A look at the Woolworth Building in the Gaslamp.

Many fascinating old buildings stand in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Many were built in the late 1800’s during one of the city’s early booms.

I always enjoy looking at the 1886 Woolworth Building as I walk along Fifth Avenue south of Broadway. Not because its architecture is particularly unique or interesting. No, I see that word Woolworth near the rooftop and vague memories from my very early childhood flash inside my aged brain.

I recall how my parents would take me shopping at a Woolworth’s, and how I would always be treated to an ice cream at the store’s stainless steel lunch counter and soda fountain. Memories can be funny. Don’t ask me where this Woolworth store was. All I really remember is standing before all that ice cream, and always choosing Rocky Road.

So what happened to the F. W. Woolworth Company and their immense chain of retail stores? They morphed into Foot Locker! (Regrettably, I’m pretty sure most Foot Lockers don’t serve ice cream.)

Since you might have some difficulty reading the weathered plaque near the entrance to the Woolworth Building, I’ve tried to transcribe it correctly:

Woolworth Building, 1886. Originally Victorian in its architecture, this brick and wood frame building was used for retail stores on the first floor, offices on the second, and furnished rooms on the third. In 1922, Frank W. Woolworth, founder of the five-and-dime stores, had the building remodeled. The original Victorian bay windows were removed, and four Corinthian pilasters were added to a gray granite facade. Woolworth leased the structure for 50 years.

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Horton Plaza stripped and gutted!

Horton Plaza, the innovative outdoor shopping mall that was once a downtown San Diego attraction, has been stripped and gutted! Its redevelopment continues!

Six months ago I noted that demolition of parts of the old shopping mall had begun. I posted those photos and some information concerning the project here.

Well, take a look now!

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!

Holidays and Chula Vista shop windows.

As I walked through Chula Vista’s historic downtown yesterday, I peered into shop windows up and down Third Avenue.

Looking back out at me were colorful signs of the holiday season!

I saw Christmas trees, wreaths, beautiful ornaments and works of art, Hanukkah decorations, Nativity scenes, and multiple Santa Clauses!

On a late Saturday morning not too many people were about yet, but as I walked along I noticed eateries were beginning to set up on the sidewalk for the lunch hour. It appears to me the Third Avenue Village would be an ideal place to do your small business Christmas shopping!

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!

Bronze wildlife sculptures at Viejas outlet mall.

Many realistic bronze sculptures representing regional wildlife can be found all around the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine, California. This unique shopping mall, filled with beautiful artwork inspired by Native American Kumeyaay life and culture, is operated by the Viejas Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians of the Viejas Reservation.

The wildlife sculptures are found throughout the mall, among trees, on pedestrian walkways, even lurking atop artificial rocks and waterfalls. Families turning corners might encounter a bear, mule deer, mountain lions, a rattlesnake, coyote, river otter, Canada geese, and even desert bighorn sheep. Adult animals are often accompanied by their young. The bronze sculptures depict the animals interacting with each other naturally in their small realistic settings.

The wildlife sculptures were created by award-winning El Cajon artist Robert G. Berry, who began as a taxidermist before turning animal sculptor. His work can also be enjoyed at the San Diego Zoo, Cypress Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor and Interpretive Center, which is also in San Diego. To see a few examples of his half dozen bronze sculptures at Mission Trails, click here!

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Beautiful mosaics in Escondido sidewalk!

My Sunday walk along Grand Avenue in Escondido began at Centre City Parkway–the Mercado area across from the big Escondido landmark sign. Just as I started east down the sidewalk my eyes suddenly fell upon a gorgeous tile mosaic at my feet!

A quick exploration of the intersection and I found three more similar mosaics!

I’ve since learned that the four circular mosaics were created by local artist Tama Dumlao and installed in 2003. As you can see, they pay tribute to art, entertainment and shopping in Escondido’s historic downtown, and its Friday night Cruisin’ Grand tradition!

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!

Contemporary art sculptures at UTC mall.

I stopped by the UTC mall in University City last Saturday on my way from downtown San Diego to North County.

Laugh if you want, but it’s probably thirty or forty years since I last took a leisurely stroll around what used to be called University Towne Center. (When I was a young man, a friend and I would visit the arcade above the ice skating rink and play pinball, Defender, Galaga, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede…)

Over the past ten years, Westfield UTC has been renovated and enlarged. Today it’s not just a popular outdoor mall, but a major entertainment destination. (And before long the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, the construction of which appears to be making great progress, will terminate at the UTC Transit Center.)

As I wandered randomly about the mall last weekend, I noticed a number of very interesting sculptures along a stretch of its perimeter. Out came my camera. I read on some plaques that the three Beverly Pepper sculptures belong to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

After I got home and did a little research, I found out I’d missed other sculptures scattered throughout the mall. Perhaps I’ll have to make another visit in the future!

