Student posters celebrate Freedom of Speech.

Free Speech, Press and Society.
Free Speech, Press and Society.

I was making my way through downtown this morning when I spotted something important that I’d like to blog.

As I walked past the Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse, I noticed a new crop of student posters has appeared in the building’s windows. These posters were submitted by local kids for the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2019 Law Week Poster and Video Contest.

The theme this year is Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.

We the People...
We the People…
Natural Rights. First Amendment.
Natural Rights. First Amendment.
Free As a Bird. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
Free As a Bird. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Freedom. Rights. Responsibility.
Freedom. Rights. Responsibility. May all our voices be heard!
Express your opinion. Peacefully protest or assemble.
Express your opinion. Peacefully protest or assemble.
Liberty requires freedom of expression for everybody.
Liberty requires freedom of expression for everybody.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is vitally important to me. I’m a writer.

If you value individual liberty and a free and open society, its protections are fundamental.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A colorful 19th century Fourth of July!

The Westwind Brass Ensemble plays on stage in Old Town San Diego's plaza during an 1800's Fourth of July.
The Westwind Brass Ensemble plays in Old Town’s plaza during an 1800’s Fourth of July.

Today a good crowd turned out for a festive 4th of July in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!

Every year this event provides a taste of what Independence Day would have been like in the 19th century. Fourth of July celebrations in San Diego would have officially commenced in 1848 when the small town became part of the United States.

If you remember some photographs that I posted three years ago, you might notice the event hasn’t changed much. But I love the color and history and the public participation so much I decided to go once again!

Many came out to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to enjoy an old-fashioned Independence Day.
Many came out to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to enjoy an old-fashioned Independence Day.
The Old Town 4th of July offered entertainments that would have been common in the 19th century, after San Diego became part of the United States.
The Old Town 4th of July offered entertainments that would have been common in the 19th century, after San Diego became part of the United States.
Boosters of Old Town San Diego Historic Park raise money by selling sliced watermelon and pies.
Boosters of Old Town San Diego Historic Park raise money by selling sliced watermelon and pies.
Members of the San Pasqual Battlefield Volunteer Association had a tent with historical displays.
Members of the San Pasqual Battlefield Volunteer Association had a tent with historical displays.
Photos or reenacted history near San Diego, including the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican–American War.
Photos or reenacted history near San Diego, including the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican–American War.
A family at Old Town's Fourth of July event learns all about spinning yarn.
A family at Old Town’s Fourth of July event learns all about spinning yarn.
Members of the Historic Quilt Guild had some of their beautiful handiwork on display.
Members of the Historic Quilt Guild had some of their beautiful handiwork on display.
These kids were making stuff with beads.
These kids were making stuff with beads.
Kids have fun with hoops on the grass. Simple play from an age long past.
Kids have fun with hoops on the grass. Simple play from an age long past.
A sack race has everyone laughing.
A sack race has everyone laughing.
This friendly guy near the blacksmith shop was making an axe handle.
This friendly guy near the blacksmith shop was making an ax handle.
Families were peering into the active blacksmith shop.
Families were peering into the active blacksmith shop.
Talking about how iron was shaped in Old Town San Diego in the 19th century.
Talking about how iron was shaped in Old Town San Diego in the 19th century.
All sorts of nostalgic music and dances entertained the crowd.
All sorts of nostalgic music and dances and contests entertained the crowd.
Handing out small American flags to those in the audience.
Handing out small American flags to those in the audience.
The keynote address reminds everyone of the meaning of Independence Day.
The keynote address reminds everyone of the meaning of Independence Day.
Old Glory readied to be raised on the plaza flagpole.
Old Glory readied to be raised on the plaza flagpole.

