The annual San Diego Bay Downtown Cleanup was held this morning! Local scuba divers cleaned up underwater garbage at the edge of our beautiful waterfront, while other volunteers assisted gathering trash above water. I walked along the Embarcadero from the San Diego Maritime Museum down to Tuna Harbor and took a bunch of cool photographs. Hopefully these pics provide a little inspiration! Let’s make the world more clean and beautiful!
I always enjoy walking around J Street, between 13th Street and 12th Avenue, in downtown San Diego’s East Village. This is where there used to be an old Sinclair Paint warehouse. The warehouse has today been converted into the Wheel Works Building, a hip multi-media incubator and special events venue. What makes the historic place most interesting to me is all the cool and creative stuff that surrounds it! Take a look at these pics!
Every day for the past six years I’ve been watching for rare birds.
As you might have read on this blog, I live at the top of Cortez Hill in downtown San Diego. One cool feature of my neighborhood is a modest but well-loved park that awaits a few steps from my front door. Cortez Hill Park, more commonly called Tweet Street, is an extremely narrow urban park that stretches for several blocks along Date Street and Tenth Avenue. Completed in 2008, it includes a small playground, dog rest areas, and benches where visitors can rest and enjoy the San Diego sunshine. But Tweet Street’s unique purpose is to provide an inviting refuge of trees, shrubs and birdhouses that encourages birds to take up residence!
I remember when Tweet Street first opened, and my excitement. The artistic, brightly painted birdhouses were simply fun to walk past, and the idea that the park would soon be full of birds put a spring in my step.
Years later, I’m still watching for birds. Occasionally one can be glimpsed or heard in the deeper parts of the trees, or down on the hillside above Interstate 5. But to see a bird near the sidewalk is a rare thing. I’ve never seen a single birdhouse being used.
I suppose the lesson is that birdhouses shouldn’t be erected 5 or 6 feet from a popular walkway, where many people pass throughout the day, often with dogs. And that birds need a little more cover than what an extremely narrow park provides. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tweet Street! I love how the trees have grown out. I love walking along the park and gazing out at different vistas. The idea of attracting birds was terrific. But birds have their own notions about where to live. It seems they prefer a little more privacy.
Late yesterday, a few minutes after five o’clock, a violent microburst tore through Mission Valley, several miles north of downtown San Diego. Similar microbursts occurred elsewhere around the city and county, bringing thunder and lightning, torrential downpours and extremely violent winds. San Diegans saw on the news how many small airplanes parked at Montgomery Field in Kearny Mesa (a few miles farther north) were thrown through the air and overturned like mere toys.
I was fortunate. I left the place where I work in Mission Valley half an hour early. Many of my coworkers weren’t so fortunate. One, walking to the Hazard Center trolley station, took shelter in a grocery store while the wind, sounding like an oncoming tornado, knocked over sturdy steel shopping cart corrals in the parking lot with ease. He reported the fury of the storm only lasted a few minutes.
Early this morning I walked along the pathway that follows the north side of the San Diego River. For better than a mile, from Qualcomm Way west well past Mission Center Road, I photographed the aftermath of the terrifying microburst. The amount of damage to the river’s lush canopy of trees was indescribable. Hundreds of trees, large and small, were torn to pieces or uprooted by the brief microbust.
These pics aren’t so cool, but they are interesting…
This sign talks about the history of flooding in Mission Valley, and how nature occasionally flushes out accumulated debris and keeps the river healthy. Because the storm was so brief, nature didn’t create much flooding yesterday–but it certainly created quite a bit of debris!
Tree trimming businesses and city workers converged in full force on Mission Valley today! Many truckloads of branches were hauled off from all over!
I’ve wondered for a long time about this mysterious plaque on San Diego’s Embarcadero. It’s located on the Greatest Generation Walk, right next to the USS Midway Museum, and stands back-to-back with a Pearl Harbor Survivors Plaque which I blogged about here.
Thousands of people walk by this old, corroded plaque every day, but I can find absolutely nothing on the internet about its origin.
An image framed by rope includes several vessels, including a tall ship (perhaps the USS Constitution), an ironclad (perhaps the USS Monitor), an old warship with a side-mounted gun, an aircraft carrier, and some jets flying overhead. Words indicate the plaque commemorates the United States Navy’s 200 years of Building on a Proud Tradition. The United States Navy began in 1775 and celebrated its bicentennial in 1975.
Obviously, whoever placed the plaque at this location must know something about its history. But even the Port of San Diego website, where the other monuments on the Greatest Generation Walk are listed and described, says nothing about it! The slab that it’s embedded in appears very similar to the slab right next to it, containing the Pearl Harbor Survivors Plaque. But I’ve found nothing specific about that plaque, either!
Perhaps someone out there can identify this mystery plaque! What the heck is it? Where did it come from? Help solve this mystery!
Today, if you were to walk through downtown San Diego’s historic Little Italy neighborhood, you’d probably see a number of very interesting street banners and plaques. These commemorate the Legends of Little Italy.
Early one morning while I walked to a nearby trolley station, I took a few quick photographs along India Street. You might enjoy looking at them. I transcribed much of what appears on the plaques.
The Little Italy Landmark Sign was dedicated and lit at the 7th Annual Little Italy Festa on the evening of October 8, 2000. The landmark sign was constructed as a tribute to this immigrant neighborhood which, until the late 1960s, was the hub of the world’s tuna fishing and canning industry. The nautical theme can be seen in the portholes at the top of the pillars, the blue neon of the lettering and the cable span which holds up the sign. The mosaic tile work on each side of the street tells how this immigrant community is historically tied to the bay, the church and the Italian homeland. This sign is a testament to the preservation of Little Italy’s cultural heritage and to the ongoing revitalization of this dynamic urban ethnic neighborhood in Downtown San Diego.
