Category Archives: Halls of History

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#4: Site of the Presidio of San Diego, part 2

San Diego Historical Landmarks

San Diego Historical Landmark #4 is the site of the Presidio of San Diego. Read part one here.

On the grounds where the Presidio of San Diego was existed—nothing but bumps in the landscape now—stands the Junípero Serra Museum, one of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego.

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The museum was built in 1928-1929 to house the collection of the San Diego Historical Society (now named the San Diego History Center), which was founded in 1928.

The museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you love history, wandering about the museum for a couple of hours is a great way to spend some time.

Although the museum is small, it has lots of great documents, pictures, and archaeological findings.

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In a previous post, I mentioned the El Jupiter cannon which I knew was located in the museum:

El Jupiter cannon in the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego

El Jupiter cannon in the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

View of Fashion Valley Mall and the University of San Diego from the Serra Museum tower:

View of Fashion Valley Mall and the University of San Diego from the Serra Museum tower .

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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History Through Philately—The Gateway Arch

History Through Philately stamp

On this date in 1965, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was completed.

Scott #4044 Gateway ArchScott #4044, Gateway Arch
Issued May 27, 2006

The Gateway Arch is the tallest memorial in the United States, the tallest stainless steel monument in the world, Missouri’s tallest accessible building (you can go in it and up to the top), and the world’s tallest arch.

It is 630 feet wide at the base and 630 feet tall at its peak. My mathematics skills, admittedly lacking in today’s world of computer calculators, tells me that something 630 feet wide by 630 feet tall is a square. So why does this look like an arch?

Tidbits

  1. It was designed in 1947. Construction began on February 12, 1963; it was completed on October 28, 1965; and it opened to the public on June 10, 1967.
  2. The proposal to build a memorial on the St. Louis riverfront was first suggested in late 1933 during the Great Depression.
  3. Construction costs were estimated at $30 million, an unbelievable expenditure during the Great Depression, and an estimated 5,000 jobs were to be created for three to four years. Actual construction costs came in at $14 million, but only 100 jobs were created.
  4. On December 31, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 7253 to declare the 82-acre site as the very first National Historic Site. The Order also provided $3.3 million through the Works Progress Administration and another $3.45 million through the Public Works Administration.
  5. The City of St. Louis acquired the 82 acres through public condemnation rather than purchase.
  6. A design competition for the memorial was suggested in November 1944, and such a competition opened on May 30, 1947. Submissions were first received on September 1, 1947, and the winner was announced on February 19, 1948.
  7. Not everyone supported construction of the arch. Many St. Louis residents considered it a “stupendous hairpin” and a “stainless steel hitching post.”
  8. During the height of the railroad building empire, railroads bought or were given prime property in many cities. Such was the case with St. Louis with railroad tracks passing between the location of the memorial and the riverfront. Ultimately, the tracks of the Missouri Pacific Railroad were relocated 105 feet west and lowered 18 feet below ground.
  9. Moving the railroad tracks was first suggested in early 1949. It took another ten years before an agreement was reached between the city and the railroad, and funds were made available.
  10. Construction bids were accepted through January 22, 1962. As seems to always be the case with, the lowest bidder won. Ground was broken in 1959, the foundation was completed in 1961, and construction on the actual arch began in 1963.
  11. The arch is resistant to earthquakes and is designed to sway up to nine inches in winds up to 150 mph.
  12. MacDonald Construction Company won the construction bid. Hmmm. MacDonald building a huge McDonald’s arch……………

Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#4: Presidio of San Diego site, part 1

San Diego Historical Landmarks

San Diego Historical Landmark #4 is the site of the Presidio of San Diego.

Presidio of San Diego site

San Diego Presidio Site
Soldiers, sailors, Indians, and Franciscan missionaries from New Spain occupied the land at Presidio Hill on May 17, 1769 as a military outpost. Two months later, Fr. Junipero Serra established the first San Diego mission on Presidio Hill. Officially proclaimed a Spanish Presidio on January 1, 1774, the fortress was later occupied by a succession of Mexican forces. The Presidio was abandoned in 1837 after San Diego became a pueblo.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Only ruins of the Presidio remain, simple bumps in the ground:

Site of the Presidio of San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A walk around the surround grounds finds many items of interest, such as a statue of “The Indian” by Arthur Putnam (1873-1930)….

The Indian, by Arthur Puinam, in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….a statue of “The Padre,” also by Arthur Putnam….

"The Padre" by Arthur Putnam in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….and a hugemonstergiganticreallyreallybig cross made out of bricks:

The Cross in Presidio Park in San Diego California

The Cross in Presidio Park in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Wouldn’t it be neat if we discovered that the bricks are from an old building in the area? Sadly, I could find nothing about the cross other than what is told on a plaque at the base:

In this ancient Indian village of Cosoy
Discovered and named San Miguel by Cabrillo in 1549
Visited and christened San Diego de Alcala by Vizcaino in 1602
Here the first citizen
Fray Junipero Serra
Planted civilization in California
Here he first raised the cross. Here began the first mission.
Here founded the first town, San Diego, July 16, 1769
In memory of him and his works. The Order of Panama 1913.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Just across the street from the ruins of the Presidio is the Junípero Serra Museum, one of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego.

