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

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