Tag Archives: hurricane katrina

Egyptian Garage, San Diego’s only remaining Egyptian Revival building

Out & About

A few days ago I was in a historic part of San Diego called City Heights.

City Heights was founded in the 1880s by Abraham Klauber and Samuel Steiner. In November 1912, residents voted to incorporate as the city of East San Diego, which was annexed by San Diego in December 1923, reverting to its original name of City Heights.

During the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, City Heights was an important commercial center. It wasn’t until 1959 that its importance started declining as merchants and shoppers abandoned City Heights for the new and fashionable Mission Valley and its upscale Fashion Valley shopping mall to the north, and the College Grove shopping center to the east.

It always has been known for its ethnic diversity, currently having high concentrations of Hispanic, Northeast African, Near Eastern, South Asian, and Southeast Asian immigrants. City Heights has become home to many thousands of residents who were displaced from their home country by war and strife.

Which brings me to a fascinating building that I discovered at the corner of Euclid Avenue and University Avenue.

img_2140 egyptian garage stamp

img_2138 egyptian garage city heights stamp

img_2135 egyptian garage city heights stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The uncovering of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 resulted in a significant interest in Egypt, including here in San Diego where Egyptian Revival architecture gained a foothold.

The building above was built in 1923 as an electrical substation and terminus for the East San Diego trolley street car line. There were three substations built at the time, all in the Egyptian Revival architectural style, to serve the booming residential areas of North Park, Kensington, and East San Diego.

Shortly afterwards, though, cars and buses began competing with the street car lines, and this substation was sold to Paul and Francis Harvey in 1925. They operated it as the Egyptian Garage until the early 1930s.

img_2136 egyptian garage city heights stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Egyptian Garage has large, flat, attached pilasters topped with Pharaoh heads. Leaded-glass designs of lotus blossoms used to grace the second story windows on the north side of the building but the windows are long gone.

The semi-obelisk shown in the second picture above rises above the roof line and has a bas relief of the Egyptian god Thoth, the ibis-headed moon god.

One of the walls curves out at the top over outstretched vulture wings with a sun disc in the center guarded by a cobra on each side.

img_2134 egyptian garage city heights stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Egyptian Garage is the only remaining example of Egyptian Revival architecture in San Diego, currently housing Big City Liquor, Big Boy’s Barber Shop, and Cerberus Motorcycles. David Ryan, a paving contractor and painter, added the southern portion of the building in 1927 when he remodeled the Egyptian Garage.

The presence of Cerberus Motorcycles brings the garage almost full circle back to its beginnings and presents its own unique aspect to the garage. Earlier I said that City Heights had become home to many people displaced from their home countries by war and strife. Well, Cerberus Motorcycles is owned by Dave Hargreaves and Erik Borowitz, two of those displaced people. In this case, though, they were displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and now make City Heights their home.

Although I have not been inside the building, sources indicate that it has 4,000 square feet, high arched ceilings, exposed wooden beams, and an enormous skylight.

Cerberus Motorcycles (Cerberus, in mythology, is the three-headed dog figure that guards the gates to the underworld) is a custom motorcycle repair and assembly shop complete with eight motorcycle work bays, an engine building space, a metal working space, an electrical work station, an upholstery sewing area, motorcycle storage area, and space to just hang out. Although they will do custom work on your motorcycle, they encourage you to become a member and do it yourself, offering a workbench, a lift, use of their tools, guidance, and much more.

Dave plans on restoring the broken lotus windows and installing a huge wooden sliding door along the existing track where a corrugated pull down shutter door now exists. He is replacing the lights on the outside with authentic period lights; San Diego Gas & Electric, just a few blocks away, has provided some of the lights.

I look forward to driving by on a regular basis to see any progress made on restoring the Egyptian Garage, and since they have a “meet and greet” each Monday at 5:00 p.m., you might see interior pictures sooner than soon!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosI'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

October 2003 Southern California fires

All that’s left

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Earlier today as I was reading blogs from around the world, I came across a blog post that had a picture of a guy chopping wood for the Christmas Eve fire. San Diego, and most of California, is considered a high fire hazard area, so the great majority of us do not chop wood for fires. Rather, our fireplaces use gas instead of wood.

In October 2003, there were 15 wildfires that burned out of control in San Diego County, the largest of which was the Cedar Fire (we even name our fires out here!). The Cedar Fire is the largest fire in California history, burning 280,278 acres, destroying 2,232 homes, and killing 15 people.

Following is a picture from space of the many fires in Southern California in October 2003. Most of the clouds you see in the picture are smoke clouds.

October 2003 Southern California fires

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Part of the Cedar Fire roared through Alpine and the Viejas Indian Reservation. Fortunately, firefighters were able to save the Viejas Casino & Outlet Center, but some of the homes on the Reservation were not saved. Here are the remains of one home on the Reservation, nine years after the fires roared through:

IMG_3963 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The buildings at the center right of the picture are at the Viejas Casino & Outlet Center, a great place to go shopping, play some Las Vegas-style games, or eat a great buffet meal. It’s right along Interstate 8 in Alpine:

Viejas map

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have lost three homes to wildfires, one in 1988, one in the October 2003 wildfires here in San Diego County, and another in the October 2007 wildfires, also here in San Diego County. Two of the homes were owned with some friends and used as getaway homes. The other one was my main home at the time.

The interesting thing is that I was born, raised, and lived along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Hurricane Coast, for 38 years. I survived many hurricanes, including Hurricane Beulah in 1967, Celia in 1970, Allen in 1980, Alicia in 1983, Bonnie in 1986, Gilbert in 1988, and Jerry in 1989. No one in my immediate family ever had a home damaged by wind or rain until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. A sister, a niece, and a nephew in Chalmette, New Orleans, and Slidell, respectively, all lost their homes to the Katrina flood, and another sister in Slidell had four feet of water in her home but the home was salvageable. I’m the only one who has lost a home to fire, though.

So where would I rather live, Gulf Coast in Texas with hurricanes and tornados (not to mention summer heat, humidity, and bugs, and those darn Northers in the winter) or Pacific Coast in San Diego with earthquakes and wildfires? I’ll take San Diego any day of the week, although it’s weird to have an annual Fire Season. It’s also weird to have the whole world shaking in an earthquake, although big earthquakes are few and far between in any one area.

In 38 years in Texas, I went through 15 hurricanes or major tropical storms. In 18½ years in San Diego, I’ve been through two wildfires and a few billion earthquakes. Only four earthquakes were felt, most significantly the 7.2 earthquake that occurred on Easter Sunday 2010 just a hundred miles east of me. The shaking here in La Mesa went on for about twenty seconds, but I have everything earthquake proofed, so nothing fell out of cabinets, off of shelves, or off the walls.

And for the record, I do believe that animals know when Mother and Father Nature are going to have a spat. Zoey the Cool Cat was Zoey the Psycho Cat for about five minutes before the shaking began on Easter Sunday, and her psycho abilities also predicted a significant aftershock a month later.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos