Art along Park Boulevard in University Heights.

A small sign with ostrich welcomes those walking up Park Boulevard to University Heights.
A small sign with an ostrich welcomes those walking up Park Boulevard in University Heights.

Last weekend I walked along Park Boulevard in University Heights. I headed north from El Cajon Boulevard to Adams Avenue, then back south on the opposite sidewalk. I saw all sorts of fun art during my journey!

Why so many ostriches? University Heights has adopted the ostrich as a unique and memorable symbol. Back in 1903 this neighborhood was the home of Harvey Bentley’s ostrich farm, where visitors could ride the large birds!

Artistic mural painted on south wall of Park Blvd Artworks.
Artistic mural painted on south wall of Park Blvd Artworks.
Wall painted by New Zealand artist Cinzah for the PangeaSeed Foundation informs passersby that each year 100,000,000 sharks are killed for their fins.
Wall painted by New Zealand artist Cinzah for the PangeaSeed Foundation informs passersby that each year 100,000,000 sharks are killed for their fins.
Electrical box street art near the Diversionary Theatre.
Electrical box floral street art near the Diversionary Theatre.
People walk up the Park Boulevard sidewalk toward the University Heights landmark sign.
People walk up Park Boulevard’s sidewalk toward the University Heights landmark sign.
Some small colorful tiles in a stucco wall.
Some small colorful tiles in a stucco wall.
Transformer box painted with an image of The Pavilion at Mission Cliff Gardens.
Transformer box painted with an image of The Pavilion at Mission Cliff Gardens.
Street lamp banner with ostrich proclaims University Heights - Founded in 1888.
Streetlamp banner with ostrich proclaims University Heights – Founded in 1888.
Faded flowery street art on a utility box.
Faded flowery street art on a utility box.
A small, peaceful sculpture in front of Buddha's Light Bookstore.
A small, peaceful sculpture in front of Buddha’s Light Bookstore.
Spiritual image above front entrance of San Diego Buddhist Association's Hsi Fang Temple.
Spiritual image above front entrance of San Diego Buddhist Association’s Hsi Fang Temple.
Part of a cool mural painted on store wall at the corner of Park Boulevard and Monroe Avenue.
Part of the cool mural painted on a store wall at the corner of Park Boulevard and Monroe Avenue.

I photographed the above mural four years ago. See more images of this street art here!

Some more cool but faded street art.
Some beautiful but faded street art.
Silly faces!
Silly faces!
Love Your H2O, a mural painted by local artist Gloria Muriel for the Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans project.
Love Your H2O, a mural painted by local artist Gloria Muriel for the Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans project.

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!

An architectural landmark in University Heights.

Last weekend I enjoyed an easy walk through University Heights. My small adventure included a close look at an architectural landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Teacher Training School Building–San Diego State Normal School. Today the monumental old building, located inside the San Diego Unified School District’s Education Center Complex, is officially designated Teachers Training Annex 1.

The 1910 building, built by engineer Nathan Ellery and architect George Sellon, is in the Italian Renaissance Revival Style. According to the Save Our Heritage Organisation website: “It is the only structure remaining from the 1897 San Diego State Normal School’s University Heights campus, the forerunner to present day San Diego State University. Originally functioning as a living laboratory for student teachers, it was transferred to the City of San Diego Schools in 1931 and served as the original Alice Birney Elementary School until 1951.”

Many in the community hope to see the historic building renovated and transformed into a new University Heights library, replacing the small branch library on Park Boulevard a couple blocks to the south.

Here are some exterior photos…

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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Frank the Trainman mural Train of Wisdom.

A mural titled Train of Wisdom, painted in 1989 by local Chicano artist Mario Torero and students from O’Farrell High School of Performing Arts and Roosevelt Junior High School, decorates the back side of a building located on the northwest corner of Park and El Cajon Boulevard.

Today very few people venture around the building to enjoy the faded 100-foot-long, 40-foot-high mural, which depicts a colorful train driven by young people. Optimistic symbolism fills the mural. On the south end of the building, astute passersby will see the historic, animated neon Frank the Trainman sign at the top of a flight of stairs, which form the mural’s triangular cowcatcher.

This was the original location of the Frank the Trainman model railroad store, which Frank Cox opened in the 1940s. He eventually retired and passed his business on to fellow model train buff Jim Cooley, who sold the property to Mission Federal Credit Union in 1987. To honor the history of Frank the Trainman, the architectural firm of Bradshaw and Bundy altered the building’s exterior into the outline of a locomotive, and the Train of Wisdom was subsequently painted.

(Jim moved the original train store to today’s location just down Park Boulevard and added to it his own unique collectibles museum, which includes some extremely rare antique automobiles. I blogged about that here.)

I walked behind the building yesterday and took the following photographs of the large, nearly 30 year old mural, to help preserve a little bit of San Diego history…

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Rare cars, antiques at a surprising museum!

Rare early automobiles and thousands of collectible antiques can be viewed during a visit to the unique J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego.
About two dozen antique automobiles and thousands of collectibles can be viewed during a visit to the J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego.

