Beautiful flowers in Old Town San Diego.

Cheerful flowers decorate the back of a wooden chair at Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego.
Cheerful flowers decorate the back of a wooden chair at Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego.

Look at all the beautiful flowers!

I found these while walking randomly around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park on Sunday!

Red geraniums flourish at the rear of San Diego House.
Red geraniums flourish at the rear of San Diego House.
A bee visits a prickly pear blossom near the Old Town Blacksmith Shop.
A bee visits a prickly pear blossom near the Old Town Blacksmith Shop.
Painted flowers decorate a panel in the entry to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant.
Bouquet of flowers painted on a panel in the entry to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant.
Visitors enjoy the lush, sunny courtyard of Casa de Estudillo.
Visitors enjoy the lush, sunny courtyard of Casa de Estudillo.
Beautiful pottery with floral designs can be found throughout Old Town.
Beautiful pottery with floral designs can be found throughout Old Town.
A red hibiscus behind the Fiesta de Reyes stage where visitors can watch colorful Mexican baile folklórico dancing.
A red hibiscus behind the Fiesta de Reyes stage where visitors can watch colorful Mexican baile folklórico dancing.
Flowery design on one bench by the Fiesta de Reyes stage.
Flowery design on one bench by the Fiesta de Reyes stage.
Wouldn't you like to sit on this bench?
Wouldn’t you like to sit on this bench?
Yellow blooms near the Racine and Laramie Tobacconist building.
Yellow blooms near the Racine and Laramie Tobacconist building.
Blue Buddha among flowers outside the entrance to Gum Saan.
Blue Buddha among flowers outside the entrance to Gum Saan.
Many flowers fill a garden that few visitors see behind La Casa de Machado y Stewart.
Many flowers fill a garden that few visitors see behind La Casa de Machado y Stewart.
A tree has beautiful blooms near the historic Mason Street Schoolhouse.
A tree has beautiful blooms near the historic Mason Street Schoolhouse.
Flowers adorn pottery at El Centro Artesano.
Flowers adorn pottery at El Centro Artesano.
A bag with floral design at Old Town Market.
A bag with floral design at Old Town Market.
There seem to be flowers everywhere you turn in Old Town San Diego!
There seem to be flowers everywhere you turn in Old Town San Diego!

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Photos of historic Sessions Building in Old Town.

Photo of the Spanish Revival stucco Milton P. Sessions Nursery building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, designed by architect Richard Requa.
Photo of the Spanish Revival Sessions Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Yesterday morning I took some photos of the 1929 Sessions Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The handsome stucco building was designed by renowned San Diego architect Richard Requa, who was the Master Architect for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition held in Balboa Park.

Other buildings that reveal Requa’s unique vision have appeared on my blog. He was one of the architects responsible for the downtown County Administration Building; he also designed the old lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

The Sessions Building in Old Town was built for nurseryman Milton P. Sessions, who used it to operate a plant and ceramic shop until 1942. Today it is home to Toby’s Candle & Soap Shop, where tourists can make their own candles.

Welcome to Toby's Candle Company in Old Town. The historic Sessions Building was constructed in 1929 in the Spanish-Colonial style, designed by renowned architect Richard Requa.
The historic Sessions Building was constructed in 1929 in the Spanish-Colonial style, designed by renowned architect Richard Requa.
Sign describes history of the Milton P. Sessions Nursery building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. For many years it served as the park's Visitor Center.
Sign describes history of the Milton P. Sessions Nursery building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. For many years it served as the State Park’s Visitor Center.

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 phone or 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.

Mormon Battalion Commemoration coming in January!

The annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day is coming to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park on January 27, 2018.

Anyone interested in the long march of the Mormon Battalion from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego and their important contributions to our city’s early history should put the event on their calendar!

I’ve been informed by the commemoration day organizer that entertainment will include a Native American dance group featuring drums and singers, some colorful ballet folklorico dancers, and an old time fiddler’s group!

To get a taste of the many interesting things you might see, view photos of past Mormon Battalion Commemoration Days here and here!

I recently finished writing a short story about generosity and the true spirit of Christmas. To read it, click here!

Festive culture and tradition at Fiestas Patrias!

Every year, Fiestas Patrias, which celebrates Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, includes traditional entertainment for the entire family.
Every year, Fiestas Patrias, which celebrates Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, includes traditional entertainment for the entire family.

This morning I missed a bus to Ocean Beach at the Old Town Transit Center, so to pass the time I walked the short distance over to the State Park to see if anything was going on. And I discovered that Fiestas Patrias was being celebrated today!

