Famous head pokes above freeway wall!

Driving north on Interstate 5 near Old Town, have you glimpsed the top of a huge head poking over the freeway wall? Just past the Courtyard by Marriott?

It’s the curly-haired head of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture David!

The Head of David mural was painted on the side of an apartment building back in 1984 by San Diego Mesa College physics student Jeff Sale. The entire mural used to be visible from the freeway, until a wall was built by Caltrans that conceals much of it. You can read an old article concerning the artist and his creation here.

Yesterday I walked through Old Town to see if it’s possible to get photographs of the two story high Head of David from a spot away from the freeway. By standing in the cul-de-sac just north of the Marriott, I took these pics.

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!

Cool photo memories from August 2017.

History was made on Tuesday in San Diego. The Padres made what some are calling the most important trade in baseball history. But, of course, history is made every single day.

Let’s relive a few cool memories from five years ago!

Back in August 2017, events in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park recreated life in our city a century and a half ago; a fun community festival celebrated Logan Heights; and a couple of big Labor Day festivals–the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and the Festival of Sail–were almost ready to open!

If you’d like to experience a little bit of San Diego history, click the upcoming links!

Click the following links to enjoy many photographs…

Trades That Shaped the West demonstrated in Old Town!

History at the Los Peñasquitos adobe ranch house.

Days of the Vaqueros in Old Town San Diego!

Cool photos from Steampunk Day at the Library!

Cool photos of the Imperial Avenue Street Festival!

Three cool sand sculptures at the Broadway Pier!

Natural beauty at the West Coast Shell Show!

Festival of Sail tall ships at sunset!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Fun events during California State Parks Week!

It’s California State Parks Week!

At Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, some fun, free activities are planned.

Tomorrow, June 14, visitors will be invited to explore the park’s beautiful new outdoor Land of the First People with park interpreters.

On June 16, in Old Town’s grass plaza, families will enjoy engaging in historical pastimes including the Kumeyaay game ‘p’shok,’ as well as lawn games such as ‘hoop and stick,’ egg races, and tug of war from the Californio period.

Up the coast at Cardiff State Beach, on June 15, kids can participate in My Fun Future in the Outdoors, when California State Park employees share their favorite reasons to work in Parks. Kids can speak to heroes and become inspired!

Click the above links to learn more!

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!

Repairing the historic Old Adobe Chapel.

I recently learned that the historic Old Adobe Chapel in Old Town is being repaired and restored by the City of San Diego. I was told the roof leaks and a long, very serious crack was discovered along one wall. (I believe you can see it in one upcoming photo.)

I happened to be walking through Old Town yesterday when I remembered being told this. So I walked to 3963 Conde Street to see for myself.

The Adobe Chapel (also known as the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception) is designated California Historical Landmark No. 49. It was originally built in 1850. Initially the structure served as a home, then in 1858 it was turned into a church that would become a center for activity in early San Diego.

The old chapel has a rich history. It was said to be the wedding place of the character Ramona in Helen Hunt Jackson’s wildly popular 1884 novel of the same name. The Adobe Chapel would later be bulldozed and rebuilt in the 1930’s. To learn more about its history, visit the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) website here and here. To enjoy a fascinating gallery of images, click here.

The Adobe Chapel is presently operated by SOHO. It is both a museum and special event venue. According to their website, it should be reopening, after repairs, sometime in 2022.

I see a long crack!
Photo of historical plaques and sign taken from a nearby parking lot.

ADOBE CHAPEL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

ORIGINALLY BUILT AS THE HOME OF SAN DIEGO’S JOHN BROWN IN 1850, THE HOUSE WAS CONVERTED TO A CHURCH BY DON JOSE AGUIRRE IN 1858. FATHER ANTONIO D. UBACH, FORMERLY A MISSIONARY AMONG THE INDIANS, WAS PARISH PRIEST HERE FROM 1866 TO 1907. IT IS SAID THAT HE WAS THE MODEL FOR “FATHER GASPARA” IN HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S RAMONA. IN 1937 THE WPA REBUILT THE ADOBE CHAPEL CLOSE TO ITS ORIGINAL SITE.

Old Adobe Chapel

BUILT IN 1850 AS A PRIVATE RESIDENCE. DEDICATED A PARISH CHURCH NOVEMBER 21, 1858 by FATHER JOHN MOLINER.

IN 1866, FATHER ANTONIO UBACH, THE PARISH PRIEST, WAS “FATHER GASPARA” OF HELEN HUNT JACKSON’S FAMOUS NOVEL “Ramona”

REBUILT BY UNITED STATES WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION 1937

A view of the Old Adobe Chapel from Conde Street in Old Town San Diego.

