Colorful gifts and history at The Black in OB.

Windows at The Black contain all sorts of sights that fit right in with the laid-back, alternative OB lifestyle.
Windows at The Black contain all sorts of sights that fit right in with the laid-back, unconventional OB lifestyle.

Walk through Ocean Beach, particularly down Newport Avenue, and you’ll pass all sorts of weirdly wonderful shops. Look into some windows and you might think you traveled by time machine back to the 60’s.

I paused for a moment in front of The Black, a store that sells stuff that fits perfectly with OB’s alternative lifestyle. Coming down the sidewalk were surfers, retired hippies, free-spirited youth and sandal-wearing professionals. I looked into one window filled with dragon figurines and small toy robots.

My eye was then caught by a nearby historical sign. It explained that The Black’s rather plain-looking building, dating from 1918, has been home to a variety of more traditional grocery stores and markets selling meat, fruit and fresh produce. But that was decades ago. Long before the counterculture’s rise in the 1960’s.

One fascinating thing about history is that a community can change in ways that seem rather unexpected!

The Black in Ocean Beach occupies a building with a unique history. Greeson Hardware was once here, as were various markets, and the USO.
The Black in Ocean Beach occupies a building with a unique history. Greeson Hardware was once here, as were various markets, and the USO.
Old photo on the building at 5017 Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach shows a couple of local markets. The Black's owner won the right to lease in the building after winning a card game across the street.
Historical photo on the building at 5017 Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach shows past markets. The Black’s owner won the right to lease in the building after winning a card game across the street.
In the window of The Black I see Gumby, Mr. Bill, some drums, guitar strings and a Grateful Dead baby onesie.
In the window of The Black I see Gumby, Mr. Bill, some drums, guitar strings and a Grateful Dead baby onesie.
All sorts of cool, unconventional stuff can be seen in a store window at The Black.
Smoke shop items and other diverse gifts can be seen in the front windows of The Black in Ocean Beach.
I see some fun, nostalgic robot toys!
I see some fun, nostalgic robot toys!
I also see a Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band tin tote and a Super Mario figure.
I also see a Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band tin tote and a Super Mario figure.

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!

Collecting memories from Marston’s Department Store.

Remembering Marston's Department Store. Please help the Save Our Heritage Organisation gather artifacts and memories to preserve a part of San Diego history.
Please help the Save Our Heritage Organisation gather artifacts and memories to preserve a part of San Diego history. (Click this photo to enlarge the flyer for easy reading.)

I recently tood a photo of a flyer that I spotted in the Senior Lounge in Balboa Park. Please click the above image and read it.

Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) is seeking memorabilia, ephemera, merchandise and memories from Marston’s Department Store, which for nearly a century was the most elegant place to shop in San Diego. The department store was founded by George Marston, who is often referred to as San Diego’s First Citizen. As a civic leader and philanthropist, he was instrumental in creating Balboa Park, Presidio Park and the San Diego Historical Society.

Marston began as a clerk at the Horton House Hotel and eventually built the Marston Company, which ran a department store in San Diego. When earlier locations became outgrown, the large, elegant Marston’s Department Store on C Street, between 5th and 6th Street, built in the Renaissance Revival architectural style, opened in 1912 and became a popular downtown shopping destination. In 1961 it was sold by his family to The Broadway, which has since closed.

Artifacts related to Marston’s Department Store will be used by SOHO in a permanent exhibit inside their Marston House Museum in Balboa Park. Items that you contribute can be sent or delivered to the SOHO offices in Old Town. Recorded memories are also sought. The 2018 exhibit celebrates the 140th anniversary of the store’s founding!

Do you know anyone who shopped at Marston’s Department Store those many years ago? Perhaps they can help the Save Our Heritage Organisation with this very cool project!

George Marston, circa 1907-1908, San Diego businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.
George Marston, circa 1907-1908, San Diego businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of The San Diego Union newspaper from Monday Morning, January 1, 1912. Depicted is the brand new Marston Department Store. The headline reads: Modern Mercantile Emporium One of Best Three on Coast.
Photo of San Diego Union newspaper from Monday morning, January 1, 1912. Depicted is a brand new Marston Department Store. The headline reads: Modern Mercantile Emporium One of Best Three on Coast.