Last Sunday I visited one of San Diego’s most surprising museums. It’s located in University Heights, at 4233 Park Boulevard. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it. It’s called the J. A. Cooley Museum.

The J. A. Cooley Museum shares its 10,000 square foot space with the Frank the Train Man hobby shop, which was founded by Frank Cox in 1943 and originally opened its doors in another building at the corner of Park and El Cajon Boulevard. Today’s store and museum are operated by Jim Cooley and his wife, Carmen, who’ve been avidly collecting antiques for well over half a century.

Jim, who can usually be found hanging around the museum entrance, is a friendly gentleman with endless stories about his passion for collecting and preserving bits of history. Step inside the museum and it’s immediately apparent that he really loves antique automobiles.

This utterly amazing museum, which doesn’t advertise or have a website of its own, contains a world-class collection of early automobiles, some of which are extremely rare or even one-of-a-kind. The museum also contains a treasure trove of other antiques, including antique phonographs . . . cameras . . . amazing Standard Gauge trains . . . cast iron toys . . . clocks . . . coffee grinders . . . railroad lanterns . . . irons . . . hardware tools . . . even old-fashioned spittoons!

Over the years, Jim has collected all sorts of objects that have interested him, often saving them from being thrown away. For example, he told me around World War II, when spittoons were being discarded in large numbers, he’d see some in a trash truck and retrieve them. Now he has hundreds of them!

The most impressive part of his museum, however, is the jaw-dropping collection of antique automobiles–many well over a century old–which he has patiently acquired over time without an enormous expenditure of money.

Even if many San Diegans are unfamiliar with the J. A. Cooley Museum, serious car aficionados seem to know all about it. People sometimes fly in from around the world to see the collection. The museum’s reputation is such that from time to time a movie studio will borrow a rare old car for filming–for example the 1914 Renaut that was used in Titanic.

I was told by Jim that when General Motors borrowed one his cars for an exposition, GM executives came out to San Diego to look at the museum and were so impressed, they donated their incredible Buick XP 2000, a fully automated 1994 self-driving concept car!

The funny thing is, when I swung by on Sunday and spent a good hour walking about the museum in a state of complete and utter amazement, I saw no other visitors.

I learned Jim wouldn’t mind having more people swing on by. So if you live in San Diego or are planning a trip, look up the Frank the Train Man hobby shop. Step through the front door and the absolutely amazing J. A. Cooley Museum, and possibly Jim himself, await you!

