A restored streetcar, a crazy driver, and ghosts.

Do ghosts ride on a city’s restored streetcar? Can you say with complete certainty they don’t?

There’s one apparently crazy streetcar driver who likes to converse with ghosts. His unseen riders remember old times that the living have forgotten.

You can read this strange, emotionally charged story by clicking here!

Japanese pop culture party during San Diego Comic-Con!

A Japanese pop culture party--Yokai Omatsuri--will be held during San Diego Comic-Con at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.
A Japanese pop culture party–Yokai Omatsuri–will be held during San Diego Comic-Con at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. (Click this image to enlarge it for easy reading.)

I found out something really cool this afternoon! During a quick visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, I learned that they’ll be hosting a Japanese pop culture party during San Diego Comic-Con!

Click the flyer’s photo to read it. A supernatural world of anime and manga will take over the garden and its beautiful Inamori Pavilion on Friday, July 21st, from 7:30pm to 11:30pm. There will be cosplay, a costume contest, food, activity booths and lots of yokai running about. Yokai is Japanese for supernatural monsters, demons, phantoms, etc.

Anyone visiting San Diego for Comic-Con should spend some time in Balboa Park anyway. It is truly our city’s crown jewel. And as a member of the Japanese Friendship Garden myself, I assure you the beautiful garden is well worth a visit!

You can learn more about the Japanese pop culture party and find a link to purchase tickets online here. If you purchase tickets before July 10th, you will receive an Early Bird bundle pack with tickets redeemable for food at the event!

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!

I plan to cover Comic-Con like crazy this year! I live a short walk up the street from the Gaslamp Quarter and the San Diego Convention Center!

Photos inside America’s most haunted Whaley House!

I learned a past visitor to the Whaley House photographed these old dolls and was surprised to see the eyes--which are painted--closed!
I learned a past visitor to the Whaley House photographed these old dolls and was surprised to see the eyes–which are painted–closed!

Did I see any ghosts inside the Whaley House?

During my recent visit to Old Town San Diego, I ventured into the unknown. I took my very first look inside the Whaley House, widely considered to be the most haunted house in America. I also took lots of photographs, which you are about to see!

The Whaley House has been the subject of many serious paranormal investigations, and has appeared on many television programs.  It was featured on Syfy Channel’s Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, the Travel Channel’s episode America’s Most Haunted on Ghost Adventures, and the Biography Channel’s show The Haunting of Regis Philbin. The house’s reputation for supernatural activity has been discussed widely in the media and adopted by the popular culture.

LIFE magazine, a serious publication, has stated that the Whaley House is “the most haunted house in America.” The Travel Channel has agreed with that conclusion.

So, did I see any ghosts, spirits or apparitions–any spooky or weird stuff?

As I took the self-guided tour and peered into the various rooms, my eyes were primarily searching for ideal shots for my camera. But in the back of my mind, I also anticipated perhaps glimpsing something unusual.

Perhaps I’d see the ghost of Yankee Jim, who was hanged in a particularly gruesome way in 1852, on the same plot of land where the Whaley House was built in 1857. The Whaley’s youngest daughter Lillian was absolutely convinced that he haunted their home.

Or I might see the ghosts of Thomas or Anna Whaley who built the house when they came to San Diego from San Francisco. Thomas is said to appear in the parlor or on the upper landing; Anna in the downstairs rooms or outside garden.

Or perhaps I might get a ghostly glimpse of someone or something else…

Three of the docents I spoke to during my recent visit related their own bizarre experiences. Two docents once saw a gilded cup in a display case begin to vibrate for no apparent reason. Nothing had shaken the house or case. No other artifacts near the cup moved. The cup’s peculiar motion continued for 30 to 45 seconds, they attested. Another docent told me that she twice smelled lavender perfume inexplicably while sitting near a window in the upstairs theater. Nobody was nearby.

Several years ago, when I passed the Whaley House and spoke to a docent standing outside the front door, they told me they’d heard inexplicable footsteps in the theater and had seen a strange shadow moving on an upstairs wall. The cashier in the gift shop next door had seen the same weird shadow. I blogged about that here.

Okay. So what exactly did I see? Look at the photographs! And read the captions for more history concerning this fascinating and historically important house.