Here’s what I saw:

Three Graces (Madam in Bloom, Madam Elegance, Madam Beauty), Yuriy Akopov, 2016/2017…

Octo, Anthony Howe, 2015…

The First Amphitheater, Beverly Pepper, 1965…

West Coast School, Laddie John Dill, 2017…

Severio Column, Beverly Pepper, 1978…

Zeus Triad, Beverly Pepper, 1997-1999…

Radix, Joshua Koffman, 2017…

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!

Demolition and redevelopment at Horton Plaza!

Parts of Horton Plaza are now being demolished. The redevelopment of a downtown shopping mall that used to be a major tourist attraction is underway!

I walked around the old shopping mall and saw several places where the exterior facade is being torn down. At the south end, the large building that used to house Nordstrom (which closed its doors 4 years ago) and 24 Hour Fitness is wrapped up in white plastic. Check out the very odd-looking photograph above!

As you can see in another photograph, I walked past the small Post Office at Horton Plaza and it’s also now closed. Everything inside was being loaded onto a postal vehicle.

Horton Plaza Mall, when it opened in 1985, quickly became a popular San Diego tourist attraction, largely due to its unusual downtown location and wildly imaginative and colorful architecture.

I remember going there as a young man and being fascinated at how ramps and escalators led every which way, as if the mall were some crazy, asymmetric, three dimensional maze. The shopping center was designed using an idea relished by science fiction author Ray Bradbury. In his essay “The Aesthetics of Lostness” he extolled the virtues of getting safely lost in the world’s great cities, and how small adventures can result.

Horton Plaza, which gradually lost its popularity, is now being redeveloped into a 10-acre office campus that hopes to draw tech companies into downtown San Diego. There will be some retail space, too, with places to shop and eat. I’ve read that some of the interior bridges that I’ve always loved will be retained.

You can see photos that I took inside brightly colorful Horton Plaza many years ago here and 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!

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!

Handmade face masks for sale downtown!

If you need face coverings during the present coronavirus pandemic, today I discovered that handmade face masks are for sale downtown! They are being produced at Sante’s Tailoring located at 1150 7th Avenue, #1.

As I walked up Seventh Avenue, I saw a table covered with all sorts of colorful face coverings for sale, and met Luzney, who works in another of the building’s suites. Luzney’s Flowers and Gifts at 1150 7th Avenue, #2 has seen a sharp downturn in flower sales, as hotels are empty and weddings are put off during the COVID-19 crisis, so she’s helping to sew these cloth masks, too!

I learned from Luzney that the cotton, washable face masks will be for sale at this location Mondays through Fridays, from 9 am to 2 pm. If you live or work downtown, or just need some cool face masks once the countywide May 1 public face covering rules come into effect, either swing on by, or you can call their phone at 619-231-9898.

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!

Essential supplies at cost for elderly, vulnerable.

If you live in San Diego, here’s an exceptional offer you might want to check out!

I frequently walk past the Flamin’ Phó and Sushi Bar in downtown San Diego, located on Sixth Avenue at the base of Cortez Hill. Recently, during the current coronavirus pandemic, I’ve noticed a large sign in their window.

They are selling at cost essential supplies for the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, and delivery is available! Their Facebook page is here. According to the sign, they are providing this service with the help of our local Office Depot.

If you think this might help you, please read the info in my photograph and contact Flamin’ Phó and Sushi Bar to make sure the offer is still good and whether you qualify.

(I must say that over the years I’ve dropped by the restaurant from time to time for take out food, and it’s great!)

What an awesome way to help during the coronavirus pandemic! Neighbors coming together will help us all get through this difficult period.

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!

The revitalization of Seaport Village!

I was walking along the Embarcadero this evening after dark when I heard some music in the “Lighthouse District” of Seaport Village. I headed over to see what was going on.

To my delight, I discovered a serious attempt is being made to revitalize Seaport Village, and the concert I stumbled upon is part of this effort. The weekly event is called Seaport Sessions.

Important speakers from around San Diego provide presentations about art, culture, history and other fascinating subjects every Thursday evening, followed by drinks and live music at the East Plaza Gazebo. (Next Thursday Adam Smith, Executive Director of the Comic-Con Museum will be the speaker!)

Learn more at the Seaport Sessions page here.

I also observed that Seaport Village now offers a podcast studio for rent, and I stepped inside for a moment and took the following photo.

I asked a few questions of a nice lady, and she informed me that Seaport Village is working to upgrade its image and will be getting new tenants. From what I could gather, the long term plan to redevelop Seaport Village into a completely different, greatly enlarged Seaport San Diego is apparently in flux and any groundbreaking is still many years away.

I have special childhood memories of Seaport Village, so it has pained me to watch its gradual decline in recent years. But now things appear to be on the upswing!

I hope so!

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!