San Diego’s original federal building and courthouse.

Few people ever see downtown San Diego’s original federal building and courthouse. It stands off the beaten track, surrounded by tall buildings, where few tourists or locals venture.

Some of those who approach the old federal building might have tried to avoid it. That’s because the historic building, built in 1911-13, is presently a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It’s named the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse, home to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California.

According to the court’s website: “In 1906, Congress authorized construction of the first permanent federal building in San Diego, specifically designed to house the U.S. Post Office, the U.S. District Court, and U.S. Customs. It was commissioned on April 5, 1913 as the ‘U.S. Post Office and Custom House.’ The architecture of the building is an eclectic design, blending ‘monumental classicism and Spanish colonial revival,’ creating a federal building that uniquely recognizes San Diego’s Hispanic heritage…”

The building was designed by architect James Knox Taylor, who was Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1897 to 1912.

Over the years this old federal building has undergone restoration. In my exterior photographs you can see the colonnaded portico and distinctive square towers.

Make sure to visit the court’s website to read much more about the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse’s long, colorful history. Among other things, you’ll learn that horticulturalist Kate Sessions, who introduced many of the trees and plants now found throughout Balboa Park, landscaped the building’s grounds, and how in “August of 1917, Postmaster Barrow asked for permission ‘to plow up the large lawn to the south of the building and plant the ground to potatoes, beans, or some other useful vegetable,’ to locally support the World War I war effort.”

I see that tours of the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse are available by appointment. One day I’ll go on one and experience the historic building’s interior. Unless I go bankrupt first…

For tour information, click here!

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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Balboa Park’s magical winter garden.

If there’s one garden in Balboa Park that’s truly magical during the winter season, it’s the Japanese Friendship Garden. Beauty thrives all year long in this very special place.

I visited today. I believe right now it’s the only attraction open in Balboa Park. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced museums to close. Even the San Diego Zoo is now closed.

If you’re feeling a bit down this winter, take a slow stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden.

You’ll feel alive again.

(Artists take note! The Japanese Friendship Garden is now looking for artists to be a part of their next project, which concerns healing through creativity during the coronavirus pandemic. It appears the deadline for submissions is today! Any and all artists are welcome! Click here to learn more!)

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!

Photos outside the historic Stein Family Farm.

The other day I walked down a National City sidewalk past the historic Stein Family Farm. It was closed at the time, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so I took these outside photographs!

I spoke over the fence briefly to a couple of nice ladies near the farmhouse and a gentleman volunteer. I vowed that one day I’d return and take a tour!

The Stein Family Farm was once home to Charles Stein, an immigrant German farmer, his wife Bertha and five children. The construction of the Otay Dam in 1897 caused flooding to the Stein’s original property near Mexico, so the family moved to this National City location in 1900.

The 2-acre Stein Family Farm Museum includes their house, barn containing many antique farm implements and vehicles, and other structures, as well as farm animals (from around the world!) and an orchard containing a variety of fruit trees, which you can see in the last two photos.

I learned that second house you see in my photos, a 19th century Queen Anne Victorian, was recently relocated to the museum grounds. It awaits restoration.

Check out the Stein Family Farm’s website for more information here!

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!

Nesting cormorants above La Jolla Cove!

It must be breeding season already, because hundreds of Brandt’s cormorants are showing their blue throat patches and building nests on the cliffs above La Jolla Cove!

Today I stood and watched peculiar bird behaviors from the roadside above the cliffs. I saw amorous flirtations and angry squabbles and seaweed tug-of-wars. Cormorants in nests would occasionally angle their heads and wings way back, staring straight up. I’m not sure if that’s a natural behavior, or if they were merely gaping at all the tourists above them!

I tried to select my best photographs. In some the cormorants appear very beautiful; in others a bit strange and primitive–almost monstrous.

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!

The succulents and cacti of Seaport Village.

I discovered a little bit of history yesterday!

You know all those beautiful old succulents and cacti you see in Seaport Village, particularly around the plaza containing the main fountain?

As I walked around the circular plaza I happened to spy a painted tile on top of one planter wall.

Words explain: The beautiful succulents and cacti you are enjoying here were selected and planted by Mr. Chuck Ito of Leucadia, California. 1980.

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!

Beach Castles protect lifeguard station!

A row of Beach Castles protects the South Mission Beach Lifeguard Tower from surging water and other Pacific Ocean invaders!

This public artwork, which is indeed titled Beach Castles, was created out of concrete by San Diego artist Roman de Salvo in 2019. The “sandcastles” resemble Mission Beach’s long line of beachfront homes and condos, which I assume was the humorous intention.

Sadly, as you can see in some photographs, this playful art outside the lifeguard station has been defaced by graffiti.

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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Pixelated Summer photo art in Mission Beach.

Very colorful public art decorates two sides of the Mission Beach boardwalk restrooms that are located just south of Belmont Park. These two photo montages on tile are titled Pixelated Summer. They were created by Southern California artists Sarah Lejeune and Angelo Camporaso in 2008.

