A glorious day as Balboa Park reopens!

The day that many in San Diego have anticipated for nearly three months has arrived!

Balboa Park is reopening!

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Central Mesa area of Balboa Park–the beloved center of San Diego’s cultural life–has been closed to the public. But that changes today! While most of the museums aren’t quite ready to open yet, visitors will again be able to amble down El Prado and enjoy the park’s sunshine, gardens and architectural beauty.

And a few places in the park will be open!

The world-famous San Diego Air and Space Museum will be open! So will the Visitor Center, the Prado Restaurant and the Japanese Friendship Garden’s Tea Pavilion! Visitors will notice that modifications have been made to ensure social distancing and generally increase public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can bet I’ll be heading to Balboa Park first thing after work today. And I’ll be there all weekend. I miss it so much.

Here are a few photographs from my rather inactive blog Beautiful Balboa Park. These photos were taken at sunrise on a summer day almost three years ago.

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 new river park by Fashion Valley trolley station!

Northwest corner of Town and Country Resort and Convention Center's river park under construction. The new park will be across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
The northwest corner of Town and Country’s new river park is under construction. The public park will be directly across Riverwalk Drive from the Fashion Valley Transit Center.

A new linear river park is under construction near Fashion Valley!

An ugly old parking lot of the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center is being converted into park space. And the north side of the San Diego River, directly adjacent to the Fashion Valley Transit Center, will be part of this new public park, too!

The project, which includes almost 8 acres of restored natural habitat, and beautiful new pathways along the San Diego River, is part of the Town and Country hotel’s extensive property-wide renovation.

Today I found myself standing high up on the Fashion Valley trolley station platform. I looked down to see how the northwest corner of the new park is taking shape.

Because I frequently use this station, I’ll continue to monitor developments!

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!

Seaport Village suddenly turns blue!

The Pier Cafe at Seaport Village has been painted dark blue!
The Pier Cafe at Seaport Village is no longer brown. It has been painted dark blue!

Look what I noticed today during my evening walk along the Embarcadero. Seaport Village must have a brand new color scheme. Because many of its buildings along the water have recently been painted dark blue!

To me it all appeared very strange. Probably because I’m accustomed to Seaport Village’s old appearance.

Seaport Deli and Salad Bar has also been painted dark blue!
Seaport Deli and Salad Bar has also been painted dark blue! But it still has the red tile roof.
And so has the Harbor House restaurant! Seaport Village must have a new blue color scheme.
And the Harbor House restaurant has turned from brown to blue! Seaport Village must have a new color scheme.
The Seaport Village lighthouse has always been light blue. For many years you could purchase cookies here. I see a new eatery called Spill the Beans is coming.
The Seaport Village lighthouse has always been light blue. For many years you could purchase cookies here. I see a new coffee shop called Spill the Beans is coming.
And look! Buster's Beach House is now painted dark blue, too!
And look! Buster’s Beach House is now painted dark blue, too! It all appears a bit peculiar to me, but I might change my mind.

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!

Patterned tile benches outside Santa Fe Depot.

Some very unique benches are arranged around the perimeter of the outdoor courtyard at downtown’s Santa Fe Depot. The courtyard, featuring a fountain near its center, is located directly south of the large passenger waiting room.

These tile benches present an eye-pleasing variety of colorful patterns. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice their symmetric patterns are derived from the “cross” of the Santa Fe Railway logo, which consists of a cross inside a circle.

During an architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot that I took a couple years ago, I learned these benches were installed in the 1980’s. I learned quite a lot during that special tour! If you want to read more about the historic train station, and about the original forecourt that existed a hundred years ago, long before these outdoor benches appeared, you can find images and descriptions from that architectural tour here.

For an example of the Santa Fe railroad’s logo, check out the next photo from that tour. It was taken inside the enormous and truly amazing passenger waiting room.

Now on to the outdoor benches…

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!

How to support the museums of Balboa Park.

This group wanted to see fine art so they headed into the San Diego Museum of Art.

Do you love Balboa Park?

One big reason the park is so wonderful is its many diverse museums. World-class museums. Museums that enhance the culture of our city and document the life of this planet. Museums that educate, entertain, highlight beauty and provide inspiration. Museums that bring our community together.

But these nonprofit institutions are always in need of public support. Especially during the present coronavirus pandemic, when Balboa Park is closed to all visitors. Today many of these beloved museums really need your help.

Would you like to make a donation to one or more of the museums of Balboa Park, or perhaps find another way to give them a helping hand?

I’ve visited each museum’s website and created the following list of links. These links will take you to web pages that explain how you can provide each museum with support.

Every little bit helps in this difficult time!

Visitors walk up the front steps of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.

Here come the links where you can provide help…

Museum of Photographic Arts

San Diego Art Institute

San Diego Automotive Museum

Fleet Science Center

Japanese Friendship Garden

San Diego Air and Space Museum

Centro Cultural de la Raza

Marston House

Visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden gaze at Kannon Bosatsu, a nearly three century old 5750 pound bronze statue recently installed in the Lower Garden by crane!

