Wednesday, April 27, 2016



     The Coronado Public Library (640 Orange Ave.) is one of the most beautiful libraries around. It was designed over 108 years ago in a classic revival style by architect Harrison Albright. Although it has been renovated on many occasions, the simplicity of the  large white columns and front portico have prevailed.
      The grounds are beautifully landscaped with huge old trees, including a rare Torrey pine and colorful blooming roses. The whimsical 14-foot-high sculpture of a sea dragon called “Imagine” is located near the front sidewalk and is on loan from Lemon Grove artist, Ken Kraber. It is one of many pieces of artwork that can be enjoyed here.
      The building, as well as the spacious block of surrounding park area, was a gift to the citizens of Coronado by sugar and shipping magnate John D. Spreckels in 1909. The library is directly across the street from Spreckels Park, also donated by Spreckels, who owned much of Coronado in the early 1900s, including the Hotel Del Coronado. The John D. Spreckels Center, which replaces the former Senior Center, is currently under construction to the west of the library.
When entering the library lobby, the first thing you will notice is an impressive 48-foot-long mural by Alfred Ramos Martinez called “El Dia del Mercado.” This fresco masterpiece was painted in 1938 for the walls of the popular, La Avenida Cafe, that closed in 1990. After careful transport and restoration, that involved cutting it into five separate sections and loading it into a crate before it was sent to storage. It was acquired and installed at the newly renovated and expanded Coronado Public Library in 2005. 

       A second painting by Martinez, “Canasta de Flores,” is attractively installed in the main section of the library. This colorful floral mural, which was covered by wallpaper and paint in the old cafe's cocktail lounge, was discovered by accident because it was covered with wallpaper. It was also restored, and then purchased by the Friends of the Library when the library was renovated.

The original charm of this building is still evident when you enter the Spreckels Reading Room, located in the older section of the building. It is now a comfortable and peaceful area with leather chairs, work tables, wooden bookcases, artwork, large windows, white walls, and a skylight high above.

      I have a special appreciation for the scenes from the Wizard of Oz, by artist Brenda Smith, that are printed on glass, and installed as suspended panels as you enter the children's library. I also enjoy the display case that changes with the season and is currently a Fairytale Tea Party. It reminds me of the Christmas windows we used to enjoy at Dayton's in downtown Minneapolis when I was young. I like to bring my granddaughter, Mila, here for the popular storytimes. Afterwards, she especially likes to watch the model train that circles above the bookcases in the children's section.

       Also of interest to visitors are the rotating exhibits to view in the gallery as you enter the main library. They change every six to eight weeks; currently on display is The Art of Album Covers. Recent exhibits have included: Designed by Edith Head, the Art of Folk Costume; and World War II in Words and Pictures.

      The Coronado Public Library is open every day of the week, including four weekday evenings until 9 p.m. It offers a wide range of services, databases, lectures, and special programs that are provided free of charge. Information can be found on its website.

      The annual Friends of the Library Book Sale is held annually on the third weekend of April; raising $33,000 for the library in 2016.  It is one of the largest in the country with thousands of books, CDs, and DVDs for sale. It is held in tents located directly across the street from the library in Spreckels Park on the same weekend as the popular Coronado Flower Show.

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” -Albert Einstein
Revised July 15, 2017

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


San Diego County Administration Center
  One of the most impressive and noteworthy downtown buildings is the San Diego County Administration Center (1600 Pacific Hwy.). It was built during the Great Depression with funding from the Works Progress Administration and was completed in 1938; often referred to as the Jewel of the Bay because it fronts San Diego harbor, it's particularly stunning after dark when the lights are on. The style is considered Spanish Revival which is identifiable because of its smooth plaster (stucco) walls and semi-circular arcade above the entry way. The Beaux Arts influence is apparent from the mosaics, sculptures, and grand entrance. A massive statue “The Guardian of Water” by Donal Hord stands at the front entrance. This pioneer woman holding a water jug is one of my favorites.
Waterfront Park

       I love this building, however, the real reason for a visit today is the magnificent 12-acre County Administration Waterfront Park located on the grounds to the north and south. Recently completed in 2014, it is the largest downtown park after Balboa Park. With fountains, open grassy areas, gardens of drought tolerant flowers, picnic areas, playground, and large mosaic sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle, it is truly a children's paradise.

