Patterned tile benches outside Santa Fe Depot.

Some very unique benches are arranged around the perimeter of the outdoor courtyard at downtown’s Santa Fe Depot. The courtyard, featuring a fountain near its center, is located directly south of the large passenger waiting room.

These tile benches present an eye-pleasing variety of colorful patterns. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice their symmetric patterns are derived from the “cross” of the Santa Fe Railway logo, which consists of a cross inside a circle.

During an architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot that I took a couple years ago, I learned these benches were installed in the 1980’s. I learned quite a lot during that special tour! If you want to read more about the historic train station, and about the original forecourt that existed a hundred years ago, long before these outdoor benches appeared, you can find images and descriptions from that architectural tour here.

For an example of the Santa Fe railroad’s logo, check out the next photo from that tour. It was taken inside the enormous and truly amazing passenger waiting room.

Now on to the outdoor benches…

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Hotel, shops coming to Santa Fe Depot!

Today I learned a very big change is coming to downtown San Diego’s historic Santa Fe Depot!

This morning, after noticing the building’s exterior is getting a new paint job, I spoke to a gentleman outside the Amtrak office and asked if he knew whether the new owner still plans to renovate the building. I was surprised to hear that this year there will indeed be a major renovation of the building, including the opening up of an interior stairwell that will lead to a small new hotel and shops on the depot’s second floor!

I asked if there were plans to develop the depot’s old forecourt by Broadway, where there are tile benches and a broken fountain, and where streetcars picked up passengers arriving by train a century ago, but he knew nothing concerning that.

He and I agreed that it would be a amazing if the large Santa Fe sign atop the historic depot were finally lit up at night, adding more character to San Diego’s skyline. I’d heard a couple years ago during an architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot that lighting the sign was a project that might lie in the future.

This all was news to me!

Very cool news!

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 mysterious morning fog downtown.

Fog crept into San Diego last night. In the early morning it was obscuring the tops of buildings.

I walked through downtown and finally reached the Embarcadero. The water was quiet, gray and perfectly smooth.

Fog had swallowed the distance.

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!

Student voices visualized in public art.

The voices of local high school students can now be “heard” in the breezeway between the Santa Fe Depot and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The artwork represents what youth in San Diego observe and are taught. The emphasis is on power. I was glad to observe one young person is thirsty for knowledge.

Rènn (Queen), 2019, Xeviah Jordan. Mount Miguel High School.
Rènn (Queen), 2019, Xeviah Jordan. Mount Miguel High School.
This work is about women's empowerment. It shows how women can be dominant and on top.
This work is about women’s empowerment. It shows how women can be dominant and on top.
Observe and Procure, 2019, Eric Gallegos, Jose Jimenez, Marc Robledo. High Tech High North County.
Observe and Procure, 2019, Eric Gallegos, Jose Jimenez, Marc Robledo. High Tech High North County.
Our artwork is a wall and it represents how everyone is being watched by someone or something.
Our artwork is a wall and it represents how everyone is being watched by someone or something.
Reach, 2019, Vanessa Townsend. Mount Miguel High School.
Reach, 2019, Vanessa Townsend. Mount Miguel High School.
This piece is meant to portray a reach for knowledge and a desire to want to learn more.
This piece is meant to portray a reach for knowledge and a desire to want to learn more.

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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Baggage, a silvery orb, and contemporary art.

A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD's historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD’s historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

On Sunday I headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to enjoy a tour of their downtown Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building. This historic building was one of many fascinating sites that the public could explore during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

I arrived early and walked about the building’s spacious galleries, gazing up toward the high ceiling and around corners at intriguing artwork. The current exhibition is titled Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. Trevor Paglen, a MacArthur Award-winning artist who lived as a child on military bases, creates pieces that concern mass surveillance and individual privacy. According to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego website, he “blurs the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to construct unfamiliar and at times unsettling ways to see and interpret the world around us . . . in Paglen’s photographs the infrastructure of surveillance is also apparent—a classified military installation, a spy satellite, a tapped communications cable, a drone, an artificial intelligence . . .”

When it was time for the architectural tour to begin, our small group gathered near the museum’s entrance and we learned a little about the very unique Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

The building at first glance appears to be an extension of the Santa Fe Depot, San Diego’s downtown train station. In fact, what is now called the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building used to be the baggage building of the depot, and is separated from the train station’s passenger waiting room by an arched outdoor breezeway. The Santa Fe Depot, which is now a transit center that also serves Amtrak, was built in 1915 by Bakewell & Brown to accommodate travelers coming to San Diego for the Panama-California Exposition held in Balboa Park.

As decades passed, and travel by train waned, much less space was required at the station for baggage. Because of its historical importance, the huge old baggage building couldn’t be torn down or substantially altered.

The enormous interior space, large beautiful windows and high ceilings were perfect for a unique downtown art gallery. In 2007, the structure was converted by Gluckman Mayner Architects into an extraordinary downtown space for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The downtown MCASD usually features more experimental art than their La Jolla location, so the unusually large galleries can be put to good use. I learned that past exhibitions have included some monumental artwork, even a full-size translucent polyester fabric and stainless steel “New York” apartment, complete with major appliances!

To explore art inside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is a remarkable experience. It’s like moving through a vast inner world where small dreams become large. Just as a museum should be!

Looking across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now home to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Looking west across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now used by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
At the north end of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
At the north end of the historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
The David C. Copley Building has featured additional gallery space, but now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
In the past the David C. Copley Building has provided additional gallery space. It now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
Sign in front of MCASD's entrance entices visitors to come in and gaze at the orb.
Sign in front of MCASD’s entrance invites passersby to come in and gaze at the orb.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The building seen to the right is MCASD's original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The two-story building seen to the right is MCASD’s original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
As visitors enter the museum, artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catch the eye.
As visitors enter the museum, massive artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catches the eye.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse and trolley and train platforms at Santa Fe Depot.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse, and trolley and train platforms at downtown’s Santa Fe Depot.
One of several large cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005
One of several large steel cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by artist Trevor Paglen.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by contemporary artist Trevor Paglen.
More artwork by the large arched windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD's unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
More artwork by the large arching windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD’s unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego enjoy photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego view photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (click to enlarge)
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
True Art ... (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
True Art … (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
A look into a spacious art gallery inside MCASD's Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A look into a spacious gallery inside MCASD’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
"Fanon" (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
“Fanon” (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
Amazing sights await eyes at downtown's Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!
Astonishing sights await curious eyes at downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!

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 small bird, and humor’s saving grace.

This morning I published another short story. This one is titled The Station Sparrow.

The humorous little tale was inspired by my own life experience.

I often see birds inside the enormous passenger waiting room of Santa Fe Depot, the train station in downtown San Diego. Feathered infiltrators come through the wide open doors and walk about the floor pecking at crumbs.

That got me to thinking. And imagining. And laughing.

The Station Sparrow is mostly about life, and humor’s saving grace. Click the link to read it.

I hope it makes you laugh, too.

Glorious sunset seen from Santa Fe Depot!

The sunset this evening was absolutely glorious.

I was walking along the long train platform of San Diego’s downtown Santa Fe Depot when the clouds began to really blaze. Fantastic light reflected from the windows of nearby high-rise condos and several hotels to the west. As night fell, dramatic color crowned dark palm trees.

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!