Category Archives: History

San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 17

San Diego Historical Landmarks

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

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 11
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 12
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 13
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 14
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 15
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 16

El Prado Area Designation

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Our final building to visit in the El Prado Designation Area is the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Looks like this:

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego's Balboa Park

Also known as “The Fleet,” its mission statement is to inspire lifelong learning by furthering the public understanding and enjoyment of science and technology. I’m presuming today’s current crops of right-wing political religious fundamentalists (also known as Republicans) would not enjoy the museum. I, however, do.

The Fleet has more than one hundred interactive science exhibits in eight galleries, and that doesn’t include the major traveling exhibitions that stop by each year. Since opening in 1973, the Fleet consistently ranks as one of San Diego’s most-visited museums.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego's Balboa Park

The Fleet is home to the world’s first IMAX Dome Theater; its unique configuration wraps the audience in images and provides the illusion of being suspended in space. Just because it was first, though, doesn’t mean it’s behind the times. The theater was renovated in two phases, 2008 and 2012, to update the interior, and install a modern sound system, a seamless screen, and a art digital projection system to the theater. Major funding for the renovation was provided by the Heikoffs. Renamed The Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Dome Theater, it now shows both IMAX films and planetarium shows on the NanoSeam screen, providing audiences with viewing experience like nowhere else in Southern California.

The Heikoff Giant Dome Theater show takes audiences from outer space to under water and every place in between. The theater also plays host to planetarium shows, including the monthly Sky Tonight show, led by an astronomer, and followed by outdoor telescope viewing, courtesy of the San Diego Astronomy Association.

Visit the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center online for current exhibits, hours, and admission costs.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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It would be just my luck that absolutely nothing would happen

Did you know?

I found out a few days ago that the historic Hotel del Coronado was sold in May.

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California

The selling price? A mere $512 million. The last time it had sold was about ten years ago for something like $384 million, making it the most expensive real estate in the United States of America based on sales price at that time. The new sales price keeps it there. Nothing else comes close. There are some properties that are insured for more than that, but when it comes to sales price, the Hotel del Coronado is in a league of its own.

Hotel del Coronado

Known locally as the Hotel Del, it is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre, the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States, and is both a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark.

The Hotel Del opened in 1888 and was the largest resort hotel in the world at that time. Throughout the years it has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities, as well as being featured in many books and movies. Arguably its most famous appearance was in “Some Like It Hot,” starring Marilyn Monroe. The dragon tree shown in the following picture is quite noticeable in the film:

Yucca which appeared in the movie Some Like It Hot

The Hotel Del also is one of America’s most haunted places, almost always showing up in various Top 10 Most Haunted lists. On November 24, 1892, Kate Morgan checked into Room 304, telling staff that she was waiting for her brother, a doctor, who was going to treat her stomach cancer. He never arrived, and three days later Kate was found dead on the steps leading to the beach. Her death was declared a suicide, the ruling being that she had shot herself.

Since that time, guests who have checked into the room (renumbered twice, first to 3318 and currently 3327) have reported flickering lights and floating objects.

Sadly, the hotel is too expensive for my budget. I would love to stay in that room, but it would be just my luck that absolutely nothing would happen.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Little dorky kids from 48 years ago

Halls of History

A few days ago, an old friend—we’ll call him Joey since that’s his name—from sixth grade (1966) contacted me via email, so I responded. Turns out that there is now a “Friends From Flato” page on Facebook—Flato being the name of the grade school I attended in Kingsville, Texas. It’s a closed group, so I didn’t know that people were looking for me and talking about me. Joey tracked me down, wondering if this Russel Ray was the Russel Kirk from 1966. Indeed, it is., so he added me to the group.

Of all the class pictures that had been posted on the page, two that were missing were my fifth grade and sixth grade class pictures. I had them, and I knew where I had them (that’s important!), so I posted them and apparently made a lot of people very happy. So here they are for my readers here, just for fun:

Fifth Grade, Flato Elementary School, Kingsville TX
Home room teacher, Mrs. Cooper
Mrs. Cooper's home room class, 5th Gradd 1966, Flato Elementary School, Kingsville TXPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sixth Grade, Flato Elementary School, Kingsville TX
Home room teacher, Mrs. Hopkins
Mrs. Hopkins' home room class, 6th Gradd 1966, Flato Elementary School, Kingsville TX

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was pretty sure that I was never going to have any posterity to pass this stuff on to, so I’m not really sure why I saved it. However, since it does seem to make so many people happy, I am happy myself that I have it and can share it.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 16

San Diego Historical Landmarks

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

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 11
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 12
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 13
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 14
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 15

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The last place to visit on the north side of the El Prado on our easterly trek is the San Diego Natural History Museum:

San Diego Natural History MuseumPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Natural History MuseumNatural history, of course, is just about anything that doesn’t involve humans, such as minerals and wildlife.

They often have exhibits specifically for schoolchildren, so it’s not unusual to see huge crowds of schoolchildren waiting to go in together. This fall they have “Weekly Science Sundays with Ms. Frizzle” and

I don’t go as often as I should, and I don’t really know why because I really enjoy natural history.

The museum has a huge collection of preserved reptiles:

Preserved reptile specimens

(I’d rather see living reptiles, and for that I go to the San Diego Zoo.)

