Photos inside a World War II bunker on Point Loma.

Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument enter the restored Base End Station and Battery Commander's bunker north of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Battery Ashburn can be seen in the distance.
Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument enter the restored Base End Station and Battery Commander’s bunker, north of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Battery Ashburn can be seen in the distance.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 caused many to fear that the Imperial Japanese Navy might attack the mainland United States.

Coastal defenses were rapidly built up at strategic points along the West Coast, including Point Loma, the peninsula that overlooks the narrow entrance to San Diego Bay. Many of the United States Navy’s remaining ships were homeported in San Diego and had to be protected at all costs.

During World War II, Point Loma’s Fort Rosecrans was the home of the U. S. Army 19th Coast Artillery Regiment. Soldiers manned steel-reinforced concrete bunkers containing Base End Stations, and scanned the horizon for enemy vessels. Should the enemy be sighted, they relayed their information to a Battery Commander, who precisely calculated the enemy’s position, then issued orders to various gun batteries that guarded the approach to San Diego.

Today, almost a century later, the general public can enter one of those old bunkers overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

During my recent Saturday visit to Cabrillo National Monument, I was excited to see that the park’s restored bunker, designated Battery E Control Station, was open. I descended the steep steps into a small underground world, and experienced what life was like for those who stood watch over the wide ocean day and night during the war.

I then checked out a small museum near the bunker to learn a little more about San Diego’s coastal defenses during World War II.

Here are photographs that I took. Read the captions for more fascinating information. Click the signs and they will enlarge.

The Battery E Control Station can be entered on many weekend days. Tours are provided by volunteer docents who are members of the San Diego Military History Association.
The Battery E Control Station can be entered on many weekend days. Tours are provided by volunteer docents who are members of the San Diego Military History Association.
Walking down steps into the two-level, steel-reinforced concrete bunker is like stepping back in time. The 19th Coast Artillery Regiment manned multiple Point Loma bunkers during World War II.
Walking down steps into the two-level, steel-reinforced concrete bunker is like stepping back in time. The 19th Coast Artillery Regiment manned multiple Point Loma bunkers during World War II.
A docent in a World War II era uniform demonstrates the use of an azimuth scope, used to scan the ocean for enemy vessels during the war. These spotting scopes gave accurate readings of target positions.
A docent in a World War II era uniform demonstrates the use of an azimuth scope. These spotting scopes gave accurate readings of target positions.
A photograph inside the top level of the bunker, which served as the Battery Commander Station for nearby Battery Ashburn.
A photograph inside the top level of the bunker, which served as the Battery Commander Station for nearby Battery Ashburn.
Objects displayed include a map, helmet, canteen and pin-up girl on the wall. A WWII veteran who served at Fort Rosecrans helped to make the bunker's interior appear historically accurate.
Objects displayed include a map, helmet, canteen and pin-up girl on the wall. A WWII veteran who served at Fort Rosecrans helped to make the bunker’s interior appear historically accurate.
Diagram on wall identified the silhouettes of Japanese Naval Vessels during World War II.
Diagram on a wall identified Japanese Naval Vessels during World War II.
Marks show the direction and distance to South and North Coronado Islands, which lie in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico.
Marks show the direction and distance to South and North Coronado Islands, which lie in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico.
Phones on the wall beside a small Duty Roster chalkboard. The Battery Commander would communicate information to nearby Battery Ashburn.
Phones on the wall beside a small Duty Roster chalkboard. The Battery Commander would calculate and communicate accurate information to nearby Battery Ashburn.
Metal rungs descend into the lower level of the bunker, where visitors can see the small bunkroom and a typical Base End Station.
Metal rungs descend into the lower level of the bunker, where visitors can see the small bunkroom and a typical Base End Station.
A friendly docent shows me the bunkroom, where those who manned the bunker took turns sleeping.
A friendly docent shows me the bunkroom, where those who manned the bunker took turns sleeping.
Objects in the bunkroom include toiletries, U. S. Army rations, cigarettes, magazines and pin-ups on the wall.
Objects in the bunkroom include toiletries, U. S. Army rations, cigarettes, magazines and pin-ups on the wall.
Next to the bunkroom is a Base End Station, where soldiers continuously scanned the ocean horizon. It is one of five Base End Stations that were assigned to the Battery Commander Station directly above.
Next to the bunkroom is a Base End Station, where soldiers continuously scanned the ocean horizon. It is one of five Base End Stations that were assigned to the Battery Commander Station directly above.
Old photos above two phones show the operation of azimuth scopes in a Base End Station.
Old photos above two phones show the operation of azimuth scopes in a Base End Station.
A pair of Base End Stations would track an enemy ship's position, course and speed. Distance to an enemy vessel was determined through triangulation.
A sign describes Fire Control Rooms. A pair of Base End Stations would track an enemy ship’s position, course and speed. Distance to an enemy vessel was determined through triangulation.
Sign shows the different battery positions on Point Loma during World War II. Battery Ashburn's two 16 inch naval guns had a range of 26 miles.
Sign shows the different battery positions on Point Loma during World War II. Battery Ashburn’s two 16 inch naval guns had a range of 26 miles.
Old photos include Battery Ashburn in 1943 and Battery Point Loma in 1941.
Old photos include Battery Ashburn in 1943 and Battery Point Loma in 1941.
A sign in the nearby museum shows the ranges of Point Loma's many defensive gun batteries.
A sign in the nearby museum shows the ranges of Point Loma’s many defensive gun batteries.
During World War II, Fort Rosecrans on Point Loma was garrisoned by the 19th Coast Artillery Regiment. Troops assigned to Fort Rosecrans in San Diego thought it a good duty station, with pleasant weather.
During World War II, Fort Rosecrans on Point Loma was garrisoned by the 19th Coast Artillery Regiment. Troops assigned to Fort Rosecrans in San Diego thought it a good duty station, with pleasant weather.
Binoculars at the ready. Enter a coastal defense bunker at Cabrillo National Monument to experience a bit of what it was like during World War II in San Diego.
Binoculars at the ready. Enter a coastal defense bunker at Cabrillo National Monument to experience a bit of what it was like during World War II in San Diego.

