Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The El Cortez

Since the El Cortez Apartment Hotel opened in 1927 it has gone through many incarnations. Once the tallest building in San Diego, it has gone from a luxurious apartment hotel with opulent restaurants, to a military look-out point during World War II, and for a short time it was an evangelical ministry and training center. Locals and visitors probably remember it most fondly for an exterior glass elevator called the Starlight Express offering views of the city as it traveled to the Sky Room. The elevator was installed in 1956 and removed during renovation in the late 1990s. The building is now, you guessed it, condos. Click here to read about the current controversy over building more condos on the property. And please do tell us if you were ever lucky enough to ride on the Starlight Express.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I've been on "The Starlight Express" get to the restaurant up near the top. Excellent view of San Diego...and looking down on airplanes as they landed at Lindburgh Field.

Also remember climbing around the "El Cotez" sign setting up a microwave link for the TV Station that I worked for...A past election coverage if I remember right.


Wed Jun 18, 04:44:00 PM PDT  
Blogger David said...

I remember the glass elevator well. It was a big thrill for a small child to look out over the city as we went up the elevator. My family made a special trip to take us up the elevator.

I lived in Coronado from 1956 - 1959, when I was 6 - 9 years old, as my father was the Supply Officer at the North Island Naval Air Station. At that time Coronado received its first traffic light. It was a small Navy town, as there was no bridge and not too many people commuted into downtown San Diego on the ferry.

My mother also took us out to Coronado beach to watch Marilyn Monroe being filmed in Some Like It Hot.

I still love the beach, and have recently started the first Daily Photo site for Costa Rica:

David in Tamarindo

Wed Jun 18, 09:09:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Felicia said...

Louis and David, thank you so much for sharing your memories with us! Awesome! David, best wishes on your blog and I'll see you in Tamarindo.

Thu Jun 19, 10:14:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Grandparents, Will and Sue Lowry, managed the International Motel (late 60's 1971) which was once connected to the El Cortez by way of the travelator - moving sidewalk. We also went up in the glass elevator. I have many fond memories of visiting them and thinking the El Cortez was the most glamorous place in the world - I still think that. They would take me to get a tropicana orange juice which came in tiny tin cans. The Motel is gone now and so are my grandparents but memories live forever and so I also hope will the El Cortez!

L.A. Ostermeyer
Tucson, AZ

Tue Jun 24, 09:09:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i loved the el cortez. i was one of the operators of the glass elevator. i worked there from 1959-1967. I seen all the downtown buildings go up and watched them dredge out the bay to make Harbor Island. all the aircraft carriers i knew by their numbers. and many celebrities that passed through. i was on the elevator the day JFK was assasinated and watched as they lowered the flag to half mast on the Bank of America. what a time it was. assathey

Wed Jul 02, 07:50:00 PM PDT  

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