Cool art and history in Solana Beach.

A woodie with surfboard under palm trees and a shining sun. This mosaic greets people walking down the sidewalk in Solana Beach.
A woodie with surfboard under palm trees and a shining sun. This mosaic greets people walking down the sidewalk in Solana Beach.

During my visit to Fiesta del Sol in Solana Beach last weekend, I walked around the area of Lomas Santa Fe Drive, South Cedros Avenue and Highway 101 searching for cool sights.

I found some colorful art and images of local history which I’ll now share!

Nearby Fletcher Cove was named after “Colonel” Ed Fletcher, who developed Solana Beach and contributed in the early 20th century to the history of San Diego. As businessman and politician, he was the driving force behind many important accomplishments. He created Lake Hodges and other area reservoirs; he built the plank road through the desert that connected San Diego to Yuma, Arizona; he helped save Balboa Park’s temporary buildings from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition from destruction; he raised money to purchase land for the Naval Training Station on Point Loma; he also acquired a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo that was a gift to California from Portugal–an iconic sculpture that now stands at Cabrillo National Monument overlooking San Diego Bay.

A fascinating electrical box at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Plaza Street contains photos of Solana Beach’s origin and early history.

Grill in sidewalk marks historic U.S. Route 101 (also known as Pacific Coast Highway) where it passes through Solana Beach.
Grill in sidewalk marks historic U.S. Route 101 (also known as Pacific Coast Highway) where it passes through Solana Beach.
An electrical box celebrates the origin and early history of Solana Beach in San Diego's North County.
An electrical box celebrates the origin and early history of Solana Beach in San Diego’s North County. Pictured on the right is Ed Fletcher.
Fletcher Cove opened on July 4, 1925, giving Solana Beach easy access to the shore. A celebration was held that included horse races along the sand.
Fletcher Cove opened on July 4, 1925, giving Solana Beach easy access to the ocean. A celebration was held that included horse races along the sand.
Early photo of Solana Beach, which was developed by Ed Fletcher as a commercial center for nearby Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar.
Early photo of Solana Beach, which was developed by Ed Fletcher as a commercial center for nearby Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar.
Old photos decorating the electrical box were provided by the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society.
Old photos decorating the electrical box were provided by the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society.
Horses race along the beach as the opening of Fletcher Cove is celebrated.
Horses race along the beach as the opening of Fletcher Cove is celebrated.
Cool mosaic artwork on Pacific Coast Highway shows marine life in the nearby ocean.
Cool mosaic artwork on Pacific Coast Highway shows marine life in the nearby ocean.
An octopus.
An octopus.
A graceful fish.
A graceful fish.
Another beautiful fish made of small ceramic tiles.
Another beautiful fish made of small ceramic tiles.
Nostalgic artwork on an electrical transformer on South Cedros Avenue shows people on the deck of a luxurious ship.
Nostalgic artwork on an electrical transformer on South Cedros Avenue shows people lounging on the deck of a luxurious ship.
More cool street art decorates a utility box on Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach.
More cool street art decorates a utility box on Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach.
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.

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Sunlight, smiles, and colorful Urban Trees.

Cool public art is now located at Ruocco Park, right next to Tuna Harbor on San Diego Bay.
Colorful public art is now located at Ruocco Park, right next to Tuna Harbor on San Diego Bay.

During my early evening walk along the Embarcadero today I noticed that four Urban Trees sculptures owned by the Port of San Diego have recently been moved from the front of the Cruise Ship Terminal to Ruocco Park.

I was taking photos of the play of sunlight on boats and buildings, and snapped a few pics of these public sculptures as I walked past them. At the time it didn’t occur to me that I’d devote tonight’s blog post to these images. But I like how they turned out!

Perhaps you recognize these sculptures. I’ve shown them two or three times over the years on Cool San Diego Sights. The Port of San Diego acquired a number of these Urban Trees sculptures for their public art collection, and they are moved about every so often. Urban Trees was a series of public art exhibitions along the Embarcadero years ago, before I began to blog.