If I experienced anything unusual inside the Whaley House, it was that I felt a bit like a time traveler. A tour through this historic house is like stepping back into another time, when day-to-day life was both simpler and in many ways more dangerous, unpredictable and difficult. In my mind’s eye I could almost see the people of that era moving about the house–performing ordinary tasks–people who really weren’t that different than you or me. I could almost put myself in their shoes. In my imagination.

Take a look at these photographs and what do you see? If a few images seem to contain glare or strange effects of light, it was probably caused by my camera’s flash and the necessity of taking some photos through glass.  The photo of the children’s bedroom, for example, was taken through a glass pane.

The only adjustments I made to these photos were cropping, brightness, contrast and the GIMP filter for sharpness. And the photos I altered were changed just slightly to make them appear a little bit nicer on your screen!

Leave a comment if you see something ghostly!

Sign in front of America's most haunted Whaley House. Like various other historic structures in San Diego, the house is preserved by SOHO--the Save Our Heritage Organisation.
Sign in front of America’s most haunted Whaley House. Like various other historic structures in San Diego, the house is preserved by SOHO–the Save Our Heritage Organisation.
Photo of the 1857 Greek Revival-style Whaley House from across San Diego Avenue. The famous house is located in Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego.
Photo of the 1857 Greek Revival-style Whaley House from across San Diego Avenue. The famous house is located in Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego.
The Whaley House, once designated an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department, has appeared on many television programs, including the Travel Channel's show America's Most Haunted.
The Whaley House, once designated an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department, has appeared on many television programs, including the Travel Channel’s show America’s Most Haunted.
The Whaley house is the oldest brick building in Southern California. It served as home, granary, store, courthouse, school and theater. It was the most luxurious residence in early San Diego.
The Whaley house is the oldest brick building in Southern California. It served as home, granary, store, courthouse, school and theater. It was the most luxurious residence in early San Diego.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego peer into the Whaley House window just left of the front door. That is where the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store was located.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego peer into the Whaley House window just left of the front door. That is where the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store was located.
The self-guided tour begins in the courtroom, behind the store. Originally a granary whose brick walls didn't stop rats, at different times the room served as school, church, ballroom and billiard hall.
The self-guided tour begins in the courtroom, which is located directly behind the store. Originally a granary whose brick walls failed to stop rats, at different times the room served as school, church, ballroom and billiard hall.
Photograph on the courtroom's back wall shows the Whaley House on the outskirts of tiny San Diego. It stands alone in barren place. It was built on a hanging ground not far from old El Campo Santo Cemetery.
Photograph on the courtroom’s back wall shows the Whaley House on the outskirts of tiny San Diego. It stands alone in a barren place. It was built on a hanging ground not far from old El Campo Santo Cemetery.
Another photo inside the courtroom. This served as the second County Courthouse in San Diego, in operation from 1869 to 1871.
Another photo inside the courtroom. This served as the second County Courthouse in San Diego, in operation from 1869 to 1871.
Inside the courtroom you'll find the Centennial Cannon. It was cast in 1876 and was used for various ceremonies before being moved to Horton Plaza.
Inside the courtroom you’ll find the Centennial Cannon. It was cast in 1876 and was used for various ceremonies before being moved to Horton Plaza.
Another photo in the courtroom shows San Diego's old stone jail in a crumbling state. It stands next to the chapel cabin and the old graveyard.
Another photo in the courtroom shows San Diego’s old stone jail in a crumbling state. It stands next to the chapel cabin and the old graveyard.
The Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store. Many items available for purchase included whiskey, wine, buckwheat, macaroni, codfish, pickles, catsup, tin ware, hardware, stationery, clothing and shoes.
The Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store. Many items available for purchase included whiskey, wine, buckwheat, macaroni, codfish, pickles, catsup, tin ware, hardware, stationery, clothing and shoes.
Shelves behind the store's counter contain products one might buy in the mid to late 1800's in San Diego. Goods that arrived by ship around Cape Horn were later obtained via transcontinental railroad.
Shelves behind the store’s counter contain products one might buy in the mid to late 1800’s in San Diego. Goods that arrived by ship around Cape Horn were later obtained via transcontinental railroad.
A nearby display case contains items belonging to various members of the Whaley family, including engraved silverware and china.
A nearby display case contains items belonging to various members of the Whaley family, including engraved silverware and china.
Inside the display one can see an old photograph of George H. R. Whaley, one of the six children of Thomas and Anna Whaley.
Inside the display case one can see an old photograph of George H. R. Whaley, one of the six children of Thomas and Anna Whaley.
Two docents told me how they were both present when the gilded cup began to vibrate without explanation. It did so for about 30 to 45 seconds. No other objects moved.
Two docents told me how they were both present when the gilded cup began to vibrate without explanation. It did so for about 30 to 45 seconds. No other objects moved.
More historical objects that belonged to the Whaley family, including a small snubnosed revolver.
More historical objects that belonged to the Whaley family, including a small snubnosed revolver.
Next on the self-guided tour is the circa 1860s dining room. The chairs are upholstered with woven horse hair. They've survived a century and a half in pretty good condition.
