Huge fun coming to downtown’s Children’s Park!

Whoa! Check it out!

Look at the huge multi-level playground structure that’s being built for Children’s Park in downtown San Diego! The park is undergoing a major redesign, which will make it more . . . children friendly!

Children’s Park is located north of Harbor Drive, adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade. That circular pool with its unique fountain between Front Street and 1st Avenue is part of it. The two-acre city park, with its many shady trees, is a very short walk from both The New Children’s Museum and the San Diego Convention Center.

The park has often been used as a convenient offsite location during Comic-Con. Evidently not this year!

You might remember how, years ago, Children’s Park was filled with numerous large rounded mounds that unfortunately concealed drug and other illegal activity. Those mounds were removed in phases.

Now this important downtown open space is being completely revitalized, with the addition of a playground, an interactive water feature, and a new vendor building.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, you can visit this web page.

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!

An epic mural is coming to life in City Heights!

An epic, 263-foot mural in City Heights keeps slowly coming to life!

Unity in the Community, by artist Sake, is a work in progress that promises to be one of San Diego’s most amazing public artworks once completed.

I walked along the south end of Teralta Neighborhood Park today and discovered more human faces have taken form since my last visit in January. Work on the enormous mural has been going on for a year or so.

If you’d like to see photographs of San Diego graffiti artist Sake painting the mural, and of the long mural in various stages of completion, click here.

Here is some of that new life I spotted today…

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!

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A secret place for High Flight in Coronado.

In Coronado, in a secret place overlooking the Coronado Yacht Club, there’s a shady nook where the human spirit can find High Flight.

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

–John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England during World War II. On December 11, 1941, at the age of 19, his Spitfire accidentally collided with another plane and he crashed to his death. Learn more about him here.

If you’d like to sit on this special bench in Coronado, and gaze quietly out at the world’s beauty, make your way to the corner of Glorietta Boulevard and Ynez Place.

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!

Kicking off the 2022 Coronado Community READ!

An awesome month-long event kicked off today in the grassy park beside the Coronado Public Library. The 2022 Coronado Community READ is underway!

The event, in its sixth year, encourages residents of Coronado to read one particular book, which is selected by vote-casting members of the community. After two years of isolation and strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be more important and satisfying than ever for neighbors to come together with a shared experience.

For 2022 the Coronado Community READ book is West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge. West with Giraffes, according to its description, is about “two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America as they traveled across the country to our very own San Diego Zoo.” (Wow! I think I need to read it, too, even though I don’t live in Coronado!)

You can learn more about the book here!

There are two additional books for Coronado’s young readers to enjoy together: Turtle in Paradise: The Graphic Novel by Jennifer L. Holm, and Ty the Quiet Giraffe by Carrie Hasler.

When I heard about this unique “community read” I had to go check out its kick-off today at Coronado Library Park. Following a small speech, the gathered audience listened to the great jazzy music of the Coronado Big Band!

There are various special happenings coming up in April that are part of the big reading event. This coming Thursday, April 7, the author of West with Giraffes will be speaking and autographing her book!

You can find all the dates, times and details by clicking 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!

Open House tour of San Diego’s Waterfront Park.

Last Sunday I enjoyed a fascinating tour of Waterfront Park in San Diego. The special public tour was part of the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Open House event.

Our small group was guided by Glen and Jeff of Schmidt Design Group, landscape architects who worked on the Waterfront Park project almost ten years ago. The park opened to the public in 2014. (I was there for the big grand opening! You can see many photographs taken during that historic day by clicking here!)

As we walked around the beautiful park, where two large parking lots originally existed, we learned so many facts I failed to jot many down!

I did note that the two stretches of fountains on either side of the County Administration Building together are 830 feet long. The fountain design was tricky, because the water in the basin where children jump and play could be only one inch deep, due to safety concerns. The fountains utilize an 80,000 gallon water tank, and the 31 jets spray water 12 to 14 feet high.

The fountains were to be set in marble, but to save tens of millions of dollars, specially applied concrete made to look like marble was utilized instead.

The parking garage under the south end of Waterfront Park is below the water table (San Diego Bay is a block to the west), and consequently various innovative measures were taken to keep water from seeping in. I was surprised that, like the nearby County Administration Building, piles were driven 100 feet deep into bedrock to support and stabilize the structure!

The “hill” with a slide in the wonderful, very popular playground was built up with high density foams blocks. (The same hill referred to as Tony Gwynn’s opposing “pitching mound” when the park’s sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle debuted back in 2015. See those fun photos here!)

One bit of information really surprised me. There had initially been plans to install Dr. Seuss sculptures around the playground! The Grinch and his dog Max were to stand atop the hill. The Cat in the Hat would welcome kids near the fountain area. Our group didn’t hear why that plan fell through.

We did learn how, during Waterfront Park’s construction, large old palm trees and the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial were moved. We saw the bits of shining, sparkling mica that were placed in the concrete around the memorial.

We learned how the large garden at the north end of the park was designed to be a beautiful, contemplative area. And, indeed, it is.

