Faces sing, play pipes at Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

Two young faces sing together on Balboa Park's outdoor Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The ornamentation is composed of plaster of Paris mixed with coir fiber.
Two youth sing together.  Decoration on Balboa Park’s outdoor Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The faces are composed of plaster of Paris mixed with coir fiber.

Like many of the buildings created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is decorated lavishly with unique plaster ornamentation. The impressive structure with its sweeping, semi-circular colonnade, designed by Harrison Albright in the Italian-Renaissance style, contains many sculptural figures and motifs, including human faces.

The other day I took a close look at the organ pavilion building and its colonnade. I noticed a number of different faces singing or playing pipes. Here they are!

The organ isn't playing and the benches are empty, but many still wander into the historic pavilion to marvel at its unique beauty.
The organ isn’t playing and the benches are empty, but many still wander into the historic pavilion to marvel at its unique beauty.
An exotic face made of plaster for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park appears to be singing.
An exotic face made of plaster for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park appears to be singing.
A youthful musician plays the pipes. Many figures made of plaster decorate the pavilion which is home to the majestic Spreckels pipe organ in Balboa Park.
A youthful musician plays the pipes. Many beautiful figures made of plaster decorate the pavilion which is home to the majestic Spreckels pipe organ in Balboa Park.
A cherub sings inside the pavilion's colonnade.
A cherub sings inside the pavilion’s colonnade.
Perhaps this is Pan playing the pipes--or just an ordinary person who loves making music.
Perhaps this is the Greek god Pan playing his pipes–or just an ordinary person who loves making music.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Watch a really great video about Balboa Park!

I love this 30 minute DVD about Balboa Park. It's available exclusively at the San Diego History Center in the park's Casa de Balboa.
I love this 30 minute DVD about Balboa Park. It’s available exclusively at the San Diego History Center in the park’s Casa de Balboa.

A couple weekends ago I watched a really good 30 minute film about Balboa Park in the San Diego History Center’s auditorium. It made me realize just how much I love this amazing place.

The film, which is titled Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego, describes the history of the park–from its creation to the present day. It’s loaded with great images and information, and is just plain fun to watch. And the soundtrack is infectious. Not stuffy at all!

When I told a friendly person working at the front desk that the film almost brought me to tears, she said the same emotion was felt when the staff first viewed it. The love for Balboa Park is that deep. Then I learned I could buy the video DVD in their gift shop. Which I did!

I recommend a purchase of this DVD. It’s a fine way to support a really important San Diego institution that works to preserve our city’s history. Originally called the San Diego Historical Society, the nonprofit organization also operates another museum near Old Town–that towering building atop historic Presidio Hill: the Junipero Serra Museum. I wrote about that beautiful and impressive museum here on my main blog Cool San Diego Sights.

I was told the DVD is available exclusively in Balboa Park, at the San Diego History Center gift shop.

You can also watch the film on YouTube here!

Tell a friend!

Restoration of Cabrillo Bridge lamps completed!

A brand new street lamp graces the top of Cabrillo Bridge. The California Tower rises in the background.
A newly restored street lamp graces the top of Cabrillo Bridge. The California Tower rises in the background.

A project to restore the 30 light standards atop the Cabrillo Bridge has been completed in late 2016! I took photos before, during, and after the historic street lamps, installed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, were restored to their original condition.

Sign shows the Balboa Park Cabrillo Bridge Historic Light Standards Restoration Project. It was completed in late 2016.
Sign shows the Balboa Park Cabrillo Bridge Historic Light Standards Restoration Project. It was completed in late 2016.
One of the old rusty light poles atop Cabrillo Bridge (originally installed in 1914 during the bridge's construction) before replacement in 2016.
One of the old rusty light poles atop Cabrillo Bridge (originally installed in 1914 during the bridge’s construction) before restoration in 2016.
View of the historic 1915 Cabrillo Bridge from the old cactus garden behind the Balboa Park Club.
View of the historic 1915 Cabrillo Bridge from the old cactus garden behind the Balboa Park Club.
Plaque commemorates the Cabrillo Bridge, completed 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. It's a San Diego Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Plaque commemorates the Cabrillo Bridge, completed in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. It’s a San Diego Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Another nearby restoration project has also been completed--the two guardhouses on El Prado at the west end of the Cabrillo Bridge.
Another nearby restoration project has also been completed–the two guardhouses on El Prado at the west end of the Cabrillo Bridge.
Photo shows both new and old light poles on the Cabrillo Bridge. The new poles werre painted to match their color during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
Photo shows both new and old light poles on the Cabrillo Bridge. The restored poles were painted to match their color during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.
Photo of old rusty light standard and glass globes before replacement. 30 poles have been restored.
Photo of old rusty light standard, and the glass globes before their replacement. 30 poles have been restored.
This ornate base of an original light pole atop Cabrillo Bridge was over 100 years old.
This ornate base of an original light pole atop Cabrillo Bridge was over 100 years old.
This base was so rusted out, much of it was missing.
This base was so rusted out, much of it was missing.
Photo of base of light pole after replacement in 2016.
Photo shows base of light pole after its careful restoration in 2016.
New lights illuminate the top of Cabrillo Bridge in beautiful Balboa Park!
New lights illuminate the top of Cabrillo Bridge in beautiful Balboa Park!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

A quick peek: Art and history inside Casa de Balboa.

