Lights brighten the night on The Boulevard.

Last night, very early in the morning, I took photographs of interesting “lights” in the vicinity of the iconic “The Boulevard” landmark sign, near the west end of historic El Cajon Boulevard.

The next photo is of an illuminated mural that depicts ostriches, which are symbols of the University Heights community. Many years ago University Heights was home to an ostrich farm! This fun mural can be found at the corner of Park Boulevard and Howard Avenue.

As I headed north up the sidewalk, a glowing Eye of Buddha gazed mysteriously down upon me! The sign hovers above a small strip mall at the corner of Park Boulevard and El Cajon Boulevard.

I then crossed El Cajon Boulevard and Park Boulevard to take a good photo of an absolutely extraordinary sign.

The wonderful Frank the Trainman neon sign is an iconic sight in itself, a beloved little landmark that San Diego residents treasure.

It can be seen at the south end of a building that features another amazing work of art. At its back, on a large wall that very few people see, is a mural painted by internationally recognized Chicano artist Mario Torero.

Photos of the mural, called Cosmic Train of Wisdom, can be seen here! (You can also see a photo I once took of the Frank the Trainman neon sign during the daytime.)

I then started east down El Cajon Boulevard. My walk was quite early in the morning with few cars and people about.

Mysterious globes of light seem suspended in a window ahead…

It’s the very cool BLVD North Park Apartments building. Light coming through an interesting structure at the front entrance spells out one gigantic BLVD!

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Bad food, consequences, and the Hotel Chill.

There's a great sale on expired (antiqued) sardine cans.
There’s a great sale on expired (antiqued) sardine cans.

For your enjoyment and edification, I now present some photographic humor…

No more Mister Rice guy.
No more Mister Rice guy.

Beer Bank.
Time to make a withdrawal at the Beer Bank.

This candy cane must be left over from last Christmas.
This candy cane must be left over from last Christmas.

Ugh.
What happens when you eat all that bad food.

A call goes out. Good thing they have two fire engines.
A distress call goes out. Good thing they have two fire engines.

I think I'll lie down. Welcome to the Hotel Chill.
I really need to lie down. Welcome to the Hotel Chill.

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!

Frank the Trainman mural Train of Wisdom.

A mural titled Cosmic Train of Wisdom, painted in 1989 by local Chicano artist Mario Torero and students from O’Farrell High School of Performing Arts and Roosevelt Junior High School, decorates the back side of a building located on the northwest corner of Park and El Cajon Boulevard.

Today very few people venture around the building to enjoy the faded 100-foot-long, 40-foot-high mural, which depicts a colorful train driven by young people. Optimistic symbolism fills the mural. On the south end of the building, astute passersby will see the historic, animated neon Frank the Trainman sign at the top of a flight of stairs, which form the mural’s triangular cowcatcher.

This was the original location of the Frank the Trainman model railroad store, which Frank Cox opened in the 1940s. He eventually retired and passed his business on to fellow model train buff Jim Cooley, who sold the property to Mission Federal Credit Union in 1987. To honor the history of Frank the Trainman, the architectural firm of Bradshaw and Bundy altered the building’s exterior into the outline of a locomotive, and the Cosmic Train of Wisdom was subsequently painted.

(Jim moved the original train store to today’s location just down Park Boulevard and added to it his own unique collectibles museum, which includes some extremely rare antique automobiles. I blogged about that here.)

I walked behind the building yesterday and took the following photographs of the large, nearly 30 year old mural, to help preserve a little bit of San Diego history…

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Searching for dinner during National Pizza Week.

This graphic in the window at Fifth Avenue New York Pizza looks pretty tasty. Perhaps I should dine here...
This graphic in the window at Fifth Avenue New York Pizza looks pretty tasty. Perhaps I should dine here…

It’s National Pizza Week! Hooray! Sounds like an excellent reason to celebrate!

This evening I was hungry for a couple of slices.

But where to go?

I'm not waiting for San Diego Restaurant Week. I want pizza now!
I’m not waiting for San Diego Restaurant Week. I want pizza now!

Shall I eat at Tony's Pizza?
Shall I eat dinner at Tony’s Pizza?

Shall I eat at Samurai Pie?
Shall I eat dinner at Samurai Pie?

Shall I eat at Giovanni's Trattoria?
Shall I eat dinner at Giovanni’s Trattoria?

Shall I eat at Brooklyn Pizzeria?
Shall I eat dinner at Brooklyn Pizzeria?

Shall I eat at City Pizzeria?
Shall I eat dinner at City Pizzeria?

I found some yummy pizza! Time to eat!
I found some yummy pizza! After all that walking around downtown trying to figure out where to eat, I’m starving!

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!

Colorful neon words brighten downtown San Diego.

Cool neon sign in shop window of Centre City Sports Collectibles.
Cool neon sign in shop window of Centre City Sports Collectibles.

Over time I’ve collected these photos.  They’re just of colorful neon words that brighten downtown San Diego. I spot all sorts of neon signs during my walks, sometimes in daylight, sometimes at night. Glowing advertisements in windows, on building walls and marquees add life and character to the streets of any city. San Diego is no exception.

Neon words above downtown San Diego cafe door read Pastries Espresso Cappuccino.
Neon words above downtown San Diego cafe door read Pastries Espresso Cappuccino.

Fun neon adds pizzazz to marquee of Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop on Fifth Avenue.
Patterned neon adds pizzazz to marquee of Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop on Fifth Avenue.

Bub's near Petco Park has its brilliant red name in this window.
Bub’s near Petco Park has its brilliant red name in this window.

Bright neon in the distinctive Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign, which is well known to locals and tourists.
Neon in the distinctive Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign, which is instantly recognized by both locals and tourists.

Classic neon signage is often seen in pawn shop windows.
Classic neon signage is often seen in pawn shop windows.

The Golden West Hotel near Horton Plaza has a flashy neon sign above its main entrance.
The Golden West Hotel near Horton Plaza has a flashy neon sign above its main entrance.

Glowing neon Bail Bonds advertisement at this open-all-night Inmate Information Center.
Glowing neon Bail Bonds advertisement at this open-all-night Inmate Information Center.

Off the Wall Tattoos has an in the window neon sign.
Off the Wall Tattoos has an “in the window” neon sign.

Lots of super colorful neon at the San Diego Bike Shop on C Street.
Lots of super colorful neon at the San Diego Bike Shop on C Street.

Neon words and their reflections broken up by a security grill in front of one store.
Neon words and their reflections broken up by a security grill in front of one store.

Great Wall Express located on Broadway downtown has yummy Lousisiana Fried Chicken, as you can plainly see!
Great Wall Express located on Broadway downtown has yummy Louisiana Fried Chicken, as you can see! (Admittedly, I eat too much of it.)

Lucky's Lunch Counter has a unique sign that really stands out.
Lucky’s Lunch Counter has a unique sign that really stands out.

Crab Hut invites hungry passersby with its neon logo.
Crab Hut invites hungry passersby with its neon logo.

Eye-catching neon sign informs all who pass by that pizza, chicken wings and sandwiches are on the menu.
Eye-catching neon sign informs everyone that pizza, chicken wings and sandwiches are on the menu.

An ice cream cone creatively rendered using neon.
An awesome ice cream cone creatively rendered using neon.  Okay, I suppose this doesn’t count as a word.

This one quickly got my attention! I hope I have room after the fried chicken!
These words instantly got my attention! I hope I have room after all that fried chicken!

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