The garden is divided into three sections. The north “grass” or “meadow” garden with 15 varieties of grass; the middle Mediterranean garden with sages, rosemary, lavender and Torrey pines; and the south “tropical” or “diversity” garden, with plumeria, bird of paradise and many other lush plants.

Irrigation for the park requires 8 million gallons per year! But this free, very popular “water park” serves hundreds of thousands of San Diego residents every year, many arriving by trolley from less affluent neighborhoods.

Lastly, we learned how the County of San Diego will soon be removing the garden, and replacing it with a dog park, basketball and pickleball courts, and other recreational amenities. I suppose the change is both sad and exciting. As they say, there are two sides to every coin.

I’ll be watching the progress of that project and will probably be taking photos in the future!

This is where the proposed Cat in the Hat sculpture would have stood!
Donal Hord’s iconic Guardian of Water sculpture stands in the background. Learn a little more about it here.
The present location of the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial.
Part of the Waterfront Park garden. The large garden will be removed to make way for sports facilities.

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!

Beautiful art coming to SDSU Mission Valley!

Another very cool sight on the San Diego River!

I learned something exciting yesterday!

Nine works of art by renowned sculptor James Hubbell are coming to SDSU Mission Valley!

James Hubbell’s architect son Drew and landscape designer Glen Schmidt briefly described the public art project, as they spoke during the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Open House.

A two mile looping trail is to be created at the new SDSU Mission Valley River Park. Every quarter mile, an artistic medallion, fashioned by James Hubbell and Emilie Ledieu (artist in residence at Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael Foundation) will mark the distance.

I also learned some of these creative trail markers will be installed in time for the new Aztec Stadium’s first game in September!

Over the years, I’ve heard many people describe James Hubbell as a true San Diego treasure. If you’ve seen his work, you might agree. His organic, award-winning mosaics and sculptures can be found all over the city, and beyond.

Here is his website.

I’ve photographed many of his works over the years. You can find those past blog posts by clicking 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!

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!

Amazing “hidden” history exhibit about Balboa Park!

There’s an extremely important exhibit in Balboa Park that very few people see. The San Diego City Clerk Archives and Parks and Recreation Department have created a fascinating display of original historical documents concerning the creation and development of San Diego’s world-famous park.

Last weekend, I was poking my nose into the Balboa Park Club building to see if there might be folk dancing in the ballroom, when I spied old letters, maps, petitions, resolutions and photographs on a wall of the grand foyer. I almost missed them in the dimly lit corner!

The exhibit is titled 1,400 Acre City Park – The Journey to Balboa Park.

There are seven parts to the exhibit: Park Idea, 1868; Founding of City Park, 1868; Uses of City Park, 1868-1900; Plantings, 1893-1904; Park Designs, 1891-1905; 1400-Acre City Park Name Change, 1910-1913; and Park Activities Since 1915.

Among the many historical documents, I observed the original 1868 citizens petition for a public park; correspondence to Balboa Park visionaries George Marston and Kate Sessions; a letter from mayor Douglas Gunn to the Common Council; and the Board of Park Commissioners’ 1913 petition to give City Park the name of Balboa Park.

If you’re a San Diego history buff, this extraordinary “hidden” exhibit is a positively must see!

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Lakeside history on signs at Lindo Lake.

Lindo Lake in Lakeside has been the center of much interesting history. Should you walk past the restrooms near the southwest corner of Lindo Lake County Park, by the intersection of Woodside Avenue and Chestnut Street, you’ll likely notice information signs describing historical locations that are visible to curious eyes.

I paused to read each sign during my last Lakeside visit, then turned my camera in the direction indicated to capture a little of the history.

The Whitaker House is a stone building at the top of a prominent hill within the Lakeside Linkage County Preserve. Its design was inspired by architect Mary Jane Colter, whose buildings in the Grand Canyon include the Desert View Watchtower and the Hopi House. The style is known as National Park Service rustic architecture.

The Lakeside Inn, built by the El Cajon Valley Land Company in 1887 and demolished in 1920, was located near today’s post office building. This “Coronado of the Hills” boasted grand Victorian architecture, electricity, gaslights and running water.

Between 1906 and 1917, a 60 foot wide, 2 mile racetrack circled Lindo Lake. It was built by John H. Gay, who purchased the Lakeside Inn in 1904.

Famous drivers who raced on this historic track included legendary Barney Oldfield. One of the racetrack’s turns can be seen beyond the baseball field, where Chestnut Street turns to Lindo Lane.

The Lindo Lake Boathouse was built in 1887 on what was then a lagoon–the only natural lake in all of San Diego County. It has been moved several times and now sits on an artificial island.

Lindo Lake was originally fed by mountain streams. When subdividing their 3000-acre Lakeside Town site, the El Cajon Valley Land Company designated the lake and surrounding area as a public park.

In 1919 a court ruled the park, that had been claimed by Lakeside Inn owner John H. Gay, in fact belonged to the public. To celebrate, a blimp landed by the lake on July 5, 1920.

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!