I lingered for a few minutes and took some photos, headed over to OB (as you will see), then returned to Old Town a couple hours later to really soak in the event. Fiestas Patrias is a yearly celebration of Mexican independence from Spain in 1821. San Diego, a small town founded near a Spanish presidio in Alta California, thereafter became a part of Mexico until 1848.

Many diverse traditions have intermingled during San Diego’s history to make our city what it is today. The rich and colorful culture of Mexico has remained an essential part of life in San Diego!

A mariachi welcomes visitors to the historic Casa de Estudillo in Old Town San Diego.
A mariachi welcomes visitors to the historic Casa de Estudillo in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A friendly horse came for a visit as I took some photos outside the Casa de Estudillo during Fiestas Patrias.
A friendly horse came for a visit as I took some photos outside the Casa de Estudillo during Fiestas Patrias.
Traditional dances were being performed on the central plaza's main stage. Las damas y los caballeros took turns being el toro and el matador!
Traditional dances were being performed on the central plaza’s main stage. Las damas y los caballeros took turns being el toro and el matador!
The annual event features authentic costumes from a time when San Diego was a small Mexican town in Alta California.
The annual event features authentic costumes from a time when San Diego was a small Mexican town in Alta California.
Kids were decorating traditional cascarones eggshells.
Kids were decorating traditional cascarones eggshells.
A demonstration inside the Casa de Estudillo of yarn being spun. During the Spanish period, sheep were first introduced along with cattle and horses at the Mission San Diego de Alcalá.
A demonstration inside the Casa de Estudillo of yarn being spun. During the Spanish period, sheep were first introduced along with cattle and horses at the Mission San Diego de Alcalá.
Nearby, ladies were demonstrating Colcha Spanish Colonial embroidery, which was typical in San Diego in the early 1800s.
Nearby, ladies were demonstrating Colcha Spanish Colonial embroidery, which was typical in San Diego in the early 1800s.
At the same table, another lady was cutting out festive Mexican papel picado.
At the same table, another lady was cutting out festive Mexican papel picado.
The historically authentic musical group Los Californios wait for their turn on the stage at Fiestas Patrias in Old Town San Diego!
The historically authentic musical group Los Californios wait for their turn on the stage at Fiestas Patrias in Old Town 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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Days of the Vaqueros in Old Town San Diego!

Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts aspects of Californio history.
Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts fascinating Californio history.

I enjoyed the Trades That Shaped the West event in Old Town San Diego last Saturday so much, I decided to return today to experience another Stagecoach Days event: Days of the Vaqueros!

Days of the Vaqueros invited curious visitors to experience what life was like when San Diego was a part of Mexico. The emphasis was on the vaqueros–the first true cowboys. During the era of the Californios, wealthy ranch owners employed vaqueros to manage their stock.

For a couple of decades–from the early 1820s to the mid-1840s–cattle hides were the primary export of Alta California. Merchant ships from the East Coast (and other places about the Pacific Ocean) would trade the plentiful hides for finished goods that were in high demand in early, geographically isolated, sparsely populated towns like San Diego.

Someone reads Days of the Vaqueros sign on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Someone checks out Days of the Vaqueros activities. The banner hangs on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Taking place during Old Town's summer Stagecoach Days, today's event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and surrounding area was part of Mexico.
Taking place during Old Town’s summer weekend Stagecoach Days, today’s event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and Alta California were part of Mexico.
Ladies in period dresses at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Ladies pass by in period dresses. One of many cool sights at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant cattle ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first true cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow--the rear end, that is--first try!
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow–the rear end, that is–first try!
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles with elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles out of elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
What's cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
What’s cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Preparing eggs for the cascarón. Near the end of a fiesta Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
Decorating eggshell cascarones. Near the end of a fiesta, Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music--tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music–tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
Publications by a project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
Publications by a nonprofit project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
A display of braided ropes and cut rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
A display of braided ropes and rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
A gentleman who teaches students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
A gentleman who teaches school students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, they'll possibly be used in new construction or restored exhibits at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, these bricks will possibly be used in new construction or to restore existing exhibits inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from Mexican and Spanish California.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from old Mexican and Spanish California.

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.

A look inside the Blacksmith Shop in Old Town.

A blacksmith shapes red hot iron at a forge in San Diego's historic Old Town.
A blacksmith shapes red hot iron at a forge in San Diego’s historic Old Town.

Yesterday I lingered for a few minutes at the Blacksmith Shop in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Two forges were operating. I watched as hammers swung, making sparks fly. It was fascinating to learn about blacksmithing and its vital role in San Diego’s history.

