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Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | While walking through the Sculpture Garden in Balboa Park, I happened to overhear a visitor asking the young cashier at the cafe questions about the park. I joined the conversation by sharing some information about the history and architecture of the California Tower and Museum of Man, and soon found myself at lunch with P. L. Wolff, publisher of Washington D.C.’s The InTowner, a monthly newspaper serving the Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle and other historic neighborhoods.
Wolff was in town working on a story in which he would offer his readers information on cultural sites outside Washington D.C. In his words: “I want them to realize there is life outside the Beltway.”
After a lunch spent comparing and contrasting our respective cities (and discovering that we are both “recovering lawyers”), I visited his Web site, www.intowner.com, to see what his March edition contained. A prominent article acknowledged the retirement of a woman who helped create Cultural Tourism D.C., “a grassroots coalition of more than 140 arts, heritage, cultural and community organizations throughout the metro area that, together, promoted and produced a wide variety of cultural and historical trails, maps, festivals and walking tour guides.”
It occurs to me that here in San Diego, a beautiful, historic and tourism-oriented city, we have no similar organization. We have a plethora of organizations and agencies each having a specific agenda: Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Commission on Arts and Culture, and a variety of historical societies, cultural groups, and not-for-profit organizations who each promote themselves and their specific area of interest. More importantly, each organization must raise funds, recruit volunteers and spend hundreds of hours planning and implementing programs.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a single organization that would serve as a resource for cultural tourism – one of the fastest growing segments of the visitor industry? Many people do not realize that in the field of history alone, there are more than 120 separate historical societies in San Diego County! Groups interested in architecture, historic preservation and urban renewal all presently offer walking tours. How about getting together and talking about it? E-mail me. We can meet for lunch in Balboa Park.
Linda A. Canada is a local historian who has worked in the tourism industry and is an active volunteer for many historical societies. She operates a history consulting business, Your History Matters, www.yourhistorymatters.com, and writes about local San Diego history. She holds an undergraduate degree in History from UCLA, and is, indeed, a recovering lawyer. She may be reached at