Smiley face on a pedicab heads toward four Urban Trees. The Port of San Diego public sculptures were recently moved from the Cruise Ship Terminal to Ruocco Park.
Smiley face on a pedicab heads toward four Urban Trees just before sunset. These unique Port of San Diego public sculptures were recently moved from the Cruise Ship Terminal to Ruocco Park.
Orange Tree, by artists Guy and Ellen Mayenobe, 2007. Originally exhibited on the Embarcadero during Urban Trees 4.
Orange Tree, by artists Guy and Ellen Mayenobe, 2007. Originally exhibited on the Embarcadero during Urban Trees 4.
Closer photo of late sunlight on A Different But Loving Pair, by artist Cecilia Stanford, 2005. Originally exhibited during Urban Trees 2.
Photo of late sunlight reflecting from section of A Different But Loving Pair, by artist Cecilia Stanford, 2005. Originally exhibited during Urban Trees 2.

For a more complete look at A Different But Loving Pair, click here.

A dog plays with someone near the base of Fish Tree, by artists Zbigniew Pingot and Toby Flores, from the Urban Trees 2 waterfront exhibition years ago.
A dog plays with someone near the base of Fish Tree, by artists Zbigniew Pingot and Toby Flores, from the Urban Trees 2 waterfront exhibition years ago.

You can see all of Fish Tree by clicking here.

Like crystals shining in the sun. The top of Tap Root and Growth, by artist Christopher Lee, originally exhibited during Urban Trees 3.
Like crystals shining in the sun. Looking up at Tap Root and Growth, by artist Christopher Lee, originally exhibited during Urban Trees 3.

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!

Spring flowers shine in the May gray!

An overcast May gray day.

After work I walked through Balboa Park. The clouds were gloomy, no sun in sight. But the park’s many spring flowers were reservoirs of light.

I found shining beauty wherever I turned.

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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Photos of historic centennial U.S. Air Mail flight!

A vintage biplane is almost ready to embark on an historic flight.
A vintage biplane is almost ready to embark on an historic flight.

Today I witnessed a bit of history. I headed to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field to watch three vintage Stearman Speedmail biplanes take off on the first leg of the old Contract Air Mail 8 (CAM 8) route.

The very special six-day event marks the centennial of United States Air Mail service, which began on May 15,1918 with a flight from Washington D.C. to New York. Today’s flight, endorsed by the U.S. Postal Service, was the beginning of a 1200 mile journey up the West Coast that will include 12 stops, finally ending at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

Many hobbyists, pilots and history enthusiasts were on hand to see the trio of vintage biplanes begin their commemorative flight. I read that only seven Stearman Speedmail airplanes survive today; 41 were originally built to transport the U.S. Mail by air.

As the planes taxied down the runway for takeoff, a friendly gentleman provided me with a little more history. I learned the original CAM 8 route up the West Coast took about two days, depending on the weather and the wind. He explained how the highly dependable Stearman Speedmail planes have a powerful 450-horsepower engine, and we observed how they took to the air very quickly. In the early days of aviation, before modern airports with lengthy runways, this was a requirement.

I also learned that many other owners of vintage aircraft flew in for today’s event, parking their colorful planes outside the Allen Airways Flying Museum. The museum itself is home to a variety of cool, historical aircraft, and welcomes visitors by appointment.

Here come some photos!

