Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Old Town ~ Where San Diego really began!


The book I'm currently working on takes place in 1888. Although much of it takes place in New San Diego, there are still parts that take place in Old Town.

Here, the San Diego River coursed by on its way to empty into the harbor where tall sails from sailing ships pierced the sky. Here, one main plaza and street bisected the small town of low red-tiled roofs and adobe buildings. A few stunted trees fought to survive in the dusty yards. A newspaper office, cantina, school house, Wells Fargo & Company, a Catholic church—built with wood transported down from the mountains or brought by boat from northern California.


It always helps me to visit the place that I'm writing about--catching the scent of the ocean breeze and the sagebrush, the warmth of the February sun against the cool shade, and the cry of the gulls--helps to infuse my writing with authenticity.



Old Town is one of my favorite places to go in San Diego. The scent of spicy Mexican food hovers in the air at meal-times which makes it nearly impossible not to purchase a churro or burritos. I can just hear the stomp of a bored burro as it waits for its owner tied outside the Colorado House, or hear a busy mother taking a moment to yell down the street after her children "Cuidado!" (Be Careful!)

It's difficult to imagine such an inauspicious beginning to a city that now sparkles like a jewel with its skyscrapers, pristine beaches, and miles of highway.

Do you live near a historic district? One that sparks your imagination of what it must have been like hundreds of years ago? If you could, would you want to time travel back to that time?



18 comments:

Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Kathryn, lovely ppost! I live near Montreal, and one of my favorite places to visit is Old Montreal and the Old Port. I love to imagine the sailors arriving after long journeys away from home. There's a lovely old church just up the street from the Old Port. Its formal name is the Church of Ste. Marguerite Bourgeoys, but its known as the "Sailor's Church" because it was the first stop they made on dry land (before, I suspect, going on to the nearest pub!). The unique thing about this church is that, aside from all the usual church decorations, they are many replicas of sailing ships suspended from the ceiling.

Sally said...

I live in West Texas and the history of the cow towns. The smell of the feed lot permeates the air in every direction, even today! I love the old west and this provides ample fodder for such tales.

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks for posting, Cynthia! I would love to visit Montreal. The Old Port and the Sailor's Church--sounds like a trip in the making. The shipping culture just conjures up so many story ideas for me.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Sally,

Thanks for posting! The two times I've visited Texas I was so surprised at the vast difference between the east and the west part of the state! I imagine the north and south are just as different too. What an amazing state with such a rich history to draw from. Lucky you!

Keena Kincaid said...

Most of the places I've lived had long ago torn down the original buildings and cemented over Old Town, most often for a warehouse or parking lot.

But one of my favorite to visit is Albuquerque's old town. Not only is it beautiful, it's home to one of the best restaurants in the world.

Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

I used to live in San Diego, remember Old Town well (geez, have I lived everywhere?). Now I live in Opatija, Croatia, on the Adriatic. Opatija was built up in 1800's as a spa town for the wealthy Viennese and royalty. Emporer Franz Josef and the Empress came here. The sea is lined with villas, mostly divided into luxury apartments or small hotels now. Recently, I had to have therapy on my back. I was sent to Thalassotherapea. A beautiful wellness center built in that era. Inside it is modern and there is an olympic size salt water pool that I swam in daily. I couldn't help but think of all the people who came through since its inception. If you ever get a chance, this is a wonderful place to visit. Lovely and very inexpensive.

Barbara Monajem said...

The old part of Montreal is indeed fascinating. I fell asleep once in a pew at the back of Notre Dame church. It was just so peaceful in there...

Not long ago I spent a day in Savannah, Georgia, which has a lovely historic district with many beautiful old homes. I've only toured three, but hope to tour more some day.

Ann Lethbridge said...

Katherine I love Old San Diego, I have been there twice now, your pictures brought back memories. I just returned from a trip to England, visited many old places which I plan to share on my blog, but in North America, I think my favorite old place is the medieval Quebec City. Still has some of its walls and is the site of a major battle.
Best
Ann

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention the absolutely yummy margaritas you can find only in Old Town. Not sure if they're historically accurate, but I wonder what the historical equivalent may have been.?? I think my favorite part about Old Town though is the way it seems to attract families and there is such a positive atmosphere that pervades throughout the area!

-Kimera- aka anonymous since I can't remember my google account! haha

Terry Blain said...

Was just down in Old Town last week. I always try to visit the 'historicl' district of any city.

One of my favorite places was the Pioneer Village (if that's the right name) just outside of Fort Worth. And the Yorktown victory center as well as Williamsburg.

Drat, now I want to take another vacation back east.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Keena,
I've only driven through Albuquerque but remember well the road coming out of the mountains and into the city. And I remember also the Partridge Family's song about "Point me, in the direction of Albuquerque" but let's not go there. LOL. So what is the best restaurant? I'd like to know...

Kathryn Albright said...

Kathleen -- would love to see some pictures! Care to do a post on the area?

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks for posting Barbara! I wish I'd made the effort to head to Savannah for a few days when I was in Charleston, SC. The ambiance in the south is incredible.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Ann,
Thanks for stopping by! I'm prodding my husband to get his passport this summer so that we can take in Canada. Quebec City sounds very interesting. I'll have to check it out for distance from where I live in northern IL.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hey Kimera! Welcome back stateside! I suppose there was beer back then. That's been around a long time. And probably whiskey and tequila. But of them all, margaritas do sound yummy. Yep--many good memories there in Old Town with you.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Terry,
I was just at Yorktown last summer. Lovely place to visit. I'd love to take in some of the historic places in Texas. I've only been to the Alamo, but I know there are several "living history" museums there. So many things to do...so little time...

Thanks for commenting!

Liz Flaherty said...

What an interesting post. Makes me want to go there. Of course, that's not hard--I want to go everywhere. I've been to Old Montreal, and it IS great. Williamsburg was fun. I like Gettysburg VERY well.

EmilyBryan said...

I live in Boston and history oozes from every cobble. Last Wednesday I met a friend for lunch and we walked part of the Freedom Trail into historic North End. This is the oldest part of the city and site of the Old North Church and Paul Revere's house (the oldest residence extant in Boston).

My friend showed me the area where there was a tragic molasses flood in 1919. Over 2 million gallons of the sticky stuff flowed waist high through the streets, killing 21 people and many horses.

Residents in North End claim on a hot summer night, you can still smell the molasses.