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Polynesian canoe Hikianalia visits San Diego!

Traditional voyaging canoe Hikianalia docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the County Administration Building in the background.
Photo of traditional voyaging canoe Hikianalia docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, with the County Administration Building in the background.

Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego are in for a special treat this weekend!

I noticed during my evening walk along the Embarcadero that the traditional voyaging canoe Hikianalia is visiting from Hawaii. And the public is invited to come aboard for tours!

The Hikianalia, of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, has sailed over 2800 miles across the Pacific Ocean and down the California coast. Crew members are engaging in cultural exchanges and spreading a positive environmental message at every port they visit. The amazing Hikianalia uses sustainable, Earth-friendly technology, including electric motors that are powered by onboard photovoltaic panels.

I hadn’t realized the Hikianalia had arrived a couple days ago, and that Mayor Kevin Faulconer declared October 30, “Hikianalia Day” in San Diego! The canoe’s crew members were greeted by representatives of the Kumeyaay Nation and welcome chants and hula from San Diego’s Hawaiian community.

To see photos of the Hikianalia’s arrival in San Diego and the colorful welcoming ceremony, click here.

After public canoe tours this weekend at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the Hikianalia will prepare to return to Hawaii in mid-November.

Hikianalia is welcomed to San Diego during its California Voyage. The public can enjoy weekend tours of the canoe at the Maritime Museum.
Hikianalia is welcomed to San Diego during its California Voyage. The public can enjoy weekend tours of the technologically advanced Polynesian canoe at the Maritime Museum.
Hikianalia docked near several historic vessels of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Hikianalia docked on San Diego Bay near several historic vessels of the Maritime Museum.

UPDATE!

I stepped aboard the canoe on Sunday!

I learned from a crew member that the canoe primarily uses sail power, but will employ its solar-powered engines when coming into port.

Their ocean voyage has included some research and data collection, including analysis of the fish they catch. DNA is collected and each fish is checked to see whether it has eaten any plastic garbage.