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 strange California Historical Landmark . . . parking lot?

At the north corner of Congress Street and Twiggs Street, in San Diego’s Old Town, you’ll find a large parking lot.

In a strip of landscaping between the parking lot and sidewalk stands a mysterious sign. The sign reads: SITE OF CASA DE COTA – HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 75.

That’s strange! The only thing visible is the parking lot! So, where is Casa de Cota?

According to this page of the San Diego History Center: Built in the mid-1830’s by Juan or Ramón Cota, this house stood for over a century on the corner of Twiggs and Congress Streets, before being destroyed by United States Army bulldozers during World War II.

You can see two old photographs of the historical structure here and here.

It appears to have been built of adobe blocks.

Visitor maps posted around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park show Parking Lot B, where the house once stood. I’ve included the following photo. I marked a red X at the mysterious sign’s location.

Do you happen to know more about the long-vanished Casa de Cota? If you do, please leave a comment!

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 faces painted in Old Town!

Two colorful faces have been painted on the second floor of the Courtyard on Congress building in Old Town. Both are by local artist Guillermo “memuco” Munro.

I saw these beautiful faces as I walked near the intersection of Congress Street and Twiggs Avenue early this morning. I was able to capture the artist’s signature, then I checked out his Instagram page, which is here.

It appears the murals were created back in January.

Memuco describes the female with ceremonial Kumeyaay face decoration as a woman that represents all nationalities. A being so beautiful and peaceful. With the most sincere smile in the Universe.

The second face is of Mexican painter Diego Rivera. He’s holding a Frida Kahlo doll, which the balcony concealed from my camera. Check out the artist’s Instagram page to see it all!

You can enjoy more of his great artwork that I’ve stumbled upon here (across the street) and 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!

Doing the laundry in early San Diego.

You think doing the laundry is a pain?

Well, back in the mid-19th century, in early San Diego, doing the laundry was a very big pain!

Last weekend I enjoyed listening to a Hidden History talk in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park about the difficulty of cleaning clothes before the advent of handy-dandy push-button washing machines.

Wash day was actually a three day project that began with walking down to the San Diego River multiple times while carrying a bucket. About 50 gallons would be required.

In dusty Old Town, with livestock running around, clothes would get really filthy. The sorting process included the consideration of material–often cotton or wool–and filthiness. After sorting came spot cleaning with lye soap (made by boiling wood ash) and borax (brought in from the desert).

Then clothes and under garments would be generally cleaned with boiling hot water in a big tub using a wooden paddle (for stirring) and washboard (possibly imported to the isolated, undeveloped town by ship) for scrubbing. (My arms are sore just thinking about it!)

Yes, then the hanging out to dry–fortunately San Diego has a warm, dry climate.

And then the ironing.

You had to prep the iron by scraping the bottom, put it on a stove and heat it to just the right temperature so you don’t burn yourself or the clothes, then more arm work. Later irons were more fancy–you could put coals in them. Just don’t get the ash from the coals on the clothes!

In those days, doing the laundry was a job designated for women. The process was so long and involved, they usually wouldn’t cook on wash days. Food for the family would be prepared in advance.

In 1860 San Diego had 4 dedicated laundresses–indigenous and Irish women. In 1870, when San Diego’s population had grown to 2300, there were 32, including Chinese immigrants who were then arriving in California.

That’s a hasty summary of the Hidden History talk, which everyone enjoyed as we sat on a pleasant Saturday in front of the State Park’s historic Colorado House.

On Sunday I threw my dirty clothes into a washing machine, added detergent from a plastic bottle and pressed a button. Transferring my clothes to the drier was oh-so difficult!

I tried to take good notes, but don’t rely on what I’ve written here as 100% accurate. If you’re doing research and came upon this blog post, make sure to read other sources!

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 fun at Old Town’s Cinco de Mayo!

Big crowds are coming out this weekend for Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo! The popular festival is taking place on San Diego Avenue, between Conde Street and Twiggs Street.

I took loads of photos today!

Look at all the colorful fun! There’s a Lowrider Lane with cool bicycles, awesome motorcycles and a bunch of modified Volkswagens! There’s tons of yummy food, many smiling vendors, plus entertainment on a main stage.

I saw joyful, twirling Mexican baile folklórico dancing at the Cafe Coyote Stage, then grabbed two buttery, freshly made warm tortillas at Cafe Coyote across the street.

As I wandered about, I discovered representatives from the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in the small park behind the Whaley House. They were teaching people frontier dances, recalling their part of early San Diego history, and engaged in various fun activities.

