Our Walls Speak during mural event in San Diego!

An exciting event is coming to San Diego next week!

From Wednesday, May 17 to Sunday, May 21, the many colorful murals that reflect Chicano history and culture in several of our city’s communities will be celebrated with a special tour, workshops, lectures, dance, poetry and more!

Our Walls Speak is the name of this free event. Those who participate will have the opportunity to experience not only Chicano Park’s famous murals, but other murals in nearby communities. Participants will come away inspired, understanding the importance and meaning of these empowering works of art, and the need to preserve them.

According to the event website: This year’s 2023 “Our Walls Speak!: Nuestros Muros Hablan!”, event features four days of live and virtual panel/community discussions, artist and elder interviews and storytelling, and mural art exhibitions. Download and attend a neighborhood mural walk/drive/tour through the San Diego neighborhoods of Logan Heights, Sherman Heights and Golden Hills communities. Join us on Sunday May 21st for youth and family mural art workshops, spoken word, music and dance movement performances and local street food vendors serving healthy and delicious recipes.

To see the many free activities that can be enjoyed over the course of five days, and to register for Our Walls Speak, click here!

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I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Nation’s oldest active pilot boat resumes tours!

Our nation’s oldest active pilot boat is back in action on San Diego Bay!

Pilot belongs to the Maritime Museum of San Diego and provides harbor tours. For about half a year Pilot has been out of service. Until several days ago.

Its engine has been completely replaced. Newly painted, the historically important boat is again providing tours!

Like all members of the museum, I get a couple of free tickets for the Pilot every year. I took advantage of the opportunity today!

This might be my favorite harbor tour. Not only is the pilot boat a lot of fun to ride on a sunny day, but Kiki, the usual tour guide, is the best! She’s super knowledgeable and funny and quickly has everyone smiling.

Read about Pilot and its history by clicking here. You’ll learn how it was launched in 1914 and was in regular service, helping large ships to safely enter and leave San Diego Bay, until 1996.

History buffs will be interested to learn that Pilot was built at a location not far from the present museum. It was also used by the military during World War II to serve as a patrol boat.

I took a few photos during our pleasant tour of the bay…

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

A fun harbor tour on both land and sea!

Two tours in one! That’s what it felt like today when I explored San Diego’s harbor on a SEAL Tours boat with wheels!

It was my very first time experiencing one of these unique tours.

Passengers boarded the amphibious SEAL vehicle at Seaport Village and started down Harbor Drive along San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero. We passed the airport and Spanish Landing and entered Point Loma. All the while, our tour guide (the boat’s first mate), provided a fun and spirited narration. My love of San Diego was renewed once again.

At the Shelter Island boat ramp we seamlessly entered San Diego Bay and headed out across the sparkling water!

Of course there were amazing views of downtown San Diego across the gentle water. And, of course, we had to swing by the bait dock near the entrance to the bay where sea lions entertained kids with their antics.

We saw several Navy facilities and were surprised to learn how super high-tech robot ships are autonomously interdicting drug smugglers. We also saw where the Navy trains sea lions and dolphins to detect underwater objects. And we saw the R/P FLIP, a very long, very strange Scripps research vessel that plunges 90 degrees into the ocean to become a sort of floating tower! There was so much cool stuff to see, I couldn’t begin to describe it all.

The tour was a lot of fun. Our guide, Bret, was a ham and everyone was always smiling and laughing. Personally, I learned quite a lot about my city that I hadn’t known before.

Are you a San Diego resident? This month–January–Old Town Trolley Tours is offering locals free rides. That includes the SEAL Tours, which they operate!

If you do partake of this harbor experience, make sure to bring a jacket. The wind out on the bay can be quite chilly!

Here’s a tiny taste of the experience…

Both the captain and first mate were really nice. As we got started visual aids helped to explain the coming attractions.

Two huge cruise ships were docked on the Embarcadero today.

Passing the beautiful, historic Star of India, world’s oldest active sailing ship.

We’ve arrived at Shelter Island, where we saw many boats moored in America’s Cup Harbor.

