There are 125 steps from the entrance to the California Tower to the public viewing deck (at the eighth floor). If you start at the steps from the California Plaza in front of the Museum, then there are 157 to 164 total steps to the eighth floor of the California Tower, depending which stairs or staircases you use. Source: Museum of Man
The California Tower was built in 1915; hence, we went in and up one hundred years after it was built. We visited at the invitation of my daughter, Lilia, who made reservations for the 12 of January, at 4:00 PM. The visit lasted approximately 45 minutes, and I took 234 pictures. Roughly, that number of pictures means about 5.2 per minute or 1 picture every 11 seconds. I have not counted the time it´s taken me to edit my pictures. I can tell you that in every one of them, with few exceptions, I found a part or a detail of San Diego that made me relive my life here and the cosmic connection I have with the city. My reflections follow.
1. San Diego is beautiful, but not quite what it was in 1915, or even in 1971 when I moved here, from Mexico City. If only by looking at the skyline one could figure out the city it was in 1971! Few tall buildings of those days are still up. Some I hold dear: The Wells Fargo Bank on Fifth and Broadway, housing the Mexican Consulate; The West Gate, El Cortez. Remember when the old Mr. A’s offered a skyline view of nothing but those few tall buildings?
2. I am currently reading Le Voyage Autour du Monde by Auguste Bernard Duhaut-Cilly, who describes San Diego as a sandy terrain formed by dry hills, made of poorly built houses and an equally poorly built Mission. Nothing like the mix of styles and details all thrown together in the construction of Balboa Park Buildings, allegedly a mix of Plateresque, Churrigueresque, Baroque and Rococo. The Balboa Park commissioners wanted to recreate a Spanish town that never was.
3. I like the views from up high, not only those that reveal a place with natural riches of unmatched value, but also those revealing a life style that still persists in spite of the suburban mentality that has seized the main stream. The simplicity of life that characterized old San Diego is the only matching element with its founders, a mix of Natives and Immigrants from Mexico.
4. In the early 1800’s people visited San Diego from many different countries, in spite of the difficulties to travel. Is there really a Spanish past? A lot to say about that myth! Particularly since most immigrants came to the Californias at a time Mexico´s population was mostly made of criollos (the children of Spanish Immigrants, born in America), mestizos and other. Diverse? Yes, and from the get go, though the little we know about our Native American Roots leaves a lot to study in that area of cultural diversity.
So here is my take. As you may imagine, the time made its impact by letting us anticipate one of the most wonderful sunsets ever; but I also took some of the structural details that made our tour historical and the magnificent views that we seldom get to enjoy, since the rooftops are rarely used for that purpose, with some exceptions, like I discovered in 2009 when I visited the rooftop of the Natural Museum.