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Stories by Peter Jensen

Pat Welsh, the Julia Child of Gardening

Why does San Diego have so many tropicals and sub-tropicals?

At lunch she is joined by her husband, Louis Welsh, whose parents, Frances and John Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright), both now deceased, lived next door. Pat and Lou eat in the garden if it’s sunny.

Eyes Put on the Street

The Secret Life of San Diego's Alleys

Today in Mission Hills’ neighborhoods a few blocks north and south of Fort Stockton Drive, Sunset Boulevard, and Juan Street, alleys have a different feeling than straight alleys in Pacific Beach.

Sharp Hiss for Silence

“We narrowed the Mira Mesa branch down to a design we liked, one with a roof we thought was very attractive. But the community group didn’t like it: they thought it looked like a Quonset hut.”

Because the Floor Is Smooth and the Ball Is Round

San Diego pick-up basketball - heroes, courts, legends

San Diego is one of the only basketball meccas where beach sand tracked onto the court is part of the game. At South Mission or Crown Point or in North County at Pillbox or Glen Park up in Cardiff.

Jack in the Box: A Weirdly Honest Approach to Dispensing Food

McDonald’s, once known for its exuberant golden twin parabolas flanking a glass-and-steel pavilion, is now the most boring recitation of mansardism. Only the Wienerschnitzel chain still clings to its defining, red-roofed mini-A frames.

Hugging the Ground: The Ranch House Revisited

"One of the county’s most appealing concentrations of ranch houses occurs in an unlikely place, the steep hillsides and winding streets of Del Mar…. several of these May mass-market houses were built in Del Mar as second homes.”

Stucco Reigns

It worked well for the Mayas, built much of Rome, and it covers San Diego.

Two factors helped bring the artistic use of stucco to a halt: modernism, with its emphasis on simple, unbroken planes, and the invention of the stucco “gun,” a machine process for blowing stucco onto walls.

When Bridges Fall Down Engineers Lie Awake At Night

The spans of San Diego County

Pine Valley is famous among bridge engineers. The first prestressed concrete bridge in the U.S., built using a particular kind of cantilever technology, it appeared to defy gravity during construction. It is located near two earthquake faults.

Space for the Unexpected

Is the courtyard solution too good to be true?

One disturbing element of the Mercado Apartments is its parking facilities. The two lots accommodate 100 cars each, and until shade trees (jacarandas and other flowering species) take over, will invite comparisons to a small Wal-Mart.

Look At Me: Signs As Public Language

San Diego at turning point

People wanted SLOW signs in their neighborhoods, on dangerous curves, intersections. But “slow is no longer a legal sign,” says Levy. “It’s too general. Now it must be why you’re supposed to go slow.”

Built to Last: In Search of San Diego's Hundred-Year Buildings

The mission, Salk Institute, UCSD library - to name a few

Landscape architect Roger DeWeese cites Balboa Park’s landscape as San Diego’s most enduring feature. “Our society has been borrowing on the foresight of some real visionaries for three or four generations now,”

Baja Was Made for Travelers Like Henry

On Mex 1 with my maniac father-in-law

Henry left this morning. He hooked up with a fellow we met on the morning radio net who was looking for a little company on his drive to La Paz. He’ll bring the truck back tonight.

Tower Envy

To levitate above our coastal plain and scratch at a bowl of sky.

In San Diego’s towers we find our final denial of the endless plains and deserts that brought us to this Western shore. We embrace the power of mountains, the connection between man and the firmament.

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