Listening to a Symphony rehearsal at The Shell.

Wonder.

Elation.

Ecstasy.

What word best describes an extraordinary experience that is free to music lovers in San Diego?

When the San Diego Symphony rehearses at The Shell at Embarcadero Marina Park South, anybody can sit mere feet away from the musicians. Just walk on up and take any seat. And listen. You’ll hear some of the finest music ever composed, played by a world-class symphony orchestra.

Sit close and feel the thunder!

This morning I sat in front of The Shell and felt the power of music wash through me, while I enjoyed the sunshine, the gleaming downtown skyline, and boats of every kind sailing by on San Diego Bay.

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!

Scenes from The Shell’s opening night concert!

Today history was made in San Diego. This evening, the San Diego Symphony performed their opening concert at the new Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

I arrived a good hour before the concert began and wandered around. I even walked out onto the nearby pier. From the Embarcadero Marina Park South fishing pier The Shell is gorgeously framed by San Diego’s skyline.

The Shell is simply wonderful. It has immediately become one of our city’s treasures. Its beauty, the sparkling bay views, the sunset and sailboats, the world-class music…

Large screens on either side of the stage allow guests to watch the performers up close. You see their facial expressions. You see the emotion.

The photos I took this evening provide just a small taste of the incredible experience you’ll have should you attend a concert at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

One great thing about this fantastic new outdoor venue is the public can freely watch and listen from the periphery. I found a bench beside the water and simply melted into the music.

Please enjoy a few photos of this evening’s historic event taken by my small camera.

Young volunteers greet visitors in line for the concert.
People eagerly file in for an historic concert.
Some guests walk up to the box office to purchase tickets.
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park has many places to sit, eat, or simply relax before or during a concert. All sorts of food is available–from gourmet to pizza.
Friendly waves from San Diego Symphony folks!
A wave and smile!
A few are already seated well before the concert begins.
Martha Gilmer, Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Symphony welcomes guests to the historic concert.
Meanwhile, people have found a great place to sit and listen at one end of the fishing pier.
Sailboats pass on San Diego Bay. During the concert, many boaters anchored nearby to listen.
A photo taken from the pier. The Marriott Marquis becomes silvery as the sun falls toward the horizon.
Musicians arrive carrying their instruments.
I’m back near The Shell and its sloped seating area. People awaiting the concert gaze out toward the bay.
Many have taken their seats. Anticipation builds…
The sun will soon be setting.
The silhouette of San Diego Symphony conductor Rafael Payare appears on The Shell’s curtain! Everyone applauds!
The curtain suddenly drops open!
And there is the San Diego Symphony!
Beautiful music begins…

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!

Mystery art at the County Administration Building!

I’m sure somebody out there knows the story behind the above art. Even after extensive searches on the internet, it’s a mystery to me!

Two identical artworks are mounted on the north and south side of San Diego’s 1938 County Administration Building. Whenever I walk near the building, I look up at these medallion-like discs and try to figure out what is depicted.

This morning I finally took zoom photos. Now that I can scrutinize the design up close, I’m still baffled. The anchor suggests the design has a maritime theme.

If I had to guess, the art combines a 1930’s era flying boat splashing down on nearby San Diego Bay with the sail of a Chinese junk. The latter type of fishing boat was commonly seen on the bay in the early days of San Diego.

Or I might be completely wrong!

The best source I can find that describes the County Administration Building’s external ornamentation is a San Diego County government publication titled Bridging the Centuries: The Jewel on the Bay. Read it here. Check out page 20. Everything on the building’s exterior is described . . . all except this mystery artwork!

It appears to me this colorful disc might have some sort of mechanical action. Why is there a lever of some type projecting from the sun? Does the plane tilt upward as if taking off?

Please leave a comment if you are knowledgeable. I’m sure many are curious!

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!

San Diego’s two historic Civil War cannons.

Two cannons dating from the American Civil War now make their home in San Diego. You can find them floating above the bay on the barge behind the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

According to plaques at the museum and this very detailed article from the The Journal of San Diego History, these two “Napoleon guns” (also called a 12-pounder Gun, Model 1857) were utilized by the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1886 they were brought to our city by the U.S. Army and placed at the San Diego Barracks. The old barracks was located near today’s Seaport Village. (You can see a photo of the historical plaque marking the old barracks site here.)

The two “bronze” or “gun metal” cannons are named Big John and El Justin. Each cannon without the carriage weighs over 1,200 pounds. At the barracks they were fired at sunrise and at sunset, and whenever visiting ships came into San Diego harbor.

In 1898, at the beginning of the Spanish-American War, the two Napoleon guns were moved to Fort Rosecrans where they defended the newly laid Ballast Point minefield, and they “were fired nightly, despite complaints that the noise frightened the horses…”

Afterward they were moved from place to place in San Diego, thrown aside as junk, then finally restored in the 1980’s. For much more information, read the detailed article here.

You can view historical black-and-white photographs of the two Napoleon guns in San Diego 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!

Sunset photos at Embarcadero Marina Park South.

This evening before sunset I arrived at Embarcadero Marina Park South.

I walked out on the pier and watched the patient fishermen. San Diego Bay was glowing, peaceful.

I watched a Dole container ship loading at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, then gazed at luxurious yachts docked behind the Convention Center.