The crew of Hikianalia has also transmitted their positive environmental message to students around the world, working with many schools.

Visitors check out the Hikianalia during its visit to San Diego.
Visitors check out the Hikianalia during its visit to San Diego.
This cool dude up on the passenger deck of the Berkeley was playing mellow island music.
This cool dude up on the passenger deck of the Berkeley was playing mellow island music.

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As we waited in line, a crew member told us about their current voyage down the California coast, and explained this map of an earlier ocean journey. Their next voyage will be around the Pacific Rim, including a visit to Alaska.
As we waited in line, a crew member told us about their current voyage down the California coast, and explained this map of an earlier ocean journey. Their next voyage will be around the Pacific Rim, including a visit to Alaska.
Almost to the front of the line!
Almost to the front of the line!
Getting ready to board the Hikianalia.
Getting ready to board the Hikianalia.
Lots of curious visitors were walking about the wooden deck of the Polynesian canoe.
Lots of curious visitors were walking about the wooden deck of the Polynesian voyaging canoe.
Everyone had to check out the huge oar-like rudder.
Everyone had to check out the huge oar-like rudder.
Garlands of tropical flowers decorate the bow of Hikianalia.
Garlands of tropical flowers decorate the bow of Hikianalia.
These friendly crew members selling t-shirts smiled for my camera!
These friendly crew members selling t-shirts smiled for my camera!

IMG_5505z

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 virtual reality tour around San Diego!

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park prepare to enjoy a short virtual reality tour around San Diego.
Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park prepare to enjoy a short virtual reality tour around San Diego.

During my random walk through Balboa Park today, I stumbled upon something that is unique and really fun! I wandered into the San Diego History Center and was immediately drawn to a sign at the entrance to one gallery that read: Experience San Diego, The Virtual Reality Adventure.

I wasn’t looking to blog anything after my walk today, but this short VR tour around San Diego is so cool, I definitely want to share it!

After having my VR headset strapped on, I suddenly found myself transported to a wide variety of places and events around San Diego. I was standing atop the California Tower in Balboa Park, turning my head to gaze in every direction . . .

Then suddenly I was floating over Oceanside in a hot air balloon . . . standing among hockey players during a San Diego Gulls game . . . riding a helicopter along our beautiful coast . . . right up close among the dolphins at SeaWorld . . . riding the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park in Mission Beach . . . flying above the desert in Anza Borrego State Park . . . floating on a boat among sea lions on San Diego Bay . . . and much more–all in virtual reality!

The whole experience is made possible by 4DSCI. A ticket costs just five dollars and the virtual reality tour lasts for perhaps ten minutes. If you want to experience San Diego in a whole new way, head down to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park and check it out!

Experience San Diego, The Virtual Reality Adventure. You will see many cool sights as if you were there in person!
Experience San Diego, The Virtual Reality Adventure. You will see many cool sights as if you were there in person!
Around the corner is the VR Theater...
Around the corner is the VR Theater…
The fun kid-friendly room where the experience is enjoyed. Chairs swivel so visitors can experience the virtual reality in every direction.
The fun, kid-friendly room where the experience is enjoyed. Chairs swivel so visitors can easily turn and experience the virtual reality in every direction.
Cabrillo National Monument is one of the places that will surround you--as if you are there!
Cabrillo National Monument is one of the beautiful places that will surround you–as if you are there!

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!

San Diego’s outdoor, drive-through art gallery!

A large, welcoming Love City Heights mural greets people along University Avenue near Interstate 15.
A large, welcoming Love City Heights mural greets people along University Avenue near Interstate 15.

There’s a surprising, rapidly expanding outdoor art gallery in San Diego that anybody can freely enjoy. The huge canvases of this unique gallery are the walls of buildings in City Heights, on the stretch of University Avenue between I-805 and I-15.

Eye-catching works of art by noted San Diego and Southern California muralists have recently been painted all along this “drive-through” gallery. And many more will be appearing soon!

I recently enjoyed a walking tour of the colorful murals, led by Carlos Quezada and Edwin Lohr, two members of Love City Heights, an association affiliated with the City Heights Town Council. Carlos and Edwin are both visionaries who are working with local residents, community leaders and businesses to bring new life to this extraordinarily diverse San Diego neighborhood.