One of three Stearman Speedmail biplanes which will fly from San Diego to Seattle to commemorate the centennial of U.S. Air Mail service.
One of three Stearman Speedmail biplanes which will fly from San Diego to Seattle to commemorate the centennial of U.S. Air Mail service.
Mail collected at a USPS table is put into a canvas airmail bag. Each piece will be postmarked at the 12 stops along the 1200 mile flight.
Special mail collected at a USPS table is put into a canvas airmail bag. Each piece will be postmarked at the 12 stops along the 1200 mile flight.
The City of El Cajon issued a proclamation to mark the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Airmail Service.
The City of El Cajon issued a proclamation to mark the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Airmail Service.
A Ford U.S. Air Mail truck was on display during the event, courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
A vintage Ford U.S. Air Mail truck was on display during the event, courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
Loading a sack of official U.S. Mail into a cockpit of one Stearman Speedmail biplane.
Loading a sack of official U.S. Mail into the front of one Stearman Speedmail biplane.
Another plane participating in the event awaits nearby.
Another plane participating in the event waits nearby.
People roll the biplane off the grass so that it can taxi away from the Allen Airways Flying Museum.
People roll the biplane off the grass so that it can taxi away from the Allen Airways Flying Museum.
These two planes are ready to safely head out onto the Gillespie Field runway.
These two planes are ready to safely head out onto the Gillespie Field runway.
It's almost 11:45, the time the three planes will start their U.S. Air Mail centennial celebration flight.
It’s almost 11:45, the time the three planes will start their U.S. Air Mail centennial celebration flight.
The first Stearman Speedmail biplane taxis out onto the runway.
The first Stearman Speedmail biplane taxis out onto the runway.
It slowly heads down the runway to prepare for takeoff.
It slowly heads down the runway to prepare for takeoff.
The second Stearman Speedmail aircraft follows.
The second Stearman Speedmail aircraft follows.
And here comes the third. An historic flight will soon begin!
And here comes the third. An historic flight will soon begin!
The trio of vintage biplanes heads down to the end of the airport's runway.
The trio of vintage biplanes heads down to the end of the airport’s runway.
People watch as the Air Mail centennial celebration flight begins in San Diego!
People watch as the Air Mail centennial celebration flight begins in San Diego!
A vintage biplane plane flies north, beginning a 12-stop 1200-mile flight that retraces the Contract Mail 8 (CAM 8) air mail route.
A vintage biplane flies north, beginning a 12-stop 1200-mile flight that retraces the Contract Mail 8 (CAM 8) air mail route.
A wonderful day in El Cajon, and a bit of history, too!
Today many enjoyed a fun celebration of American history at Gillespie Field in El Cajon!

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!

Cortez Hill blooms at Jacaranda Flower Fest!

Many jacaranda trees add color to downtown San Diego's Cortez Hill neighborhood.
Jacaranda trees add color to downtown San Diego’s beautiful Cortez Hill neighborhood.

Today I headed to Ocean Beach to check out a big kite festival. As I left my home atop Cortez Hill, and when I returned home a few hours later, I wandered through a fun neighborhood event just outside my front door. What in years past was playfully called the Jacaranda Spring Thing is now the Jacaranda Flower Fest. The event is organized every spring by the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

One nice aspect of living atop Cortez Hill are all the flowers. Especially along Tweet Street Park.

Another reason why I love to walk outdoors every day!

As I was leaving home in the morning, I spotted this nice lady setting up a table for the Jacaranda Flower Fest on Cortez Hill.
As I was leaving home in the morning, I spotted this nice lady setting up a table for the Jacaranda Flower Fest on Cortez Hill.
Later in the day, the Flower Fest was underway. Neighbors relax and enjoy a fun community event.
Later in the day, the Flower Fest was underway. Neighbors relax and enjoy a fun community event.
Little Dandelions had some activities at the Flower Fest. They are a non-profit organization based in Imperial Beach. Their mission is to inspire and teach the importance of agriculture to all ages.
Little Dandelions had some activities at the Flower Fest. They are a non-profit organization based in Imperial Beach. Their mission is to inspire and teach the importance of agriculture to all ages.
Visitors to the Jacaranda Flower Fest could propagate a succulent cutting in a small pot.
Visitors to the Jacaranda Flower Fest could propagate a succulent cutting in a small pot.
There are many flowers on Cortez Hill along linear Tweet Street Park.
There are many flowers on Cortez Hill along linear Tweet Street Park.
I took this beautiful photo at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Date Street.
I took this beautiful photo at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Date Street.
More flowers!
More flowers along Tweet Street!
Local chalk artist Cecelia Linayao creates a beautiful jacaranda themed work of art on Date Street.
Local artist Cecelia Linayao creates a beautiful jacaranda-themed piece of chalk art on Date Street.

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!

Tuna fishermen remembered at Piazza Pescatore.

Piazza Pescatore is a beautiful place to relax and linger at the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Fir Street.
Piazza Pescatore is a beautiful place where neighbors can relax and mingle at the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Fir Street.

