego divided the loyalty of the Californios. The two sides fought briefly at the Battle of San Pasqual.
During the war, U.S. occupation of San Diego divided the loyalty of the Californios. The two sides fought briefly at the Battle of San Pasqual.
Around the time of the Gold Rush, San Diego saw an influx of emigrants from all over, including New England, the American South, Mexico, South America, Ireland, Great Britain and Germany.
Around the time of the Gold Rush, San Diego saw an influx of emigrants from all over, including New England, the American South, Mexico, South America, Ireland, Great Britain and Germany.
Old Town tales include the construction of the first jail in 1850. The walls were so poorly made, the first prisoner, Roy Bean, easily dug himself out, then celebrated at a nearby saloon!
Old Town tales include the construction of the first jail in 1850. The walls were so poorly made, the first prisoner, Roy Bean, easily dug himself out, then celebrated at a nearby saloon!
Grog shops became popular gathering places. They were a social hub of San Diego life, providing customers with news and provisions.
Grog shops became popular gathering places. They were a social hub of San Diego life, providing customers with news and provisions.
A recreated Old Town grog shop can be found inside the McCoy House Museum.
A recreated Old Town grog shop can be found inside the McCoy House Museum.
After the California Gold Rush of 1849, San Diego became more developed. A courthouse and newspaper were established. Transportation included clipper ships, stage lines and steamships.
After the California Gold Rush of 1849, San Diego became more developed. A courthouse and newspaper were established. Transportation included clipper ships, stage lines and steamships.
Poster advertises a new clipper ship route. A very quick trip may be relied upon!
Poster advertises a new clipper ship route. A very quick trip may be relied upon!
Between 1865 and 1872, Old Town San Diego continued to grow. The first public school opened, and the town welcomed its first theatrical company in the Whaley house.
Between 1865 and 1872, Old Town San Diego continued to grow. The first public school opened, and the town welcomed its first theatrical company in the Whaley house.
The first overland coach to San Diego began service in 1854. Additional stage lines came into existence, allowing for the delivery of mail, express packages and passengers.
The first overland coach to San Diego began service in 1854. Additional stage lines came into existence, allowing for the delivery of mail, express packages and passengers.
Visitors to the McCoy House Museum can step into a replica stage stop and see what life was like in Old Town during San Diego's early history.
Visitors to the McCoy House Museum can step into a replica stage stop and see what life was like in Old Town during San Diego’s rugged early history.

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San Diego American Indian Pow Wow in Balboa Park!

Dancing to traditional Kumeyaay Bird Songs in Balboa Park during the American Indian Health Center Pow Wow.
Dancing to traditional Kumeyaay Bird Songs in Balboa Park during the American Indian Health Center Pow Wow.

A special event is going on this weekend in Balboa Park. The American Indian Health Center Pow Wow is taking place near the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents Way.

I enjoyed the first hour of the pow wow, watching and listening to the performance of Bird Songs by members of the Kumeyaay Nation. These very powerful ancient songs live on today, but other similar songs from the past have been lost to time.

Other events at the pow wow include gourd dancing and fancy shawl dancing. Tents around the venue feature all sorts of Native American crafts, food, art and cultural information. If you’re in San Diego, swing on by! The public is welcome!

Gourd rattles are an important and powerful part of Kumeyaay Bird Songs. Traditionally, a musical sound has also been produced with a stick rubbed against a rough basket.
Gourd rattles are an important and powerful part of Kumeyaay Bird Songs. Traditionally, a musical sound has also been produced with a stick rubbed against a rough basket.
A large drum awaits on the grass as the Native American Pow Wow in San Diego has just begun.
A large drum awaits on the grass as the Native American Pow Wow in San Diego has just begun.
Miss Kumeyaay Nation was very gracious to pose for a photograph.
Miss Kumeyaay Nation was very gracious to pose for a photograph.
I swung by the pow wow during its first hour. Many additional participants were arriving and setting up.
I swung by the pow wow during its first hour. Many additional participants were arriving and setting up.
Many who'd arrived for the pow wow were already in colorful ceremonial costume. The earlier rain had ceased and people were relaxing, enjoying friendship, spirit-filled music and another beautiful day.
Many who’d arrived for the pow wow were already in colorful ceremonial costumes. The earlier rain had ceased and people were relaxing, enjoying friendship, spirit-filled music and another beautiful day.
Someone proudly wears an American Indian Warriors Association emblem.
Someone proudly wears an American Indian Warriors Association emblem.
Photo taken as the American Indian Health Center Pow Wow in Balboa Park is just getting started.
Photo taken as the American Indian Health Center Pow Wow in Balboa Park is just getting started.
Getting ready for a busy day of dance, song, spirituality, and honoring local Native American culture and history.
Getting ready for a busy day of dance, song, spirituality, and honoring local Native American culture and history.
Working on beautiful ceremonial objects to be worn or displayed during a life-filled pow wow in San Diego.
Working on beautiful ceremonial objects to be worn or displayed during a life-filled pow wow in San Diego.