An important part of their effort is #theavenuemuralproject. The Avenue Mural Project is using the magic of art to transform University Avenue, which contains City Heights’ Business District, into a vibrant place full of culture, creativity and community pride.

I learned that Carlos has a definite goal. He’d like to have one new street mural painted every month. His hope is that eventually three works of public art will be easily seen from any random spot along “The Avenue”.

I also learned that Love City Heights is collaborating with the City Heights Development Corporation and Mid-City CAN (Community Advocacy Network) to create even more murals east of I-15 through their youth program.

In addition to filling the streets with cool art, Love City Heights is working with business and property owners to transform their historic San Diego neighborhood into a dynamic place where people from all over will come to dine, shop and enjoy themselves. City Heights is the most diverse community in all of San Diego, and is centrally located, with many unique ethnic restaurants that can be found nowhere else. City Heights is uniquely qualified to be an authentic cultural attraction in San Diego.

Would you like to learn more about San Diego’s colorful, rapidly growing “drive-through” art gallery?

Are you an artist, resident or local business owner who’d like to participate in the revitalization of City Heights?

These are some links that you can check out:

Love City Heights on Facebook

#theavenuemuralproject tag on Instagram

TheAvenueSD.com

video about the mural project on YouTube

Do you live in San Diego and want something fun to do? Hop in your car or put on your walking shoes, then embark on a voyage of discovery along University Avenue between I-805 and I-15, where you will enjoy an ever-growing gallery of murals!

Here are a few . . .

The first mural painted by The Avenue Mural Project in City Heights contains joyful swirls of many colors! Endless Summer was designed by artist Erin Bowman.
The first mural painted by The Avenue Mural Project in City Heights contains joyful swirls of many colors! Endless Summer was designed by artist Erin Bowman.
A beautiful sun shines above stylized waves.
The warm San Diego sun shines above stylized waves.
The Endless Summer mural was painted by local school children, whose names appear in one corner, along with many positive messages.
The Endless Summer mural was painted by local school children, whose names appear in one corner, along with many positive messages.
Earlier this year I posted a photo of this mural on my blog. I hadn't realized at the time it's part of a cool outdoor drive-through art gallery in City Heights!
Earlier this year I posted a photo of this mural on my blog. I hadn’t realized it’s part of a cool outdoor drive-through art gallery in City Heights!
I was told this compassionate Amor mural, by @inkpaint and @fabianafoca is a work in progress.
Compassion in a City Heights alley. I was told this Amor mural, by @inkpaint and @fabianafoca, is a work in progress.
The beautiful tile mosaic A is not quite completed.
The beautiful tile mosaic “A” is not quite completed.
VISUAL painted the wall of a MetroPCS store with a cool image of kids communicating with tin cans and a string.
VISUAL painted the wall of a MetroPCS store with a cool image of kids communicating with tin cans and a string.
One business along University Avenue had their building painted with a wonderful mural with images of nature.
One business along University Avenue had their building painted with a pleasing mural containing elements of nature.
Another local store has happy, inviting murals painted on a side of their building.
Another local store now has happy, inviting murals painted on a side of their building.
This fun image depicts kids breaking open a piñata.
This fun image depicts kids breaking open a piñata.
A mural titled The Garden Party by artists Althea Rose Neff, Gilbert Cota and Alex Malone.
A mural titled The Garden Party by artists Althea Rose Neff, Gilbert Cota and Alex Malone.
A closer photo of The Garden Party mural, on the wall of popular Mexican restaurant Super Cocina.
A closer photo of The Garden Party mural, on the wall of popular Mexican restaurant Super Cocina.
Los Angeles muralist Ruben Rojas, co-founder of Beautify Earth, painted LOVE on the side of 7-Eleven in City Heights.
Los Angeles muralist Ruben Rojas, co-founder of Beautify Earth, painted LOVE on the side of 7-Eleven in City Heights.

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!

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Photos of tour inside LAIKA LIVE San Diego!