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!

California Native Plant Society in Balboa Park.

People check potted greenery during the California Native Plant Society's Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park.
People look at potted greenery during the California Native Plant Society’s Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park.

Yesterday the California Native Plant Society had their Fall Plant Sale in Balboa Park. I stumbled upon the cool event during my random walk through the park.

Lots of people were looking at all sorts of potted plants, perhaps thinking of making a purchase for their yards. Residents of San Diego are encouraged to use native flora for landscaping. San Diego has a cool arid climate, and like the rest of Southern California our growing city has a limited supply of water.

Many plants and flowers native to the San Diego region were for sale in the outdoor courtyard of the Casa del Prado.
Many plants and flowers native to the San Diego region were for sale in the outdoor courtyard of the Casa del Prado.
Balboa Park's iconic California Tower is seen through an archway at the Casa del Prado.
Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower is seen through an archway at the Casa del Prado.
Many packets of seeds were also for sale.
Many packets of seeds were also for sale.
Fred Roberts, a local botanist, artist and author had some of his beautiful bird art for sale at one end of the long table.
Fred Roberts, a local botanist, artist and author had some of his beautiful bird art for sale at one end of the long table.
He also created these flower shirts.
He also created these flower shirts.
One good thing about native plants is they don't require very much water. We live in an arid climate!
One very good thing about native plants is they don’t require much water. San Diego has an arid climate!

If you’d like to see some photos of the House of Spain’s lawn program in Balboa Park yesterday, which included lots of colorful dancing, I posted those 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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Quick peek at the SoCal Etsy Guild Market!

The SoCal Etsy Guild Market took place today in Horton Plaza Park.
The SoCal Etsy Guild Market took place today in Horton Plaza Park.

My walk downtown today took me through Horton Plaza Park, where I came upon a very cool event.

The SoCal Etsy Guild Market had drawn a nice crowd of curious shoppers! Lots of handmade, original goodies were for sale by all sorts of crafts makers and artists…

I took a few photos as I wandered through…

Lots of cool crafts and artwork was for sale!
Lots of cool crafts and artwork was for sale!
Shoppers wore big smiles.
Shoppers wore big smiles.
Izzy's Sounds is on Etsy. He makes one-of-a-kind bluetooth speakers out of vintage radios and other interesting objects.
Izzy’s Sounds is on Etsy. He makes one-of-a-kind bluetooth speakers out of vintage radios and other interesting objects.
An artist advises us to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air. Sounds wise to me!
An artist advises us to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air. Sounds wise to me!
It appears a good crowd turned out for SoCal Etsy Guild Market in downtown San Diego!
It appears a good crowd turned out for SoCal Etsy Guild Market in downtown 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!

Buy tasty salsa and help homeless Veterans!

Buy some tasty Military Salsa and help those who've served in the military transition back to civilian life.
Buy some tasty Military Salsa and help those who’ve served in the military transition back to civilian life.

The nonprofit Welcome Home Soldier Foundation had a tent at yesterday’s Mariachi Festival.  I learned their mission is to help those who’ve served in the military make the sometimes difficult transition back to civilian life. They have a very important project called Operation Sleeping Bag. They are providing homeless Veterans with sleeping bags.

Do you like to add tasty salsa to chips, tacos or breakfast burritos? The Welcome Home Soldier Foundation produces Military Salsas. The salsas come in many flavors, mild to hot, and the proceeds go to support this organization’s charitable work.

You can buy the salsas (and chips) online here! (Scroll down the page and you’ll see them.)

Sounds like a tasty, generous way to help Veterans who’d appreciate a helping hand!

Jars and bottles of salsa--from mild to spicy!
Jars and bottles of salsa–from mild to spicy!
Banner explains mission of the Welcome Home Soldier Foundation. Operation Sleeping Bag helps homeless Veterans.
Banner explains mission of the nonprofit Welcome Home Soldier Foundation. Operation Sleeping Bag helps homeless Veterans.