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Junípero Serra Museum is often mistaken for Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá—indeed, for many years, I counted myself among the mistaken.

The Serra Museum was built in 1928-1929 for the purpose of housing the collection of the San Diego Historical Society (now named the San Diego History Center), which was founded in 1928. William Templeton Johnson was the architect and used Spanish Revival architecture to resemble the early missions that once dominated the Southern California landscape.

Following are three pictures from the Museum’s collection of the Museum in 1929:

Architect’s elevation drawingElevation of the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Project completedJunipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Dedication DayDedication day of the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Prior to the Great Recession, the Museum was open seven days a week. Now, sadly, it is open only on weekends.

There are other markers from the past, and I’m sure I missed some because they are located in strange places, places which probably weren’t so strange many decades ago. An example is this tree, possibly as old as the ruins:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See the crooked gravestone-like marker at the right of the trunk? Obviously I had to go see what it said:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Dedicated in memory of
Father Francisco Palou
Biographer of Fr. Serra

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I also discovered a huge statue of a man on a horse:

Presidio Hill in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The plaque on the base is in Spanish:

DONADO A LA CIUDAD DE SAN DIEGO
POR EL SEÑOR LICENSIADO
GUSTAVO DIAZ ORDAZ
PRESIDENTE DE LA REPUBLICA MEXICANA
NOVIEMBRE DE 1970

Wikipedia tells me that Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (1911-1979) was president of Mexico from 1964 to 1970. That, however, doesn’t explain anything about this statue and why it is there. Research for another day….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As I said earlier, the Junípero Serra Museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. I went a couple of weeks ago, and in my next posting about San Diego Historical Landmarks, I’ll take you inside the Museum. It’s quite beautiful and should not be missed if you make a trip to Presidio Hill.

The San Diego Presidio Site is also California Registered Historic Landmark #59. Considering that this is where California was founded, what 58 sites could be more important?

Junipero Sera Museum in San Diego California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift? Have Bare Wall Symdrome?
Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.
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2014 Woodie car show at Moonlight Beach in Encinicatas, California

Out & About

Each year in September, Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas, California, is host to one of the best car shows in San Diego County, featuring the Woodie:

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

A Woodie has bodywork constructed of wood or simulated wood. The style first appeared in the early 1930s when the wood was actually a structural component of the car. Eventually it became simply an applied decoration to the side and doors. I think its heyday was with the 1950s and ’60s surfing generation.

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Just about every car manufacturer of the ’50s and ’60s featured at least one Woodie in its car lineup, which makes seeing such lineups at Woodie car shows quite interesting.

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

I fell in love with all of them….

Well, except for this one:

1951 Ford Woodie

I’m the last person you would want to restore a car. By the time I finished, it would be something like what Johnny Cash described in “One Piece At A Time.”

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Moonlight State Beach

Go to location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#3: Fort Stockton

San Diego Historical Landmarks

San Diego Historical Landmark #3 is the site of Fort Stockton. From afar, all you see is a flag:

Site of Fort Stockton in San Diego, California, marked by a flag

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fort Stockton was originally named Fort DuPont and is located on Presidio Hill. It has expansive views of Mission Valley, Old Town San Diego, the San Diego Harbor, and the Pacific Ocean, accounting for its strategic importance during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

View from Presidio Hill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

View from Presidio Hill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The square doohickey in the picture immediately above is the carriage for an old cannon. The cannon is on display in the Serra Museum a few hundred yards away. It was cast in 1783, bears the coat of arms of King Carlos III of Spain, the name “El Jupiter,” and a Latin phrase which translates as “Beware the King’s Thunderbolts.” I will endeavor to get a picture of the cannon this weekend.

Presidio Hill is where the first European settlement in Alta California was established in 1769. The Spanish occupied Presidio Hill until Mexico gained its independence in 1821. By the time war broke out between Mexico and the U.S. in 1846, Presidio Hill had been abandoned.

At the beginning of the Mexican-American War, in July of 1846, U.S. forces numbering 160 from the USS Cayne took San Diego and re-established a military outpost on Presidio Hill, naming it Fort DuPont after the Cayne’s captain, Samuel F. DuPont.

Ten days after capturing San Diego, DuPont and the majority of his men sailed the Cayne north to successfully take Los Angeles, leaving behind just forty men in San Diego. A Mexican offensive which began in Los Angeles in September 1846 made its way south to San Diego. By October, San Diego once again belonged to the Mexicans. Three weeks later, though, the Americans recaptured San Diego for the second time.

Old Fort Stockton in San DiegoIn November 1846, Commodore Robert Stockton, commander of the American Pacific Squadron, sailed the USS Congress into San Diego Bay. His troops took over Fort DuPont, renamed it Fort Stockton, and strengthened its defenses. Fort Stockton changed hands several times between American troops and Mexican troops during the war. When the war ended in 1848, Fort Stockton was abandoned.