Diverse people in period costume read segments of the Declaration of Independence.
Diverse people in period costume read segments of the Declaration of Independence. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Volunteers from the crowd also went on stage to read portions of the Declaration of Independence.
Several people attending the event also volunteered to go on stage to read portions of the Declaration of Independence.
A patriotic parade for the Fourth of July commences around Old Town San Diego's historic plaza.
A patriotic parade for the Fourth of July commences around Old Town San Diego’s historic plaza.

Ordinary Americans are invited to join the parade.
Everyday ordinary Americans are invited to join the parade.

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!

House of USA celebrates in Balboa Park!

During my walk through Balboa Park this afternoon, I observed members of the House of USA setting up for their lawn program at the International Cottages. And suddenly I remembered Independence Day is coming up on Thursday!

After walking a little more about the park, I returned to the International Cottages right at two o’clock, just in time for the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The crowd wasn’t very large, but everyone was enjoying a fine occasion. The House of USA was serving up hot dogs, and people were stepping inside their cottage to see all sorts of cultural and historical displays. Outside on the stage, Navy Band Southwest’s outstanding Prevailing Winds Ensemble was playing a mixture of classic and popular tunes. I really enjoyed their great rendition of music from The Incredibles!

I checked out a couple of booths on the lawn. The House of USA princess posed for a cool photo. I met a gentlemen promoting the Civil Air Patrol.

Over the years, Civil Air Patrol volunteers have saved thousands of lives. They’re the ones who often transport emergency supplies after a disaster, spot people trapped on rooftops during catastrophic floods, and locate hikers lost in the mountains. I learned they have a cadet program for youth interesting in aviation, personal growth and community service.

The Civil Air Patrol always needs volunteers! 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!

A small memorial and The Aztec Warrior.

In Memory of Jesus A. Suarez del Solar Navarro. Was born in Tijuana, Mexico - died like a hero and he will live forever in our hearts.
In Memory of Jesus A. Suarez del Solar Navarro. Was born in Tijuana, Mexico – died like a hero and he will live forever in our hearts.

Today I walked through beautiful Kit Carson Park in Escondido. I was on my way to see Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, a world famous sculpture garden by Niki de Saint Phalle. It’s an extraordinary work of art that celebrates life. I’ll post many photos in the next day or two.

As I walked up a path near Eagle Scout Lake, I stumbled upon a small memorial under a tree. I looked down to read some words.

A family in Escondido's Kit Carson Park pauses to gaze at a small memorial.
A family in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park pauses to gaze at a small memorial.
American flags and The Aztec Warrior. Hero of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
American flags and The Aztec Warrior. Hero of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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 free walking tour of Old Town San Diego.

A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.
A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.

A free walking tour of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is available every day at 11 am and 2 pm. The tours meet in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center, at the northwest end of Old Town’s large grassy plaza.

When I visit Old Town San Diego, I’ll sometimes join the walking tour while it’s in progress. Last weekend I happened to be in front of the Robinson-Rose House right at eleven o’clock, so I decided to enjoy the full one hour tour!

During this easy walk a guide in period costume provides fascinating information about San Diego’s early history. Several different periods are covered, from the Spanish mission period, to the Mexican rancho period, to the early American period. The main interpretive period is 1821 to 1872.

Among the following photos are a few interesting bits of history…

Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can view a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can view a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town's historic Plaza de las Armas.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town’s historic Plaza de las Armas.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.

The Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located where Old Town San Diego’s plaza was established. Before the San Diego River was diverted in 1877, its water ran very close to Old Town and was an integral part of the life of early people in our desert-like Southern California coastal region.

Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.

When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish soldiers of the nearby San Diego Presidio switched their allegiance to Mexico, which couldn’t afford to pay them. For their service, they were given land at the foot of Presidio Hill, where many soldiers and their families built houses. That is how Old Town started.

You can learn more about La Casa de Machado y Silvas and the fascinating Commercial Restaurant museum here.

We head back outside into the plaza.
We head back outside into the plaza.
We learn more about Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
We learn more about the history of Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
Old Town's flagpole resembles a ship's mast!
Old Town’s flagpole resembles a ship’s mast!

