Kumeyaay history by the Sweetwater River.

The Marina Gateway in National City contains a small cluster of buildings located at the intersection of Bay Marina Drive and Marina Way. On the south side of the Marina Gateway parking lot, a walkway and outdoor plaza overlook Paradise Creek. The creek flows through a marsh into nearby Sweetwater River. Two signs at the edge of Paradise Marsh concern the history of the Native American Kumeyaay.

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation owns property at the Marina Gateway, and I believe this plaza was built since my last visit almost seven years ago. The same plant and wildlife information signs remain, but, if I recall correctly, back then there was no plaza and the overlook was less developed.

One sign I didn’t spot years ago features a topographical map showing Kumeyaay ancestral village sites within 1000 feet of the Sweetwater River. It also describes how the Kumeyaay would move up and down the river as they traveled between desert, mountain, and coast.

The Kumeyaay people lived here for thousands of years, long before European explorers and settlers arrived. It is their ancestral homeland–a place of comfort, beauty, and enjoyment, a place that honors our past and that will be enjoyed by future generations.

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Sculptures and beauty at La Jolla’s Art Park!

There’s a beautiful park open to the public in La Jolla that features expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, sunshine and outdoor sculptures! It’s called the Art Park!

The Art Park is a new feature of the renovated Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. It’s not to be confused with the museum’s Edwards Sculpture Garden, which is located just below the Art Park. (I recently blogged about the Edwards Sculpture Garden here.)

As you walk into the Art Park, north of MCASD’s main entrance on Prospect Street, one large COR-TEN steel sculpture is very hard to miss. It’s titled Hammering Man at 3,110,527.

The motorized depiction of a worker whose hammer rises and falls repeatedly is by artist Jonathan Borofsky. It was created in 1988.

Drawn into the park for the beautiful ocean view, your curious eyes will discover a sculpture in the greenery titled Juchiteca de pie (Standing Juchiteca). The bronze female was created in 1966 by Costa Rican-Mexican artist Francisco Zúñiga. He has been called one of the 100 most notable Mexicans of the 20th century.

Another fine sculpture by Zúñiga can be found in a quiet corner of the UC San Diego campus. See it here.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

City Heights is alive in Tierra Central!

Tierra Central in City Heights is a special place filled with life.

Outdoor sculptures abound, created by community members and local artists. The Fern Street Circus performs and teaches students under their big tent. Fun events can be enjoyed here throughout the year.

I’ve been to several such events in the past. Here and here and here.

It had been a while since I walked past Tierra Central. Last time I don’t believe it had that name. But it did have many sculptures.

Yesterday I noticed at least three new sculptures have appeared, and there was artwork on the surrounding fence that I hadn’t seen previously. The dynamism in this creative space is unstoppable!

Please enjoy a few photographs taken from the sidewalk.

Tierra Central is located on University Avenue just east of Interstate 15. I’ve been told that one day this lot will be developed into affordable housing, situated right next to the City Heights Transit Plaza.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Trolley Dances returns to San Diego!

The Trolley Dances have returned to San Diego!

The San Diego Dance Theater’s 24th Annual Trolley Dances are being held this year near several trolley Blue Line stations, in and around UC San Diego.

Five dances are included in this extremely unique event. Mobile groups gather to watch a dance, then ride the trolley to view performances at other locations!

Several of the dances this year take place next to the UCSD Central Campus Station. I was lucky enough to watch one group of dancers rehearsing before the first spectators would arrive.

The contemporary dance I previewed is called Estudiantes. The choreographer is Minerva Tapia. The dance is dedicated to all students, whose efforts and studies help make the world a better place. The dance moves were hopeful, exuberant, triumphant. My camera captured some smiles, too!

If you want to learn more about the Trolley Dances, here’s their website. The dances can be enjoyed this weekend only. If they’re sold out, make sure to mark this cool event on your calendar for next year!

The extension of the trolley’s Blue Line through UC San Diego, which the mobile audience is riding, opened late last year. I rode this new Mid-Coast Trolley extension on its Opening Day and posted photos here. (As you’ll see, the San Diego Dance Theater performed on that historic day, too!)