About to enter San Diego Bay! How cool is this?

The transition to water is so smooth you hardly notice it.

Another perfect San Diego day.


The bait dock had everyone taking a million photos. Those sea lions are digesting their breakfast.

How cute!

A bunch of cormorants were hanging out on this section.

A view of downtown San Diego skyscrapers over the large naval air base on Coronado’s North Island.

That narrow ship on the right operates autonomously. If it detects a drug runner out on the Pacific Ocean, the Coast Guard is notified.

Here’s where sea lions are trained by the U.S. Navy. We learned they are actually a bit more intelligent than dolphins.

Here comes another SEAL Tour! That’s Harbor Island behind it.

Back to land! Before heading again down city streets, our captain checked for seaweed caught in the wheels!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Walking to the end of amazing Scripps Pier!

The long Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, jutting into the Pacific Ocean north of La Jolla Shores, is operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The research pier is utilized by scientists and students who strive to learn more about our environment and the diverse life within it.

The public is usually restricted from going onto Scripps Pier, but those who register for a once-a-month tour get the opportunity to walk out to its very end. And that’s what I did today!

The tour–every second Saturday of the month (register here)–begins in front of the historic Scripps Building, then circles around several additional campus buildings until it reaches the foot of the pier. As our group walked along, the knowledgeable tour guide told us about the origin and history of the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and how its environmental and biological research benefits us all.

Then we came to the amazing pier and our sense of wonder grew…

The original wooden pier, built in 1916 with funding from Ellen Browning Scripps, was destroyed in 1983 by an El Niño powered storm. The current modern pier was built in 1988. Today it’s considered one of the world’s largest research piers.

Looking back at the foot of the pier we could see these tank-like water filters.

At the end of Scripps Pier is a pump station. The pier slopes slightly upward as you walk to its end. The reason? So that the freshly pumped seawater, propelled by gravity, will run down a covered trough that stretches along one side of the long pier.

The water, carefully filtered, is then used in the Scripps research labs on shore.

Walking out on the pier high over the beach, looking south toward La Jolla Shores. That’s the Village of La Jolla and La Jolla Cove jutting in the distance.

Now we’re gazing north toward the distant sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Beach.

Many surfers were out today! A sunny San Diego day in December.

Looking back toward a portion of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus. (Scripps is a part of UC San Diego.)

We observed lots of guitarfish in the water below. When you’re swimming or surfing, you don’t necessarily see all that marine life beneath you!

Amazing views can be enjoyed from Scripps Pier. Looking down, we saw numerous surfers waiting for that perfect wave on either side of the pier.

We followed our tour guide to a group of container-like structures that were recently placed on Scripps Pier. Together they constitute a mobile facility that will be used for a one year atmospheric study by the U.S. Department of Energy.

A wide variety of scientific instruments, including radar, lidar, sky imagers and radiometers will measure cloud formation, reflectivity and other atmospheric phenomena.

We are approaching the end of Scripps Pier, where that prominent gray structure houses a seawater pump.

All sorts of small boats are kept near the end of the pier, where they can be lowered into the ocean to carry out research.

Notice something shaped like a Christmas tree atop the pump structure ahead? It lights up during the Holiday Season! (As do swags of lights along the length of the pier.)

Lifting a lid from that long trough that channels the pumped seawater gravitationally down the pier’s length. We saw barnacles, mussels and a live crab skittering around! (You can understand why those filters are necessary at the foot of the pier.)

There’s additional filtration near the pump!

I believe this device filters out the larger objects from the pumped seawater, before the water heads down the long trough. You can see some slimy seaweed stuck in it.

From this crane boats can be lowered to the ocean surface. On the left you can see the cage-like entrance to a descending ladder.

Our tour group came upon several people in wetsuits, just back from a dive!

A super friendly graduate student explained how they had dived at an artificial reef off Black’s Beach, to the north, near the Torrey Pines Gliderport. They photographed abundant sea life.

The wet spot is from their boat that was recently lifted!

That’s one long ladder down to the water!

