Unexpected movie star in the Gaslamp Quarter!

San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter has attracted celebrities from all around the world, particularly during big international events like Comic-Con. But did you know there’s one movie star that calls the Gaslamp home?

Walk down Fifth Avenue past the 7-Eleven and you’ve spotted a “movie star” that has appeared in two films. The convenience store occupies the 1930 Manila Cafe building, which was used as a “backdrop for scenes in the movies In God We Trust, with Marty Feldman, and Writer’s Block, with Morgan Fairchild.” That’s what a corroded historical marker by the 7-Eleven’s front door reads!

According to this article, the old Manila Café building has been occupied by a variety of restaurants over the years, and by a billiard hall during World War II. In 2014 the exterior was renovated, but the roof with its red Spanish tiles and Asian contours, and the building’s distinctive upper story, haven’t changed.

Have you watched either movie? Have you spotted San Diego’s “famous” Manila Cafe building in the background?

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!

The historical Carriage Works building downtown.

There’s an unusual old building in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter called the Carriage Works. You can find it at the corner of Fourth Avenue and G Street.

If the Carriage Works with its wide arched doorways appears different from other historical buildings in the Gaslamp, that’s because it used to be a place where San Diegans would go to purchase horse-drawn buggies and wagons!

Today the Carriage Works is home to music venues and eateries including GARAGE Kitchen + Bar, Tin Roof, and The Shout! House.

I took these photos about a month ago. You can see how outdoor dining areas were set up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I also photographed a plaque that provides a brief description of the building’s history.

Carriage Works, 1890

Constructed to house the wholesale business of Todd and Hawley, which operated here until 1902. Their stock was purchased by Lyons Implement Company, which carried a complete line of Studebaker vehicles, including buggies and wagons. Along with Lyon, San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego Farm and Dairy Supply, a tent and awning company and the Volunteers of America have occupied the building.

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La Vida es un Sueño (Life is a Dream) in Barrio Logan!

Life is a dream.

That is the message of a very cool mural I spotted in Barrio Logan at the corner of Logan Avenue and Sampson Street last weekend. The mural appears to be titled La Vida es un Sueño.

I’m not sure who created this rather unusual, dreamy street art. There’s a bit of stylish script near the bottom of the artwork, but whether it’s graffiti or a signature, I can’t tell. The mural seems a bit faded so it might be a few years old.

If you know who the artist is, please leave a comment!

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 unusual Old Master mural in Normal Heights!

An unusual mural was painted in Normal Heights this year. It can be viewed on Adams Avenue, in a nook where this Prince mural used to be, and across from this Kobe Bryant mural. It was painted by local street artists Hasler and Shark, who also created the nearby Kobe Bryant artwork.

I say this mural is unusual, because street art is usually more like graffiti or contemporary artwork–abstract, extremely bold, and with a typically rebellious vibe. One doesn’t expect to see the recreation of a traditional Old Master painting.

The image that dominates this mural is of Italian artist Caravaggio‘s religious painting Saint Jerome Writing, 1605–1606. Words spray painted in the background are the Caravaggio quote: “All works, no matter what or by whom painted, are nothing but bagatelles and childish trifles unless they are made and painted from life, and there can be nothing better than to follow nature.”

Caravaggio usually painted realistic human forms, with dramatic lighting that emphasized emotion. His very popular work would influence other famous Old Masters like Peter Paul Rubens, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Rembrandt.

I wonder what Caravaggio would think if he visited San Diego today and looked around. Probably that he’d been transported to an alien world!

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 unexpected Egyptian Garage in City Heights.

The Egyptian Garage building in City Heights is a fascinating example of Egyptian Revival architecture.

This building with a rather unexpected appearance is located at University Avenue and Euclid Avenue. It’s adjacent to two other unique, historical buildings–directly west of the prominent Euclid Tower, and south across the street from the Silverado Ballroom (both of which you can see in a few of the following photographs).

To learn about the history of the Egyptian Garage, I’ve had to sort out conflicting dates from several web pages. Apparently the building was constructed in 1923, at the end of the old East San Diego trolley line. It was one of three Egyptian Revival streetcar electrical substations that were built. It was sold only two years after beginning operation.

After a remodel in 1925 by David H. Ryan, the building served from 1926 to 1932 as the Egyptian Garage, complete with gas pumps in front. An addition was made on the south side in 1927. Since 1957 it has been the home of Big City Liquor.

Today you can see pharaoh heads atop pilasters on a couple sides of the building, horizontal vulture wings containing cobras and suns up by the rooftop, and an obelisk-like projection on the garage’s south end with a hieroglyphic design featuring ibis-headed Egyptian moon god Thoth.

To learn much more, you can read a detailed article about the Egyptian Garage building’s history and the phenomenon of Egyptian Revival architecture in the 1920’s here.

A few other examples of the Egyptian Revival architectural style can be found in San Diego, most notably in Hillcrest. Years ago I took some fun photos in Hillcrest’s Egyptian Quarter and posted them here.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

An octagonal Chinese-Mexican building in La Mesa.

