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

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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:

El Prado Designation Area in Balboa Park, San Diego, California

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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 and Alonzo Horton, Balboa Park, San Diego

Ephraim Morse (left) and Alonzo Horton
I thought Morse’s sunglasses were cute, so I left them.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

George White Marston, Balboa Park, San Diego

George White Marston

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

Founder's Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Water feature, Founder's Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On the southwest corner of Sefton Plaza is a bronze statue of Kate Sessions:

Kate Sessions, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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.

Eucalyptus tree, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On the northeast corner of Sefton Plaza are the lawns of the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club:

San Diego Lawn Bowling Club, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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:

Off leash dog park, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Off leash dog park, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In part 2 of San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, I’ll look at the historic and beautiful Cabrillo Bridge.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

42 thoughts on “San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1

  1. Maxi

    Your photos are the only way some of us can enjoy the beauty of this park, Russel. Whoever created the bronze statues has great talent, and it is truly impressive that Kate Sessions planted those magnificent eucalyptus trees.

    There is one thing, Zoey is probably ticked-off that there is no “kitty area” in the park.

    Blessings ~ Maxi

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  2. Pit

    Hi Russel,
    Looks like I really need to go to see San Diego – and more of southern California – some time. Thnaks for sharing the inspiring pictures. My wife has been to San Diego for a convention, but she sure would go there again. And especially as her daughter lives in California [San Jose]. My wife will be there for Thanksgiving, but Ithis year ‘ll stay here to take care of the animals, as she will do when I’ll be in Germany at the end of October and beginning of November. Our holidays together will, if things go as planned, be starting next week, and take us to the Katy Trail in Missouri, where – as on our way there and back – we will ride our bicycles on some rail trails.
    Take care, and have a good one,
    Pit

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  3. Jill

    This was a great site to visit. I really enjoyed all the pictures and the follow up about the pictures and what they were saying. This is the only way I will every get to visit these places and you made me feel like I was right there.

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  4. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2 « Russel Ray Photos

  5. LuAnn

    Since we are going to be wintering in the Encinitas area I am particularly loving these posts. There will be so much to see and do when we get back there. Thanks Russel! 🙂

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  6. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3 « Russel Ray Photos

  7. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4 | Russel Ray Photos

  8. Gallivanta

    So why did the authorities want to grow bamboo for the koalas (mentioned in your previous post) when all the eucalyptus trees were around? Is that one of history’s mysteries?

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  9. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado area designation, part 5 | Russel Ray Photos

  10. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6 | Russel Ray Photos

  11. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks: #1–El Prado Area Designation, part 7 | Russel Ray Photos

  12. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks–#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8 | Russel Ray Photos

  13. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks–#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9 | Russel Ray Photos

  14. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 10 | Russel Ray Photos

  15. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 11 | Russel Ray Photos

  16. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 12 | Russel Ray Photos

  17. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 13 | Russel Ray Photos

  18. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 14 | Russel Ray Photos

  19. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 15 | Russel Ray Photos

  20. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 16 | Russel Ray Photos

  21. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 17 | Russel Ray Photos

  22. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 18 | Russel Ray Photos

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