There’s an inexplicable joy that I get each time I come across a Space Invader. It’s a little piece of mental candy, finding the tiles plastered in just the right spot to hide in plain sight. There are some Invaders that I’ve walked by a hundred times before noticing and others that I notice every time but still seem to elicit the same surprise. Luckily in San Diego there are a plethora of Invaders both tucked away and boldly displayed for all to see. The mission to find all of these, or at least find out if they are still there, took some time even with some help from other blogs.
In 2010, The San Diego Museum on Contemporary art put on an exhibit called: Viva la Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape in which it commissioned several of the leading street artists from around the world to create public art works in their own style around the city. Sadly, many of these are no longer with us and have been removed by the owners or vandalized by others.
Invader, the French artist known for plastering Space Invader character tiles in cities throughout the world, put up 21 space invader characters around the San Diego Downtown area. In addition, he designed a city tour that used city blocks to mimic the pixels in a character. While there are maps out there that show where all of the Space Invaders are located around San Diego, it can be tricky to find them if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We’ve included the map, as well as pictures of the character that you’ll find at each location. Unfortunately after tracking down the location of all the originals, some of them have been removed or vandalized. In those cases, I’ve included an image of the original and a shot of what the location looks like now.
Locations and Images of the San Diego Invaders
SD 01 MCSD Kettner and B Street – This Space Invader is up on the MCASD building facing away from the trolley tracks. If you walk down B street until it ends, you’ll run right into it.
SD 02 on Broadway between 12th and 13th – Most sources that I referenced were unable to find this one. I couldn’t find it anywhere either. I was able to find an obscure image that claimed to be the SD 02 Invader which I’ve posted below. However, I haven’t seen any building located in the area that has an exterior like this one.
SD 03 Tuna Harbor Park Facing USS Midway – This one has been removed. It seems to be one of the first to go since people searching for it just after the exhibit started weren’t able to find it anymore. Photo credit goes to Space Invader himself
SD 04 Somewhere Around Broadway between 2nd and 3rd – Unable to find this one, and neither has anyone else. Broadway just seems to be the worst place for Invaders longevity. The buildings that encompass this area are the NBC Building and the Westgate hotel – both with marble exteriors. It’s likely that they removed this Invader long before anyone had a change to take a picture of it.
SD 05 7th and F Salvation Army Building – This one is up on the very corner of the Salvation Army building facing South. It is an Invader on a computer monitor.
SD 06 Grape under I-5 Bridge – This is a nice big red one that is probably the first or second most viewed invader in San Diego since anyone leaving the airport for another part of town passes right by it on their way to the freeway. There is also a little DigDug character below it, which as of late is starting to wear down.
SD 07 Broadway and India Transformer Box - This one isn’t there anymore and seems to have been ripped down relatively early after it was put up. The box has since been repainted and there isn’t any sign that it was ever there :/ Based on some images of what was left, and some research I found an image of what it used to look like.
SD08 First Street and B – This Invader has been removed. It was located on the guard rail for the ramp entrance to a parking garage. I remember seeing this one a few times after it originally went up, but sometime in the past few years it has been removed. This one was similar to the Invader that was located in Horton Plaza (also removed).
SD 09 M Building of City College – This Invader has been removed recently. The building appears to be getting remodeled. Hopefully the school had it removed and stored for safe keeping until the remodel is done. Photo courtesy of AnotherHeader blog.
SD 10 G St and Park – This is the big one that is on the Art School building. It’s probably the most visible Invader in San Diego, seen by anyone that takes G Street out of Downtown.
SD 11 6th Avenue and C St. – This one is posted up on some gray bricks on the corner of what is now a 7-11 store.
SD 12 Chicano Park – This one was removed shortly after it was put up. It was another large red one that was on a pillar in the park. Photo credit to Space Invader
SD 13 5th and C St. – I haven’t seen this one and not many other people seem to have seen it even back in 2010.
SD 14 Blick Art Supply 1844 India Street – This Invader was removed by vandals earlier in June 2014. It was a reversed miniature version of the one that is up on the Art School in East Village. You can read more about the incident from the local 10 News
SD 15 First and F Street – This Invader is still up and is located on the building across First St. from Horton Plaza. It is just to the left of Athens Market Taverna restaurant.
SD 16 Second Street Bridge over the 5 – Many of the tiles on this one have chipped off recently. It is a small one to start and located in one of the more obscure spots around town, just behind the Sheraton Four Points Hotel.
SD 17 639 Kettner – This one is up on the top of the side of a brick building on Kettner. It’s right near where several streets and trolley tracks intersect so it was a little tricky to track down the building.
SD 18 Island and Front St – Located on a pillar outside the New Childrens Museum. This one is pretty easy to spot if you are on Island facing West.
SD 19 4th and C – This guy is a black character on a yellow background and is on the backside of the building facing away from C Street.
Horton Plaza Space Invaders
Horton Plaza in itself is reminiscent of an Escher print, with walkways criss crossing the main artery and stairways taking you up half levels when you need to get up a whole level. Finding the location of these two took me some time, but it was a fun little adventure before work one day.
SD 20 Horton Plaza Level 1 Escalator - This Invader is no longer there. Since it was located within reach of the thousands of mall-goers that used the escalator each day, the tiles slowly chipped off over the years and the last time I saw it here, it was missing a good quarter of the tiles. This was a white Space Invader character on a sky blue background. Thanks to JestDMS for the original shot when only one of the tiles was missing.
SD 21 Horton Plaza Level 2 Walkway - This Invader is plastered on the outside of a stairway bridge just under a pillar. If you want quick directions to it, go to a directory and find whatever store happens to be in E12. Stand in front of the store and look away from it up to the right a bit and you should see it. This Invader appears to be a white ghost from Pacman (I could be wrong here) on a blue background with a green stripe at the bottom.
If anyone has any pictures of the three missing Invaders, please contact me or leave a comment. I’d be happy to fill out the last ones!