Next on the self-guided tour is the circa 1860s dining room. The chairs are upholstered with woven horse hair. They’ve survived a century and a half in pretty good condition.
The wallpaper with fleur-de-lis patterns reflects light like a sky full of shining, golden stars. The furnishings and silver are original.
The wallpaper with fleur-de-lis patterns reflects light like a sky full of shining, golden stars. The furnishings and silver are original.
The tour proceeds to the reconstructed kitchen, which seeks to replicate the original board and batten structure. The checked floor is typical of the era.
The tour proceeds to the reconstructed kitchen, which seeks to replicate the original board and batten structure. The checked floor is typical of the era.
Many of the dishes and utensils are original. Prepared food would be passed through to the adjacent dining room.
Many of the dishes and utensils are original. Prepared food would be passed through a window (that we are looking through) to the adjacent dining room.
Photo of rear of Whaley House. The white detached room is the kitchen. In case of fire, the burning walls of the kitchen would be pulled away from the main building by horse.
Photo of rear of Whaley House. The white detached room is the kitchen. In case of fire, the burning walls of the kitchen would be pulled away from the main building by horse. This type of construction was common in those days.
These stairs lead up to the second floor of the Whaley House, where there is a theater and three bedrooms.
These stairs lead up to the second floor of the Whaley House museum, where there is a theater and three bedrooms.
A docent explains the history of this first commercial theater in San Diego. The Tanner Troupe performed here from October 1868 to January 1869. The first performance reportedly attracted an audience of 150. The docent thought this number was improbable--for just one performance in this rather small room!
A docent explains the history of this first commercial theater in San Diego. The Tanner Troupe performed here from October 1868 to January 1869. The first performance reportedly attracted an audience of 150. The docent thought this number was improbable–for just one performance in this rather small room!
The painted backdrop of the stage, an original family trunk, and a raven, recalling the famous poem of Victorian-era American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe.
The painted backdrop of the stage, an original family trunk, and a raven, recalling the famous poem of Victorian-era American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe.
Another photo showing painted curtains. A docent sitting by the theater window told me she smelled sudden, mysterious lavender perfume on two occasions. Nobody was nearby.
Another photo showing painted curtains. On two occasions, a docent was sitting to the left of this stage by one of the second floor windows when she smelled sudden, mysterious lavender perfume. Nobody was nearby, she told me.
Advertisement framed on theater wall. Admission to see the Tanner Troupe perform was 50 cents. Audiences saw moral, chaste and versatile entertainments--drama, farce, comedy, singing and dancing.
Advertisement framed on theater wall. Admission to see the Tanner Troupe perform was 50 cents. Audiences saw moral, chaste and versatile entertainments–drama, farce, comedy, singing and dancing.
Painting in the theater from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. On the opposite wall hangs a painting from Othello.
Print in a gilded frame in the upstairs theater. It’s from a painting depicting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. On the opposite wall hangs similar artwork depicting Othello.
Outdoor stairs back then ascended to this outside balcony. Audiences entered the theater that way, without disturbing the Whaley House living quarters.
Outdoor stairs back then ascended to this outside balcony. Audiences entered the theater that way, without disturbing the Whaley House living quarters.
Photo of Thomas and Anna Whaley's master bedroom. According to the self-guided tour info, the walnut bedroom set is in the Renaissance Revival style. The writing desk was Anna's.
Photo of Thomas and Anna Whaley’s master bedroom. According to the self-guided tour info, the walnut bedroom set is in the Renaissance Revival style. The writing desk was Anna’s.
A visitor gazing into the children's bedroom said the dolls seemed very creepy. The crib just visible was used by four generations. An 18-month old Thomas Whaley Jr. died here from scarlet fever.
A visitor gazing into the children’s bedroom said the dolls seemed very creepy. The crib just visible was used by four generations. An 18-month old Thomas Whaley Jr. died here from scarlet fever.
Visitors look for ghosts in the children's bedroom. The theater is straight ahead.
Visitors look for ghosts in the children’s bedroom. The theater is straight ahead.
The rear bedroom could be used by up to four children and multiple visitors. The washbowl and pitcher were used for bathing.
The rear bedroom could be used by up to four children and multiple visitors. The washbowl and pitcher were used for bathing.
Now we are back downstairs. This is part of the elegant guest chamber in the southeast corner of the Whaley House. Important people stayed here, including General Thomas Sedgewick.
Now we are back downstairs. This is part of the elegant guest chamber in the southeast corner of the Whaley House. Important people stayed here, including General Thomas Sedgewick.
The adjacent study with desk and bookcase. During his time in San Diego, Thomas Whaley held many positions, including merchant, city clerk, notary public, realtor and railroad secretary. That sword was actually a prop used by the Tanner Troupe during their performances in the theater upstairs.
The study with desk and bookcase. During his time in San Diego, Thomas Whaley held many positions, including merchant, city clerk, notary public, realtor and railroad secretary. That sword was actually a prop used by the Tanner Troupe during their performances in the theater upstairs.
Looking from the study into the Rococo Revival Style parlor. The Whaleys were wealthier than most San Diego residents at the time. The room is full of art, paintings and splendid decorative objects.
Looking from the study into the Rococo Revival Style parlor. The Whaleys were much wealthier than most San Diego residents at the time. The room is full of art, paintings and splendid decorative objects.
There's no guarantee you will see a ghost at the Whaley House. But you will definitely observe a good deal of history and learn about San Diego's fascinating past.
There’s no guarantee you will see a ghost at the Whaley House. But you will definitely observe a good deal of history and learn about San Diego’s fascinating past.