Plaques, monuments, and the flag mark the spot where Fort Stockton once stood. All evidence of its existence, however, has faded into history.

Several of the plaques and monuments remind us that the famed Mormon Battalion arrived at Fort Stockton in on January 29, 1847. Originally consisting of 500 men and about 80 women and children, they had left Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 16, 1846, a grueling 2,000-mile march to San Diego. They had come as their patriotic duty to help in the war effort. But the war in California was over by the time of their arrival. Nonetheless, their patriotism and march are unparalleled in the annals of history.

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fort Stockton is San Diego Historical Landmark #3 and California Registered Historic Landmark #54.

Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Old Glory at Fort Stockton historical site in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift? Have Bare Wall Symdrome?
Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.
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You can see their fort from our fort

Out & About

Since we finished exploring San Diego Historical Landmarks #1 and #2, I had to go out and about to get pictures of #3.

Landmark #3 is right next to #4, so I was able to get two sets of pictures in just one trip. Yahoo for saving gas!

As I wandered around #3 and #4, which have awesome views from up on high, I saw across the way this structure:

University of San Diego

That is part of the campus of the University of San Diego, a private Catholic-affiliated university of about 5,500 students founded in 1949.

Looks kind of like a fort. Imagine a fort manned by men and women who are mostly 18-22 years old. Hmmm. Sounds just like the United States military….

To take that picture, I was standing at the site of the Presidio:

Presidio in San Diego

The Presidio was built in 1769 and was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the present-day United States. It was the base of operations for the Spanish colonization of California. It was a fort.

There are no structures left from the original Presidio. What often is referred to as the Presidio, shown above, is actually the Serra Museum, built in 1928-29 on the site of the original Presidio. It is named after Father Junipero Serra (1713-1784), founder of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first mission in California, and eight other missions.

The Serra Museum was built by George Marston (1850-1946), a wealthy department store owner. He had bought Presidio Hill with an intent to preserve the site. The building was designed by noted San Diego architect William Templeton Johnson (1877-1957) in Spanish Revival style to house the collection of the San Diego Historical Society. (For more about William Johnson, see San Diego Historical Landmarks #1, part 6, part 8, and part 10.)

Marston donated the museum and surrounding park land to the city of San Diego in 1929.

Sadly, city budget cuts during the Great Recession caused the Serra Museum to be unstaffed and closed. Those cuts have not been fully restored, so the Museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. That’s where I will be in a few of days in order to get more pictures of San Diego Historical Landmark #4.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Southern California, a train lover’s paradise

Railroads & Trains logo

Southern California is a train lover’s paradise, especially if one loves riding trains and not just watching them pass by.

For riding pleasure, we have the San Diego Trolley with its ubiquitous red cars. The Trolley system has 53 stations, 54 miles of tracks, and three routes (Orange Line, Red Line, Blue Line). It will take one down to the Mexican border, out east to Santee, to downtown San Diego, and all around downtown. Its average of 122,400 riders on week days makes it the nation’s fourth most-ridden light rail system.

San Diego Trolley at the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego

Santa Fe Depot in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There also is a historic streetcar that runs circular routes downtown on the Silver Line. Looks like this:

San Diego Trolley vintage streetcar

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is the Coaster, which travels between downtown San Diego’s historic Santa Fe Depot and Oceanside, 38 miles north.

Coaster at the San Diego County Fair

Once you get to Oceanside, you can hitch a ride on Metrolink all the way to the historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

Metrolink

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Or you can choose to ride Amtrak from downtown San Diego all the way to downtown Los Angeles, one of the most beautiful routes on the entire Amtrak system.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner in Del Mar, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Once in Oceanside, you can take the Sprinter east to Escondido, about twenty miles and just a few miles from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Sprinter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If your preference is for freight trains, BNSF serves the San Diego area.

BNSF locomotive in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BNSF doesn’t make it easy to watch their trains, though. Their tracks are in heavy industrial areas and usually behind high walls and fences.

To watch freight trains, I highly suggest taking a day trip to Los Angeles or Palm Springs and watching the Union Pacific trains build America.

Union Pacific Railroad, Building America

Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific 6190, a former Southern Pacific engine

Lonely boxcar in the desert faa framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can often catch the historic ATSF 3751 steam engine making its way around California since it’s based in Los Angeles.

ATSF 3751 at Los Angeles at National Train Day in May 2012

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Every few years, the Union Pacific’s own historic steam engine, #844, cruises through Southern California pulling historic passenger cars.

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re in Los Angeles, where traffic is a horrible mess at all hours of the day, park the car somewhere and take Metrolink or Metro Rail. The trains are fast and clean, and the stations, especially those of the newer Metro Rail, are public works of art in and of themselves.

Metro Rail of Los Angeles

Red Line on the Metro subway in Los Angeles

Red Line on the Metro subway in Los Angeles

Red Line on the Metro subway in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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