In Little Italy, at the corner of and Kettner Boulevard and Fir Street, you’ll find Piazza Pescatore. The small community gathering place features a bronze sculpture and beautiful fountain, and plaques that remember the history of the many hard-working tuna fishermen that inhabited this San Diego neighborhood decades ago.

The artists who created this cool public artwork are sculptor Gregory Reade and mosaic artist Kim Emerson.

A bronze sculpture of a tuna fishermen holding his catch. Piazza Pescatore was donated by Bumble Bee Seafoods, which is headquartered in San Diego.
A bronze sculpture of a tuna fishermen holding his catch. Piazza Pescatore was donated by Bumble Bee Seafoods, which is headquartered in San Diego.
A plaque honors the men and women of the tuna industry who helped build San Diego's Little Italy.
A plaque honors the men and women of the tuna industry who helped build San Diego’s Little Italy.
More plaques at Piazza Pescatore honor those who helped to make San Diego the tuna capital of the world during much of the 20th century.
More plaques at Piazza Pescatore honor those who made San Diego the tuna capital of the world during much of the 20th century.
A colorful circle of artwork on the nearby sidewalk shows women with baskets and bountiful fresh fish.
A colorful circle of artwork on the nearby sidewalk shows women with baskets and bountiful fresh fish.

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!

Cool sights observed during several walks.

Sculpture of a winged cherub sits above a service entrance to the Horton Plaza shopping mall on Fourth Avenue.
Sculpture of a winged cherub sits above a service entrance to the Horton Plaza shopping mall on Fourth Avenue.

Whenever I walk around town, my eyes are constantly roving, searching.

During the past few days I spied a variety of cool sights. Many were familiar but observed with fresh eyes; others to my eyes were entirely new.

Almost all of these photographs were taken in downtown San Diego. If you read the captions, you’ll note that one photo was taken in Mission Valley.

Every day is a new voyage of discovery.

Late light on Pacific Soul, a fantastic new sculpture by Jaume Plensa.
Late light on Pacific Soul, a fantastic new sculpture by Jaume Plensa.
Light fixtures mingle with reflections. Magic in one window of Urban Lighting.
Light fixtures mingle with reflections. Magic in one window of Urban Lighting.
Magic Shop San Diego and a street lamp that seems to have mysteriously materialized inside their store.
Magic Shop San Diego and a street lamp that seems to have mysteriously materialized inside their store.
A colorful Rabbitville bunny inside a window of the Hilton Gaslamp.
A colorful Rabbitville bunny that celebrates San Diego inside a window of the Hilton Gaslamp.
Lucha Libre masks peer down from an upper level of Petco Park.
Lucha Libre masks peer down from an upper level of Petco Park.
Cool ornamentation on a building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and E Street.
Cool ornamentation on a building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and E Street.
Looking up at one of the geometrically fascinating, glass Pacific Center towers in Mission Valley.
Looking up at one of the geometrically fascinating Pacific Center towers in Mission Valley.
Ornamental detail at entrance to the elegant 1928 San Diego Trust and Savings Bank Building, now home to Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown.
Ornamental detail at entrance to the elegant 1928 San Diego Trust and Savings Bank Building, now home to Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown.
Late light on San Diego's iconic 1938 County Administration Building.
Late light on San Diego’s iconic 1938 County Administration Building.
Gazing straight up toward the roof of the 1929 Samuel L. Fox Building at Sixth Avenue and Broadway.
Gazing straight up toward the roof of the elaborate 1929 Samuel L. Fox Building at Sixth Avenue and Broadway.
A tangle of rope inside the window of Crab Hut on Broadway.
A tangle of rope inside the window of Crab Hut on Broadway.
Stained glass windows add character to the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop - Gaslamp.
Stained glass windows add character to the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop – Gaslamp.
Medallion-like relief sculpture of explorer Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador on a corner of the 1924 John D. Spreckels Building.
Medallion-like relief sculpture of explorer Cabrillo’s galleon San Salvador on a corner of the 1924 John D. Spreckels Building.

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!