Thursday Doors: Santa Fe Train Depot

Anyone who has lived anywhere any length of time probably knows that feeling of sadness and loss when a beautiful but outdated structure is destroyed in the name of progress. The old building probably wasn’t up to modern codes and, often, the shiny new structure built in its place is bigger, taller, and capable of generating more tax dollars than the previous one.

Fortunately, though, sometimes a building is just too beautiful, too beloved, and has too much local historical significance to be touched by a wrecking ball. The Santa Fe Train Depot in downtown San Diego is such a structure. It is a jewel of a building surrounded by glass and steel high rises.

The structure draws heavily from the architecturally distinctive Spanish, Moorish, and Mexican styles.
The size and grandeur far surpassed anything the Santa Fe had ever built in the West.

The station was officially opened in 1915, to welcome visitors to the Panama-California Exposition. The Depot’s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture was the same style as was used for the buildings at the Exposition.

The massive arch of the front entrance is flanked by twin campaniles, each topped by a colorful tile-covered dome and displaying Santa Fe’s blue “cross” emblem on all four sides.
From the outside in.
From the inside out.
The grand interior space of the depot features natural redwood beam ceilings, highlighted by walls covered with a brightly colored ceramic tile wainscot.
All of the tiles were manufactured locally.
Your train is waiting.
Welcome to San Diego!
Doors within doors within doors.

Although the city lost its early battle to become the West Coast terminus of the Santa Fe Railway system’s transcontinental railroad to much larger Los Angeles, in its heyday, the facility handled Santa Fe train traffic and that of the San Diego and Arizona Railways. The Depot is still an active transportation center, providing not only train service but also service to the trolley and bus systems.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Oh, and speaking of structures being destroyed in the name of progress, the original train depot that had served San Diego for nearly three decades, was razed when the “modern” Santa Fe Depot opened for business. The old clock tower was pulled to the ground by a steel cable attached to two locomotives as part of the grand opening celebration on March 7, 1915.

Since the first National Train Day was held ten years ago today, on May 10, 2008, I thought it fitting to feature the Santa Fe Train Depot in my Thursday Doors post. To see other beautiful doors, choo-choo on over to Norm’s station and click on the ah-door-able blue frog.

We are the Storm

The concept for the Women’s March in Washington D.C. started as germ of an idea a grandmother in Hawaii had who was devastated by Trump’s presidential victory. Because she felt compelled to do something, she created a Facebook event page calling for a march on our nation’s capital. She expected a handful of people to sign up; a day after her post, she had more than 10,000 responses.

From that initial idea, a movement was started. Soon, in addition to the Women’s March in Washington D.C., solidarity marches were being planned all over the United States and around the world in opposition to President Trump’s agenda, and support of women’s rights and human rights in general.

Artist Brian Andreas created a poster just for the Women's March
Artist Brian Andreas created a poster just for the Women’s March

Today, my husband and I joined an estimated 30,000 – 40,000 of our fellow citizens to walk in the Women’s March in San Diego.

The crowds were large, loud, friendly, and optimistic. Some carried children and some carried signs, but all carried a determination to make their voices heard. As we stood in the on-and-off sprinkling of rain listening to a group of speakers, there was a palpable feeling that the crowd was anxious to start their march and show their numbers.

Travelers on a docked cruise ship watched and (some) cheered as we walked by.
Travelers on a docked cruise ship watched and (some) cheered as we walked by.

And march we did: from the Civic Center Plaza, down Broadway towards the Embarcadero, and finally culminating at San Diego’s Administration Building, one mile away. The crowds were so large that by the time the first of the marchers reached their destination, there were still those who were just leaving the staging area.

As I was walking with the other participants, I couldn’t help feeling that my mother and father were there right beside me. Many years ago, I joined them as they protested and marched against another very unpopular president and a war that exacted a huge human cost. If they were still alive, I am confident that they would have joined us today.

Media reports are indicating that the “sister marches” in all fifty states have shattered participation expectations. In addition, large crowds attended marches around the world, including, London, Paris, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Sydney, Australia. A friend of mine currently visiting Oaxaca, Mexico joined about 500 marches there. Global estimates indicate that over 3 million individuals participated in the marches, up from the 1.3 million initially anticipated.

I am confident that this won’t be the last time we are asked to raise our voices in solidarity. And, it won’t be the last time I answer “Yes.” As was written on one of the signs held by a fellow marcher:

The devil whispered in my ear,

“You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.”

Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear,

“I am the storm.”

GratiTuesday: A Most Perfect Day

My husband and I stopped buying each other special occasion gifts a long ago. Not only would we rather purchase items as they are needed, but, like so many people our age, we are more interested in getting rid of things than acquiring them.

What I can’t buy for myself – but certainly need more of – is quality time spent hanging out with my best friend. So, when my birthday rolled around a few days ago, I asked my husband for a day doing exactly what I wanted: a day spent with him, exploring one of our area’s most beautiful cities – Coronado.

We’ve been having an unusual amount of rain in Southern California this winter. It has come in waves… a few rainy days interspersed with cloudy days, then rain again. Because of our persistent drought none of us are complaining, but every so often, in between the rainstorms, we get a day that just sparkles. And, two days after my birthday, they were predicting one of those days – a perfect day.

It wasn't exactly on my birthday... but it was Elvis's birthday so it rocked.
It wasn’t exactly on my birthday… but it was Elvis’s birthday so it rocked.

Coronado Island, a small beach community just west of San Diego’s downtown, is home to the North Island Naval Air Station and the headquarters of the U.S. Navy Seals, but is probably best known for the historic Hotel del Coronado. You might recognize it if you’ve ever see the 1958 movie “Some Like It Hot” (starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon), which was filmed on its grounds.

