An amazing urban transformation in City Heights!

In November 2013 an incredible thing happened. Over a hundred volunteers from several neighborhoods in City Heights–Castle, Swan Canyon, Fairmount Village and Azalea Park–came together to transform a dangerous, trash-filled vacant lot into a beautiful community gathering place.

In a matter of only a few days, the Manzanita Gathering Place, which you can see in the following photographs, was born.

I was introduced to the Manzanita Gathering Place in the northeast corner of Azalea Park last weekend and was absolutely amazed. The tranquil, rustic, art-filled spot, overlooking Manzanita Canyon, made me feel as if I’d traveled faraway, to the top of a mountain crowned with ancient magic.

Four columns around a stone sitting area are covered with mosaics. About 1500 square feet of mosaic art! The columns represent the four elements: earth, air, water and fire. They also represent the hearts of the many hands that made them–community members from four adjoining urban neighborhoods.

I was told the Manzanita Gathering Place is the perfect place to watch a sunset. I did see the Ocean Discovery Institute across the canyon below. Students often walk from there into the canyon to learn about nature.

A collaboration of community organizers, government, artists, business owners, schools and diverse neighborhood residents, the Manzanita Gathering Place was a Pomegranate Project. According to the Pomegranate Center’s website, the organization helps “communities design and build art-filled gathering places. In sometimes as little as four months from first community meeting to completion of the gathering place, hundreds of volunteers would give thousands of hours planning, designing and building their park. Between 1990 and 2017, Pomegranate Center created some 60 such projects in multiple cities, states, and countries…”

The Manzanita Gathering Place design team consisted of Brennan Hubbell, Ilisa Goldman, Vicki Leon, and mentor Milenko Matanovic, founder of the Pomegranate Center. In 2015 this truly amazing project received a Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

A very beautiful nearby mural was painted in 2018 by San Diego artists Gloria Muriel and Alexander Banach…

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!

Hundreds of new trees planted in Balboa Park.

I was walking through Balboa Park on Sunday, making my way toward Park Boulevard, when I noticed a newly planted tree with a shiny plaque beside it.

I veered across the grass to investigate…

The plaque states:

TREE BALBOA PARK

This tree and hundreds of others have been planted throughout the park by the Balboa Park Conservancy, Urban Corps, Tree San Diego, and Parks & Recreation.

Funding for this California Climate Investments grant project has been provided through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Urban and Community Forestry program.

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!

Quiet beauty at Maxton Brown Park in Carlsbad.

A small but very beautiful public park can be enjoyed in Carlsbad at the corner of Laguna Drive and State Street.

Maxton Brown Park is a quiet place. One can sit on a bench to read a book or gaze out at Buena Vista Lagoon.

During my recent walk in Carlsbad I rested on one bench that had a view of the lagoon. It was very peaceful.

I then briefly explored the park and found several memorial plaques that honor loved ones.

Here are a few photos…

The above plaque overlooking the lagoon reads:

LT. MAXTON BROWN PARK

515th SQDN

MARCH 5, 1915 – JULY 8, 1943

BUENA VISTA LAGOON CONSERVATOR

AMERICAN LEGION POST 146 MARCH 5, 1976

I did a little searching on the internet and learned that during World War II, on July 8, 1943, 2nd Lieutenant Maxton Brown of Carlsbad was downed over Sicily. He flew with the 515th Bomb Squadron.

The Buena Vista Lagoon is home of the Maxton Brown Bird Sanctuary. According to this page of the Carlsbad Historical Society, prior to the war Maxton “spent many hours at the lagoon sighting and recording over 150 species of birds.”

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!

More history at the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto.

Last month the Friends of Balboa Park installed a new information sign at the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto. The sign provides a good description of the fountain grotto’s history in Golden Hill Park. The community park, with views of downtown and Florida Canyon, is located in the southeast corner of much larger Balboa Park.

Five years ago I posted photos of the grotto on my now dormant blog Beautiful Balboa Park. You can read what I wrote and see those photographs here. I walked to the grotto again last weekend to check out the newly installed sign.

The sign explains how Golden Hill Park, developed in 1889, was the site of San Diego’s first playground. The Golden Hill Fountain Grotto was a decorative park installation designed in 1907 by Henry Lord Gay. He was also responsible for downtown San Diego’s Western Metal Supply Co. building, which is now a part of Petco Park.

Henry Lord Gay “created a sunken garden grotto built of stone and concrete with twin cobblestone stairways curving down to a sheltered fountain and seating area in a rugged canyon…Stones evoke mystery, creativity and contemplation; flowing water signifies life, and pathways lead out to the open sky…”

You can see in my photos how the fountain was made to appear like a natural spring whose pool trickles down into a hollowed rock.

