Facade of the California Building
supplementary information for the walking tour of Balboa Park

photo of statue of Junipero Serra photo of statue of Juan Cabrillo
photo of statue of Father de la Ascension photo of statue of Father Jaume
photo of statue of Sebastian Vizcaino
The statues and busts of the facade are figures from the early history of San Diego.

In the center at the top stands Father Junípero Serra, the Franciscan padre who founded a Roman Catholic mission at San Diego in 1769, establishing the first Spanish settlement in California.

To the right of Serra, clockwise, a bust of Emperor Charles of Spain sits in a niche above a statue of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer he sponsored. Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay in 1542 and claimed it for Spain. Below Cabrillo is a bust of Gaspar de Portola, the military commander who accompanied Father Serra and became the first Spanish governor of California.

On the lower right is the figure of Father de la Ascension, a Carmelite priest who prepared maps for Vizcaíno (whose figure you will come to in a moment).

On the lower left stands Father Jaume, who came to San Diego with Father Serra. He became the first Christian martyr in California when San Diego Indians rose up against the mission in 1775. Above Father Jaume is a bust of English navigator George Vancouver, who sailed into San Diego Bay in 1783.

Above him is the figure of Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno. He sailed into the bay here in 1602 and changed its name to San Diego, replacing the name Cabrillo had chosen for it, San Miguel. Finally, the bust above Vizcaíno is that of his patron, Philip III of Spain.
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Copyright © by Carol Mendel
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Walking tours in this series:

Balboa Park
Cabrillo National Monument
Downtown San Diego
The Embarcadero
La Jolla
La Playa
Mission Bay Park
Mission Beach
Old Town
Shelter Island
Sunset Cliffs

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