Dozens of amazing stop-motion puppets can be viewed inside LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!
Dozens of amazing stop-motion puppets can be viewed inside LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!

Wow!

If you thought last year’s Laika Experience at Comic-Con was great, you’ll be absolutely stunned by LAIKA LIVE San Diego in 2018!

Not only are there lots of detailed puppets, models and scale movie sets, but during the tour visitors can meet and talk to an actual working armaturist and an animator! Anyone interested in how Laika produces their films can ask any sort of question, and the friendly guys explain everything–from how puppets, their armatures and costumes are created and manipulated, to how scenes are conceived and filmed.

Visitors to LAIKA LIVE San Diego also get a preview of the upcoming funny and heartwarming movie Missing Link.

If you can, visit this Comic-Con offsite before Comic-Con actually begins and the lines get really, really long.

Here are some photos. Read the captions for more info. I’m no expert, so I hope I’ve described things correctly.

There’s a lot more to see than what I cover here. Many detailed displays that visitors can view during the tour explain the complicated process of making a Laika movie!

Before beginning the tour, visitors can pose with various Laika characters, like Other Mother, for a photo.
Before beginning the tour, visitors can pose with various Laika characters, like Other Mother, for a photo.
While we wait to begin the tour, we watch a video explaining various aspects of Laika's animation and how their fantastic movies are produced.
While we wait to begin the tour, we watch a video explaining various aspects of Laika’s animation and how their fantastic movies are produced.
Visitors are encouraged to vote for this LEGO model of Coraline's house by photographing a QR code. Given enough votes, LEGO will produce the kit!
Visitors are encouraged to vote for this LEGO model of Coraline’s house by photographing a QR code. Given enough votes, LEGO will produce the kit!
A board contains Laika fan art and letters.
A board contains Laika fan art and letters.
Examples of one letter and some fan art.
Examples of one letter and some fan art.
Visitors to LAIKA LIVE San Diego get character fans as free swag.
Visitors to LAIKA LIVE San Diego get character fans as free swag.
The tour has begun. First up we see a large model of Coraline's Other World House Exterior, or Pink Palace. The 1/16 scale miniature was used to film several exterior scenes.
The tour has begun. Here we see a large model of Coraline’s Other World House Exterior, or Pink Palace. The 1/16 scale miniature was used to film several exterior scenes.
A closer look, with models of Coraline characters on the porch.
A closer look, with models of Coraline characters on the porch.
A friendly LAIKA Armaturist describes how puppets are made, manipulated and repaired at his workstation, dubbed the Puppet Hospital. He answered every sort of question!
A friendly LAIKA armaturist describes how puppets are made, manipulated and repaired at his workstation, dubbed the Puppet Hospital. He answered every sort of question!
Two of the puppets, I believe from ParaNorman.
Two of the puppets, I believe from ParaNorman.
A look at the Puppet Hospital and some of the tools used to make, modify and repair Laika's many puppets.
A look at the Puppet Hospital and some of the tools used to make, modify and repair Laika’s many puppets.
Once a puppet's physical posture is slightly altered, a key tightens up the armature for another camera shot.
Once a puppet’s physical posture is slightly altered, the turn of a key tightens up the armature for another camera shot.
Next we see how this Laika Animator captures images of Kubo on a small set of his village using a camera on a running rig.
Next we see how this Laika animator captures images of Kubo on a small set of his village using a camera on a running rig.
One camera shot is observed.
One camera shot is analyzed.
Software allows many frames to be merged and edited into a completed film.
Software allows many frames to be merged and edited into a completed film.
Some puppets have many faces that can be attached, each with a slightly different expression.
Some puppets have many faces that can be attached, each with a slightly different expression.
The tour continues to a large set that is being used to film Laika's upcoming funny movie Missing Link. The detail of the Pacific Northwest forest is extraordinary.
The tour continues to a large set that is being used to film Laika’s upcoming funny movie Missing Link. The detail of the Pacific Northwest forest is extraordinary.
The friendly LAIKA tour guide poses for a fun photo!
The friendly LAIKA tour guide poses for a fun photo!
Near the end of the tour, there is a life-size replica of Coraline's Other World Living Room.
Near the end of the tour, there is a life-size replica of Coraline’s Other World Living Room.
A fantastic model and puppets used in the filming of The Boxtrolls.
A fantastic set and puppets used in the filming of The Boxtrolls.
More cool sights during an amazing tour of LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!
More cool sights during an amazing tour of LAIKA LIVE San Diego at 2018 Comic-Con!