WorldBeat Center

Timken Museum of Art

Mingei International Museum

Veterans Museum at Balboa Park

The San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego History Center

San Diego Museum of Man

San Diego Natural History Museum

Inside one of the galleries. The small fine art museum is free to the public and a popular destination in Balboa Park.

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!

Colorful photos of historic Old Poway Park!

A couple years ago I headed up to the annual Rendezvous in Poway. The event is held in historic Old Poway Park.

The Rendezvous in Poway is a reenactment that includes many elements of the 19th century Old West, including costumed vaqueros, mountain men, cowboys, pioneers, and soldiers from the Civil War.

I blogged about the event here. I also blogged about a beautiful bronze sculpture that I came across while walking through the park. It’s titled The Pioneers. See it here.

This morning, as I went through some folders in my computer, I found one that I had named Old Poway Park. In it were various photos of the park.

Uh, oh! Yikes!

I had intended to blog those photos a day or two after the event!

My lousy memory being what it is, I thought it would be best to merely share a few photos I took of this very colorful historic park–I don’t recall most of the precise details.

I do remember that there was grass and picnic benches and shady trees, and excited kids waving as they rode along the short, looping track of the Poway-Midland Railroad, and that the Heritage Museum contained a great collection of artifacts and displays concerning Poway’s history. But I’m afraid these almost forgotten photos will simply provide a taste of my visit that day.

If you want to learn more about family-friendly Old Poway Park, its history, museum, fascinating buildings and railroad operations, visit their website here!

One day I’ll return to ride that steam locomotive train you see in the barn. The little kid in me cannot be denied.

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!

Oil painted people in San Diego.

This morning I was going through hundreds of unused photographs filed on my computer when I was struck with another fun idea!

Why not use a few of my old photos to create more oil paintings?

These digitally created “oil paintings” are of people in San Diego!

Can you recognize some of the locations?

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!

Oil painting the iconic Hotel del Coronado!

img_0540-people-enjoy-the-grassy-area-in-front-of-the-famous-beach-resort-e1398111446464qq

One could make a convincing argument that the Hotel del Coronado is the second or third most iconic building in all of San Diego, after the California Tower in Balboa Park and perhaps the historic Mission San Diego de Alcalá.

The image of the uniquely grand and beautiful “Hotel Del” has been made famous in movies, on television, and through countless postcards sent around the world by enthralled tourists. Most people who think of Coronado immediately picture this impressive Victorian beach resort, the second largest wooden structure in the United States.

It’s said that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum used the fanciful architecture of the Hotel del Coronado as his inspiration for the Emerald City. (He wrote several Oz books at a house he rented in winter a few blocks away. To see photos of that house, click here!)

A month ago I used graphic software to change some of my photos of the California Tower into digital oil paintings. Yesterday, as I walked around Coronado, it suddenly occurred to me that I might do the same with the picturesque Hotel del Coronado!

I’ve altered some old photographs and a couple of new ones to make them appear like oil paintings! Just for fun!

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!

A trip to Coronado during the pandemic.

People sit on the grass at the Coronado Ferry Landing looking across San Diego Bay during the coronavirus pandemic.
People sit on the grass at the Coronado Ferry Landing looking across San Diego Bay during the coronavirus pandemic.

Today I went on a little mini-vacation. I walked from Cortez Hill where I live in downtown San Diego to Broadway Pier, boarded the Coronado Ferry and headed across the bay to one of my favorite places!

Today’s “trip” to Coronado was a bit different than usual, however. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic necessitated social distancing and frequent use of my face mask.

A crew member of the Silvergate ferry told me their ridership has begun to increase significantly now that San Diego has entered Phase 1 of the Reopening. Several weeks ago the ferry would carry perhaps 20 passengers for an entire day. Now there are easily 20 riders per trip.

As I walked through Coronado I saw people with and without face coverings, in groups, individually, in parks, on sidewalks. But most seemed to be conducting themselves in a considerate and measured way.

It appeared people were indeed very eager to be outside again after over a month of remaining mostly indoors. It was sunny and felt like summer. Restaurants were offering takeout service along the sidewalk. But many touristy shops were still closed.