With a park like this only a ferryboat ride away, and a granddaughter who is at the “love parks” stage, I was excited to take Mila on another excursion. She is now 22-months-old and still loves to go places. Mila managed to convince me that she needed to bring her two dolls, Stella and Raggedy Andy, with her to the park today (I have enough trouble keeping track of her without worrying about losing a doll.) It turned out fine, because she clutched the dolls tightly most of the time and was proud to have “two friends” with her at the park.

       We arrived at the Broadway Pier at 9 a.m.; Mila and her dolls rode in the stroller as I walked along busy Harbor Drive. She looked quite small compared to the huge cruise ship that was docked at the harbor for the day. We passed the Maritime Museum with its historic Star of India, B-39 Submarine, and Steam Ferry Berkeley. After a few blocks, we crossed Harbor Drive to visit the Waterfront Park. Unfortunately, all of the famous water fountains were closed for maintenance. We hope to return soon to see the fountains.

"Dragon" by Niki de Saint  Phalle
We then walked to the south side of the building where the playground equipment, picnic tables, and interactive water pool are. It was a rather quiet Wednesday morning in March, which was good because protecting Mila from all the other active children in a park can be a challenge. There is a large circular hill that kids can climb up on, and then large slides to get down on. It is made of that cushy shock absorbing surface that you find in the latest parks around the country. The slides were large and fast. Mila. Andy, Stella, and I went down the large double slide together a couple of times. I decided not to continue because I almost fell at the bottom, and was afraid that I might end up on top of Mila. We'll leave this slide for another day. There were a couple of toddler swings that she enjoyed. The nearby interactive fountains that kids are allowed to play in were also closed for maintenance. This was probably just as well because she would have been tempted to jump in, and I didn't bring a towel or dry clothes along—that will wait for another day too.

       At this point I was ready for a break, so we walked south to the Headquarters at Seaport Village, and stopped at my favorite downtown Starbuck's. This worked well, because Mila's mom had sent snacks, and she was delighted with the Starbuck's milk. I enjoyed a coffee. We sat together on a high stool and watched people.

Next, I decided that we should find out what the small Children's Park is all about. It was another six blocks further south and located directly in front of the Children's Museum and across from the convention center. It is a pleasant, fenced-in little park; however with all of its rope climbing, it is designed for children older than Mila. She had the most fun observing the frequent MTS Red Trolleys pass by on the nearby train track.

      From here we headed down toward the 5th Avenue Ferry landing, which is near the Convention Center. I kind of expected Mila to fall asleep in her stroller along the way, so I could relax, read, and perhaps have some lunch, but no such luck. I guess downtown is just too exciting.

       We arrived at the ferry landing just in time to catch the 1 p.m. departure which was quite full. I decided to try to get on and let the driver help with the stroller. Unfortunately, they were using the small ferry that does not have a ramp and her stroller needed to be lifted in. This is one of the very rare times I have used her “baby SUV” stroller. It's too big and heavy to be practical in my opinion. We have a small, light-weight stroller that I usually use that can be folded and lifted easily while I am still holding Mila. Anyway, we made it on, but the captain was not very happy with me.

       We were the first ones off and then Mila, who had been clutching her two dolls during the entire day, accidently dropped Raggedy Andy. I thought it had fallen right into the water, but by some miracle, it got caught between the ferry and the dock, preventing the disaster. I bent over and picked it up for her.

       Well, we survived the trip, and I think I needed a nap at the end more than she did. Next time, we will ride a Red Trolley to Old Town. She'll love it and so will I.
Maritime Museum

Cruise Ship - San Diego Harbor
Related Posts: Special Days with Mila at Balboa Park
                                   July 24, 2015

                        Visiting Balboa Park with a Special Person
                                  November 27, 2014