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A quick peek inside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

View of St. Paul's Cathedral in Bankers Hill from across Fifth Avenue.
View of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral from across Fifth Avenue.

I swung by St. Paul’s Cathedral in Bankers Hill a couple weekends ago during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event. A friendly gentleman named Bob who belongs to this Episcopal church showed me the original Great Hall which was completed in 1929, then the impressive interior of the cathedral, or “big house” as he called it, which was finally completed in 1951.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed by architect Philip Frohman, who is best remembered as the designer of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The building contains elements of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The original pipes of the historic church organ date from 1887. They were brought by ship around Cape Horn, to serve as the first organ in Old Town San Diego.

The cathedral was visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 during her trip to San Diego aboard Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia. I was told that she spoke to the congregation and enjoyed listening to Evensong.

I gleaned a few odd bits of information during the informal tour and have included them in my photo captions.

Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
Looking north at the impressive cathedral and its many stained glass windows from Nutmeg Street.
St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego was designed by famed architect Philip Frohman.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
Ladies exit through an arcade of elegant columns.
A gentleman in the church's courtyard greeted visitors for the weekend architectural event.
A gentleman in the church’s courtyard greeted visitors during the weekend architectural event.
Construction of St. Paul's Parish House or Great Hall began in 1928.
Construction of St. Paul’s parish house or Great Hall began in 1928.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
The most notable thing I saw in the Great Hall is the incredible original wooden beamed ceiling, which is showing signs of age.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Turning my camera for another shot of this amazing ceiling.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
Sunlight enters through a rose window.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
A plaque in the courtyard area between the Great Hall and cathedral. This garden commemorates the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to this church on February 27, 1983.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic pipe organ.
Inside the beautiful cathedral, looking east from the nave toward the chancel and historic Great Organ.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
People have quietly entered the sacred place. The gray interior walls allow light from the stained glass lancet windows, created by Judson Studios in Pasadena, to fill the eyes of worshipers.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It is used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a much smaller organ.
This small Lady Chapel to the east was built in 1975. It’s used for weddings and other celebrations. It contains a smaller organ.
The cathedra, or bishop's throne, off to one side.
The cathedra, or bishop’s seat, off to one side.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.
More resplendent stained glass, like celestial visions shining through darkness.

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A short architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot.

Photo of Santa Fe Depot as it appears today. Big changes to the historic building are likely in its future.
Photo of Santa Fe Depot as it appears today. Some changes to the historic building are possibly in its future.

I went on a short tour of the Santa Fe Depot last week during the San Diego Architectural Foundation 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.

I’ve posted about the depot several times in the past. One fact-filled post concerned an historical exhibit inside the waiting room; another shared hundred year old photos of the building. During our tour I learned even more and enjoyed looking at additional old images.

This downtown San Diego landmark was designed by Bakewell and Brown to welcome the many anticipated visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. The depot’s construction began on May 28, 1914. The building officially opened on March 7, 1915. Materials that were used include a steel frame with wood trusses, concrete slabs, brick arcades and hollow clay tile infill walls. The architects Bakewell and Brown also designed San Francisco City Hall, the Coit Tower and Pasadena City Hall.

During the course of its history, there have been various changes to the building and its forecourt. The original arched forecourt, pictured in some of the following photos, was demolished in 1954 to make way for a parking lot. The current outdoor plaza featuring a fountain and colorful tiled benches replaced the parking lot in the 1980s.

The gentleman providing the tour indicated that recent new ownership of the Santa Fe Depot has opened up the possibility of future development. I learned an unused second story of the depot, once containing a manager’s apartment, telegraph room and railroad worker bedrooms, might be converted into office spaces, but an elevator, heating and electricity are now lacking.