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!

Is this the most haunted house in America?

perhaps the most haunted house in america

Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, the world famous Whaley House is undeniably an interesting place!

This rather plain-looking house, located near the center of Old Town at 2476 San Diego Avenue, fairly oozes with history. And it is said by some to be the most haunted house in America!

Now a museum, the Whaley House was built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley, a New York businessman who originally came to California for the gold rush of 1849. It was the very first two-story brick building in San Diego, built in the Greek Revival architectural style. In addition to being the Whaley family residence, at different times it served as the location of a general store, a county courthouse, a commercial theater, a ballroom, a school and polling place.

Various murders, hangings, suicides and untimely deaths have occurred in and around the Whaley residence. Up to half a dozen different dead Whaleys are said to linger as ghosts. The place has developed such a reputation as a haunted house that the museum offers late night ghost hunting tours. Over 100,000 people visit the museum annually.

Several months ago I happened to find myself near the Whaley House with a little free time. Seeing a docent dressed in a period costume standing on the front porch, I made my way over to speak with her.

She was very friendly. She seemed sincere when she claimed to have had several ghostly experiences in the Whaley House. She claimed that she’s heard footsteps pacing in the upstairs theater when nobody was present. She’s also seen a strange shadow moving back and forth on an upstairs wall, with no perceptible source.

The cashier at the gift shop next door claimed to have seen the mysterious shadow, as well. I asked her if she believed in ghosts, and she carefully remained neutral. I was interested to see that almost every book and souvenir in the gift shop exploited the museums’s spooky reputation, including shirts that read “Got Ghosts?”

Life Magazine and Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted have both called the Whaley House the most haunted house in America. The Whaley House has appeared on numerous popular television shows and firmly established itself in the popular culture.

Old Town's historic Whaley House.
Old Town’s historic Whaley House.
Gazing toward Whaley House past gas lamp on San Diego Avenue.
Gazing toward Whaley House past gas lamp on San Diego Avenue.
The luxurious Whaley House served as granary, store, courthouse, school and theater.
The luxurious Whaley House served as granary, store, courthouse, school and theater.
Whaley House, built 1856-57, is the oldest brick structure in southern California.
Whaley House, built 1856-57, is the oldest brick structure in southern California.
Boy ventures into supposedly haunted Whaley House.
Boy ventures into supposedly haunted Whaley House.