Cool photo memories from January 2017.

Another month. Another year!

Yes indeed, time is flying by.

Events that I recorded five years ago seem to have happened yesterday. It’s time to review some of the more interesting things I photographed back in January 2017!

I documented a visit to the Well Fargo History Museum in Old Town. Unfortunately, this museum was closed down by Wells Fargo. I’m told the Colorado House building which the museum occupied will be repurposed–possibly to showcase clothing worn during the early days of San Diego. I’m looking forward to that!

I also took photos of several festive events, including that year’s MLK Day Parade, Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day, and San Diego Tet Festival in Mira Mesa.

If you’d like to revisit fascinating old posts on Cool San Diego Sights, click the upcoming links!


San Diego history at Old Town’s Wells Fargo museum.

Lumberjacks, bicycles and a mysterious tombstone!

Kayakers, volunteers clean San Diego River Estuary!

Happiness and togetherness at MLK Day Parade.

Japanese video game characters in fun street art!

The arches of National City’s Morgan Square Plaza.

History comes alive at Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day.

Colorful photos of San Diego Tet Festival.

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Old Town home of Squibob, who inspired Mark Twain.

One of San Diego’s most famous houses stands in Old Town at 4015 Harney Street. It’s a modest little structure that you might easily pass by without a second glance.

For a couple of years, 1853-1854, the Derby-Pendleton House was the home of Lieutenant George Horatio Derby, an American humorist who wrote articles for California newspapers, including the San Diego Herald, under the pseudonyms Squibob and John Phoenix. It is said his style of writing, employing absurdity, exaggeration, irreverence and good fun, inspired Mark Twain, Artemus Ward, Bret Harte and others.

Derby’s Wikipedia page states: According to the newly (2010) published Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. One, Ulysses S. Grant was a classmate of “Squibob’s” and the General told Twain some stories of Squibob at West Point.

In 1856 Derby’s immensely popular book Phoenixiana was published. It contains many of his humorous pieces, including articles he wrote concerning San Diego. I like the gentle humor of his description of Old Town’s Fourth of July in 1854. It is found on page 123: At 9 A.M. precisely, the San Diego Light Infantry, in full uniform, consisting of Brown’s little boy, in his shirt-tail, fired a national salute with a large bunch of fire-crackers. This part of the celebration went off admirably; with the exception of the young gentleman having set fire to his shirt tail, which was fortunately immediately extinguished without incident.

Why was Lt. George H. Derby, a West Point graduate and engineer of the United States Topographical Corps, in San Diego? To survey the San Diego River and build a dike that would divert its water into False Bay–now Mission Bay.

While in San Diego, he and his wife rented a prefabricated house that was originally brought by ship around Cape Horn. Learn all about the Derby-Pendleton House’s complex history here. It has had many owners, including William Heath Davis and Don Juan Bandini, and has been moved repeatedly.

You can see an historical marker concerning Derby Dike here. You might note that the marker was placed by Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus.

The San Diego chapter of E Clampus Vitus, “a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the American West,” is named after Derby’s pseudonym, Squibob. The motto of Clampers is Credo Quia Absurdum, which purportedly means “I believe it because it is absurd.”

In 1962 an historical plaque was placed on The Derby-Pendleton House by the San Diego chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution. I took a photo of it yesterday.

Public domain photo of Lieutenant George Horatio Derby.
From the book cover of Phoenixiana.

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 photos for you to enjoy!

America’s most haunted house is improved!

The Whaley House in San Diego’s historic Old Town is widely considered to be America’s most haunted house.

I found out today that even a world-famous haunted house can be greatly improved!

As I walked around The Whaley House Museum, I noticed workers constructing new outdoor pathways. When I asked, I was told the improved paths will now be ADA compliant. I also learned the historic structure has a new coat of paint and that several of the exhibits inside, including the kitchen, have been recently altered and made even more intriguing! And, yes, that sign in the above photo is new, too!

Sounds like another visit is required!

Over four years ago I took a tour of the Whaley House, whose rich history might actually be more interesting than all the supposed ghost sightings. If you’d like to see inside photos and learn more about the Whaley House, including why it is so famous, check out that old blog post here!