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

Do you like to read short pieces of thought-provoking fiction? You might enjoy checking out Short Stories by Richard.

Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego.

Fascinating exhibits inside the Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Fascinating exhibits inside the Casa de Aguirre Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Many visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park might think the Casa de Aguirre is just a shop brimming with colorful crafts and wares. But a closer look reveals that a small museum is located inside.

Here are some photos which provide a glimpse of what you’ll discover should you step into the museum. Read the captions, and you’ll learn how Casa de Aguirre is one of the most important sites in Old Town, and how its occupants shaped San Diego’s early history.

Casa de Aguirre in Old Town was built around 1853. The adobe mansion was one of the first houses in San Diego, owned by Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, a prosperous merchant and rancher.
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town was built around 1853. The adobe mansion was one of the first houses in San Diego, owned by Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, a prosperous merchant and rancher.
Bronze bust of Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, near entrance to Casa de Aguirre. Born in Spain, he owned several ships and warehouses and imported goods from Peru and China to trade for cowhides and tallow.
Bronze bust of Don Jose Antonio Aguirre, near entrance to Casa de Aguirre. Born in Spain, he owned several ships and warehouses and imported goods from Peru and China to trade for cowhides and tallow.
Don Jose Antonio Aguirre was known for his charity and funded many projects in early San Diego. His wife and many children are considered to be one of the city's founding families.
Don Jose Antonio Aguirre was known for his charity and funded many projects in early San Diego. He, his wife and children are considered to be one of our city’s founding families.
Bust of Father Antonio Ubach, Last of the Padres, 1835-1907. Antonio Dominic Ubach ran St. Anthony's Indian School on this site from 1886 to 1891.
Bust of Father Antonio Ubach, Last of the Padres, 1835-1907. Antonio Dominic Ubach ran St. Anthony’s Indian School on this site from 1886 to 1891.
Plaque describes how Father Ubach advocated for California's Native Americans and lobbied government to protect the Indians and their lands. He was loved by many. His last words were: "Have charity."
Plaque describes how Father Ubach advocated for California’s Native Americans and lobbied government to protect the Indians and their lands. He was loved by many. His last words were: “Have charity.”
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town San Diego today contains a shop visited by many tourists and a small museum in back.
Casa de Aguirre in Old Town San Diego today contains a shop visited by many tourists and a small museum in back.
One side of El Museo Casa de Aguirre. Excavated artifacts are on display, recalling what life was like here in the mid to late 19th century.
One side of El Museo Casa de Aguirre. Excavated artifacts are on display, recalling what life was like here in the mid to late 19th century.
Visitor to the small museum watches a video which includes information about archaeological discoveries, the history of the casa and the lives of those who were sheltered here.
Visitor to the small museum watches a video which includes information about archaeological discoveries, the history of the casa and the lives of those who were sheltered here.
St. Anthony's Indian School Artifacts Tell a Story. Many objects on display include porcelain cups, goblets, bottles, a saltshaker and beer mug.
St. Anthony’s Indian School Artifacts Tell a Story. Many objects on display include porcelain cups, goblets, bottles, a saltshaker and beer mug.
Sign describes additional historical finds, including buttons, toys, harmonicas, slate board and pencils, lice combs, toothbrush handles, shoe parts, medal rosary and religious medallions.
Sign describes additional historical finds, including buttons, toys, harmonicas, slate board and pencils, lice combs, toothbrush handles, shoe parts, medal rosary and religious medallions.
Marbles, doll parts and tiny children's tea sets, recovered from San Diego's past.
Marbles, doll parts and tiny children’s tea sets, recovered from San Diego’s past.
Dozens of buttons on display. They were fastened by many fingers, now long gone.
Dozens of buttons on display. They were fastened by living fingers, now long gone.
Two old pipes.
Two old pipes.
Numerous bottles and jars are exhibited in the Casa de Aguirre Museum. They were used for medicine, mustard, chemicals, perfume, whiskey, beer, sarsaparilla...
Numerous bottles and jars are exhibited in the Casa de Aguirre Museum. They were used for medicine, mustard, chemicals, perfume, whiskey, beer, sarsaparilla…
People interested in collecting antique bottles would be mesmerized by the large assortment on display.
People interested in collecting antique bottles would be mesmerized by the large assortment on display.
Don Antonio and Rosario Aguirre in Old Town History. The museum is located in what was once the bedroom and servants quarters in the Casa de Aguirre. The present-day adobe is a reproduction.
Don Antonio and Rosario Aguirre in Old Town History. The museum is located in what was once the bedroom and servants quarters in the Casa de Aguirre. The present-day adobe is a reproduction.
Don Antonio Aguirre, 1799-1860, was one of San Diego's most important figures back when our burgeoning Southern California city was just a very small town.
Don Antonio Aguirre, 1799-1860, was one of San Diego’s most important figures back when our burgeoning Southern California city was just a very, very small town.
A model of how the Casa de Aguirre appeared a century and a half ago.
A model of how the Casa de Aguirre appeared a century and a half ago.