My favorite exhibits are usually the traveling exhibits, such as the All That Glitters exhibit from a few years ago. Here are a few butterflies from All That Glitters:

butterfly (4)

butterfly (3)

butterfly (2)

butterfly (1)

The upper floors also feature artwork, of which this was my favorite when I was last there:

Dogs

The museum occasionally has somewhat whimsical art on exhibit, such as this man climbing a rope on the north side of the museum:

Man on a rope

No. It wasn’t a real man but it was garnering a lot of attention from passersby.

The upcoming exhibit that I want to see is The Discovery of King Tut, opening October 11, 2014. I missed King Tut when he toured the world a decade ago. Not this time. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended.

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except for being closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Admission is $17 for adults, $15 for those age 62 and over; $12 for military with ID, college students with ID, and youth age 13-17; $11 for children age 3-12; and free for children under the age of 3. There also are discounts for groups of ten or more, but reservations must be made in advance.

Visit online at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Combining history, photography, and railroad passions

San Diego Then & Now

I always have been a fan of history, especially history that indicates how cruel humans can be to each other—The Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, American Civil War, World War I, World War II….

My second favorite history genre relies on another of my passions, photography, for its best storyline: then & now.

Combine history and photography with my passion for trains, and all is well in the world.

Trains were instrumental in building America, bringing people closer to each other, and moving troops in times of war.

Much of the railroad infrastructure in San Diego was built by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe railroad, such as the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego:

Santa Fe Depot in San Diego

The Santa Fe Depot is still used by the San Diego Trolley, the Coaster, and Amtrak. A careful search through historical records will reveal many pictures of Santa Fe trains in San Diego, such as this calendar picture of Santa Fe 3751, a steam engine built in 1927:

Santa Fe #3751 along the Pacific Ocean

That picture is circa 1962 and shows #3751 rounding the curve under the historic Del Mar bridge just north of Torrey Pines State Beach here in San Diego County. The train is headed northbound with the next part of its journey being right above the beaches. Gorgeous views and one of the most scenic Amtrak routes in all of North America!

Santa Fe #3751 still is fully operational and makes several excursions a year to various train events. When I went to San Bernardino Railroad Days earlier this year, I had the pleasure of riding in the consist from San Bernardino to Los Angeles Union Station, about 90 miles, that was being pulled by Santa Fe #3751.

Here is Photographic Art based on a picture of the Santa Fe #3751 from 2012 National Train Day in Los Angeles:

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

Now let’s go back to that calendar picture. Although the location of the bridge was not disclosed on the calendar, I recognized it because I’ve driven over that bridge many times, and walked Torrey Pines State Beach many times. Here it is on a Google map:

Del Mar Bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach

The location is a great place to do a little train watching since Amtrak and the Coaster use it regularly. Northbound and southbound trains use the single track, so trains go by about every 30 minutes on a week day.

Following is my re-creation of the calendar picture with a northbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner at the same point on the curve under the bridge.

Amtrak under the Del Mar Bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach near San Diego, California

There are about 50 years between the two pictures.

Look at the trees on the top of the hill in the background and you can see that the silhouette is very much the same:

Torrey pines

The trees are Torrey pines. San Diego is one of only two places in the world where the Torrey pine grows. The other is an island off the Southern California coast.

Now I want to find that tall tree in the middle because I’m pretty sure there must be a time capsule at its base that is waiting for Russel Ray to dig it up. Inside will be all sorts of materials about the history of San Diego, photographs, an old Kodak Brownie camera, and maybe even a toy Lionel train, Santa Fe #3751.

Following is Santa Fe #3751 at the 2014 San Bernardino Railroad Days, preparing to take a couple hundred train fans—including me!—back to Los Angeles Union Station. I rode in the second car behind the locomotive and tender, or the fifth car from the rear.

Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino, California

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Labor Day and the violence accompanying the labor movement

History Through Philately stamp

Happy Labor Day!

I was eleven years old when my youngest cousin was born. Her family lived across town, and she had an older brother and sister. I remember when her dad came over to announce that mom had “gone into labor.” A couple of months later, school started, the Tuesday after Labor Day. I put two and two together and got, uh, four?

In today’s world, if I have a question about anything, I go to Wikipedia first, and if that’s not helpful, well, Google is my friend. In this case, I find Wikipedia quite adequate.

Labor Day in the United States is a celebration of the American labor movement, the movement that brought us such things as workers’ compensation for accidents in the workplace, at least one day’s rest each week, maximum limits on the length of the work day, and minimum wage laws. Many improvements in the plight of the common laborer have been accomplished through collective bargaining.

Scott #1558 Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining often meant strikes, which usually involved violence, injury, and death. Newspapers, then as now, created names for events of public interest such as strikes:

  • the “Haymarket Riot” in Chicago in 1886 (7 police and 4 strikers killed, 70 wounded; 4 strikers hanged after being convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to death)
  • the “Colorado Labor Wars” of 1903-04 (66 killed)
  • the “Pullman Strike” of 1894 (13 strikers killed and 57 wounded)
  • the “Great Railroad Strike of 1922″ (11 killed)
  • the “Ludlow Massacre” of 1914 (22 killed, including 4 women and 11 children), part of the “Colorado Coalfield War” of 1913-1914 (reports on deaths vary from 50 to 200).

The “Ludlow Massacre” became folklore…

Woody Guthrie sang about it in his song, “Ludlow Massacre.”

Scott #3213 Woody Guthrie

Upton Sinclair’s novel, “King Coal,” is loosely based on the event and its aftermath.

King Coal by Upton Sinclair

Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States, as well as state holidays in all 50 states.

7 things to be thankful at work

Labor Unions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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