By the way, the Estudiantes dance in these photos takes place near the entrance to the new, high tech UCSD Design and Innovation Building, which I toured earlier this year soon after it opened. Check out those photos 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!

Balboa Park views from Mingei’s “secret” terrace!

The Mingei International Museum’s second floor outdoor terrace isn’t actually secret, but it sure seems that way!

The Conrad Prebys Terrace was empty today as I walked out into the sunshine and enjoyed amazing views of the California Tower, San Diego Museum of Art, House of Hospitality, and Plaza de Panama with its fountain, El Cid statue, and Nikigator below!

The spectacular new terrace is part of the recent House of Charm building redesign and renovation. The project was undertaken by the Mingei International Museum, which calls the historic building home.

I recall posting a photo of an architectural rendering showing the terrace might be used for outdoor dining with a view. I learned today that particular plan hasn’t materialized.

But what a perfect place to sit, take in the scenery and perhaps read a book or write! It’s a magnificent spot for photography, too, as you can see! You do have to purchase a museum ticket, as the two terrace doors are accessible from the second floor gallery space.

I have many more San Diego photographs coming up!

In the next few days I’ll be blogging even more about the Mingei International Museum, plus the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and some cool Top Gun stuff at the USS Midway Museum!

Meanwhile, have a great week!

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!

Nature’s beauty and Hubbell art at Briercrest Park.

One of San Diego’s most beautiful community parks is located in La Mesa. It’s called Briercrest Park.

I toured Briercrest Park yesterday during the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Open House event.

The winding paths I walked along were shiny wet from a recent rain. The grass was green. The air was fresh, the sun peeking out from behind clouds. Surrounding nature smelled so good. I felt at peace.

I soon learned that feeling was by design.

Our tour group gathered by an amazing mosaic labyrinth created by renowned local artist James Hubbell. His architect son, Drew, was on hand to tell us about the Hubbell created public art around the park. Glen of Schmidt Design Group, the landscape architect who designed the park some 20 years ago, was also there.

Well, you can see in my upcoming photos what an extraordinary place this is.

I’ll let my photo captions explain some of what I learned.

Walking into the park by one pathway from Wakarusa Street.

The above map near one entrance contains information about Briercrest Park, which was designed to emphasize the “healing and restorative values of green park space in an urban environment.”

The site, originally a reservoir, features a central wetland where water runoff collects. Turf mounds radiate outward from the watery center, like expanding ripples. Gentle bridges add a scenic touch. Native drought tolerant plants and trees are lush, providing refuge for the spirit.

Kids are encouraged to meander about, explore the fun playground, art and nature. Who knows what they might discover?

This butterfly glass mosaic was assembled by Emilie Ledieu, one of the artists in residence at James Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael Foundation, located near Santa Ysabel, California, in the mountains east of San Diego.
One plaque on a park bench. Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often…
Many benches in the park were designed to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
An herb garden, maintained by a local gardening club, provides a sensory experience. I smelled sage.
The playground has numerous fun elements, including these critters.
Path by the central wetlands, with lots of greenery and boulders and stone benches for meditation.
An area of open grass. The unique restrooms are in the distance.
Hubbell mosaics can be found on three sides of the beautiful structure, said to be the only park restrooms in San Diego with stained glass!
Organic mosaic above and around drinking fountains appear a bit like a watery landscape.
Mosaic on one side. The vertical blue lines are like cascading water.
The other side. The flowing mosaic almost seems to have the shape of a heron.
Stained glass window seen from inside the men’s restroom, made with durable resin.
Tiles around another small garden space created by local school children.
The very beautiful Hubbell labyrinth. One begins at water, passes through space, and arrives at the bright flaming center.
Tables set up for the Open House tour visitors. That’s Emilie the artist in red. People could help build two small mosaics!
One of the small example mosaics in progress.
A smile!
This looks like a very cool book concerning the history of this neighborhood. La Mesa’s Severin Grossmont Hills and Vicinity.
We have gathered near the labyrinth for a talk at the beginning of the tour. Look at that sunlight in trees.
That’s Glen Schmidt on the left and Drew Hubbell on the right, standing near a small climbing structure.
Glen, the friendly landscape architect, explains concepts behind Briercrest Park’s creation.
We look at one concept image board. Emphasized are accessibility, the senses, nature, serenity, and even music! I didn’t photograph it, but one area is equipped with outdoor chimes and other musical instruments to freely play.
Drew Hubbell leads the way.
We stroll through a very beautiful park.

