Old Hotel Churchill in downtown San Diego.

Faded castle on side of San Diego's old Hotel Churchill.
Faded castle on side of San Diego’s old Hotel Churchill.

My walks through downtown often take me past a large, dilapidated building with a giant faded castle painted on its side. This now sad sight was once the splendid Hotel Churchill, the destination of tourists visiting San Diego a hundred years ago.

The Hotel Churchill was built to accommodate visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in nearby Balboa Park. The Arthurian theme made visitors feel like they’d entered Camelot, much like the Excalibur Hotel does in Las Vegas today. The building has been abandoned for many years. I remember watching the San Diego Fire Department using the tall edifice for practice, breaking through one window from the top of a firetruck’s ladder.

In 2003 the city designated the Hotel Churchill a local historical landmark. There are plans afoot to restore the old building and convert it into affordable housing.

Touristy hotel was built for 1915 Panama California Exposition.
Touristy hotel was built for 1915 Panama California Exposition.
Old door with spears and portcullis is locked shut.
Old door with fanciful drawbridge and portcullis is locked shut.
Looking up a rusty old fire escape.
Looking up a rusty old fire escape.
Hotel Churchill, a local historical landmark,awaits restoration.
Hotel Churchill, a local historical landmark, awaits restoration.

Here’s a pic I took in February 2015. The old hotel has been fenced off, awaiting restoration…

Hotel Churchill seen in early morning from across C Street.
Hotel Churchill seen in early morning from across C Street.

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Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture turns white!

Bronze nudes of Sergio Benvenuti's Fountain of Two Oceans.
Bronze nudes of Sergio Benvenuti’s Fountain of Two Oceans.

This blog post is long overdue. The interesting pics you see here have been sitting idle on my computer’s hard drive, accidentally forgotten.

I was astonished several months ago to see that the Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture in front of downtown’s Wells Fargo building had completely changed. For the last 30 years, the two bronze figures reclining in the fountain’s basin have looked exactly like…bronze. Then–poof–one day I noticed they’d turned white!

I’m not sure if that’s white paint, or what exactly. It seems the intent was to make the figures stand out more, and appear like marble. To my eye, however, the white coating makes them garish, black-eyed, and almost ghostly. At a distance they look bland and formless.

According to an internet search, The Fountain of Two Oceans was placed in downtown San Diego in 1984. The art, now a familiar San Diego landmark, was created by Sergio Benvenuti, a sculptor from Florence, Italy.

Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture is now white.
Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture is now white.
White coating makes bronze sculpture seem ghostly.
White coating makes bronze sculpture seem ghostly.

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

A few odd reflections on Beech Street.

Cubism in real life: A mosaic of fractured reflections.
Cubism in real life: A mosaic of fractured reflections.

Downtown on Beech Street there’s a glass building with zigzagged sides.  The varied reflections of nearby buildings make for a very cool sight!

Crazy reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.
Crazy reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.
Reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.
Reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.

Clock tower at 12th and Imperial trolley station.

Clock tower at 12th and Imperial trolley station reflected in windows.
Clock tower at 12th and Imperial reflected in windows.

I got some unusual photos of the clock tower that stands next to the transit center at the 12th and Imperial trolley station downtown.  The clock is one cool San Diego sight that can be seen from many points in the city.

Looking up the interior of the clock tower structure.
Looking up the interior of the clock tower structure.

You can stand inside the base of the tower and look outward!

Clock tower above musician on Harbor Drive bridge.
Clock tower above musician on Harbor Drive bridge.

Sailboats race on shining San Diego Bay.

Sailboats on shining San Diego Bay.
Sailboats on shining San Diego Bay.

I snapped these photos almost directly into the sun.  I assumed they’d turn out lousy.  But the effect is actually pretty cool!  To me it looks like white sails winging through a brightly shining heavenly space!

Sailboats race in a bright silvery space.
Sailboats race in a bright silvery space.

UFO spotted above Rotary clock at Liberty Station.

UFO spotted above Rotary clock at Liberty Station.
UFO spotted above Rotary clock at Liberty Station.

I was going through some of the photos I took while walking along the boat channel at Liberty Station.  This elegant clock donated by the Rotary Club has always struck me as odd–it stands for no reason on what is essentially a nature path among palm trees.

But something else seemed a bit weird in this pic.  There seemed to be a small dot directly above the clock.  I magnified the image and discovered a UFO!  Looks to me like a distant flying saucer!

I thought the strange dot might be an aircraft taking off from nearby Lindbergh Field, but it’s way too small and doesn’t look like any airplane.  What is it???

It looks like a flying saucer to me!
It looks like a flying saucer to me!

Signs point toward San Diego’s sister cities.

distance signs at san diego civic center plaza

Should you ever walk through Civic Center Plaza, you’ll probably see this unusual group of signs. These are a few of San Diego’s sister cities. Pointing in almost every direction, the signs indicate distances in miles and kilometers.

Another similar group of fun signs can be found directly across the plaza.

San Diego’s 16 sister cities are:

Alcala de Henares, Spain
Campinas, Brazil
Cavite, Philippines
Edinburgh, Scotland
Jalalabad, Afghanistan
Jeonju, South Korea
Leon, Mexico
Perth, Australia
Quanzhou, China
Taichung City, Taiwan
Tema, Ghana
Tijuana, Mexico
Vladivostok, Russia
Warsaw, Poland
Yantai, China
Yokohama, Japan

UPDATE! I walked through Civic Center Plaza about half a year later and I noticed brand new signs!

New sister city signs at the Civic Center!
New sister city signs at the Civic Center!
More San Diego sister cities around the world.
More San Diego sister cities around the world.

Animal rights poster features cute pig.

animal rights poster features cute pig

I intend to keep this blog non-political. I’m just going post images that look interesting, unusual or visually appealing. Life is full of complexity and surprises.

Well, here’s a poster for an animal rights event that I discovered stuck to a traffic light post in Hillcrest that is definitely unusual! It features a cute farm pig. Perhaps I’ll make it to the event to take photographs of the protesters. That oughta be interesting!

So now I have a picture of a farm tractor and a pig in cultivated Hillcrest. What is the world coming to?