I chatted for a bit with one of the friendly gentlemen working in the Blacksmith Shop. These days the shop is used by highly skilled hobbyists to make all sorts of ornamental and useful metal items. They’ve made objects used for display elsewhere in the State Park. They make everything but horseshoes–and that’s because none of them know how to shoe a horse!

I learned that in 19th century San Diego there were several blacksmiths; this shop now in Old Town was probably located a bit to the east, on the outskirts of town (near today’s Presidio Hills Golf Course) because of the fire danger it presented to other buildings. No blacksmith shop back then would have been as large as the one visitors see today. A blacksmith would most likely do their work in the corner of a livery stable, using one modest forge.

Please read the photo captions to learn more!

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park's Blacksmith Shop and Wood Shop at the site of the Blackhawk Livery Stables, circa 1850-1871.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s Blacksmith Shop and Wood Shop at the site of the Blackhawk Livery Stables, circa 1850-1871.
Visitors to Old Town learn a little about life in San Diego during the mid 1800s. Blacksmiths created assorted metal objects, made repairs and shoed horses.
Visitors to Old Town learn a little about life in San Diego during the mid 1800s. Blacksmiths created assorted metal objects, made repairs and shoed horses.
This friendly blacksmith provided lots of fascinating information. Visitors watch with interest as he works to create a pot holder.
This friendly blacksmith provided lots of fascinating information. Visitors watch with interest as he works to create a pot holder.
I learned that in early San Diego blacksmiths typically burned charcoal in their forge, as coal was usually of poor quality and difficult to obtain in Southern California.
I learned that in early San Diego blacksmiths typically burned charcoal in their forge, as coal was usually of poor quality and difficult to obtain in Southern California.
A huge bellows provides oxygen for this furnace. A good working temperature is about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
A huge bellows provides oxygen for this brick furnace. A good working temperature is about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Products that were fashioned include grills, traps, candle holders, fish roasters, knives, shovels, chains, hinges, nails, cooking ladles and horseshoes.
Products that were fashioned include iron grills, traps, candle holders, fish roasters, knives, shovels, chains, hinges, nails, cooking ladles and horseshoes.
Hammers, bars, wrenches and various blacksmithing tools hang from the rear wall, in addition to harnesses and other items one might find in a livery stable.
Hammers, bars, wrenches and various blacksmithing tools hang from the rear wall, in addition to harnesses and other items one might find in a livery stable.
The gentleman showed me some devices used to suspend pots over a fire. Everything on this wall was made by local members of blacksmithing clubs and organizations.
The gentleman showed me some devices used to suspend pots over a fire. Everything on this wall was made by local members of blacksmithing clubs and organizations.
A shiny anvil.
A shiny anvil.
This wide grassy area behind nearby Seeley Stable was once used for anvil shoots. Gunpowder was placed in a hollow indentation between two anvils and ignited, sending one anvil high into the air with a loud bang! Anvils that did not shatter were considered sound.
This wide grassy area behind nearby Seeley Stable was once used for anvil shoots. Gunpowder was placed in a hollow indentation between two anvils and ignited, sending one anvil high into the air with a loud bang! Anvils that did not shatter were considered sound.
Old Town visitor tries on a Spanish conquistador helmet made in the Blacksmith Shop.
Old Town visitor tries on a Spanish conquistador helmet made in the Blacksmith Shop.
A heavy anchor chain is shown. The welds must be as strong as the iron links.
A heavy anchor chain is shown. The welds must be as strong as the iron links themselves.
A look back at history. Skilled artisans used muscle, fire and sweat to make everyday life easier for the early residents of San Diego.
A photo of living history. Skilled artisans used muscle, fire, metal and sweat to make everyday life easier for the early residents of 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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

History comes alive at Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day.

Folks enjoy taking a ride in an old-fashioned covered wagon in Old Town San DIego during 2017 Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day.
Folks enjoy taking a ride in an old-fashioned covered wagon in Old Town San Diego during 2017 Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day.

I’ve got lots of colorful photos! The annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day was held today in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I covered this event last year, but I love history and scenes from the Old West so much that I swung by again!

San Diego’s history is remarkably diverse, considering our city is relatively new, and that it is situated in what for a long time was a thinly populated, desert-like wilderness. Many peoples and cultures have converged to help shape our dynamic city, including the original Native American Kumeyaay, missionaries from Spain, Mexicans who have called San Diego home, immigrants from Asia, an influx of Italian and Portuguese fishermen, and among many others, the Mormons.

Please enjoy these photos and click the big sign that provides a little more background about the event and the historical importance of the Mormon Battalion in San Diego. More information can also be found on my previous blog post concerning the event last year. Check the related links below!