I noticed many instruments on the roof of the pump structure, including antennas and wind gages.

And to one side is the Scripps Osprey Platform! (You can see it near the center of this photograph.)

A plaque on the pump structure. The Scripps Osprey Platform is dedicated to Art Cooley, a scientist who helped save the Osprey, Bald Eagle and Brown Pelican.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Holiday floral beauty inside the Marston House!

For this 2022 Holiday Season, the Marston House in Balboa Park is doing something very special. The interior of the historic home has been decorated with many beautiful flower arrangements!

I learned today that the gorgeous floral displays, which can be found in most rooms, are new for the holidays this year. The flowers will dazzle Marston House visitors through the end of the year. If you’ve never been inside the Marston House, you need to go on a tour. Learn more by clicking here.

I once went on an informative tour and blogged about it here.

Today I learned that George W. Marston‘s wife, Anna, was active with the San Diego Floral Association, and the beautiful displays in the sitting room, brimming with lighter colors, were inspired by her love of flowers. (See above photo.)

I also learned George Marston considered yellow and gold the colors of California. The arrangements in the Marston library (the following two photos) reflect this.

The interior of the old house isn’t brightly lit, which poses a problem with my camera. I’ve adjusted the images to bring out the beauty as best I can.

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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!

Roaring San Diego for Annual Archives Month!

The 4th Annual Archives Month, presented by San Diego’s Office of the City Clerk, is returning in October!

The theme for 2022 is Roaring San Diego. The public will be invited to view exhibits in the lobby of the City Administration Building (202 C Street) that focus on our city’s history during the Roaring 1920s.

In addition, historical lectures by distinguished speakers will be presented at the San Diego Central Library, and there will be very special tours inside the archives!

If you’ve never stepped foot into the City Clerk Archives, in the basement of City Hall, where documents are carefully preserved for posterity, you really should sign up. The archives folks are super friendly and enthusiastic. I went on the tour three years ago and blogged about it here.

I’ve also blogged about two previous Archives Month exhibits that should interest history buffs. You can revisit those old posts here and here.

If you’d like to participate in this year’s Archives Month activities, please check out the City of San Diego webpage by clicking here. Make sure to sign up for the educational lectures that interest you and, of course, the very cool archives tour!

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!

Tour of the Marston House Museum in Balboa Park.

An extraordinary house is located at the northwest corner of Balboa Park. It is one of the most architecturally and historically important structures in San Diego.

The George Marston House Museum and Gardens preserves the home that was built by San Diego civic leader George Marston in 1905. The 8,500 square foot house is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts style architecture in California, designed by internationally famous architects William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill.

Guided tours of the house are offered by the Save Our Heritage Organization. Learn more here. You can purchase tickets in the fine museum gift shop, which occupies the nearby carriage house. If you simply want to stroll about the beautiful garden, or walk around the perimeter of the house, that’s free.

I went on the tour recently and took a few photos, where the indoor lighting permitted.

The George Marston house is the sort of place that feels like a true home. The rooms are warm and functional and contain many windows, some of which were enlarged during the history of the house to bring in even more outdoor light. Book shelves and storage nooks are built into the walls, allowing an active family ample room to move about and entertain guests. Although the layout of the house is entirely practical, every room and hallway is tastefully designed and furnished.

George Marston, a very successful businessman of his day, employed numerous servants. During the tour, we saw various devices that would summon them, including a wooden box mounted on a wall with a bell and mechanical pointers, and a concealed button under the dining room rug that the family could touch without their guests noticing.

The tour explores nearly all of the historic home. At the tour’s end visitors can peer into glass display cases filled with artifacts and ephemera from George Marston’s famous department store, which was located in downtown San Diego.

I highly recommend going on this tour!

Because the Marston House Museum and Gardens is not located in the central, most popular part of Balboa Park, it’s likely your tour group will be small and relaxed, and you’ll be able to ask many questions.

