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An Exercise in History: Goodhue's Balboa Park
Balboa Park-Museum of Man
San Diego, CA
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An Exercise in History: Goodhue's Balboa Park
Lead architect Bertram Goodhue and a team of talented designers, gardeners, and sculptors created a Spanish "dream city" that forever changed the face of California architecture.

From San Diego's Balboa Park by David Marshall, AIA Planning for the Balboa Park exposition proceeded and the organizers hired New York's Bertram Goodhue as the exposition's lead architect. Goodhue's plans for the buildings in Balboa Park differed dramatically from previous exposition tradition. Rather than using the accepted style of Beaux-Arts, classical Greek, or Roman, (which was the style of Chicago's famed "White City" and San Francisco's competing exposition), Goodhue designed his buildings in the exotic Spanish Colonial Revival style. Bertram Goodhue described his vision as "a city-in-miniature wherein everything that met the eye and ear of the visitor were meant to recall ... the glamour and mystery and poetry of the old Spanish Days." He also spoke about the relevance of the Spanish style to San Diego by writing "A new city of Old Spain not only would be in closer harmony with the beauties of Southern California but also would be a distinct step forward in American Architecture."

No building in San Diego has been photographed more than the tile-domed California Building and its iconic bell tower. The highly ornamented structure has been called the best example of Spanish-Baroque/Churrigueresque architecture in the world. Counter to popular myth, architect Bertram Goodhue did not copy a Spanish or Mexican building to create his masterpiece. Like every architect, Goodhue drew inspiration from great architecture of the world, especially 16th century cathedrals and palaces, which he felt reflected San Diego's Spanish heritage and suited the climate.

The arcades of Balboa Park, designed for the 1915 exposition, were, according to architect Bertram Goodhue, "repeated in various places throughout the length of the Prado and tend greatly to harmonize and unify the buildings of varying architectural epochs to which they are adjacent."

Tour guide David Marshall is a native of San Diego. David is president of Heritage Architecture & Planning, a firm specializing in the restoration of historic buildings. As an architect, he has been involved in the restoration and reconstruction of many of Balboa Park's exposition buildings, including the House of Hospitality, Organ Pavilion, and Museum of Man. David is a board member of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, was a member of the San Diego Historical Resources Board, and served as president of the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO). In 2007 David wrote the book San Diego's Balboa Park which featured over 200 historic postcards from his own collection.

Tour meets in front of the Museum of Man, 1350 El Prado, Balboa Park.



Balboa Park-Museum of Man
1350 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92110
United States

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Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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