Upon entering the J. A. Cooley Museum, visitors walk past a row of very old cars. On the left is a 1914 Ford Model T.
Upon entering the J. A. Cooley Museum, visitors walk past a row of very old cars. On the left is a 1914 Ford Model T.
1910 Hunt Special, the only car ever manufactured in San Diego. This one car was produced by Mr. William Hunt of National City, ordered by Mr. Arnie Babcock, whose father built the Hotel del Coronado.
1910 Hunt Special, the only car ever manufactured in San Diego. Just one car was produced by Mr. William Hunt of National City, ordered by Mr. Arnie Babcock, whose father built the Hotel del Coronado.
1933 Franklin Olympic, produced one year before Franklin Motor Company ceased operations during the Great Depression.
1933 Franklin Olympic, produced the year before Franklin Motor Company ceased operations during the Great Depression.
1929 Franklin Model 135, produced the first year that Franklin offered a steel frame and hydraulic brakes.
1929 Franklin Model 135, produced the first year that Franklin offered a steel frame and hydraulic brakes.
1913 Cadillac Model 48. This car on display is the most original 1913 Cadillac left in existence today.
1913 Cadillac Model 48. This car on display is the most original 1913 Cadillac left in existence today.
1912 Carter Car. The body of the Carter Car is made of compressed papier-mâché composite panels over wood framing. This car on display is the only Carter Car Sedan left in existence.
1912 Carter Car. The body of the Carter Car is made of compressed papier-mâché composite panels over wood framing. This car on display is the only Carter Car Sedan left in existence.
Buick XP 2000, a fully automated 1994 self-driving concept car that was donated to the J. A. Cooley Museum because the designer was very impressed by the collection when GM executives visited the museum.
Buick XP 2000, a fully automated 1994 self-driving concept car that was donated to the J. A. Cooley Museum because the designer was very impressed by the collection of rare cars when GM executives visited the museum.
A couple of early cameras among a vast collection of antiques and memorabilia filling the J. A. Cooley Museum.
A couple of early cameras among a vast collection of antiques and memorabilia inside the J. A. Cooley Museum.
Behind some cars you'll find a rare WurliTzer Model 153 Band Organ.
Behind some cars you’ll find a rare WurliTzer Model 153 Band Organ.
An antique two-horn Duplex Phonograph.
An antique two-horn Duplex Phonograph.
An antique Edison Concert Phonograph.
An antique Edison Concert Phonograph.
An old photo of the Frank The Train Man storefront over an Edison Home Phonograph.
An old photo of the Frank The Train Man storefront over an Edison Home Phonograph.
One wall and a couple of glass display cases filled with fantastic old collectibles and Americana.
One wall and a couple of glass display cases filled with fantastic old collectibles and Americana.
Shelves and shelves of old cameras.
Shelves and shelves of old cameras.
Shelves filled with old irons.
Shelves filled with old irons.
Antique cast iron horse drawn toy fire engines.
Cast iron horse drawn toy fire engines.
Shelves and shelves of Standard Gauge toy train locomotives and cars from 1900 to the 1940's.
Shelves and shelves of Standard Gauge toy train locomotives and cars from 1900 to the 1940’s.
Lionel toy train accessories including buildings and railroad crossing signals.
Lionel toy train accessories including buildings and railroad crossing signals.
All sorts of old manual typewriters and calculating machines. (I must be an antique, too, because I used a manual typewriter when I was young!)
All sorts of old manual typewriters and calculating machines. (I must be an antique, too, because I used a manual typewriter when I was a young man!)
One corner of the J. A. Cooley Museum contains shelves of spittoons, coffee grinders, old lanterns and more!
One corner of the J. A. Cooley Museum contains shelves of spittoons, coffee grinders, old lanterns and more!
1895 E. A. Gardner Buggy, the only light weight horse drawn carriage that was built in San Diego known to exist today.
1895 E. A. Gardner Buggy, the only lightweight horse-drawn carriage that was built in San Diego known to exist today.
1885 Benz Model 1. The first vehicle in world history that used an internal combustion engine. They were produced from 1885 to 1926, when the company merged with Mercedes.
1885 Benz Model 1. The first vehicle in world history that used an internal combustion engine. They were produced from 1885 to 1926, when the company merged with Mercedes.
1895 Benz Velo. The world's first mass-produced vehicle. 67 were built the first year, 135 the second.
1895 Benz Velo. The world’s first mass-produced vehicle. 67 were built the first year, 135 the second.
1899 Mobile Steamer. Built under Stanley Patents from 1899 to 1903.
1899 Mobile Steamer. Built under Stanley Patents from 1899 to 1903.
A bunch of old-fashioned oil cans and various other objects.
A bunch of old-fashioned oil cans and various other cool objects.
Cuckoo clocks and a historical display of different California license plates!
Cuckoo and mantel clocks, and a historical display of different California license plates!
So many fantastic old objects and collectibles, my eyes almost popped out of my head.
So many fantastic old objects and collectibles, my eyes almost popped out of my head.
I believe these are cast iron coin banks.
I believe these are cast iron coin banks.
All sorts of cool cast iron figures and toys, including an awesome motorcycle!
All sorts of cast iron figures and toys, including an awesome motorcycle!
Two shelves containing railroad lanterns.
Two shelves containing railroad lanterns.
Some classic Coca Cola trays and even more antique collectibles.
Some classic Coca Cola trays and even more antique collectibles.
A bunch of jugs!
A bunch of jugs!
1900 Doctor's Buggy. The narrow, light body allowed for quick travel during medical emergencies. The tires are metal.
1900 Doctor’s Buggy. The narrow, light body allowed for quick travel during medical emergencies. The tires are metal.
1900 Crest. This extremely original car is also very rare, with few left in existence today.
1900 Crest. This extremely original car is also very rare, with few left in existence today.
1905 Cadillac Model F. This particular unrestored car was bought new by famed newspaper founder Ira Copley.
1905 Cadillac Model F. This particular unrestored car was bought new over a century ago by famed newspaper founder Ira Copley.
There's so much cool stuff inside the J. A. Cooley Museum your head might explode!
There’s so much cool stuff inside the J. A. Cooley Museum your head might explode!
1910 Brush Model D, just one of many amazing old automobiles exhibited inside the J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego.
Front and center is a 1910 Brush Model D, just one of many amazing old automobiles exhibited inside the J. A. Cooley Museum in San Diego!

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!

Cool spray paint street art in University Heights.

Super cool mural in University Heights has colorful butterfly lady as centerpiece.
Super cool mural in University Heights has colorful butterfly lady as centerpiece.

In the past I’ve glimpsed this super cool mural in University Heights, a neighborhood northeast of downtown San Diego. Finally I stopped to photograph it!

The psychedelic spray paint street art is splashed on a wall of a small, local grocery store on Park Boulevard. The images are extremely vivid and look almost brand new. After a close inspection, I noticed the mural is signed: DEXR EYEMAX PERSUE KUYA FIZSIX 2013.

A bit of research on the web uncovered an article about this awesome artwork. The grocery store owner had painted over a rather dull mural that had become very old, when the group of street artists approached him. The anonymous artists asked if they could use his wall to give birth to a unique creation. He said yes!

And to his great delight, this awesome unplanned mural, painted in two days, is what he got!

Smiling heavenly body and other vivid, psychedelic faces and cosmic images.
Smiling sun or moon and other fantastic, psychedelic faces and cosmic images.
This fierce two-faced tree seems ready to spring off the wall!
This fierce two-faced tree seems ready to spring off the wall!
Magical blue gnome and banjo-playing frog are elements in awesome mural.
Magical blue gnome and banjo-playing frog are fun elements in this awesome mural.
Bold spray paint street art enlivens a grocery store on Park Boulevard.
Bold spray paint street art adds color to a small grocery store on Park Boulevard.

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