Escaped zoo animals roam Hillcrest street!

Two metal sculpture elephants on First Avenue.
Two metal sculpture elephants on First Avenue.

Several large and dangerous wild animals have escaped the San Diego Zoo and are running loose in nearby Hillcrest!

Huh?  You don’t believe me? I’ve got some photographic proof!

Okay, okay, I’m kidding. These super cool metal sculptures stand in front of a residence on First Avenue. They appear to be made of rusted steel, but I’m not sure. I spotted them during my walk to work this morning, so I whipped out my trusty old camera!

Animal sculptures in front of a residence in Hillcrest.
Animal sculptures in front of a residence in Hillcrest.
Handsome metal horse looks out toward street.
Handsome metal horse looks out toward street.
Funny gorilla poses in front of someone's window.
Funny gorilla poses in front of someone’s window.

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Morning interplay of light and shadow.

Back of stop sign flashes silver in the morning sunlight.
Back of stop sign flashes silver in the morning sunlight.

Early yesterday morning I walked west down Cedar to catch the trolley in Little Italy. The sun had just risen above the horizon and its rays were slanting through the cityscape almost horizontally. Metal surfaces were shining and shadows were still deep. It made for some very interesting photos!

Slanting sunshine on building highlights layered geometry.
Slanting sunshine on building highlights layered geometry.
Light and shadow angled and entangled.
Light and shadow angled and entangled.
Shadows on wall cast by tree and street light.
Shadows on wall cast by tree and street light.
Early sunlight begins to penetrate dark places.
Early sunlight begins to penetrate dark places.

History at Horton Plaza Park construction site.

North part of the Horton Plaza Park construction site behind fence.
North part of the Horton Plaza Park construction site behind fence.

A large area between Broadway and the Horton Plaza shopping mall is fenced off for construction.  One end of the downtown mall has already been demolished and leveled to the bare ground.  The long-neglected Horton Plaza Park is being enlarged!

On the fence surrounding the construction site are a number of interesting old photographs showing the park’s history.

When real estate developer Alonzo Horton built the Horton House hotel (now the U.S. Grant Hotel) in his “New Town” in 1870, he included a small plaza on the hotel  grounds.  In 1895 he sold the half block plaza to the growing city of San Diego, stating his objective was “to provide a central, commodious and attractive place for public meetings, public announcements, public recreation and for any other proper public purposes, a place where all public questions might be discussed with comfort, where public open-air concerts might be given, where the people might rest, and where children might play in safety.”  In 1909 the first fountain in the United States to feature electric lights was installed in the park.

Over the years, the small park has seen a whole lot of history, as the following photographs at today’s construction site demonstrate.  Horton Plaza Park was designated a historical landmark by the City of San Diego in 1971.

Horton Plaza Park during 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
Horton Plaza Park during 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
Horton Plaza Park crowded for V-J Day celebration.
Horton Plaza Park crowded for V-J Day celebration.

The streets were crowded with a spontaneous celebration when World War II finally ended.

Thousands attend rally for John F. Kennedy in Horton Plaza Park.
Thousands attend rally for John F. Kennedy in Horton Plaza Park.

On November 2, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy spoke at Horton Plaza Park, seeking votes in the upcoming presidential election.  A huge crowd turned out.

How the new Horton Plaza Park will look at completion.
Sign shows how the new Horton Plaza Park will look at completion.

The beautifully renovated park will include lots of space for public events, including outdoor concerts!

A huge area has been cleared to make way for the new park.
A huge area has been cleared to make way for the new park.

Here’s a pic I took on January 31, 2015…

Construction of the new Horton Plaza Park is well underway in early 2015.
Construction of the new Horton Plaza Park is well underway in early 2015.

Homeless and graffiti under Highway 163.

Homeless and graffiti beneath Highway 163 in Mission Valley.
Homeless and graffiti beneath Highway 163 in Mission Valley.

These two pics aren’t very cool.  But they are important.  They show another world that many often don’t see.

I took these photos where Highway 163 crosses over Camino de la Reina in Mission Valley.  I climbed up a hill of dirt under the overpass and emerged between the opposing lanes of traffic.

Numerous homeless people live along the San Diego River in Mission Valley.  Some of them hunker down in shelter provided by this makeshift concrete roof.

Another world in the shadows beneath lanes of busy traffic.
Another world in the shadows beneath lanes of busy traffic.

UPDATE!

I got the following three pics late in the summer. I didn’t see anyone, but obviously numerous people pass through.

Looking under Highway 163 where the homeless often pass or gather.
Looking under Highway 163 where the homeless often pass or gather.
This is where Highway 163 passes over the San Diego River.
This is where Highway 163 crosses over the San Diego River.
Weeds and graffiti beneath the concrete.
Weeds and graffiti beneath the concrete.

Twelve-person bicycle heads down street.

twelve-person bicycle heads down street

What could be more cool than biking along a city street with a dozen of your buddies? These folks are sitting around a table enjoying drinks and conversation while pedaling away and taking in the sights. This twelve-person bicycle might not be suitable for your typical family, but lots of tourists and fun-seekers enjoy it!

I spotted two of these cool contraptions in East Village!
I spotted two of these cool contraptions in East Village!