Tables, banners and art inside the comfortably air-conditioned Casa de Balboa. The Casa 1915 Mexican Grill hasn't opened yet at this early hour. It serves hungry visitors to the building's three museums.
Tables, museum banners and painted artwork inside the Casa de Balboa. The Casa 1915 Mexican Grill hasn’t opened yet at this early hour. It serves hungry visitors to the building’s three museums.

Here are a few photos of what you might see should you step inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa. The Casa de Balboa is located on the south side of El Prado, between the House of Hospitality and Zoro Garden. The ornate building, which has undergone numerous name changes and even a complete reconstruction during the past century, today is the home of three excellent museums: the San Diego History Center, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

On a hot day the Casa de Balboa is a good spot to cool off and perhaps grab a bite to eat. One can also see a number of interesting things inside the building, including beautiful artwork and fascinating bits of history.

I begin with these two fantastic paintings . . .

Point Loma, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Point Loma, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Farm Landscape, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Farm Landscape, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
A peek into MOPA, the Museum of Photographic Arts, which is located inside Balboa Park's Casa de Balboa.
A peek into MOPA, the Museum of Photographic Arts, which is located inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa.
Another peek. The San Diego History Center, inside Balboa Park's Casa de Balboa, is where photos, documents and other recordings of our city's past are carefully preserved for posterity.
Another quick peek. The San Diego History Center, inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa, is where photos, documents and other recordings of our city’s past are carefully preserved for posterity.  One current exhibit celebrates the San Diego Zoo.
These stairs lead down to a place that kids love, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. A working railway semaphore signal rises from the lower level.
These stairs lead down to a place that kids absolutely love, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. A working railway semaphore signal rises from the lower level.
It's almost 10 o'clock, when the museums open. Cafe 1915 Mexican Grill employee carries a sign to be placed outside the Casa de Balboa, along El Prado where people walk.
It’s almost 10 o’clock, when the museums open. Cafe 1915 Mexican Grill employee carries a sign to be placed outside the Casa de Balboa, along El Prado where people walk.
Video on a wall inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa shows old photographs from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive. More material is sought from the public
Video on a wall inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa shows old photographs from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive. More material is sought from the public.
Our 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition forever changed Balboa Park and helped put San Diego on the map. We invite you to contribute to this digital archive at pancalarchive.org
Our 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition forever changed Balboa Park and helped put San Diego on the map. We invite you to contribute to this digital archive at pancalarchive.org  (To read this, click the image and it will enlarge.)
Art inside the Casa de Balboa. An identical image of Junipero Serra can be seen outdoors in the facade of the Casa del Prado. This might be a duplicate, or perhaps it was used in the latter's creation.
Art inside the Casa de Balboa. An identical image of Junipero Serra can be seen outdoors in the facade of the Casa del Prado.
Preserved bit of history features an image of a friar at Mission San Diego, which was established in 1769.
Preserved bit of history features an image of a friar at Mission San Diego, which was established in 1769.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Balboa Park’s wicker cart Electriquettes ready to go!

A whole fleet of fun little wicker cart Electriquettes is ready to roll in Balboa Park! Find them from 10 to 4 near the entrance of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
A whole fleet of fun little wicker cart Electriquettes is ready to go in Balboa Park! Find them from 10am to 4pm near the entrance of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

There’s a whole fleet of very cool wicker cart Electriquettes ready to go in Balboa Park! They’ve been operating now for a few days!

You might recall reading about these historical Electriquettes last December on my main blog Cool San Diego Sights. My post then was titled Electric wicker carts returning to Balboa Park!  Back then, one of the finished carts was being demonstrated in public, and I took the opportunity to review a bit of the unusual little vehicles’ history.  Motorized wicker carts first appeared in Balboa Park in 1915, during the Panama-California Exposition.

Wouldn’t it be fun to ride one today?

These guys were very nice and smiled for a picture! They'll rent you a cool Electriquette, so that you can have a unique adventure next time you're visiting Balboa Park.
These guys were very nice and smiled for a picture! They’ll rent you a cool Electriquette, so that you can have a unique adventure next time you’re visiting Balboa Park.
Rent the 1915 Electriquette. Balboa Park's famous, fun, historical ride. Ride down the Prado in Historic Style! Prices on this photo are from Spring 2016.
Rent the 1915 Electriquette. Balboa Park’s famous, fun, historical ride. Ride down the Prado in Historic Style! Prices on this photo are from early spring in 2016.
A close-up pic of two wicker cart Electriquettes. They are easy to operate and go around 3 miles per hour, much like the originals a century ago!
A close-up photo of two wicker cart Electriquettes. They are easy to operate and go about 3 miles per hour, much like the originals a century ago!
A happy couple rides a wicker cart Electriquette around Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park. Looks like a lot of fun!
A happy couple rides an electric wicker cart Electriquette around Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park. Looks like a lot of fun!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!