Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
Every year, in July, San Diego is host to the surreal world of Comic-Con International. The United States largest comic book and pop art convention. It is the biggest convention held in this city and partially for this reason, our Convention Center was expanded, about double it's original size and will be expanded again in the coming years just to accommodate this specific convention.
Comic-Con began in San Diego. The 1970 Convention had about 150 members, by the time I found out about it in 1983 there were about 5,000 members. That's pretty impressive but it continued to grow. By 2013 there were more than 130,000 members! Even more by 2014.
However, this number is not enough to describe how many people are on the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter during the week of Comic-Con! I'd guess for each Member of Comic-Con there are at least two or three non-members milling about soaking up the fun atmospher of such an eclectic gathering.
If this is something you'd like to do I will warn you that to buy a badge for entrance to Comic-Con, you must have a Member ID. To get a Member ID you have to practically get one before the convention the year before! That's right. The system is set up so that those Members who went to the convention this year, have the advantage of pre-registration for next year's convention. So, get your Member ID early! Just go to the website listed below and find the section for joining.
Also, you should know that Comic-Con can be sold out within hours after general registration opens up for the next year!!
Now, for those who would like to join in the atmosphere but are not Members, its simple. Just go downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter and around the Convention Center where there are a lot more things to see and do because of the overflow.
2012: Not only the Convention Center, but the Marriot next door and the Hilton across the way have programs/displays of the overflow. In fact almost every spot around the Convention Center is packed with displays and venders offering product based gifts as well as a preview of what's to become.
2012 Travelogues will give you a small view of the experience:
Nerds in Charge 1
Nerds in Charge 2
Nerds in Charge 3
ThIs year's photos have arrived, Comic-Con 2013 was as great as last year I went Saturday and Sunday. I've replaced the 2012 photos on this tip with 2013 photos. Each year the "tone" of costumes change depending upon the newest things coming out this year.
2013 Albums will give you a small view of the experience:
Comic-Con 2013 Saturday
Comic-Con 2013 Sunday
2014 Albums will give a small view of the experience.
Comic-Con 2014 Wednesday
Comic-Con 2014 Thursday & Friday
Comic-Con 2014 Saturday & Sunday
( Parts are still under construction, but the photos are there now.)
Barrio Logan is an impoverished neighborhood in San Diego. It is one of the earliest to develop, as dockworkers were recruited and this bit of land near the Bay became home to the families of the workers. As happens in most towns where poverty flourishes, crime and a bad reputation seeps in and the city, in general discounts the value of the people who live there, so they get the least of our consideration.
In July of 1969 the beautiful Coronado Bridge was built and what else, but it's span was allowed to overshadow Barrio Logan! If you've ever taken a look under any of these huge bridges, you'll know that the land below is wasted. Most likely you'll find trash, the homeless and drug dealers hiding there.
Well, the gentle people who live in Barrio Logan decided not to accept the fate that was dealt to their community. They Revolted on 22 April 1970 and Took over the land below the bridge. They turned the land into a park that not only they could let their children play in, but also they turned into an historical and art museum of their own history.
The murals seem to be restored frequently and many of the subjects have changed, in fact some of them are being restored again now.
There are more photos in my Chicano Park Travelogue.
Chicano Park Day is celebrated on 22 April and this is a good time to visit. Actually the best time is the Saturday nearest to 22 April because that is the party day and we do know how to party!
Those who rely on public Transportation, there is a Barrio Logan Trolley station, which is not far from Chicano Park. Across from the Trolley station there are other murals to see also.
1. Historic Aztec Stage
2. Varrio Logan
Artists: Victor Ochoa & Team, Year: 1978
3. Frida Khahlo
Artists: Mario Torero & Fuerza, Year: 1996
Artist: Felipe Adame, Year: 1978
The second photo is a view of the convention center from Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter in it's original size. That has been many years ago. It has expanded since and there is talk of it expanding again. It is here that many people come for business conventions or seminars. It is located within a few blocks walking distance of Seaport Village, the San Diego Trolley, a relaxing park and the Gaslamp Quarter which makes it convenient to plan off hours without much effort.
San Diego is a tourist destination town, but not like New York, Paris or London. The people living here are a bit more relaxed in a general sense. It's sort of a hidden secret in the world of travel, but still well known and well thought of.
It must be our weather that makes us so relaxed. Mild all year round, never too hot or too cold, but especially never too cold. It's only been about twenty years now that the city administrators have pushed to make our town more presentable and it sure has been working.
The construction of our Convention Center was one of the first displays of the rennovation efforts the city planned. It attracts a wide variety of people. Of course, at present, I'd say that the Comic-Con is the most notable. When Comic-Con held it's first convention here, it was a sleepy little effort and like the growth of S.D., it grew to what I would say now is an impressive, fun loving event attracting the best and the brightest.
If you're visiting in mid-July, take a trip downtown and see the most unsual sight of Superman, Darth Vader and other comic/movie characters come alive. They are all over the place. It's a unique and fascinating experience.
The size of the building was doubled recently and the roof resembles huge sails, a fitting sight along the bay.
111West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA. 92101
The Saturday preceeding Halloween (if it falls on a weekday) is the best time to see everyone downtown dressed up in costume. This year we went to the Monster Bash in the Gaslamp. I went as a Gypsy and my friend Alma took on a turn of the century/masqurade costume.
Make like a localand enjoy a baseball game at the new Petco Park Stadiium. Name is a bit of a joke, but the stadium's fab and if you're in the nosebleed section (i.e. high up),youcan enjoy great views of SD. I've been twice now; to a Sunday afternoongamewhere a friend and I managed to snag free tickets right by the pitch. And once to a Saturday evening game, (July 3rd 2004), where wewereway up high,. but managed to enjoy the view of the fireworks. Tickets can be cheap or expensive, depending of course on where you sit.
If you don't mind crowds, and love music, you should go to the largest music festival in Cali!! It goes on in the gaslamp quarter of downtown for three days, usually in the very end of August, or the beginning of Sept, each year, always on a Fri, Sat, and Sun. You can get tickets for one day, two days, or all three! There are tons of bands each day, with many headliners. Some highlights from last year (2003) were: Bone Thugs n Harmony, Goo Goo Dolls, De la Soul, Allman Bros. Band, Cypress Hill, B-52's, REM, Macy Gray, and so many more!! There is almost every type of music represented. Check it out!!
There are not many people on streets, in restaurants, clubs etc. especially in business days. Do they go to sleep early or just stay at their homes? What time do they usually start to work? At 8-9am?
There are empty streets even in a downtown in the weekend evenings - in contrast to southern European touristy cities.
Most San Diegans drive a car (to work, to do shopping, to visit friends etc.), they relatively rarely walk along a street. They walk usually in parks (in weekends mainly), from parking to store/work and just for some entertainment in Gaslamp Quarter especially on Fri-Sat evenings.
So, don't expect to see many walking people along streets especially in residential areas. You can see much more cars than walking people in a street, a bit little different than in some European old towns.
American cities I visited including San Diego look quite different than old European ones and they don't have a city center (centre), they have a downtown - usually it's located really down but not always hehe.
Don't look for numerous lovely, picturesque, small streets (usually closed to traffic) full of small shops oops... stores, cafes, restaurants with tables outside and with lovely yards.
Look for high buildings (skyscrapers), a few streets with buildings not quite as tall full of restaurants of various kinds (mainly American and Spanish/Mexican) located one by one (Gaslamp Quarter) plus shopping mall somewhere close (Horton Plaza). It's just an American typical downtown - small in area but big in height usually.
Maybe it's more practical (like most things in the USA) but does it look more beautiful? I don't think so.