Category Archives: Manmade

San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14I: Exchange Hotel Site

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (San Diego Historical Landmark #14) are many historic buildings and rebuilds. We’ll explore nine of them since they also have been designated San Diego Historical Landmarks.

The ninth historical landmark within Old Town is the Exchange Hotel Site. Also known as “Tebbett’s Place” in the early 1850’s, its location was not known until 1951. The life story of the proprietor, George Parrish Tebbets, is well known but the building where he conducted his business is pretty much unknown since there are no photographs, drawings, or complete descriptions of the hotel.

Several sources indicate that the Exchange Hotel was located at 2729 San Diego Avenue. Other sources say 2731 San Diego Avenue. Here is a picture of 2731 and 2733 San Diego Avenue:

Old Town San Diego first San Diego Courthouse

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both buildings are rebuilds as they were destroyed in the great Old Town Fire of 1872. A lot is known about the two-story building, the Colorado House. The one-story building is the first San Diego courthouse. Based on my own research, I’m pretty sure that the first San Diego courthouse was not at that location but I couldn’t find where it actually had been built.

So we’re still looking for the Exchange Hotel….

In 1851, the Masons scheduled a meeting at the Exchange Hotel to draw up a petition to form a masonic lodge in San Diego. The petition was granted on August 1, 1851, and the lodge became San Diego Lodge No. 35. The date is noteworthy because in 1951, in celebration of the centennial of Southern California’s oldest Masonic Lodge, people went looking for the Exchange Hotel site in order to place a marker there.

No luck with the records of San Diego Lodge No. 35 as they contain no description of the Exchange Hotel and no mention of its location.

A June 28, 1852, article in the San Diego Herald was uncovered which seems to indicate that the Exchange Hotel was at least a two-story structure next to the Colorado House, itself known to be a two-story structure:

“The procession after marching through the principal streets, halted under the gallery of the Exchange and the Colorado house, to listen to the oration by J. Judson Ames, R.A. & K.T. which occupied about a half hour. Of its merits it isn’t of course, proper to speak.”

A November 3, 1855, San Diego Herald article reveals a little more:

“On the Plaza and its vicinity are several operations just completed or in progress, one of the most important of which is the raising and enlargement of the Exchange estate by Messers Franklin, who intend to devote it to their large and increasing business. The lower story is to be of brick, fronted by a handsome veranda which will be carried up three stories, the height of the building.”

Franklin HouseThe first three-story building, and for many years the only three-story building, in San Diego was the Franklin House. At one time it was owned by Joseph Mannasse, a member of the San Diego Lodge. Many of the Lodge’s early banquets and special events were held in the Franklin House.

Further research in 1951 indicates that the Franklin House was built where the Exchange Hotel once stood. I’m wondering if the Franklin House actually was the Exchange Hotel after “the raising and enlargement of the Exchange estate.”

Also in 1951, James Forward and George Elder of Union Title Insurance Company found a property transfer dated July 19, 1855:

“Conveys situate in the Town of San Diego. Having a front on the Plaza or public square of 35 feet more or less, and in depth 50 varas (measure) and known upon the plaza of said town, as part of Lot 2 in Block 30, upon which the building known as the ‘Exchange’ has been erected.”

That pretty much defined the location as 2731 San Diego Avenue.

Permission of the owners was obtained to place a bronze plaque at the site and, although that apparently was done on June 16, 1951, I could not find a plaque at the site when I was there this morning. Next time I am there I will search with a more critical eye.

The foundation of the Franklin House was uncovered in 1981 during renovation of Old Town. Sadly, though, once it was uncovered and documented, they poured sand on it and recovered it with concrete walkways and asphalt streets. I guess no one would want to look at a crumbled foundation of a destroyed house when they can reconstruct other buildings on top of it so people can buy trinkets, souvenirs, food, and, of course, margaritas!