Sadly, I observed evidence of homelessness and drug use in the secluded grotto. These tragic problems have become widespread in San Diego. Trash, graffiti and a burnt out fountain is probably not what Henry Lord Gay and the early residents of our city envisioned.

The Golden Hill Fountain Grotto is over a century old and is, according to the information sign, Balboa Park’s oldest designed feature.

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 magical little garden in Coronado!

In Coronado, a few steps from Orange Avenue, there’s a magical little garden.

If you’ve ever visited Spreckels Park, you might have seen the June Miller Garden surrounding the trunk of a tall palm tree. I took a good look at it yesterday as I wandered down the sidewalk, waiting for the big 4th of July Parade to begin.

Not only did I discover several interesting plaques, but I spied a young boy who was retrieving a baseball kneeling with wonder above a small turtle.

The sculpture represents a magical moment of discovery.

To learn more about the history of Spreckels Park, you can visit this Coronado Historical Association web page.

JUNE MILLER GARDEN

Maintained by

CROWN GARDEN CLUB OF CORONADO

CDR. PHILIP HENRY DENNLER, JR.

WHOSE LOYALTY TO THE CORONADO FLOWER SHOW INSPIRED US ALL.

CORONADO FLORAL ASSOCIATION

APRIL 1975

Happy Birthday Coronado

1890-2015

The Crown Garden Club of Coronado

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The Renaissance Woman sculpture in University City.

A marble sculpture by renowned American artist Manuel Neri stands near a sun-splashed fountain and bright colonnade in University City. The sculpture is titled The Renaissance Woman.

According to its plaque, the beautiful sculpture was placed by the corner of Shoreline Drive and Renaissance Avenue in 1990 for the enjoyment of the community and residents who live nearby.

A graceful, dignified form seems to be emerging from the block of white marble, which is encircled by flowers.

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!

Memorial Day at National City’s Wall of Honor.

Late this afternoon I attended a Memorial Day ceremony at National City’s Wall of Honor.

It was a special event for the South Bay community. Those who served in the United States Armed Services and have passed on were remembered.

The Wall of Honor extends on either side of the National City War Memorial, which stands overlooking a corner of Kimball Park. Plaques on the wall are dedicated to loved Veterans. Through the memorial’s arch children could be seen playing on the park’s wide green grass, and looking through that arch during the ceremony was like peering through the window of Freedom.

National City’s mayor and various dignitaries were in attendance and spoke. The Navy was represented as well. Retired vets who had served their country received handshakes from all.

I took these photographs of the beautiful and very meaningful ceremony. Memorial Day is a time to recognize sacrifices, and to seriously reflect.

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!

Faces appear in amazing new Teralta Park mural!

Dozens of faces have appeared in artwork that, when finished, will be one of San Diego’s most impressive murals. The 263-foot mural is being spray painted on a long wall at the south end of Teralta Neighborhood Park, directly over Interstate 15!

Unity in the Community is the name of the new, very colorful City Heights mural, and it’s being created by San Diego graffiti artist Sake.

In addition to important City Heights landmarks like the Euclid Tower, Silverado Ballroom, City Heights/Weingart Library and Central Elementary School, the mural depicts many faces from this diverse San Diego community.

As I walked along the mural from right to left, I saw images of children in playground swings and riding bikes, musicians playing instruments, kids playing volleyball, basketball and soccer in the park, happy dogs, smiling families, youth graduating from school, and proud neighborhood residents from all walks of life.

The mural, which is being painted in an area known for gang activity, is meant to inspire those who see it with its positive, hopeful, unifying imagery.

I took these photographs several days ago. I plan to post additional photos as the mural progresses.

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!

Demonstration by San Diego Korean Karate Club!

Today I watched an amazing demonstration of some hardcore martial arts!

I was walking around the North University Community Branch Library in University City when a flurry of action caught my attention. Several members of the San Diego Korean Karate Club were practicing in a space outside the building!

The super friendly guys got talking to me and when they learned I’m a San Diego blogger, they consented to do a demonstration for my camera!

The fighting style I saw was ridiculously fast, powerful, and absolutely impressive. They were demonstrating Chung Do Kwan, which, according to the San Diego Korean Karate Club website, was “taught to the Korean military by Master Won Kuk Lee and Master Duk Sung Son…” It’s some deadly serious stuff.

Of course, the San Diego Korean Karate Club, which operates at the Nobel Recreation Center and Athletic Fields, doesn’t engage in lethal moves, but they will teach you kicking, sparring and conditioning drills, plus self-defense situations and tactics. They also offer special self-defense classes for women.

I photographed 6th Degree Black Belt Master Joe Montanez sparring with 2nd Degree Black Belt Junior Instructor Santosh Jois and have selected a few pics.

Their moves and counter-moves were so fast I could barely follow the action. In combat I would have succumbed to either one of them in a matter of seconds!

Check it out!

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!