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Marilyn.

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Surrounded by San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Coronado’s beaches go on for miles and the views are breathtaking.

Looking towards Point Loma.
Looking towards Point Loma.
The view of downtown across San Diego Bay.
The view of downtown across San Diego Bay.

After spending the day strolling on the beach, enjoying lunch in a lovely outdoor courtyard, admiring the gorgeous views, and exploring the grand Hotel del, we headed home… where the Caramelized Orange Birthday Cheesecake my husband made for me was waiting.

cheesecake
Worth every calorie.

I am so grateful for being able to spend this most perfect day in the most perfect way.

Thursday Doors: Balboa Park (Part 1)

I recently posted about spending a gorgeous day with a dear friend in one of San Diego’s most beautiful and popular destinations, Balboa Park.  Since there are so many beautiful doors, arches, and entrances in the Park, I thought it would be a fitting submission for Norm 2.0 Thursday Doors link up.

balboa-park

I thought this gem in the middle of our city deserved a few more posts and pictures.

Balboa Park covers over 1,200 acres and is situated just minutes from downtown San Diego. It is home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. It is the nation’s largest urban cultural park and one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use.

 

When the park (then named City Park) began in 1868 as land set aside by San Diego civic leaders, it was just a scrub-filled mesa without formal landscaping or development. That would change after the turn of the century when a master plan for improvements was formally introduced. San Diego was set to play host to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the city leaders wanted to put their best face forward as they welcomed visitors from around the world. San Diego would be the smallest city to ever hold a World’s Fair; its population at the time was less than 40,000.

The Exposition’s lead designer, Bertram Goodhue, wanted a regionally appropriate aesthetic for the architecture. To accomplish this, he and his design team combined the styles of highly ornamented Spanish Baroque with Spanish Colonial architecture to create the Spanish Colonial Revival Style used for the Exposition’s buildings. After attending the Exposition, President Theodore Roosevelt put his stamp of approval on the architectural style and recommended that the “buildings of rare phenomenal taste and beauty” be left as permanent additions.

 

Unfortunately, most of the expo buildings were only supposed to remain standing through 1916, and were not constructed with long-lasting materials. When the expo ended, several discussions were held to determine what to do with the buildings. Even the lead architect, Goodhue, recommended demolishing the buildings, saying “They are now crumbling, disintegrating and altogether unlovely structures, structures that lack any of the venerability of age and present only its pathos, and the space they occupy could readily be made into one of the most beautiful public gardens in the New World.”

Happily, cooler heads prevailed. A city-appointed committee hired an architect to review the buildings, and he determined that they could be restored by a slight margin over the costs to demolish the buildings. The necessary funds and materials for restoration were donated by San Diegans and the labor was financed by the federal government.

 

My next Thursday Doors post will cover another area of the Park, which was constructed for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

Spanning seven urban bridges, 4 – 7

In my last Spanning seven urban bridges post, I wrote about a recent hike my husband and I took called the Seven Bridge Walk. The 5.5 mile hike traverses through several older neighborhoods in our city and crosses over a mix of historic and newer bridges. That post featured the first three bridges we crossed; the four remaining bridges are just ahead…

Quince Street

The Quince Street walking bridge is a wooden-trestle bridge that was built in 1905. It is 236 feet long and rises 60 feet over Maple Canyon. Although the cost for the original construction was less than $1,000, the cost to repair the bridge in 1988/1989 was closer to $250,000. Even though I knew the bridge was in good repair, it was a little unnerving to look over the sides and see what looked like a hodge-podge of wooden planks holding it up.

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Probably my favorite bridge on our walk is the Spruce Street suspension bridge located in the Bankers Hill neighborhood. It was constructed in 1912 to serve as a passageway for early residents to get to the newly built trolley lines. The bridge stretches 375 feet across and rises 70 feet above Kate Sessions Canyon, named after a horticulturist responsible for many of the plantings found throughout the city. The bridge swayed a little as we walked along it, but it didn’t feel dangerous at all.

After stopping for lunch in the always interesting neighborhood of Hillcrest, we next reached the Vermont Street Bridge. This modern steel bridge was built in place of a deteriorated wooden trestle bridge that dated back to 1916. Rather than replace the beloved original bridge with a merely utilitarian passage, local residents fought for something more interesting and reflective of the two neighborhoods it connects. As we walked over the bridge, we read walking-themed quotes written by people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Kate Sessions, Pythagoras, and even long-time San Diego resident, Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Can you figure out the word puzzle?

Craftsman

As we journeyed towards our next bridge, we passed through an older neighborhood dotted with beautiful craftsmen bungalows. I imagine an artist lives in this one.

Georgia1

Finally, we reached our seventh and last bridge: the historic but hazardous Georgia Street Bridge. A redwood bridge was originally built here in 1907, but it was replaced in 1914. The “new” concrete Georgia Street Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I’ve heard that it is scheduled for an $11 million dollar overhaul, including seismic and structural retrofits… hopefully they will begin soon before the bridge crumbles apart.

After crossing our final bridge, we zig-zagged a bit more, then headed back along Park Boulevard towards Balboa Park and our car. At 5.5 fairly flat miles, the walk wasn’t too strenuous but it was a lot of fun and, when we were finished, we felt a little like we had also traveled through time.

Photo101: Landmark

I’ve reached back into my archives for today’s theme word. These photos, of San Diego’s new main library, were taken earlier this year. The unique architecture of the building encourages exploration and provides lovely vistas of the city and the bay.

I was intrigued by the architect’s inspired use of a wide variety of materials in this landmark structure.

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