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Kumeyaay and The Tracks We Leave Behind.

Native American Kumeyaay from the San Diego area work near the foot of an Ewaa, or dome shaped home made of sycamore and oak tree branches.
Native American Kumeyaay from the San Diego area work near the foot of an ewaa, a dome-shaped hut made of sycamore and oak tree branches.

Over two years ago, when Cool San Diego Sights was relatively new, I blogged about some amazing public art near the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego. I provided just a brief glimpse, really.

The artwork, titled The Tracks We Leave Behind, created by Betsy K. Schulz in 2008, is so utterly fantastic, so absorbing, I’ve decided to blog about it once again. Whenever I walk past (which is often), I like to pause an extra few seconds beside my favorite column, which features gorgeous mosaics that depict wild nature and the Native American Kumeyaay people, who have lived around San Diego for about 12,000 years.

Living in this place we set fires to open the land and make the seeds grow. We fish all year, both near shore and deep. We walk to the canyons and the mountains--hunting, gathering food and trading . . .
Living in this place we set fires to open the land and make the seeds grow. We fish all year, both near shore and deep. We walk to the canyons and the mountains–hunting, gathering food and trading . . .
Public art titled The Tracks We Leave Behind, by Betsy K. Schulz, 2008, includes image of a Kumeyaay hattepaa (coyote) howling.
Public art titled The Tracks We Leave Behind, by Betsy K. Schulz, 2008, includes the image of a Kumeyaay hattepaa (coyote) howling.
Beautiful handmade mosaic tiles show a Kumeyaay ispa (eagle) in flight.
Beautiful handmade mosaic tiles form a Kumeyaay ispa (eagle) in flight.
The bald eagle has captured a Kumeyaay hiiwaa (fish).
The bald eagle has captured a Kumeyaay hiiwaa (fish).
Yellow Sycuan Suncups grace this gorgeous, detailed public artwork in downtown San Diego.
Yellow Sycuan Suncups grace this gorgeous, detailed public artwork in downtown San Diego.
The yellow bloom of a prickly pear. This sculpted tile mosaic is so phenomenal, you almost can't remove your eyes from it!
The yellow bloom of a prickly pear. This sculpted tile mosaic is so phenomenal, you almost can’t remove your eyes from it!
The native Kumeyaay people (also called Kumiai, Ipai-Iipay, Tipai-Tipay, Diegueño, Kamia) have lived in the San Diego region for around 12,000 years.
The native Kumeyaay people (also called Kumiai, Ipai-Iipay, Tipai-Tipay, Diegueño, Kamia) have lived in the San Diego region for around 12,000 years.
Public art in San Diego depicts Cinon Duro Mataweer, spiritual leader (kuseyaay or tribal shaman) of the Ipai (formerly northern Diegueño) Native American Indian tribe.
Public art in San Diego depicts Cinon Duro Mataweer, spiritual leader (kuseyaay or tribal shaman) of the Ipai (formerly northern Diegueño) Native American Indian tribe.

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