Location of Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkOld Town 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

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It doesn’t look like Earth

Out & About

One of the most beautiful areas of San Diego County is La Jolla at low tide.

There’s nothing quite like it with its natural beauty looking like something from Mars; its pelicans, cormorants, sea lions, and seals; and its opportunities for great sunsets.

Here’s a slide show to illustrate:

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Look how children are being indoctrinated

Out & About

One of the things I noticed while teaching chess in elementary after-school enrichment programs is the beauty of the schools.

Sadly, though, they are fenced, locked, and secured after hours so one can’t just wander the school grounds to look at the beauty.

That’s where I come in!

I wandered and took pictures to share.

These really show just exactly how the students at this elementary school are being indoctrinated.

The following is Bird Rock Elementary School in La Jolla, an enclave of the rich in San Diego, California.

birdrock location

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I think it’s interesting that each graduating class, and sometimes other grades as well, present a gift to the school.

My elementary school, Charles H. Flato Elementary in Kingsville, Texas, was no beauty when I was there in 1965-1966, having been built in the 1930s or so, and we certainly didn’t give anything back to the school when we left….

Click on the pictures that are NOT stamps and you can get a bigger version.

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They make use of all their space. For example, the following two pictures are of the back of the wall that holds the basketball goal.

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No, I did not put these words on the steps using Photoshop…….

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IMG_0611 mural birdrock elementary school stamp

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In the third picture above, the text reads, “If we are to reach real peace in this world…. we shall have to begin with the children.”—Gandhi

How wonderful it would be if our children were indoctrinated first with things like logic, reasoning, and science before being indoctrinated with religion. That’s my opinion, and at the age of 60, I’m sticking with it.

Child abuse isn't always physical

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Pay someone a compliment

Out & About

A collection of pictures taken near the Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach and the neighborhoods nearby (map location at end).

Cat utility box

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Brick walkway with child's police car toy

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Walkway landscape

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Walkway stairs

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Ocean Beach near the Crystal Pier Hotel

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Pelican statue at Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

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Octopus art at Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

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Pay someone a compliment graffiti

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Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

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Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

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Never again

Picture of the Moment

It’s rare that people are in my pictures but sometimes it just can’t be helped.

img_0575 pelican crystal pier la jolla stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That giant pelican is located near the Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach:

Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Crystal Pier Hotel in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

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Not done since 1935

Out & About

When people come to San Diego, they naturally gravitate to Balboa Park. With 1,200 acres, it is said by those more knowledgeable than me to be the largest city-owned cultural park in the United States.

Within Balboa Park are the two most photographed buildings in San Diego, the Botanical Building and the California Tower.

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both buildings are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, having been built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

One used to be able to go to the viewing decks at the top of the tower, but they have been closed to the public since 1935….

….until January 1, 2015, which is when the first deck of the California Tower was again opened to the public. And it is pretty awesome up there!

Nowhere else can you get as close to the dome of the San Diego Museum of Man:

img_0507 california tower balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can see the Plaza and El Prado promenade, as well as the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east. The peak at the upper left is Mt. Helix, just a few blocks from where I live, and the biggest peak in the upper right is Mount San Miguel, 2,567 feet tall.

IMG_0504 plaza balboa park stamp

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Right below the California Tower is the Old Globe Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare’s Old Globe in England.

img_0506 old globe theater balboa park san diego balboa park stamp

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You’ll see a panorama of downtown San Diego that is available nowhere else on the ground. Click on the picture for a monster version.

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Most importantly if you have children, they can wave at the planes as they fly into San Diego International Airport:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tours last 40 minutes, including 10-15 minutes on the viewing deck.

Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to go up.

Arrive at the Museum at least 15 minutes before your tour starts because tours will not wait for you and you will not be allowed to join a tour in progress. Critically, if you miss your tour, your ticket will not be refunded or exchanged.

Wear flat-soled shoes that cover your whole foot. You will not be allowed on a tour if you have open-toed shoes, flip flops, sandals, etc.