I learned that the fountain in the forecourt’s plaza is leaking and permanently turned off. This valuable property between the main depot building and Broadway might be developed into a space for downtown eateries.

I also learned the large iconic Santa Fe sign atop the depot dates from the mid 50’s, and that there are plans to light it up at night using LED lighting.

Read the captions for some additional fascinating facts about this architectural marvel!

Looking up at one tiled tower. The black material is holding together cracked terracotta columns on chicken wire. The 1915 depot was built for the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Looking up at one tile-domed tower. The black material is holding together cracked terracotta columns on chicken wire. The 1915 depot was built for the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
Amtrak passengers move through the Santa Fe Depot's large waiting room. The building's architecture is in the Mission Revival style with Spanish Colonial Revival influences.
Our tour group and a few Amtrak passengers move through the Santa Fe Depot’s large waiting room. The building’s architecture is in the Mission Revival style with Spanish Colonial Revival influences.
We learn about the beautiful tilework throughout the depot.
We learn about the beautiful tilework throughout the depot.
The depot's glazed Kaospar tiling was created by California China Products Co. of National City, the same company that produced tile for Balboa Park's 1915 exposition.
The depot’s glazed Kaospar tiling was created by California China Products Co. of National City, the same company that produced all of the tile for Balboa Park’s 1915 exposition.
Raised levels of the gorgeous tiles feature different colors!
Raised levels of these gorgeous tiles each feature a different color!
We're shown an old postcard image of the original Main Waiting Room. Ticket and vending kiosks lined the west side of the depot's interior.
We’re shown an old postcard image of the original Main Waiting Room. Ticket and vending kiosks lined the west side of the depot’s interior. There used to be a Fred Harvey lunch room near the current ticket area at the building’s north end.
Looking up at the amazing ceiling. Most of the woodwork has never been painted. The original bronze light fixtures have an appearance that is masculine and sturdy.
Looking up at the amazing ceiling. Most of the woodwork has never been painted. The original bronze light fixtures have an appearance that is masculine and sturdy.
More woodwork around a door that leads to an old Stair Hall on the waiting room's east side.
More handsome woodwork around a door that leads to an old Stair Hall on the waiting room’s east side.
Our group heads outside to the forecourt's sunny plaza.
Our group heads outside to the forecourt’s sunny plaza.
Looking at the south side of the depot. Sadly, the fountain leaks and is turned off.
Looking at the south side of the depot. Sadly, the fountain leaks and is turned off.
We are shown more old images. This is an illustration of the original arched forecourt structure on Broadway. I also see the tower of the original 1887 Victorian station to the west (the other side of the tracks) before it was demolished.
We are shown more old images. This is an illustration of the original arched forecourt structure on Broadway. I also see the tower of the original 1887 Victorian station to the west (the other side of the tracks) before it was demolished.
Here's the old parking lot.
Here’s the old parking lot. (I see the distinctive County Administration Building to the left.)
Streetcars used to run along Broadway right up to the old forecourt!
Streetcars used to run along Broadway right up to the old forecourt!
A photo of the now unused second floor of the Santa Fe Depot.
A photo of the now unused second floor of the Santa Fe Depot.
Another historical photo. This one decorates one side of the information kiosk presently inside the depot.
Another historical photo. This can be found on one side of the information kiosk presently inside the depot.
Our tour guide collects old postcards. Here's another that shows the arched west side of the depot, beside the railroad tracks.
Our tour guide collects old postcards. Here’s another that shows the arched west side of the depot, beside the railroad tracks.
Handout shows map of the Santa Fe System and the San Diego Depot. Today the depot is the 3rd-busiest train station in California and 13th-busiest in the Amtrak system.
Information sheet shows map of the Santa Fe System and the San Diego Depot. Today the depot is the 3rd-busiest train station in California and 13th-busiest in the Amtrak system. (Click image to enlarge it.)
Gazing from the forecourt's plaza over a tiled bench toward America Plaza and buildings along Broadway.
Gazing from the forecourt’s plaza over a tiled bench toward America Plaza and buildings along Broadway. This area might soon undergo changes!

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