By David L. Coddon
After being closed to the public for 80 years, California Tower at San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park is now open for tours. "There's nothing else like it in Southern California," says Grant Barrett, the museum's marketing manager. "You can see it from so many vantage points of the city. It's really magnetic to the eye and therefore magnetic to the heart."
Completed in 1914 (when San Diego County had a population of roughly 65,000 people), the iconic landmark was erected in conjunction with the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. Its recent three-year restoration, funded principally by the Museum of Man along with major sponsors, coincides with the Exposition's centennial, to be celebrated throughout 2015.
"When you go from this dark, enclosed concrete space into the bright sunlight that's open to the sky and the birds, it's a Wow! moment," says Barrett. "People say it was worth the 125 steps." Given the 40-minute tour's $22.50 ticket price, that's nine cents per step in each direction... and one giant leap for Museum of Man(kind).
San Diego Museum of Man
1350 El Prado, Balboa Park
THE BETTER HALF
Getting two-for-one access to San Diego museums
The San Diego Museum Council and Macy's are teaming up to present the 26th annual Museum Month. Throughout February, pick up a free Museum Month Pass at any area Macy's store to get half- price admission to any of 45 participating museums countywide - from the San Diego Museum of Art and San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park to Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla and the New Children's Museum downtown. Each pass is good for four half-price admissions. sandiegomuseumcouncil.org