Come along and read the photo captions…

More people sit near the small beach at the Coronado Ferry Landing.
Small groups sit spread out on the grass near the beach at the Coronado Ferry Landing.
This beach is usually much more active when there's no health crisis. A sometimes deadly, highly infectious novel coronavirus calls for social distancing.
This beach is usually much more active when there’s no health crisis. A sometimes deadly, highly infectious novel coronavirus calls for social distancing.
Fishing out on the blue water of San Diego Bay.
Fishing out on the blue water of San Diego Bay.
A few small groups were enjoying a Sunday early afternoon in Spreckels Park.
A few small groups were enjoying a Sunday early afternoon in Spreckels Park.
Bicycling has always been popular in Coronado, with tourists and locals alike. This street art depicts a fun bike.
Bicycling has always been popular in Coronado, with tourists and locals alike. This street art depicts a fun bike.
Something caught the attention of walkers in Rotary Park.
Something caught the attention of walkers in Rotary Park.
The COVID-19 crisis might prove fatal to the Lamb's Players Theatre. It's the most challenging time in their 49 year history. Perhaps send them a donation!
The COVID-19 crisis might prove fatal to the Lamb’s Players Theatre. It’s the most challenging time in their 49 year history. Perhaps send them a donation!
I spotted a UFO! It's the rather unique car of the Unarius Academy of Science, based in El Cajon. I once blogged about their spacey mural, if you recall.
I spotted a UFO! It’s the rather unique car of the Unarius Academy of Science. I once blogged about their spacey mural in El Cajon, if you recall.
Bicyclist heads down the street, with the Hotel del Coronado in the background.
Bicyclist rides along the street, with the grand, one-of-a-kind Hotel del Coronado in the background.
A couple heads down steps to the beach past signs concerning the latest coronavirus rules and regulations.
A couple heads down steps to the beach past signs concerning Coronado’s coronavirus rules and regulations.
People walk along beautiful Coronado Beach. The immense Disney Wonder cruise ship is parked in the ocean off San Diego waiting for the health crisis to end.
People walk along beautiful Coronado Beach. The immense Disney Wonder cruise ship is parked in the ocean off San Diego waiting for the health crisis to end.
If the Hotel del Coronado looks a bit different in this photo, that's because it's undergoing a big renovation during the pandemic.
If the Hotel del Coronado looks a bit different in this photo, that’s because it’s undergoing a big renovation during the pandemic.
Sign states that for the first time in 132 years, Hotel del Coronado has temporarily suspended operations.
Sign states that for the first time in 132 years, Hotel del Coronado has temporarily suspended operations.
Another look at large scale renovation underway at the world-famous Victorian beach resort.
Another look at major renovation underway at the world-famous Victorian beach resort.
As I walk back east along Orange Avenue, I pass the Coronado mural. I noticed it's printed on panels, not painted.
As I walked back east along Orange Avenue, I passed the Coronado mural. I noticed it’s printed on panels, not painted.
The marquee at the Village Theater indicates It's Intermission Time!
The marquee at the Village Theater indicates It’s Intermission Time!
One banner on the Orange Avenue median near Spreckels Park says Coronado We Stay Home Together. Support Our First Responders.
One banner on the Orange Avenue median near Spreckels Park reads: Coronado We Stay Home Together. Support Our First Responders.
The Coronado ferry will depart for downtown San Diego shortly. I stayed at a distance from the group ahead of me. They were told to don masks before boarding the ferry.
The Coronado ferry will depart for downtown San Diego shortly. I stayed at a distance from the group ahead of me. They were told to don masks before boarding the ferry.
The captain of the Silvergate poses for a photograph wearing his face mask. Thank you for taking us under the horns of the USS Midway and past a sea lion on a buoy!
The captain of the Silvergate poses for a photograph wearing his face mask. Stay safe!

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!

On The Map airport mural and aviation history.

Mural visible from Harbor Drive at San Diego International Airport.
Mural visible from Harbor Drive at San Diego International Airport.

Have you wondered about the large new colorful mural that was painted last year at San Diego International Airport? You know, that mural showing a guy in an old-fashioned hat holding a steering wheel, which is visible as you head up Harbor Drive?

The title of this impressive public art is On The Map, and it’s a tribute to the rich aviation history of San Diego. The design was created by Jari “WERC” Alvarez, the same artist who created the SAN mural at the same location in 2014. You can see a photo of that previous mural in one of my old blog posts here.

On The Map is the second of a three mural commission, and will be on display through 2022. The map-like artwork of Jari Alvarez incorporates images that pay tribute to San Diego aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and early stunt pilot Lincoln Beachey. It also honors female flyers and engineers during the course of aviation history.

Early in the 20th century, before World War I, Glenn Curtiss operated a flying school on Coronado across San Diego Bay. His groundbreaking school was instrumental in making North Island the Birthplace of Naval Aviation.

Lincoln Beachey was a pioneer aviator and barnstormer, who broke world flying records and invented many daring aerial maneuvers. He was called by many The World’s Greatest Aviator.

You might remember that years ago the same building (now the administrative offices of the San Diego Airport Authority, once the commuter terminal) was home to a mural showing Charles Lindbergh holding a small model of his famous airplane Spirit of St. Louis. Before its historic 1927 transatlantic flight, the Spirit of St. Louis was built in San Diego by Ryan Airlines, near where the airport stands today.

San Diego’s deep links to aviation history are just another fascinating aspect of America’s Finest City!

On The Map, a tribute to the rich aviation history of San Diego, by muralist Jari “WERC” Alvarez.
On The Map, a tribute to the rich aviation history of San Diego, by muralist Jari “WERC” Alvarez.

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!