The public was welcome to swing by the annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration in Old Town. There were many historical reenactments and costumes to see.
The public was welcome to swing by the annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration in Old Town. There were many historical reenactments and costumes to see.
One tent concerned letters home, featuring historical journals, maps and genealogy.
One tent concerned letters home, featuring historical journals, maps and genealogy.
Today we commemorate the first arrival of the U.S. Army in San Diego on January 29, 1847. This detachment was called The Mormon Battalion, recruited from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Click image to enlarge the sign if you'd like to read it.)
Today we commemorate the first arrival of the U.S. Army in San Diego on January 29, 1847. This detachment was called The Mormon Battalion, recruited from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Click image to enlarge the sign if you’d like to read it.)
Lots of interesting historical activities were being enjoyed by a large, enthusiastic crowd.
Lots of interesting historical activities were being enjoyed by a large, enthusiastic crowd.
Map shows Mormon Battalion Routes 1846 - 1847. The soldiers, recruited by the U.S. Army to fight in the Mexican-American War, undertook the longest military march in United States history.
Map shows Mormon Battalion Routes 1846 – 1847. The soldiers, recruited by the U.S. Army to fight in the Mexican-American War, undertook the longest military march in United States history.  After arriving, they helped to build early San Diego.
People draw the star and bear symbols of the California Republic.
People draw the star and bear symbols of the California Republic.
I believe these folks were making biscuits, a staple of the Old West.
I believe these families were making biscuits, a staple of the Old West.
Guys in pioneer clothing just kick back in plastic chairs and watch some dancing and musical entertainment during the event.
Guys in pioneer clothing just kick back by plastic chairs and watch some dancing and musical entertainment during the event.
Some colorful, joyful Mexican folklorico dancing on stage in Old Town San Diego!
Some colorful, joyful Mexican folklorico dancing on stage in Old Town San Diego!
This guy with the huge saw was demonstrating another aspect of life in old San Diego.
This guy with the huge saw was demonstrating another aspect of life in old San Diego.
Visitors to Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day try their hand at sawing a thick log!
Visitors to Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day try their hand at sawing a thick log!
A bunch of steampunk enthusiasts were attending the historical event!
A bunch of steampunk enthusiasts were attending the historical event!
A fez and a golden arm. These guys should be in some sort of cool adventure movie!
A fez and a golden arm. These guys should be in some sort of cool adventure movie!  Perhaps they belong in a blimp!
Like last year, a tent showed people how bricks were once made in San Diego.
Like last year, a tent showed people how bricks were once made in San Diego.
These assembled bigwigs were judging a Dutch Oven Bake-off!
These assembled bigwigs were judging a Dutch Oven Bake-off!
Scouts and other youth learn how rope was once made, using twisted fibers from native Yucca cacti.
Scouts and other youth learn how rope was once made, using twisted fibers from native Yucca cacti.
Lots of folks were in one tent learning about and making frontier dolls.
Lots of folks, old and young, were in one tent learning about and making frontier dolls.
Some mountain men were camped at the Black Hawk Livery Stable, near the Old Town blacksmith shop.
Some mountain men were camped at the Black Hawk Livery Stable, near the Old Town blacksmith shop.
A sign tells about various Western trailblazers, including Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.
A sign tells about various Western trailblazers, including Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.
Five anvils!
Five anvils!
Shaping red hot iron in the old blacksmith shop.
Shaping red hot iron in the old blacksmith shop.
These guys are keeping the ancient art of blacksmithing alive in a high tech world.
These guys are keeping the ancient art of blacksmithing alive in a high tech world.
Running out onto the wide grassy area behind Seeley Stable. Like travelling back in time.
Running out onto the wide grassy area behind Seeley Stable. Like travelling back in time.
Some beautiful quilts on display during Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego.
Some beautiful quilts on display during Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego.
Kids were learning how acorns were mashed by the Kumeyaay and others in San Diego's early history.
Kids were learning how acorns were mashed by the Kumeyaay and others in San Diego’s early history.
Someone poses for a photo with an old rifle.
Someone poses for a photo with an old rifle.
History, culture and period costumes. I saw many smiles in Old Town.
History, culture, bonnets and period dress. I saw many smiles in Old Town.
People in nostalgic frontier garb and a modern t-shirt with a jolting urban message pose together for an unusual photo.
People in nostalgic frontier garb and a modern t-shirt with a jolting urban message pose together for an unusual photo.
Playing old frontier music.
Playing lively old frontier music.
Playing simple, old-fashioned games.
Kids playing simple, old-fashioned games.
Another unique and memorable scene from Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego!
Another unique and memorable scene from Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of unique 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.