You might notice the flagpole at the center of Old Town’s Plaza looks a lot like a ship’s mast. Because originally it was!

When an American force under Captain Samuel F. DuPont sailed into San Diego Bay in 1846 to take control of Old Town unopposed, the plaza had no flagpole, because most of the independent-minded Californios who lived here didn’t feel a strong attachment to Mexico. So a ship’s mast was used to raise the flag of the United States.

You can see a bronze plaque commemorating the event here.

You can learn more about the old Spanish cannon that sits in the middle of Old Town’s plaza near the flagpole here.

We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.

A vacant area of ground beside the Colorado House (now home of the Wells Fargo Museum) is where the Franklin House hotel used to stand. It was Old Town’s only three story building, notable for its relative elegance and its baths.

The Franklin House was destroyed during the great fire of 1872 along with several adjacent buildings including Old Town’s courthouse, ensuring that San Diego’s future would be located in Alonzo Horton’s New Town, which was then called Horton’s Addition.

To learn more about San Diego’s first courthouse, click here.

To learn more about Colorado House and the Wells Fargo Museum, click here.

We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego's temperate climate.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego’s temperate climate.

Our tour group then walked over to Casa de Machado y Stewart. We learned many things, including the fact that the fancier china seen on the dining table came by merchant ships that crossed the Pacific from Asia.

The more simple items like candlesticks were made by local blacksmiths. Because iron was rare in San Diego, harpoons from a brief period of whaling in San Diego Bay were used to make a variety of furnishings and household utensils.

You can learn more about the Casa de Machado y Stewart here.

You can learn about Old Town’s blacksmith shop here.

We also learned that the art of brick-making was introduced to Old Town by members of the Mormon Battalion, whose arrival in San Diego you can learn about here.

The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego's unique early history.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego’s unique early history.

The walking tour concluded inside the courtyard of La Casa de Estudillo. In many respects, this beautiful house is the centerpiece of Old Town San Diego. Two past blog posts provide a great deal of information about La Casa de Estudillo.

You can peer into the house’s restored rooms and learn about their history here.

You can learn how a wildly popular novel saved this historic building from destruction here!

The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town can roam wherever they fancy, and visit the numerous free museums around the plaza.
The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town San Diego can roam wherever they fancy, and visit numerous free museums scattered around the plaza.

Finally, to enjoy a good overview of San Diego’s early history, I recommend a visit to Old Town’s excellent McCoy House Museum. You can check out my blog post featuring its many exhibits by clicking 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!

Scenes from Memorial Day in San Diego.

This morning I went to a Memorial Day ceremony at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, next to Balboa Park’s Veterans Museum. Representatives from San Diego’s Vietnamese community attended. They presented a wreath in remembrance. A beautiful new POW/MIA monument was revealed. (See my previous blog post.)

I and others then boarded an Old Town Trolley Tours bus. We were driven by our amazing Vietnam veteran driver Sam to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. There we attended the 119th Memorial Service and Day of Remembrance.

We heard deeply felt tributes to those who have served and sacrificed. Many wreaths were presented. Hearts poured out.

Thousand of tiny flags fluttered in the sea breeze.

Come along with me…

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!

POW/MIA monument unveiled at Veterans Museum.

A beautiful new POW/MIA monument was unveiled today at the San Diego Vietnam Peace Memorial, outside the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park.

During a moving Memorial Day ceremony, a black cloth concealing the monument was removed, revealing a gorgeous mosaic showing the American flag, a soaring eagle, and at the center the POW/MIA emblem. The artists who created the mosaics at the Vietnam War Memorial in La Mesa were also responsible for this stunning work.

In a stirring speech we learned that the remains of 67 missing in action were identified and brought home in the last year. Those who lost their lives on our nation’s behalf will not be left behind.

And they will never be forgotten.

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!