Saturday, December 18, 2010

Favorite Inland Empire Buildings and Places

In today's post, I'm featuring a collection of some of my best photos (click on them for a larger view!) of my favorite places in Southern California's Inland Empire, where I live currently. The Inland Empire is defined as the entirety of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. With an area in excess of 27,000 square miles, it is home to well over four million people, about half in each county.
First, in San Bernardino county:

Fontana, where I live, just a few years ago completed this spectacular new library, and it has since become a symbol of the city. The Lewis Library and Technology Center is the largest public library in the San Bernardino county library system, at over sixty thousand square feet. In addition to its vast collection of literature, it has an auditorium, a below-grade parking garage, a cafe, city offices, homework/meeting rooms, computers everywhere, and a beautiful reading rotunda overlooking Sierra Avenue, Fontana's main street. It is the heart of the city- I've never gone in there when there weren't a hundred or more people using it for all it offers. I think that its thoughtful design and construction really demonstrated the heartfelt desire of the city council, and the local businesses that helped fund it, to improve the lives of the families of Fontana. I love the exterior's modern take on traditional Spanish architecture, too.
It's my favorite place in the city.

As seen on a rainy day:

And on a summer day:
(California has a cool flag, even when it's backwards!) 

Architectural details:
Clock tower:

this metalwork is a repeated theme throughout the building. It reminds me of the intricate details found in Islamic buildings, like the Alhambra in Spain:

and inside the skylit main hall, looking towards the entrance:

Next, some photos from Redlands, which is considered to be "The Jewel of the Inland Empire."

This pretty building is on the corner of Cajon and Vine streets, downtown. It contains a theater, among other functions. I love everything about the exterior: the shape, the colors, the details like the awnings... It exudes classic, small-town urban style.

 This is the A. K. Smiley library. I've not been inside, but the exterior and the grounds are fantastic:

This is the main administration building at the University of Redlands. Classical, stately, ivy-covered, and just beautiful.

The Redlands, California Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of our newer and smaller temples, but no less sublime. Just the other day, after the wind and rain had cleared the air (the best part of winter in the Southland), I caught a rare glimpse of this gleaming spire from afar, as the late-afternoon sun broke through the clouds and lit it ablaze, while I was driving home from work along a freeway about twelve miles away. My eyes were just drawn toward it, if only for a split second. It was amazing, and it totally made my day.

 Here's my favorite place to buy stuff, at the Victoria Gardens "lifestyle center" (which is developerese for "better than a regular mall") in Rancho Cucamonga.

 I love clocks of all sorts, especially when found in architecture, because they are so useful and functional, but they can also be beautifully decorative, too. This is one of my favorites, found in downtown Rialto:

This is obviously not one of my favorite places, but I included it today because it's one of the coolest shots I've ever taken of a piece of infrastructure. From the "Falcon Ridge Town Center" shopping center in Fontana.

Now on to Riverside:

This shot is of a "Heritage Flight" that was performed at the AirFest show at March Air Reserve Base, east of Riverside. This was just one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Over sixty years of service separates the modern F-22 Raptor at upper left from the WWII-era P-38 Lightning at upper right. Lower left is a Korean War-era F-86 Sabre, and a mid-Cold War-era F-15 eagle at lower right.

Here's the cool old main building at the base, with an ancient control room atop.

Now in Riverside proper:
 These next shots are from the Mission Inn, which is probably the most famous building in the Inland Empire. It's an especially awesome hotel, begun in 1876 as an adobe boarding house, then dramatically expanded between 1902 and 1935, in a variety of styles. It's now considered to be the largest Mission Revival style building in the United States. Now, I don't think that any number or quality of photos can express the awesomeness of this building. It's amazingly intricate, complicated, eclectic, and is simply astounding. I recommend reading the Wikipedia article for more information and history.

Here's just some of the details I liked most:

Here's a shot of Riverside's California Tower, which houses many state government offices. I love the orange stripe. This photo was taken from the roof of a parking garage, which is my absolute favorite vantage point for architectural/cityscape photos, anywhere.

Riverside's gorgeous county courthouse:

Riverside City Hall! It is SO 70's, I love it! The structures on the roof are a more recent addition. The building straddles the pedestrianized portion of Main Street.

The brand-spanking-new Regency Tower, an office block that reminds me vividly of the designs of the buildings of downtown Washington, D.C.

A ground-level shot of the California Tower, from the Main Street Plaza:

This is the Loring Building, which served as city hall before the 70's-tastic one was built, and now contains the Riverside branch of Citizens Business Bank, my former employer.

This is little Mount Rubidoux, which I once climbed. It's a very easy, popular hike, and the summit is nicely terraced and landscaped, with monuments such as a cross (not pictured, as I was standing beneath it) dedicated to Fr. Junipero Serra at the peak.

And this is the spectacular view of Downtown Riverside from the top of Rubidoux, with the sunset at my back. That was a very nice way to end a day.

In future posts, I'll feature each of these places, and others, with even more photos!


  1. WoW!!! I was hoping to check into your blog and see some of your awesome photography and read your knowledgeable descriptions of all things architecture. This is more than I expected! Really great. I'm going to send the link to Carolyn. She's gonna love your blog!

  2. he's right jordan, i love it. ok, first of all, i adore the 70's city hall. i can think of so many outfits and hairstyles i would love to wear hanging out in there.

    i lived in nearby corona for a few years as a child and i remember this really cool bicentennial mural painted on a dam, i think, on the way to riverside, i will see if i can find an image of it. it was so rad. it was super america 1976 with turbo stars and stripes.

    i also spent a recent 4th of july at the mission inn, it is super gorgeous. riverside is also one of the best places to go to estate sales and yard sales and thrifting. in case you're ever interested!


  3. Thanks, guys! I'm glad you like my stuff! And, Carolyn, that mural sounds awesome.