Making music one Sunday in Balboa Park.

As I walked about Balboa Park this Sunday afternoon, it seemed a lot of people were outdoors making music. Not just the usual street performers.

I heard a flute playing beyond some trees. I heard mysterious bagpipes somewhere in the distance.

When I arrived at the courtyard of the Casa del Prado, some socially distanced musicians were spread about engaged in what appeared to be a jam session. I don’t know. All I can say is their fine music lifted the spirits of those passing by.

Walking through the park today was a sort of living impromptu concert, performed by many musicians.

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!

Riding the world’s first outdoor glass elevator!

If you’re familiar with the history of the El Cortez in downtown San Diego, you probably know it featured the world’s very first outdoor glass elevator. (Although I’ve also seen information that says it was the first such elevator in the United States, second in the world.)

Based on an idea suggested by a hotel bellboy, an outdoor glass elevator, called the Starlight Express, was installed in 1956 on the side of the El Cortez Hotel, then the highest building in San Diego. People from all around Southern California would converge on the elegant hotel to be swept dizzily skyward to the chic Starlight Room restaurant on the twelfth floor.

Today I came across a black and white 1956 newsreel that has been released by Universal City Studios into the public domain. It shows thrilled passengers going up and down what was then the brand new, incredible, jaw-dropping Starlight Express!

Check out the “futuristic” costume (uniform?) of the smiling elevator operator! And check out how downtown San Diego appeared in the 1950s. A bit different than today, right?

I snipped sequential images from the old newsreel so you can enjoy a fun look!

By the way, the El Cortez Hotel also featured the world’s first moving sidewalk! You know–the sort of thing you might stand on in an airport terminal or at an amusement park. It was called the Travolator. Both the Starlight Express and Travolator were removed many years ago.

Read much more about the El Cortez and its extraordinary history in this detailed Wikipedia article. Among other things, you’ll learn how this Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style landmark was built on property once owned by a son of President Ulysses S. Grant, how a third of San Diego’s population showed up for the hotel’s opening day, and how it had an anti-aircraft battery on its roof during World War II!

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!

Free bicycling prizes during Cycle September!

If you bicycle in San Diego, or plan to this month, check out this great info!

I walked past the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition office in East Village last weekend and observed a poster in their window. Today I finally visited the coalition’s Upcoming Events web page.

And I suddenly learned this week is Bike to Work Week!

If you click here, you’ll see an event calendar for the entire month of “Cycle September,” where there are weekly biking challenges and cool prizes that you can win!

The Family Ride Challenge begins this Saturday. It will run September 26 – 30. To be eligible to win a free prize, you must provide a story or photo concerning your ride. A different winner will be selected every day.

If this interests you, time is of the essence!

September is almost over!

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!

Discover the Cortez Hill neighborhood loops!

A bunch of stickers were recently applied to sidewalks around the downtown San Diego neighborhood of Cortez Hill. These round purple stickers mark the locations of the Long and Short Loop, where people can walk, jog or ride in wheelchairs, to get some outdoor exercise and fresh air, or perhaps make a short trip to the store.

Today I happened to notice that a sign went up describing the neighborhood’s many Jacaranda trees. The sign provides a good map of the two loops.

I see that the Short Loop is one easy mile. The Long Loop, which passes the place where I live, is a moderate 1.5 miles, including a short but somewhat steep climb to the very top of beautiful Cortez Hill.

If you want a better look at the map, click my photo and the image will enlarge!

Satellite map shows Short and Long Loop in downtown San Diego's Cortez Hill neighborhood.
Satellite map shows the Short and Long Loop in downtown San Diego’s Cortez Hill neighborhood.

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!

Nature and art at San Diego River Garden!

There’s a very special garden in San Diego that few people visit. It’s called the San Diego River Garden. It’s situated near the center of Mission Valley, a short distance south of the San Diego River.

Every so often I drive past this native plant garden, but I never see a place to park. The stretch of Camino del Rio North beside it is mostly used by people going to and from nearby office buildings, and no street parking is available.

The gate of the San Diego River Garden’s small dirt parking lot is usually shut. The only other way in is to walk along a dirt path beside the road and pass through an entrance in the fence. Which is what I did this morning!

All was quiet. The early morning summer breeze was pleasantly cool. The few picnic benches were empty. I saw no other people. But I did see many active birds. And bright flowers. And lots of flourishing native plants including some cacti. And modest planters holding more greenery. And many winding trails. And Bigfoot! Yes, you heard me correctly! And–to my additional delight–a whole lot of nature artwork created by young students, including painted tiles scattered here and there on the ground and a cool mural on a shipping container!

According to the San Diego River Park Foundation website: “This site used to be a vacant area reserved for future use by the City of San Diego. But thanks to the City and the many volunteers, sponsors, groups that have come out to garden, the River Park Foundation is caring for this 5 acre area to make it attractive for the community.”

