...... previous day next day ......
San Diego Tijuana

15th August 2010

Old Town and New Town San Diego Plus the Maritime Museum

Panorama of San Diego Bay      (please use scroll bar)

Old Town Colorado House
Old Town Cosmopolitan Hotel
    This morning we headed down to the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The town had been owned by Spain, Mexico and the US in succession. The dusty pueblo of San Diego was a rough and ready outpost of frontier settlers. Today, the original town square was lined with original and reconstructed buildings, re-creating the 1821-1872 era, housing a collection of museums, shops and restaurants. The museums gave excellent accounts of life in the town during its historic occupations, and covered the modes of transport available at those times for reaching the town from the east. One square in the Old Town also gave an excellent display of Mexican dancers dressed in colourful traditional costumes.
Gaslamp Quarter Building
    After we had taken all this in, we headed down to the Gaslamp Quarter. This historic district covered 16 city blocks, and featured many Victorian-style commercial buildings built between the Civil War and World War I. Alonzo Horton purchased 1,000 acres of muddy, bay front land for $260 in 1867, igniting a real estate boom. A new town was constructed here in competition to the old town. Horton's "New Town" was today's Gaslamp Quarter. The collection of shops, restaurants, clubs and hotels mirrored the 1880s heyday.
Another Gaslamp Quarter Building
    We explored the area, centred around 5th Avenue, observing that many of the old buildings featured curved glass windows. Many buildings had descriptive plaques attached to them. We learned from one chap, who had lived there all his life, that not many years ago the area was run down and full of sleazy joints. What a marvelous transformation it had undergone.
    At the bottom of 5th Avenue was the San Diego Convention Centre, a very long, multi-leveled glass building with a beautiful curved roof, capable of housing several exhibitions simultaneously. We spotted a surfing/surf board exhibition taking place today as we crossed to the other side of the centre.
    On the other side we arrived at the Embarcadero. When Sebastian Virzcaino visited the San Diego Bay in 1602, he declared it to be "a port which must be the best to be found in all the South Sea". Up until the 1950s, the world's biggest tuna fleet was based here.
Seaport Village
    We strolled up the Embarcadero, admiring the marinas and vistas across the water to Coronado and the very impressive bridge connecting it to the mainland. Slightly north of us was the airport, and planes were flying in very low over the town.
The Kiss
    Seaport Village was only a short walk up the Embarcadero. This 11 acre recently constructed village housed more than 50 stores and restaurants on the bay front. It was warm, so we stopped for a drink and to allow us to soak up the atmosphere and people watch.
    A woman sat next to us and we got chatting. She had grown up in Boston, but had moved down a few years ago to San Diego to enjoy the climate. She said it rarely rained here; good in some ways, but the land north of San Diego turns into a tinderbox, and recent fires there had rained soot onto the city for days. Winters were cooler, but always sunny.
Star of India
    I mentioned to her about our excursion into the world of American football, or rather our mystery tour. She laughed and explained some of the quirks to us. When the referees threw yellow 'dusters' onto the pitch, where they landed indicated where the infringement took place. The game had also been a pre-season friendly, which went some way to explaining some of the fans behaviour. Indeed, some folk just visit the car park to picnic, soak up the atmosphere and maybe listen to the match on the radio, or watch it on portable TVs, but never attended the games. She did say that San Diego Chargers fans were a fickle bunch that didn't give 100% support. However, the city's baseball team was almost at the top of the league and enjoyed lots of dedicated support. I was glad that some of the mysteries had been cleared up. We thanked the woman and said our goodbyes.
    Heading further up the Embarcadero, we came across the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum, with a miscellaneous collection of planes and helicopters on the deck of the decommissioned USS Midway. The ship served from the end of World War II through to Desert Storm, where it was the flagship for the operation. Unfortunately by the time we reached the carrier, it was closed.
Soviet B-39 Submarine
    Just up from the Midway was the magnificent Star of India, which was built in 1863 in Ramsey, Isle of Man. It was the world's oldest merchant ship still afloat. The ship once carried cargo to India, immigrants from England to New Zealand, and braved the Artic ice in Alaska to work in the salmon industry. As we walked around the ship, and below decks, we read entries from a diary kept by one family who left England seeking a better life down in New Zealand. The accounts gave excellent descriptions of life as passengers and the workings of the ship. There had been a fair amount of restoration work carried out on the ship, and it was now sea worthy, and did put to see once a year, thus entitling it to be classified as still being a working vessel. I was greatly impressed with how well it had been maintained, and with the sheer volume of cargo it was capable of carrying.
    Moored next to the ship was a Soviet era B-39 attack submarine. We just had time to explore the submarine before closing time. There were several historic vessels on the Embarcadero, all belonging to the San Diego Maritime Museum, but sadly we only had time to explore two of them.
    At close of play we headed back into the Gaslamp Quarter for a lovely Thai meal, accompanied by a delicious, fruity, red Monterey wine. A lovely meal ending a lovely day.
...... previous day next day ......
San Diego Tijuana

Uploaded from Courtyard Mariott, San Diego CA on 16/08/10 at 09:45

Last updated 16.8.2010