As I walked along I spotted a heron behind Joe’s Crab Shack. Then I circled back to the walkway that leads to the newly finished Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, where the San Diego Symphony will be performing this summer. Welcoming banners are now up.

For a few minutes I watched guys playing hoops on the public basketball courts.

The sun finally began setting behind boats in the Marriott Marina.

I headed home.

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!

Celebration of Memorial Day by the USS Midway.

Around noon today there was a unique outdoor celebration of Memorial Day in downtown San Diego. The spectacle could be viewed in San Diego Bay and the sky above the USS Midway Museum!

A small crowd that had gathered by the iconic “Kiss” statue saw a Harbor Police patrol boat water cannon salute and a parade of personal watercraft arriving from across the bay bearing large American flags.

Then, after the patriotic parade had gathered in the water between the USS Midway and The Greatest Generation Walk, four vintage World War II aircraft belonging to Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force flew twice overhead, and departed with the missing man formation.

Much of the event was at a distance from where I stood, but my small camera managed to get a few good photographs…

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!

Afternoon light and life at Tuna Harbor.

At the Embarcadero’s picturesque Tuna Harbor, photography is easy. Aim your camera in almost any direction and you’ll capture light, life and fascinating complexity.

I walked around Tuna Harbor late this afternoon and pointed my camera at workers loading equipment onto Gutsy Lady 4 (near a cool vintage truck), the usual crowd of commercial fishing boats docked side-by-side, and youth fishing on the pier by Seaport Village.

(In the final photograph you can glimpse three active aircraft carriers in the distance. Docked across San Diego Bay at North Island are the USS Carl Vinson, the USS Abraham Lincoln, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt.)

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!

Enormous pipe laying ship docked in San Diego!

Take a look at this enormous ship! I saw it today docked at San Diego’s B Street Pier, across from the Cruise Ship Terminal. The vessel, with what appears to be a helicopter pad high above its bow, is so huge I spotted it several blocks from San Diego’s Embarcadero!

The Normand Energy is a Pipe Layer vessel built in 2007, sailing under the flag of Norway. I was curious why such an unusual ship is visiting San Diego, so I searched the news.

It turns out the Normand Energy was chartered by Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR) to test the Patania II, a deep-sea mining prototype. But on April 25 Patania II became detached from its 5 kilometer (over 3 miles!) cable and became stranded on the Pacific Ocean floor!

According to this article, the “25-tonne mining robot prototype was trialed in the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific since April 20. The machine was supposed to collect nodules rich in cobalt and other battery metals…such minerals would be used to supplement in-demand electronic products and energy storage such as smartphones, laptops, solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles…”

According to this article, a recovery mission successfully retrieved Patania II on April 29.

Environmentalists including Greenpeace oppose deep-sea mining and the damage to the ocean bottom that would result, but ironically the rare earth elements that could be extracted are required for various components in clean energy technology.

If you’re curious about the whereabouts of the Clarion Clipperton Zone and what this “geological submarine fracture zone” is exactly, here’s a fascinating Wikipedia article.

Check out additional photographs of the Normand Energy that I took from various angles. The next two are from the Broadway Pier…

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Soviet submarine at Maritime Museum nears end of life.

A sign posted on San Diego’s Embarcadero near the Maritime Museum of San Diego indicates their Russian Foxtrot Class attack submarine B-39 has continued to rust, causing the historic vessel to near the end of its life.

A storm this winter that tore away sections of the outer metal skin has accelerated the submarine’s degradation. I believe it was the storm that I recorded back in January here. You can see waves in usually calm San Diego Bay breaking against the submarine.

It’s hoped that as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, museum visitors will have one more chance to take a look inside the B-39. I learned that once the submarine has reached the end of its life, it will likely be taken to a shipyard to recover whatever might be salvageable. I also learned the Maritime Museum has thoroughly recorded the interior of the vessel, to preserve a very important part of Cold War history.

Learn more about this submarine by checking out the museum web page concerning it here.

I enjoyed a self-guided tour inside the Foxtrot-class submarine nearly five years ago, and posted some interesting photographs. If you’d like to see them, 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!

Amazing, monumental The Shell nears completion!

Oh my goodness! Look at these photos! I took them today during a walk along San Diego’s waterfront, at Embarcadero Marina Park South.

San Diego Symphony’s monumental The Shell is nearing completion and it’s more amazing than I anticipated!

As I understand it, the San Diego’s Symphony’s popular summer concerts will resume this year, after being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And for the very first time, Bayside Summer Nights will be held at this permanent outdoor venue.

I spoke to a construction worker and he said the project is indeed nearing completion. I could see that landscaping is now underway, and that most of the structures seem about ready to go.

If you’d like to compare how the project appeared in late 2019, as it was just getting started, you can check out photos I took here. At the time the venue was referred to as Bayside Performance Park.

Today this outdoor stage, the only venue of its kind on the West Coast, whose acoustic quality is said to be as good as any indoor concert hall, and whose white “shell” is made of the same material as the San Diego Convention Center’s iconic sails, is simply called The Shell.

As I walked outside the construction fence peering at The Shell, I could immediately see that this extraordinary landmark will help further distinguish San Diego from every other city in the world, and is destined to become a beloved part of the already beautiful skyline.

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!