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!

A park designed for healing in La Mesa.

Briercrest Park in La Mesa was designed for healing.

The tranquil, beautiful park is located adjacent to the Herrick Community Health Library, and near many medical office buildings in La Mesa, not to mention Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Briercrest Park, at 9001 Wakarusa Street, was purposely designed to be wheelchair friendly. Paths winding beneath shady sycamores and oaks lead to benches that accommodate those in wheelchairs. A special stone alcove, which you can see in my photographs, was specially constructed for this purpose.

It has been demonstrated that being outside in nature promotes healing. I know that, for me, fresh air and sunshine produces a greater sense of well-being.

Nature was an important element in the design of this park. There are flowers, gentle bridges over still water, and ample opportunity for easy exploration or quiet meditation. There is also stunning public artwork at every turn.

A mosaic butterfly at one entrance symbolizes transformation and renewal. It’s placement on the pathway was intentional. The butterfly along with other park mosaics (including a gorgeous labyrinth) were designed by renowned artist James Hubbell, along with his award-winning architect son, Drew.

I learned all of this today as I toured the park during the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Open House event. My next blog post will detail what I learned about the amazing mosaics, plus other unique aspects of Briercrest Park.

If I lived nearby, I would walk through this park often. To help soothe my small day-to-day hurts. To feel whole.

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 giant Red Shoe hidden in the trees!

An enormous, very fancy Red Shoe seems lost among the trees in a corner of UC San Diego!

Red Shoe is an unusual outdoor sculpture by Elizabeth Murray, created in 1996. It’s part of the University of San Diego Stuart Collection.

I say unusual, because it stands among eucalyptus trees and seems oddly–to me–out of place. Like a shoe from a fairy tale, dropped in a forest. But I think that was the intention!

Faceted, colored objects are scattered on the ground nearby, like fallen jewels.

The paths in this corner of the UCSD campus, by North Torrey Pines Road and Revelle College Drive, are seldom trod. By ordinary folk, that is.

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Butterflies and views at the Stairway to Hell!

A steep outdoor staircase in Tierrasanta has been called both the Stairway to Hell and the Stairs of Death. Take your pick!

The 112 steps start from the Clairemont Mesa Boulevard sidewalk and ascend northward. They can be found a short distance west of Antigua Boulevard.

As you climb this popular neighborhood exercise spot, you might notice colorful butterflies all about your feet. They seem to be flying skyward, too.

Once you reach the top, you’ll find yourself by a large grassy sports field near Vista Grande Elementary School. And look at the views!

Stairway to Hell? Perhaps these steps should be called Stairway to Heaven…

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!

Free “Hidden History Talks” in Old Town!

During the ups and downs of this long COVID-19 pandemic, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s indoor museums have been mostly closed. But I learned today that outdoor “Hidden History Talks” are now being held free to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm.

There are several interesting locations in the State Park where the talks might be held, including the courtyard of the Casa de Estudillo and the donkey pen behind Seeley Stable. Visitors to the park should watch for signs indicating where that day’s free history talk will be.

Today I sat on a bench in the beautiful Casa de Estudillo garden and listened to a California State Parks employee talk about the remarkable biodiversity in San Diego, which is partly attributed to the importation of plants and trees by Spanish missionaries, settlers, traders, and early civic visionaries like Kate Sessions.

The garden at the Casa de Estudillo is a sort of microcosm of this biodiversity.

Trees and shrubs were pointed out on all sides, and explanations were made of why they had been planted here–many a century and a half ago. Curious eyes turned this way and that at the mention of pepper and olive trees, pomegranates, and loquat, mulberry, pecan and walnut trees. And many others!

Among the things we learned was that small pepper trees from Spain, newly planted around Old Town’s plaza, had to be protected from roaming cattle. A century and a half later those pepper trees are huge and beautiful!

Everything we learned was fascinating.

I was told that eventually the normal walking tours should return to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, but it all depends on the COVID-19 pandemic’s trajectory and public health orders.

If you’d like an idea of what the regular one hour walking tours are like, 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!