If you or your group would like to volunteer and do a little gardening out in the warm San Diego sunshine, or if you simply want to visit this beautiful kid-friendly park or learn more about it, click 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!

Learn to play horseshoes in San Diego!

I made a cool discovery today!

If you’d like to learn how to play the game of horseshoes, you have an opportunity to do so in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park!

During my walk this morning, I spotted members of the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club out having fun in the horseshoe pits in the southwest corner of the park. I spoke with some of the friendly folks and learned that the public is invited to learn the game with a free horseshoe pitching lesson! The lessons are held on Thursdays at 6 pm, near the corner of Juniper Street and Sixth Avenue. Look for the blue sign that reads San Diego Chess Club/Balboa Park Horseshoe Club.

During the present coronavirus pandemic, they have taken all the necessary precautions, so you can feel safe.

Make sure you notify the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club San Diego you’d like a free lesson, so someone will definitely be there! You can connect via their Facebook page here.

The San Diego Horseshoe Pitching Club has a lot of fun at the facility also known as the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club.
The San Diego Horseshoe Pitching Club has a lot of fun at the facility also known as the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club.

David Lavallee of the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club is working to grow the love of the game in San Diego.
David Lavallee of the Balboa Park Horseshoe Club is working to grow the love of the game in 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!

Dancers portray the homeless in San Diego.

Audience looks down with expectation as a dancer portrays a homeless person during the first stage of 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center.
Audience looks down as a dancer portrays a homeless person during the first stage of 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center.

This morning I watched the first dance of the 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center shopping mall. This unique annual event is a production of the San Diego Dance Theater.

Arriving early, I stood a couple of floors above the outdoor performance, and let my eyes wander about as I took in the entire scene.

The first dance portrayed the homeless. As the invisible curtain rose, dancers, who sat alone among their scant possessions, rose and converged in a dizzy, tragic performance.

Two male dancers tussled over a shopping cart, but that seemed to be the extent of their malice. The twisting dance showed troubled souls coming together, having a moment of hope and happiness, raising each other up before departing to go their separate ways.

After the first dance ended, I followed the mobile audience as they were led west down the nearby San Diego River Trail to the next outdoor stage. Chairs were set up short of the place where Highway 163 crosses Mission Valley.

I continued walking. What I saw thereafter wasn’t part of the program.

As the audience gathers on the south side of the Hazard Center shopping mall, one performer appears be homeless, sitting alone.
As the audience gathers on the south side of the Hazard Center shopping mall, one performer appears be homeless, sitting alone.

The gathered audience awaits the first outdoor dance of 2018 Trolley Dances.
The gathered audience awaits the first outdoor dance of 2018 Trolley Dances.

The performance begins, and another dancer rushes on to the stage.
The performance begins, and another dancer rushes onto the stage.

Dancers converge in front of the audience. The dance portrays different people who are homeless.
Dancers converge in front of the audience. The raw, disturbing dance portrays the lives of different people who are homeless.

Dancers move about fluidly, showing a variety of emotions, including pain, loss, uncertainty, anger, hopelessness.
Dancers move about fluidly, showing a variety of emotions, including pain, loss, uncertainty, anger, hopelessness.

A shopping cart is a focal prop. Seen from above, it is actually empty.
A shopping cart is a focal prop. Seen from above, it is empty.

Performers tussle over the shopping cart, while a nearby couple dances.
Performers tussle briefly over the shopping cart, while a nearby couple dances.

The dancers spread out and face the audience.
The dancers spread out and face the audience.

The dancers move together, as if suddenly animated by a unifying energy.
The dancers move together, as if suddenly animated by a unifying energy.

One dancer is raised up by the others.
One dancer is raised up by the others.

The dancers exit the stage by struggling up two sets of stairs at Hazard Center.
The dancers finally exit the stage, struggling up sets of stairs at Hazard Center.

They return to take their bow. There is great applause.
They return to take their bow. There is great applause.

The dancers collapse and lie on the concrete.
The dancers collapse and lie on the concrete.

This performance is over.
This performance is over.

The audience will be led across the street and on to the next nearby dance location, on the path by the San Diego River.
The audience will be led across the street and on to the next nearby dance location, on the path by the San Diego River.

What the audience did not see. An empty drug baggie as the bottom of some stairs behind Hazard Center. Very few people use these particular stairs.
What the audience did not see. An empty drug baggie at the bottom of some stairs behind Hazard Center. Very few people use these particular stairs.

The audience heads west along the San Diego Trolley tracks.
The audience heads west along the San Diego Trolley tracks.

The mobile Trolley Dances audience is guided through a short stretch of Mission Valley along the San Diego River toward the next unique stage.
The mobile Trolley Dances audience is guided through a short stretch of Mission Valley along the San Diego River toward the next unique stage.