Looking at this artwork is like tumbling through many bright kaleidoscope memories. There are bits and flashes from endless summers at the beach, combined with glimpses of the Belmont Park amusement park, its wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster and The Plunge indoor pool.

My first photos show this unique public art installation on the restroom’s north side.

The next two photos are of a nearby marker commemorating the one hundred year anniversary of Mission Beach. It was placed here during a centennial ceremony in 2014.

It’s worth a quick look..

Now we’ll take a look at the south side of the public restroom, where the other watery half of Pixelated Summer is installed…

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!

Art museum to use new antiviral technology!

I learned of another improvement to Balboa Park this afternoon!

I was walking through the Plaza de Panama when I noticed several banners on a construction fence in front of the Timken Museum of Art.

One banner states the Timken will be the first museum in the world to install revolutionary antiviral and dehumidification technology. According to a museum web page, here, this new technology “originally engineered in conjunction with the United States Department of Defense” is considerably more effective at eliminating airborne pathogens than systems presently used in hospital operating rooms!

They hope to demonstrate this technology can be used in other museums, and for common everyday use. (Air that’s much safer than a hospital operating room? Sign me up!)

Other banners on the fence direct interested people to the Timken Museum of Art’s website, where they will find online educational experiences, including virtual tours and art tutorials, plus lots of other activities.

The museum, presently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to reopen in Summer 2021 with this revolutionary antiviral system installed and ready to go!

If you’d like to learn a more about the Timken Museum of Art, you might enjoy viewing an old blog post here. It includes photographs and notes that I took during a special architectural tour of the Timken’s uniquely beautiful 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!

Amazing look at a gray whale off San Diego!

Today I went on an amazing winter whale watching adventure!

We were able to watch a gray whale as it migrated south toward Mexico along the coast of San Diego!

I and other passengers aboard the Adventure Hornblower tour ship left San Diego Bay as the sun broke through morning clouds, and we set about searching for whales and other marine wildlife off Point Loma.

Not only did we get a great view of a gray whale repeatedly surfacing, spouting, then fluking before its longer dives, but we spotted a pod of feeding dolphins out on the beautiful Pacific Ocean, too!

I must say the crew of the Adventure Hornblower was super nice and provided a really memorable experience!

Here come my photographs…

As I waited on the Embarcadero for our departure, I was able to rest on a bench and regard our whale watching ship, the Adventure Hornblower.
Looking back at the city as we head across San Diego Bay toward the ocean.
As we cruised down the channel, we got a good look at beautiful Point Loma.
I see two iconic landmarks in San Diego! The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and the slender statue of Cabrillo to the right of those Torrey Pine trees.
The end of the Point Loma peninsula. We’re almost out on the wide Pacific Ocean!
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect early January day. It was a good idea to wear layers and a jacket, however!
Here and there you’d see other boats out on the blue ocean. Those hazy mountains way in the distance are in Mexico.
This big fantastic sailboat had reported seeing a whale. The captains of competing tours cooperate out on the water, sharing their sightings, for the benefit of all.
We’re slowly, carefully nearing a solitary gray whale as it journeys through the ocean.
A spout! The passengers all rushed forward!
Our first look at a fluke!
This gray whale has lots of barnacles! Hence the gray appearance.
We keep following at a safe distance, not wanting to disturb a graceful giant of the deep.
Wow! A great zoom photo of a spout!
The gray whale has spouted, leaving a watery mist above. The enormous mammal begins to dive under again.
Another fluke, which means the gray whale will be submerged for perhaps five minutes.
As we head back in to San Diego after a couple of amazing hours on the ocean, we pass many sailboats heading out. Beyond the one in this photo is Point Loma’s modern lighthouse, down near the water.
The hazy downtown skyline is up ahead in the distance, on the other side of Coronado.
After entering San Diego Bay, we slowly swung by the live bait barge to check out lots of sea lions.
What a life. Catch a few fish, take a lazy nap in the San Diego sunshine.
Getting closer to home.
Back at the Embarcadero. That’s the Coronado Ferry about to dock in front of us.

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!

The gazebos of Balboa Park’s hidden garden.

There’s a hidden garden in Balboa Park that almost nobody visits. It’s called the Administrative Courtyard.

The Administrative Courtyard is green, peaceful and very beautiful. There are fountains. There are arbors with vines and trees. To me, the most wonderful part of this courtyard garden are the gazebos at its corners. They give this special place personality. They are both cheerful and elegant, welcoming visitors with their bright tiled domes and nearby benches.

As I walked through and around the gazebos on a sunny winter’s day, I found many interesting contrasts of light and shadow for my camera.

If you’d like to find the hidden Administrative Courtyard, head to Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point, east of Park Boulevard, and walk behind the Developed Regional Parks Administration Building. That’s the handsome building that stands with its double towers atop a hill.

This corner of Balboa Park, including the Administration Building and nearby Veterans Museum (originally a military chapel), was once part of San Diego’s United States Naval Hospital, which was built in the early 1920s. When the hospital moved into Florida Canyon, Inspiration Point opened up its wonders to you and me.

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