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Colorful map shows San Diego neighborhoods!

Cool map made of colorful words shows different neighborhoods, lakes, beaches and parks in San Diego.
Cool map made of colorful words shows different neighborhoods, lakes, beaches and parks in San Diego.

I was walking through the Horton Plaza shopping mall this morning when I spotted this awesome map of San Diego decorating one side of a vendor’s cart. It shows our city’s neighborhoods using their colorful names! It’s so cool I had to take a picture!

I’m not sure whether this graphic is available for purchase, however. The vendor hadn’t opened yet.  If I recall, they were on the ground level not far from the Jessop’s Clock.

The colorful windows of Seaport Village.

Christmas angels peer out of a window at Silver Crossing in Seaport Village.
Christmas angels peer out of a window at Silver Crossing in Seaport Village.

Radical changes are coming to nearly 40-year-old Seaport Village. A redevelopment plan that was recently approved will transform the quaint collection of shops and restaurants on downtown’s waterfront into a massive complex called Seaport San Diego.  The new development will contain even more shopping and dining options, several hotels, a 480-foot observation tower, a public beach, aquarium, Smithsonian attraction, and more.

Many of the shops that people have come to know over the years will vanish. Admittedly, Seaport Village today is a touristy hodgepodge. One wouldn’t really expect to see a New England lighthouse in Southern California. But no matter. I still enjoy meandering through on a sunny weekend! There are buskers aplenty and live music and people-watching and the nearby grassy park with kites flying in the breeze. And onion rings and pretzels and ice cream!

And there are the windows. Kaleidoscope windows. Windows winking with color. Windows painted with unexpected images. Windows full of gaudy trinkets, the typical souvenirs, whimsical novelties, and even a rare treasure or two you’ll find nowhere else.

Here are a few of the windows.

A lady holding a colorful bouquet in the window of Seaport Deli and Salad Bar.
A lady holding a colorful bouquet in the window of Seaport Deli and Salad Bar.
Beach, clouds, muffin and coffee in a window of the Seaport Cookie Company.
Beach, clouds, muffin and coffee in a window of the Seaport Cookie Company.
Exotic masks for a masquerade in a window of Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffeehouse.
Exotic masks for a masquerade in one window of Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffeehouse.
Floral designs around one window of the Seaport Fudge Factory.
Floral designs around one window of the Seaport Fudge Factory.
Window mural painted by San Diego artist Joel Sharp in 1996. You can find it in Seaport Village at Margaritas Kitchen and Cantina.
Window mural painted by San Diego artist Joel Sharp in 1996. You can find it in Seaport Village at Margaritas Kitchen and Cantina.
Christopher M., known as The Painter of Chefs, has samples of his work displayed in one window of Exclusive Collections Gallery in Seaport Village.
Christopher M., known as The Painter of Chefs, has samples of his work displayed in one window of Exclusive Collections Gallery in Seaport Village.
Delightful characters fill the window at The Mugger in Seaport Village.
Delightful characters fill the window at The Mugger in Seaport Village.
A window full of irresistible treats at the Seaport Cookie Company.
A window full of irresistible treats at the Seaport Cookie Company.
Three smiling faces in the Upstart Crow window. Can you spot all three.
There are several smiling faces in this Upstart Crow window. Can you spot all three?
Zoltar the fortune teller will read your future from his own small window.
Zoltar the fortune teller will read your future from his own small window.
Coral and other beautiful objects in a window of Seaport Village Shell Co. Limited.
Coral and other beautiful objects in a window of Seaport Village Shell Co. Limited.
Tourists might take home a glittery San Diego sombrero once they glimpse these in the window of Mexican Fiesta.
Tourists might take home a glittery San Diego sombrero once they glimpse these in the window of Mexican Fiesta.
Sunflowers and blue window frames at Frost Me Gourmet Cupcakes in Seaport Village.
Sunflowers and blue window frames at Frost Me Gourmet Cupcakes in Seaport Village.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego!  Are you curious?  There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.