Empty chairs and graffiti on a construction wall await at the next Trolley Dance stage.
Empty chairs and graffiti on a construction wall await at the next Trolley Dances stage.

This is as far down the path the audience would venture.
That is as far down the path the audience would venture.

Had they proceeded farther, they would have reached a place where many homeless gather--in shadowy places beneath Highway 163.
Had they proceeded farther, they would have reached a place where many homeless gather and take shelter–in shadowy places beneath Highway 163.

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!

Art on construction fence at MCASD La Jolla.

Images from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on a construction fence at the La Jolla campus.
Images from the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego decorate a construction fence at their La Jolla campus.

During my walk through La Jolla last weekend, I noticed some graphics on a construction fence in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. As I approached the fence, I read signs that provided an explanation.

This cool, temporary Inside-Out Gallery features images of works that are in the museum’s permanent collection. An expansion of the museum’s La Jolla campus is underway. Please read to the photo captions to learn about MCASD’s very bright future!

The Inside-Out Gallery features images from the museum's permanent collection. The La Jolla location is closed for construction. The gallery space is being greatly increased.
The Inside-Out Gallery features images from the museum’s permanent collection. The La Jolla location is closed for new construction. The gallery space is being greatly increased.

Red Blue Green, Ellsworth Kelly, 1963.
Red Blue Green, Ellsworth Kelly, 1963.

An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Collar of Thorns), Yasumasa Morimura, 2001.
An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Collar of Thorns), Yasumasa Morimura, 2001.

Terms Most Useful in Describing Creative Works of Art, John Baldessari, 1966-1968.
Terms Most Useful in Describing Creative Works of Art, John Baldessari, 1966-1968.

No Splash, Ramiro Gomez, 2013.
No Splash, Ramiro Gomez, 2013.

Bottles, Philip Guston, 1977.
Bottles, Philip Guston, 1977.

Sinjerli 1, Frank Stella, 1967.
Sinjerli 1, Frank Stella, 1967.

Under the Table 2, Nicole Eisenman, 2014.
Under the Table 2, Nicole Eisenman, 2014.

Pool Party, John Valadez, 1986.
Pool Party, John Valadez, 1986.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is expanding its La Jolla campus. The gallery space will be quadrupled from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is expanding its La Jolla campus. The gallery space will be quadrupled from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet.

A rendering shows the future museum after expansion. The design by New York City-based Selldorf Architects will offer dramatic views of the nearby ocean and coast.
A rendering shows the future museum after expansion. The design by New York City-based Selldorf Architects will offer dramatic views of the nearby ocean and coast.

Another rendering depicts a front corner of the museum after expansion.
Another rendering depicts a front corner of the museum after its expansion.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla is currently closed due to the construction.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla is currently closed due to the construction.

A plaque near the museum's entrance. In Memory of Ellen Browning Scripps. The building was her former La Jolla home.
A plaque near the museum’s entrance is In Memory of Ellen Browning Scripps. The original building whose facade is still visible was designed by famed architect Irving J. Gill and considered one of his masterworks. The building was commissioned by Scripps and became her La Jolla home.

Flowers, Andy Warhol, 1967.
Flowers, Andy Warhol, 1967.

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!

The natural beauty of Sweetwater Marsh.

Early this afternoon I enjoyed a short walk through Sweetwater Marsh. I’ve already blogged about a guided hike through the marsh here, where you’ll find a bit more detailed information.

My solo walk today was for quiet introspection. And the absorption of natural beauty.

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!

Photos from 14 nature hikes around San Diego.

I didn’t walk yesterday. I gave my legs a rest, watched football, did some work on the computer. I really missed being outside.

While Cool San Diego Sights tends to concentrate on walks in the city, I’ve taken quite a few photographs while journeying through or near natural beauty. My hikes are generally easy. Their central purpose is stimulate the mind and senses.

Here are photos from 14 nature hikes all around San Diego. Click the following links to discover trails of wonder near and far. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to see what’s out there.

Every walk in one’s life can open unexpected vistas. Natural beauty and adventure await in every direction…

A hike from Kumeyaay Lake to the Old Mission Dam.

A hike down to the grinding rocks at Mission Trails.

Beautiful San Diego hiking trail welcomes wheelchairs.

Views of San Diego from a hike up Cowles Mountain.

Photos of a nature walk in Tijuana River Estuary.

Photos from a short hike through Sweetwater Marsh.

Nature and history on a walk in Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

A walk along rocks south of the OB Pier.

An amazing walk from Point La Jolla to Cuvier Park.

A short hike along Lake Poway Trail.

Beautiful photos of sunrise on Mount Laguna.

Flowers along a trail into Balboa Park’s Florida Canyon.

Hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Beach Trail.

Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Guy Fleming Trail.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of fun 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.