View of the distinctive Marston House from its rose-filled formal garden, a popular wedding venue.
Photo from the Marston House driveway near the front entrance.
Sign describes George Marston. San Diego’s Renaissance Man. He was a successful merchant, civic leader, parks and neighborhoods builder, museum and institutions founder, historic preservationist and conservationist, a city statesman, creator of great schools, and an activist for arts, culture and social issues…

You can learn more about George White Marston here.

In the past I’ve photographed various things related to Marston, from his statue at Sefton Plaza in Balboa Park, to his gravestone at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Architectural drawing for the George W. Marston residence.
When first built in 1905, no landscaping could be seen around the George Marston house! Today the surrounding area is lush, with many nearby homes. Some neighboring houses were also designed by Irving Gill for Marston’s friends and extended family. SOHO offers a walking tour of the neighborhood.
Looking out at the formal garden from a second floor window.
George Marston’s stores in San Diego kept growing. Over the years, he operated at five different locations, and ended up building the large, famous 1912 department store on the north side of C Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
At the end of the tour we could look at artifacts and photographs recalling Marston’s elegant department store, where many fond memories were created.

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Open House tour of San Diego’s Waterfront Park.

Last Sunday I enjoyed a fascinating tour of Waterfront Park in San Diego. The special public tour was part of the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Open House event.

Our small group was guided by Glen and Jeff of Schmidt Design Group, landscape architects who worked on the Waterfront Park project almost ten years ago. The park opened to the public in 2014. (I was there for the big grand opening! You can see many photographs taken during that historic day by clicking here!)

As we walked around the beautiful park, where two large parking lots originally existed, we learned so many facts I failed to jot many down!

I did note that the two stretches of fountains on either side of the County Administration Building together are 830 feet long. The fountain design was tricky, because the water in the basin where children jump and play could be only one inch deep, due to safety concerns. The fountains utilize an 80,000 gallon water tank, and the 31 jets spray water 12 to 14 feet high.

The fountains were to be set in marble, but to save tens of millions of dollars, specially applied concrete made to look like marble was utilized instead.

The parking garage under the south end of Waterfront Park is below the water table (San Diego Bay is a block to the west), and consequently various innovative measures were taken to keep water from seeping in. I was surprised that, like the nearby County Administration Building, piles were driven 100 feet deep into bedrock to support and stabilize the structure!

The “hill” with a slide in the wonderful, very popular playground was built up with high density foams blocks. (The same hill referred to as Tony Gwynn’s opposing “pitching mound” when the park’s sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle debuted back in 2015. See those fun photos here!)

One bit of information really surprised me. There had initially been plans to install Dr. Seuss sculptures around the playground! The Grinch and his dog Max were to stand atop the hill. The Cat in the Hat would welcome kids near the fountain area. Our group didn’t hear why that plan fell through.

We did learn how, during Waterfront Park’s construction, large old palm trees and the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial were moved. We saw the bits of shining, sparkling mica that were placed in the concrete around the memorial.

We learned how the large garden at the north end of the park was designed to be a beautiful, contemplative area. And, indeed, it is.

The garden is divided into three sections. The north “grass” or “meadow” garden with 15 varieties of grass; the middle Mediterranean garden with sages, rosemary, lavender and Torrey pines; and the south “tropical” or “diversity” garden, with plumeria, bird of paradise and many other lush plants.

Irrigation for the park requires 8 million gallons per year! But this free, very popular “water park” serves hundreds of thousands of San Diego residents every year, many arriving by trolley from less affluent neighborhoods.

Lastly, we learned how the County of San Diego will soon be removing the garden, and replacing it with a dog park, basketball and pickleball courts, and other recreational amenities. I suppose the change is both sad and exciting. As they say, there are two sides to every coin.

I’ll be watching the progress of that project and will probably be taking photos in the future!

This is where the proposed Cat in the Hat sculpture would have stood!
Donal Hord’s iconic Guardian of Water sculpture stands in the background. Learn a little more about it here.
The present location of the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial.
Part of the Waterfront Park garden. The large garden will be removed to make way for sports facilities.

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!

Tour of new UC San Diego Park & Market!