During much of the day, at the top of each hour, there’s an exciting Lucha Libre match. I watched with dismay as the bad guys defeated the crowd-favorite good guys with a series of wicked body slams and wrestling moves, plus, of course, some villainous cheating. Fortunately, a rematch was promised, and I’m sure the good guys would be victorious later in the day!

Thanks to the STAR 94.1 radio guys for the prize!

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 mysterious bell in Old Town San Diego!

Help solve a rather strange historical mystery!

There’s a large bell mounted above the entrance of the Five & Dime General Store in Old Town, at 2501 San Diego Avenue, and nobody I’ve spoken to knows why it’s there!

I’ve spoken to friendly people who work at the store, and employees at nearby Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and the bell remains a complete mystery! I’ve also performed searches on the internet, to no avail.

Written on the bell are the words STEEL ALLOY CHURCH BELL and the number 40, which means it’s a 40 inch bell. On the internet I’ve observed identical bells manufactured by the The C. S. Bell Company, which was in operation from 1875 to the 1970’s. The bell itself looks pretty old.

Another possible clue: this building was once the home of the Studio Gallery, which featured original artwork by famous artists, including Chuck Jones and Dr. Seuss.

Who out there knows anything about this large rooftop bell?

Why is it there? Where did it come from? Who mounted this old bell atop the building and when?

If you know or suspect anything, please leave a comment!

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!

Kumeyaay words for native animals, plants.

The rich culture of our region’s Native American Kumeyaay is honored at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Near the corner of Juan Street and Taylor Street, the beautiful Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok Land of the First People outdoor interpretive area teaches interested visitors a little of the Kumeyaay language. Kumeyaay words for many native animals and plants can be read along the edge of walkways.

During my last visit, I photographed many of the engraved artworks representing wild mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, cacti and trees, and the corresponding Kumeyaay and Spanish words.

If you want to see more of the surrounding area, the Land of the First People opened last year, and soon thereafter I took these photographs.

Incidentally, today there will be a special event held in this corner of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Earth Day will be celebrated! So if you read this in time, and you’re in the area, you might want to come on by!

Milyaapan. Mexican free-tailed bat.
Sha-ii. Turkey vulture.
Meshalyaap. Monarch butterfly.
‘Aahmaa. California quail.
‘Ensnyaaw. Coast live oak.
‘Aashaa kwilaaw. Northern mockingbird.
Hatepull. Nuttall’s woodpecker.
Kekhuu. Northern flicker.
Hallyewii. Alligator lizard.
Iihay halakwal. Salamander.
‘Emallk. Big-eared woodrat.
Perhaaw. Gray fox.
Kwak. Mule deer.
Nyemtaay. Mountain lion.
E’mull. Shaw’s agave.
Ehmaall. Ground squirrel.
‘Ewii. Southern Pacific rattlesnake.
Waipuk. California kingsnake.
Kusii. Jimsonweed.
Hattepaa. Coyote.
Hampachoka Huumpaashuuk. Anna’s hummingbird.
‘Ehpaa. Coast prickly pear.
Ashaa hahpaa. Cactus wren.
Ku’uun. Red-tailed hawk.
Hachehwach. Hooded oriole.
Kupally. Blue elderberry.
Nyemii. Bobcat.
Llyexwiiw. Striped skunk.
Para ak hepeshu. Great blue heron.
Hantak. Treefrog.
Ashaa milshlap. Mallard.

UPDATE!

I took photographs of more words during a later visit…

Hantak sa-ai. California toad.
‘Ehnaally. Western pond turtle.
Mashhaatiit. Dragonfly.
E’pilly. Southern cattail.
Meshalyaap heyull. Western tiger swallowtail.
Para ak nemeshap. Great egret.
Chi ariar tenurr estik. California killifish.
‘U’uu. Great horned owl.
Nemas. Raccoon.
Miskenan. Stink beetle.
Kellyemuy. Bumble bee.
Hiiwaat. Deergrass.
‘Eshpaa ewall nemeshap. Bald eagle.
Kilyaahwii. Mourning dove.
Tellypuu. Greater roadrunner.
Meniish. Scorpion.
‘Aanall. Honey mesquite.
‘Eshpaa. Golden eagle.
Kunyaaw. Black-tailed jackrabbit.
Menniih. Tarantula.
Muu. Bighorn sheep.

The following are animals that are extinct or no longer found in the area around San Diego…

Sha-ii guatay. California condor.
Nyemii guatay yow kwakulsh. Sabertoothed cat.
Nemuuly. Grizzly bear.
Kwa nyilly. Pronghorn.

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!