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.

Thursday Doors: Quebec City’s Holy Door

I had never participated in Norm 2.0’s ongoing Thursday Doors linked posts before, but when we saw—then walked through—the Holy Door of the Basilica Norte-Dame de Quebec, I knew it would be a perfect way to share the experience.

I am not Catholic, nor am I particularly religious, but it’s hard not to be awed by the splendor of the world’s great churches. The practical side of me thinks the construction costs could have been better put to use feeding the poor and housing the homeless, but I also admire the magnificence of the architecture and opulent adornments.

Cathédrale_de_Québec

Notre-Dame-de-Quebec has a large physical and a spiritual presence in Quebec City. It was the first Catholic parish in North America, north of Mexico, and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec.

To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Basilica, the Vatican awarded Notre-Dame-de-Quebec the exceptional privilege of installing the first Holy Door outside of Europe. There are seven Holy Doors in the world: four in Rome, one in France, one in Spain, and now this one in Quebec City.

What is a Holy Door? According to Catholic teachings, a Holy Door is a visible symbol of oneness with the Universal Church and of internal renewal, which begins with the desire to make peace with God. Holy Doors are typically only opened during Jubilee years, which are “years of remission, of indulgence, and also of reconciliation, conversion and sacramental penance.”

Quebec City’s Holy Door was installed in the wall of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart on the north side of the Basilica and first opened December 8, 2013. Following Church tradition, it remained open for one year and then was to be sealed by mortar and cement for about 25 years (until the next Jubilee in 2039).

So, why, in 2016, were we able to pass through the Holy Door even though it had been sealed shut? Fortunately for us, Holy Doors can be re-opened if the Pope deems it appropriate and, in 2015, Pope Francis declared that current international events called for an extraordinary year of mercy. He announced that the Jubilee of Mercy would take place from December 2015 to November 2016 and all Holy Doors would be open during that time.

Also fortunately for my husband and me, walking through a Holy Door is not restricted to practicing Catholics, but it is available to “all persons of good will.” We were told that by passing through the Door one can “reconcile with your neighbors, restore in yourself everything that has been damaged in the past, and reshape your heart.”

Catholic or not, who wouldn’t want to experience that!