For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.
San Diego Historial Landmark #1 is El Prado Area Designation, receiving the historical landmark designation on September 7, 1967. The El Prado Area Designation is in Balboa Park, a National Historical Landmark and a National Historic District. According to those in the know, Balboa Park is the largest “municipal urban cultural park” in the United States. Note the part in quotations because that’s important. There are a couple of larger urban parks, but they are not “cultural” parks. There are a couple of larger cultural parks but they are not 100% “municipal” or are not “urban.” Ah the tangled webs we weave with words.
The 1,200-acre park was part of the original 47,000 acres placed into reserve in 1835, making it one of the oldest parks dedicated to recreational use. It has hosted two World’s Fairs, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. The main entrance to Balboa Park is from the West at the intersection of Sixth Avenue with El Prado:
The first thing we come to after turning onto El Prado is Sefton Plaza. I never knew this corner had a name and never explored it until I started doing this post. I always thought it was just a big four-stop-sign intersection with lots of car, people and dog traffic.
On the northwest corner of Sefton Plaza is Founder’s Plaza, featuring bronze statues of Ephraim Morse (1823-1906), Civic Activist and Businessman; Alonzo Horton (1813-1909), Civic Promoter, Businessman, and Developer; and George White Marston (1850-1946), Champion of the Park, Philanthropist, and Merchant. Morse and Horton were instrumental in getting the park established, and Marston was instrumental in making the park into what it is today.
Ephraim Morse (left) and Alonzo Horton
I thought Morse’s sunglasses were cute, so I left them.
George White Marston
Founder’s Plaza also has a natural stone walkway and a lily pad water feature. The water feature wasn’t working well when I was there, and I didn’t see a single lily pad anywhere around.
On the southwest corner of Sefton Plaza is a bronze statue of Kate Sessions:
Kate Sessions (1857-1940) was a horticulturist and is fondly remembered as the Mother of Balboa Park. As here, she is most often pictured in a hat and long flowing skirt, a trowel in one hand and a seedling in the other. The surrounding area features many plants which she is credited with bringing to Balboa Park, such as Hong Kong Orchid trees, Indian Hawthorne, Lily of the Nile, and Matilija Poppy. The mighty eucalyptus tree was imported to San Diego from Australia about the same time Kate was born, but many of the tall eucalyptus trees in the Park, such as the one below, were planted by her.
On the northeast corner of Sefton Plaza are the lawns of the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club:
As many times as I have walked by those lawns in nineteen years, I have never seen them being used.
On the southeast corner of Sefton Plaza is one of my favorite areas of the park. It’s the off-leash dog run, and people from all over San Diego come to let their dogs run wild and free with other dogs:
In part 2 of San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, I’ll look at the historic and beautiful Cabrillo Bridge.
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