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!

Day of the Dead walk around Old Town.

Today many are celebrating Día de los Muertos–Mexico’s traditional Day of the Dead. It is a time when departed loved ones are remembered and honored.

Early this evening I took a short walk around Old Town San Diego to see what I might see.

Many are still cautious because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so there wasn’t the usual crowd and activities. But I did find music and colorful Catrinas at Fiesta de Reyes, and sugar skull face painting at a few spots in the State Park and along San Diego Avenue. I also came across a couple of Día de los Muertos altars.

These are my photos…

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Grand Opening for Old Town’s new Kumeyaay expansion!

I just received the above information. There will be a Grand Opening of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s recently completed expansion!

The new outdoor interpretive area, which I visited yesterday and blogged about here, is called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok, Land of the First People. It’s a beautiful place, with winding walkways and public art and displays concerning the history and culture of the Native American Kumeyaay. These First People have lived in our region for thousands of years, long before European explorers arrived.

The big Grand Opening is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, 2021, and will take place between 1 pm and 4 pm.

Kumeyaay bird singers will perform during the historic Grand Opening ceremony!

If you plan to go, look for the large park-like space full of trees and native greenery, at the corner of Taylor Street and Juan Street!

Extraordinary new Old Town art honors Kumeyaay!

Extraordinary new public art has been unveiled in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!

Two benches in the park’s recently opened outdoor expansion, which is called Land of the First People, feature beautiful mosaics that honor the Native American Kumeyaay and the world of nature.

Once you look at the following photographs, you’ll likely agree these ceramic mosaics are exceptional. They were created by local artist Betsy K. Schulz.

The two interpretive benches contain images of the Kumeyaay people in our region, fishing, collecting reeds, paddling boats and living by a river, among birds, fish and other native wildlife.

If you’d like to see more stunning public art around San Diego that was created by Betsy K. Schulz, click here.

These images were captured yesterday evening just before nightfall. I took additional photographs of this newly opened area of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and posted them here.

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Old Town State Park’s new Kumeyaay expansion opens!

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s major expansion has opened!

The beautiful new outdoor area, situated at the north end of the State Park, near the intersection of Taylor Street and Juan Street where an old Caltrans building used to stand, is called Land of the First People. It honors our region’s Native American Kumeyaay.

Pathways wind through native vegetation, beautiful public artwork, and interpretive displays on stones that describe the history and culture of the Kumeyaay, who lived here for many thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. A Kumeyaay village called Kosa’aay existed where Old Town is now, near the mouth of the San Diego River.

I arrived at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park this evening just before sunset and noticed the construction fence circling this new area had finally come down! So I had to investigate immediately!

Artwork I discovered includes numerous disks along the pathways, showing native animals and the Kumeyaay words for each; a circular plaza with a mosaic depicting stars and constellations recognized by the Kumeyaay; and two benches made extraordinary with mosaics by local artist Betsy K. Schulz. Her amazing mosaics can be found all around San Diego. I’ll provide more photographs of these two benches in my next blog post!

Before it became too dark as night fell, this is what my camera captured…

Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok — Land of the First People.
Ha silly hatekarr – sea otter
The Kumeyaay created pottery made of local clay for cooking and storage. A large askay or saakay kept water cool…
The traditional Kumeyaay diet was highly diverse, but shawii (acorn mush) was eaten daily…
The traditional Kumeyaay cosmology of Maay Uuyow (Sky Knowledge) is extensive and elaborate…
Hand tools like those shown here are used with the bowl-like hollows and other indentations in xepiicha (grinding stones) to process acorns, seeds, fibers…
This ancestral land is respectfully dedicated to the First People, the Kumeyaay.
The people of the Kumeyaay Nation have historically lived in and traveled through the Southern California and Northern Baja California region. This area extended from the Pacific Ocean to the desert…

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Building a cannon carriage and adobe walls in Old Town.

Saturday, on my way to TwainFest, I walked a little around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to see what I might see.

At the blacksmith shop, wood shop and nearby grounds, I observed some interesting activity!