On March 30th, 1913, in the Little Italy section of Chicago, Francesco Paolo LoVecchio was born. Mother Cresenzia Concetta Salerno and father Giovanni LoVecchio. Both parents from Monreale, Sicily. Frankie’s first introduction to music came when the Monsignor at Immaculate Conception recruited him for the all-boy church choir. Now, an aspiring singer, Frankie would work many jobs, singing wherever and whenever he could, traveling from town to town, experiencing many hardships. Frankie was in his mid-thirties when he attained his first hit “That’s My Desire”. 21 Gold Records followed, including “The Lucky Old Sun”, “Mule Train”, “Jezebel”, “High Noon”, “I believe”, “Cry of the Wild Goose”, “Moonlight Gambler”, and “Rawhide”. Frankie starred in 7 motion pictures, starred in his own television show, sang the title song for several motion pictures, including “Blazing Saddles”, “3:10 to Yuma” and “Gunfight at OK Corral”. Frankie moved to San Diego in the 60’s. He lived the rest of his life in his Point Loma home. Frankie loved San Diego and especially Little Italy. Frankie Laine passed away February 6th, 2007.
Tony Bernardini left his native Bari, Italy to sail to America in 1907. He came with little money, but his heart was full of hope and enthusiasm for the opportunities that awaited him in his New World. Passing through Ellis Island, he quickly made his way to San Diego, where he found a climate and a neighborhood that reminded him of the place he had left. Tony took a job with the San Diego Electric Railway Company, maintaining the tracks for San Diego’s extensive streetcar lines. He worked hard, saved his money, and sent for his future wife, Rosa Monteleone, in 1911.
Tony and Rosa married shortly after her arrival in San Diego. They went on to have seven children; Clara, Fred, Lily, Vito, Matha, Nick, and Angelina. With hard work, Tony was able to bring several other members of their families to America to join them. In the early 1930’s, he got an opportunity to buy the building located on this corner from an acquaintance, who offered to finance the transaction for him. He opened the Civic Center Liquor House. Rosa and all of the children helped him run the business. During the first seven years he ran the business, he was only able to pay the interest on the Property’s note. But with the Declaration of World War II in 1941, San Diego’s economy heated up dramatically. Despite the fact that all three of their sons joined the Army to fight in the War, Tony, Rosa, and their daughters continued to work in the business, and by the end of the War, Tony had managed to pay off the note completely. he had achieved the American dream!
To a store in San Diego’s Little Italy, Vincent DePhilippis (1903-1957) and Madeleine Manfredi (1904-1993) brought their version of the American Dream.
Vincent was born in New York and raised in Naples, Italy. Madeleine was born and raised in Nimes, France. They both came to America for a better life where they met and fell in love in 1922 and later married in 1925. Cooking for friends and family together was a passion they shared, everywhere from the Bronx, New York to West Chester, Pennsylvania. Always in the food business, Vincent was a pasta maker, chef and entrepreneur. In 1948, they finally settled in San Diego, California and opened Cash & Carry Italian Foods, a labor of love. Their strong work ethic, values, and generosity helped shape the budding Italian-American community. With the help of seven children and Madeleine’s infectious laugh, the small business grew to Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, the success story we all know today. Their children Roberto, Gina, Mary, Vincent, Alfred, Richard and William followed in their parents footsteps and grew the family business. Today the tradition continues with their grand and great grandchildren.
Should you walk through downtown San Diego’s East Village in the vicinity of 14th and J Streets, you might be attracted to several large yellow panels along the sidewalk. This proud display of public art at Lillian Place was raised to commemorate how African-Americans have played an important role in building our diverse and beautiful city.
The artwork is titled “A San Diego African-American Legacy” and represents African-American contributions to San Diego’s development and rich history.
Here’s a large portion of the text contained on the panels:
People of African decent were present in San Diego as early as the establishment of Presidio de San Diego in 1769, and played a role in settling the area now known as Old Town.
In the later decades of the 1800s, African-Americans began emigrating to Horton New Town, San Diego’s present-day downtown, relocating primarily from the southern US.
Religious institutions were, and continue to be a cornerstone of the African-American community. In 1887, the African Methodist Episcopal Church became the first organized African-American congregation in downtown San Diego, followed soon after by Calvary Baptist and Bethel AME. At the same time, African-American social and civic groups like the Violet Club, Acme Social Club and Fidelity Lodge #10 of the Prince Hall Masons became important organizations in the community.
San Diego was once the center of a thriving jazz, blues, and gospel music scene. The Creole Palace at the Douglas Hotel and the Crossroads Jazz Club were just two of the spots that hosted local and national talent playing to mixed audiences.
African-Americans have always played a major role in amateur and professional sports in San Diego. Local favorite Archie Moore fought at the city Coliseum as did other champions. San Diegan John Ritchey became the first black player in the Pacific Coast League when he was signed as a catcher to the then minor league padres in 1948.
The entrepreneurial spirit of the African-American community flourished through the 20th century with doctor’s offices, hotels and clubs, barbers and beauty parlors, cafes and restaurants, ice cream parlors, laundries, jewelers and pool halls that served the African American community as well as other San Diegans.
During World War II, African-American stunt pilot and businessman Howard Skippy Smith owned the Pacific parachute Company factory on 8th Avenue. Named the Top Black Owned Business in the United States in 1943, Mr. Smith operated an integrated work place that reflected the ethnic and racial diversity of wartime San Diego.
On this block of J Street, African-American Lillian Grant owned multiple buildings, offering rooms to an ethnically mixed clientele during the time of segregation. Next door at the corner of 14th and J Streets sat the Vine/Carter Hotels. Known as the colored hotels, it was owned and operated by African-Americans Alonzo and Katie Carter from the 1930s to the 1950s.