Cool idea: San Diego Bay to Balboa Park Skyway!

Conceptual art displayed by County of San Diego Supervisor Ron Roberts at CityFest shows proposed aerial skyway from downtown to Balboa Park.
Conceptual art displayed by County of San Diego Supervisor Ron Roberts at CityFest shows proposed aerial skyway from downtown to Balboa Park.

I just got back from walking through CityFest in Hillcrest. Lots of cool pics are coming! But first, I saw some conceptual artwork being displayed by San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts that has renewed my enthusiasm for a proposed transportation project.

The proposal, which I read about months ago, is for an aerial tramway, or skyway, which would connect downtown San Diego to Balboa Park. It’s an idea that’s both visionary and practical!

San Diego is an extremely popular tourist destination. There are many great things to see, including beautiful, amazing, enormous Balboa Park. Balboa Park, over a mile (to its center) from downtown, is often said to be one of the two best urban parks in America, along with New York City’s Central Park. But there’s one problem. If you don’t have a rental car, you must reach it on foot, by rented bicycle, taxi, or by city or tour bus. For some tourists this might be impractical, too time consuming, or unappealing. A skyway linking downtown’s many hotels, attractions and convenient trolley network to Balboa Park, I believe, would be wildly successful.

Can you imagine all the folks who work in offices downtown, easily heading up to Balboa Park during lunchtime? Can you imagine how visually unique and appealing such a project, tastefully designed, might be? Forget a Ferris wheel or tower on the waterfront, I say. That’s been done elsewhere.  Let’s create something that’s both fun and extremely useful!

Living atop Cortez Hill, directly between downtown and Balboa Park, I can’t tell you how often I’ve given directions to lost San Diego visitors. They drive north only to reach a dead end at Tweet Street Park. They have to navigate confusing one way streets to find their way across Interstate 5, then figure out how to enter Balboa Park and locate a parking place. An aerial tram would help solve that problem, as well!

According to some literature I picked up from Ron Roberts, the San Diego Bay to Balboa Park Skyway, powered by a 500 horsepower electric engine, could carry up to 2400 people per hour.

The views of downtown, San Diego Bay and Balboa Park would be breathtaking.  The ride itself would almost certainly become one of San Diego’s top tourist attractions.

From what I’ve heard so far, the idea is awesome!

The cool San Diego Bay to Balboa Park Skyway would travel from the Gaslamp up Sixth Avenue, covering two miles in 12 minutes.
The cool San Diego Bay to Balboa Park Skyway would travel from the Gaslamp up Sixth Avenue, covering two miles in 12 minutes.

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A few pics of the elegant John D. Spreckels Building.

Looking up through the elegant building entrance at the lobby's ceiling.
Looking up through the elegant building entrance at the lobby’s ceiling.

The John D. Spreckels Building (not to be confused with the Spreckels Theater Building also located on Broadway) is a cool sight that is definitely worth a few photographs. When it was completed in 1924, the stately 14-story building was the tallest in San Diego. Today, according to an article I read, there are plans to convert it into apartments.

Built by sugar heir, entrepreneur and philanthropist John D. Spreckels, the historic building is one of only a few old high-rises that grace San Diego. The building isn’t terribly distinctive or flashy, but it certainly is monumental. Simple lines give it a feeling of grandeur and permanence. The small entrance, to my eye, is uncommonly elegant.

Front of the John D. Spreckels Building as seen from across Broadway.
Front of the John D. Spreckels Building as seen from across Broadway.
Pointing my camera upward for a cool photo.
Pointing my camera upward for a cool photo.
Beautiful ornamental artwork at the door of 625 Broadway in San Diego.
Beautiful ornamental artwork at the door of 625 Broadway in San Diego.
Elegant old clock mounted on corner of the John D. Spreckels Building.
Elegant old clock mounted on corner of the John D. Spreckels Building.
This classy historic high-rise adds unique flavor to a shiny modern city.
This classy historic high-rise adds unique flavor to a shiny modern city.

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San Diego skyline and Tuna Harbor boats.

Fishing boats in Tuna Harbor and downtown skyscrapers.
Fishing boats in Tuna Harbor and downtown skyscrapers.

The above photograph was taken near the public pier that stretches into San Diego Bay from the G Street Mole. It can be found next to the top rated Fish Market restaurant, a bit south of the USS Midway. The picturesque skyline rises behind a number of inactive fishing boats in the always interesting Tuna Harbor this fine sunny summer day.

San Diego’s Tuna Harbor decades ago was home to the largest tuna fishing fleet in the world. That was before fishing regulations and tuna populations shifted, sending most of the boats away. The American Tuna-Boat Association office is still located near the foot of the pier.

Here are a variety of pics taken at different times…

Fisherman heads to a boat in Tuna Harbor.
Fisherman heads to a boat in Tuna Harbor.
Ramp down to docks in San Diego's Tuna Harbor.
Ramp down to docks in San Diego’s Tuna Harbor.
Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton rise behind Tuna Harbor fishing boats.
Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton rise behind Tuna Harbor fishing boats.
A number of fishing vessels docked inside San Diego's Tuna Harbor.
A number of fishing vessels docked inside San Diego’s Tuna Harbor.
This typical small boat is part of the large local fishing fleet.
This typical small boat is part of the large local fishing fleet.
Colorful floats of different sizes tangled over the railing at edge of Tuna Harbor Pier.
Colorful floats of different sizes tangled over the railing along edge of the G Street Pier.
Fishing boats docked in Tuna Harbor next to downtown San Diego.
Fishing boats docked in Tuna Harbor next to downtown San Diego.
Lobster traps lined up on a Tuna Harbor dock.
Turning a bit to the right.  Lobster traps are lined up on a Tuna Harbor dock.
Fishermen sort sea urchins from large tank, to be sold at nearby public fish market.
Fishermen sort sea urchins from large tank, to be sold at nearby public fish market.
Gazing down one dock at a line of fishing vessels in San Diego.
Gazing down one dock at a line of fishing vessels in San Diego.
Small boat painted with various names, including Rambo!
Small boat painted with various names, including Rambo!
A clutter of work gear all along the wooden dock.
A clutter of work gear all along the wooden dock.
Downtown highrises in the blue sky behind a Tuna Harbor boat.
Downtown high-rises in the blue sky behind a Tuna Harbor boat.
USS Midway aircraft carrier museum can be seen beyond the fleet of fishing vessels.
USS Midway aircraft carrier museum can be seen beyond the fleet of fishing vessels.
Sun, wind, salt water and frequent use take a toll on these hard-working boats.
Sun, wind, salt water and frequent use take a toll on these hard-working boats.
Old navy boat has been converted for civilian purpose.
I believe this is an old Navy boat which has been converted for civilian purpose.
A couple more fishing boats tied up in beautiful San Diego Bay.
A couple more fishing boats tied up in beautiful San Diego Bay.
Many boats are out on Friday afternoon, seeking fresh fish for Saturday morning market.
Many boats are out on a Friday afternoon, seeking fresh fish for Saturday morning market.

That shiny cylinder-like drum will be mounted on the rear of a fishing boat, and used to unspool then haul in a very large net!