One of the most distinctive buildings in La Mesa can be found in MacArthur Park. The designated historic landmark, located at 4910 Memorial Drive, is called Porter Hall.

This small octagonal building, built by the Porter family in the late 1920’s, has an unusual tile roof that appears a little Chinese and a little Mexican. The roof’s exotic contours are explained by the fact that Henry and Elizabeth Chapin Porter had previously lived in China.

From 1932 to 1957 Porter Hall served as a San Diego County library.

Prior to 1974 the original octagonal structure stood on the other side of University Avenue. It was moved when the street was widened. Today the enlarged building is home of the Foothills Art Association.

When I walked past Porter Hall a couple weekends ago, I took these photographs. Some artwork could be seen from the sidewalk, including a beautiful mosaic bench with a colorful parrot. A plaque dedicates the bench to Katherine Faulconer.

You can learn more about La Mesa’s influential Porter family by reading page 5 of an old La Mesa Historical Society publication 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!

Unusual traffic signal box memorial in Balboa Park.

You rarely find a traffic signal box with a special dedication plaque. There’s one such box in San Diego, and it’s located in Balboa Park at the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents Way.

This traffic signal box memorializes Walter J. Sarnaw. The plaque reads:

THIS TRAFFIC SIGNAL SYSTEM
IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF
WALTER J. SARNAW
IN APPRECIATION FOR HIS
DEDICATED SERVICE TO THE
SAFETY OF THE CITIZENS OF
SAN DIEGO

I can find no biography of Walter J. Sarnaw online, apart from some basic information on this Find a Grave page. It indicates Walter Julian Sarnaw was born in 1916 in Illinois, attended San Diego State College, was a member of the campus Engineer’s Association, served in the Army at the end of World War II, and died in 1973 in San Diego.

And we know for certain that he was dedicated to the safety of the San Diego community. Which made him an important contributor to the life and history of our city.

If you know more about Walter J. Sarnaw, please leave a comment!

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 bit of Balboa Park in Mission Hills!

I was walking through Mission Hills yesterday when I suddenly thought I’d taken a wrong turn and ended up in Balboa Park!

There, rising in front of me, was a miniature version of the old Ford Building, home of the San Diego Air and Space Museum!

The unique, cylindrical, Streamline Moderne-style Ford Building in Balboa Park, which resembles a V8 engine, was erected by the Ford Motor Company for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

This smaller version in Mission Hills can be found at the corner of Ft. Stockton Drive and Hawk Street. It’s the home of the Fort Oak restaurant.

Ford Building from 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. No known copyright image from Flickr.

My walk yesterday went from Hillcrest through Mission Hills. I also visited Pacific Beach. Many photos and fascinating blog posts are coming! I also will be blogging about an amazing historic site in Vista, which I visited last weekend.

Now I’m about to head out walking again! Happy Sunday!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

A peculiar Brain/Cloud seascape in La Jolla!

Stand by the water at La Jolla Cove and look up toward the buildings on the hill above you. Is that the ocean up there, too?

See that lone palm tree painted on a building with a cloud shaped like a brain hovering above it? That’s one of the Murals of La Jolla, and it’s the creation of an internationally famous conceptual artist, John Baldessari. His Brain/Cloud (with Seascape and Palm Tree), 2011, can be viewed up close by diners at the George’s at the Cove restaurant.

John Baldessari explained: “A brain can look like a cloud if you manipulate it in the right way. We see things in clouds. It looks like it’s hovering almost from outer space. I like banal images and I can’t think of anything more banal than a palm tree and an ocean.”

In the present day, with the rising importance of artificial intelligence and cloud computing, this curious image might suggest something quite different!

Born in National City, Baldessari grew up in San Diego. According to Wikipedia: “In 1959, Baldessari began teaching art in the San Diego school system. He taught for nearly three decades, in schools and junior colleges and community colleges, and eventually at the university level. When the University of California decided to open up a campus in San Diego, the new head of the Visual Art Department, Paul Brach, asked Baldessari to be part of the originating faculty in 1968…” He passed away last year.

Baldessari’s work has been the subject of over 200 national and international solo exhibitions, and his awards are numerous. His provocative art often poses unusual questions, poking at accepted norms, directing the viewer’s perception and mind in unexpected directions.

In the past I’ve photographed a couple other representations of his art, which you can see here and 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!

The unusual Rancho Peñasquitos Post Office!

The front of the Rancho Peñasquitos Post Office building doesn’t feature art, it IS the art!

I was walking through Rancho Peñasquitos yesterday when I saw something shiny and silvery up on a hill, so I investigated. These photographs show what I discovered!

Few people were around on a Sunday, which made this sight even more surreal. It was as though I’d stepped into a contemporary sculpture garden, and this was the enormous abstract centerpiece.

I don’t know a single thing about his unusual post office building. I tried to google its history, date of construction, designer . . . could find nothing.

If I do happen upon any information concerning the architecture of this very unique post office, I’ll “post” an update here!

If you know anything, please leave a comment!

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!