There are free lockers where you can store personal items while on a tour. No bags of any kind whatsoever—including fanny packs, purses, camera bags, and backpacks—are permitted on the tour. I think the purpose is to prevent people from dropping things over the edge, either accidentally or intentionally. Huge cameras and video equipment also is not allowed; make a reservation for a private tour if you are a professional videographer or photographer with lots of equipment.

It’s best to order tickets and make reservations online because all of Southern California wants to go to the top of the Tower. Only 4,761 of us (a number I completely fabricated) have done it so far.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego, a desert with marshes

Out & About

Many millions of years ago (10,000 years ago if you’re a Republican rightwing religious nut), much of downtown San Diego and the coastal areas were swamps. Think Florida Everglades. In terms of annual rainfall now, San Diego, with a mere ten inches, is defined as a desert. That’s called climate change.

When I came to San Diego in April 1993, a news exposé announced that Los Angeles had accomplished its goal of concreting all of its natural river channels. Many of the San Diego powers-that-be wanted to accomplish the same thing. Here’s an example of a concrete river in San Diego:

concrete river

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Along with river channels, estuaries and coastal swamps throughout Southern California were being drained and filled so that we could have new homes, strip shopping malls, freeways, and water parks like Mission Bay. SeaWorld San Diego is built on what once was a huge marsh; thus, many of our marshes and estuaries will never be returned to us.

Fortunately, we now know that concreting the rivers has a significant effect on the flow of water, causing the water to flow faster. When the rainfall is too great and the channels fill up, which often happens, and flood, fast-moving water causes more damage than slow-moving water. Turns out that the river vegetation, such as cattails and reeds, not only soak up the water but they slow it down, providing a lesser opportunity for the water to undermine nearby buildings and infrastructure. The soil itself also soaks up water, something that concrete doesn’t do very well.

We also know that the marshes and estuaries are critical to the well-being of the environment, including the fauna that feed and nest in them, and the flora that provide food and shelter for the fauna. All up and down the Southern California coast, cities and counties are taking steps to return the marshes and estuaries to their natural states, and it’s a joy to visit them.

Recently I visited the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. With 915 acres, it is one of the largest remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California.

img_0342 san elijo lagoon stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Between 1880 and 1940, dikes and levees were built that allowed duck hunting, salt harvesting, and sewage settling ponds. The construction of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1887, Pacific Coast Highway 101 in 1891, and Interstate 5 in 1965 each required supporting berms that restricted natural water circulation and the influx of ocean saltwater.

The lagoon’s mouth, which is where the Escondido Creek meets the Pacific Ocean, is at Cardiff State Beach. The mouth is mechanically dredged each spring after the winter storms to restore the tidal circulation between the lagoon and the ocean.

img_0357 san elijo lagoon stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pampas grassNative plants have been restored and invasive plant species removed, important since many organisms rely on native plants for food and protection. Invasive plants, such as pampas grass (picture►) and castor bean, upset the ecosystem by crowding out and out-competing native vegetation.

Monthly bird counts have identified about 40% of all bird species in North America using the lagoon at various times of the year. There are 6 plant communities (coastal strand, salt marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub, freshwater marsh, and mixed chaparral), more than 300 species of plants, 23 species of fish, 26 mammal species, 20 reptiles and amphibians, more than 80 invertebrates, and 300 bird species. Some of Southern California’s most endangered species, many of which occur nowhere else on the planet, make the Reserve home.

img_0374 san elijo lagoon stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The 5,600-SF visitor center opened in the Spring of 2009 and is Platinum-Certified by U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). It was built using recycled materials; relies on solar energy, natural light, and ventilation; has irrigated roof plants; and uses recycled water for landscape irrigation.

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There are 8 miles of trails, open from dawn until dusk. There are no restroom facilities on the trails but there are lots of places to sit and relax.

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san elijo lagoon map

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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