A sneak peek was enjoyed yesterday inside the new UC San Diego Park & Market building, in downtown’s East Village neighborhood!

The special public tour was part of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s big annual Open House event.

UC San Diego Park & Market is designed to be a collaborative hub where students, researchers, community organizations and business partners will interact in the heart of the city. It will also feature space for private conferences and events, and high quality entertainment venues for the public.

Once completed, the building will be home to a digital movie theater, a top notch black box theater, a small art gallery, a bistro, and a huge two-sided video wall that can be enjoyed inside on the ground floor and from the Market Street sidewalk!

This unique, truly visionary multi-use facility will have its grand opening in a couple months during Cinco de Mayo. It sounds like the celebration will be epic!

During yesterday’s tour led by Mary Walshok, UC San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor, several floors of the innovative building were explored. We learned about its conception and development. One of its most important qualities is its location next to a UC San Diego Blue Line trolley station, connecting this extension of UCSD to the main La Jolla campus, providing students easy accessibility.

As you can see from my upcoming photographs, Park & Market will certainly become a stimulating cultural destination for people living downtown and around San Diego. Numerous future events and festivals are being planned. I can’t wait!

Please read my photo captions to learn a little more about this amazing project!

The next photo shows the public plaza north of the building, adjacent to the new The Merian apartment tower. It’s where our tour group gathered.

Two fantastic murals by regional artists can be found in the inviting space. I posted photos of both murals back in January here.

Standing on the second floor terrace north of the building, with downtown views in several directions. (I didn’t photograph it, but one can see Balboa Park’s California Tower in the distance from here, too!)
About to enter the second floor of the glassy building.
Outside art is by Tammy Matthews, artist from New South Wales, Australia. Taranora, 2020. Original painting adapted to steel screen.
The second floor was busy! A private conference had been booked, even before the building’s official opening! We next headed left to the digital movie theater.
Inside the cozy theater, which will be operated by acclaimed Digital Gym Cinema.
A small gallery on the second floor, near the top of a grand staircase leading to the ground floor. The debut exhibition concerns UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection. (I’ve blogged about many of these outdoor UCSD public artworks in the past.)
Nearby windows look down on downtown San Diego’s busy Market Street.
Mary Walshok addresses the group as we stand near the top of the fantastic staircase.
Looking down!
Now we’re downstairs on the ground floor, after taking the elevators. This big black door is the entrance to the black box theater, where there will be concerts and diverse performances. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside.
Emerging near the bottom of the spiraling staircase!
A bistro will be located here. People can come off the street, dine, sip and hang out. The bistro operator, we were told, has one of the largest vinyl record collections in San Diego!
Making our way across the large space near the Market Street entrance. That big black thing is a two-sided computerized video screen! Events can be streamed live from the UCSD amphitheater and other venues. Proposed users include Comic-Con and the San Diego Symphony! Folks walking down the sidewalk can stop to watch outside, too!
Pretty cool, huh?
Chairs and tables can be set up here. UC San Diego Park & Market will utilize technology to connect people in new and stimulating ways.
Finally, we headed to the fourth floor, the research center, where students engaged in projects, and people from academia, non-profits and private business will rub elbows, interact and collaborate. There are many small offices for faculty and community organizations. We didn’t visit the third floor, where classrooms are located.
A view up Park Boulevard from one extraordinary new building!

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 photos for you to enjoy!

Sails, ships and beauty on San Diego Bay!

It was a perfect January day on San Diego Bay. Not a cloud in the blue sky, very little haze, a comfy 70 degrees. No jacket required!

As a member of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, I have a couple of free tickets for harbor tours aboard the museum’s historic Pilot boat. I used one of those tickets this afternoon!

These photographs on the water show a little of why so many people love San Diego.

I’ve provided details about the historic Pilot boat and this harbor tour in the past. See that old blog post here.

I’ve also blogged about many of the unique sights one can see on San Diego Bay. You can check out a couple of those fascinating posts here and here.

Today I wanted to relax, not take notes.

Simply take in the beauty.

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 photos for you to enjoy!