First, I learned from Todd in the blacksmith shop that a new carriage for Old Town plaza’s historic cannon will soon be built! I blogged about this project back in April here. I detail a little about the cannon’s history in that blog post.

Todd showed me how he had removed some of the original iron fittings from the wooden carriage. All of the iron will be saved, then refitted to a brand new carriage once it’s built. Welds will be hidden to preserve the original appearance.

The carriage will be constructed in the wood shop, a small work room attached to the blacksmith shop.

Here are a few photos of the wood shop…

Then I noticed two people working in the dirt area outside the blacksmith shop, behind Seeley Stable. This is the new spot in the State Park where adobe wall-making is demonstrated.

I’ve been told the old adobe demonstration area, which I blogged about here, will be used in the future for a Kumeyaay interpretive display.

As I watched slimy fingers jam mud mortar between large sun-dried adobe blocks, I took a look at information concerning which structures in Old Town are original adobes, and which ones are reconstructed.

Six original adobe buildings shown are: Casa de Machado y Silvas, c. 1843; Casa de Machado y Stewart, c. 1830; Casa de Estudillo, c. 1827; Casa de Bandini/Cosmopolitan Hotel, c. 1829; Altamirano-Perdrorena House, c. 1869; and the oldest structure in San Diego, Casa de Carrillo (between Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and the Presidio), c. 1817.

Reconstructed adobe buildings are: Robinson-Rose Building, c. 1853; Casa de Wrightington, c. 1804; San Diego House, c. 1841; Casa de Rodriguez, c. 1830; Colorado House (Adobe Annex), c. 1854; Casa de Alvarado, c. 1830; and Alvarado Saloon, c. 1830.

Typical adobe wall construction involved a foundation and a layer of small stones and shards topped by adobe bricks, which are cemented with lime and sand or mud plaster.

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!

Returning to normal after the pandemic.

Thank goodness. Life in San Diego is returning to something more like normal. As a large number of people have become vaccinated against COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic has greatly subsided.

The virus took an unspeakably horrible toll. Lives were lost. Living was curtailed. Many were isolated. Livelihoods were decimated. The lockdowns were unprecedented. But we’re somehow getting beyond it.

In the last couple weeks I’ve taken a few photographs of signs that our city is returning to normal.

Indoor dining is back. Theaters are open or about to open. Stadiums are once again full. Museums and attractions are mostly open. More and more commercial planes are landing at San Diego International Airport. Traffic patterns are returning. Help Wanted signs are now everywhere.

One thing I really notice as I walk around is that tourists are traveling once again to sunny San Diego.

The new normal in the Gaslamp Quarter includes open-air dining.
Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego descend into the USS Dolphin submarine.
Old Town Trolley Tours is starting to get busy again, and these relaxing tour guides smiled for my camera!
The movies are back. I’m anxious to see Black Widow which opens next week!
Most restaurants–the ones that survived the pandemic–are open for indoor dining…and they’re hiring!
Two “smiles” at Fiesta de Reyes are symbolic of the gradual transition back to normal times.
Tourists check out pottery at El Centro Artesano in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A random fun photo that I took today. These fireplace “fire starters” are made using leftover wax at Toby’s Candle & Soap Shop in Old Town.
People are out and about, so downtown sidewalks must be kept clean!
The historic Balboa Theatre will be reopening in early August!

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!

Old Town State Park expansion nears completion!

This morning I walked around the north end of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I wanted to check out the progress that has been made with the State Park’s big expansion.

Old Town’s new outdoor interpretative area is beautiful and appears to be nearing completion!

I took photos of the area under construction four months ago and posted them here. You can definitely see the progress!

This large plot of land where the old Caltrans building used to be–at the corner of Juan Street and Taylor Street–is being converted into an inviting space that is alive with native vegetation and historical exhibits. Visitors walking along various pathways will have the opportunity to learn about the life and culture of the Native American Kumeyaay people. The Kumeyaay lived here by the San Diego River long before Europeans arrived.

The California State Parks website refers to this outdoor space as Land of the First People Exhibit Area—called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok.

As I circled the construction site fence, I noticed many plaques have been installed. I’ll be eager to read them once this area opens to the public.

This is what I saw…

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!