Our belief that understanding the past is essential as you explore Barrio Logan is especially true as we take a look at Chicano Park. Chicano Park, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, has the largest outdoor mural collection in the United States. But it’s not the size of the collection that makes the park special.
Part One of A History of Barrio Logan ends with a community in crisis. Interstate 5 and San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge construction removed 5,000 homes and businesses. Over 10 years the population had shrunk from 20,000 to 5000 residents. Spirits were both crushed and ignited as residents began demanding their rights. Open spaces in Barrio Logan had otherwise disappeared. Barrio Logan residents requested that the land under the bridge be turned into a park for the community. The city agreed to a park in 1969. Five months later bulldozers were spotted where the park was to be built. It was April 22, 1970. Instead of the park, they were there to break ground for a California Highway Patrol station.
In an oversimplification of events, residents and demonstrators mobilized peacefully but forcefully to take back the land which they had been promised. They occupied the land for twelve days until the city agreed once again to build a park. Community vision for the park included turning concrete freeway supports into works of art depicting Chicano culture. Artists began painting murals in Chicano Park in 1973, and though it would take several years until completion, the park and murals continue to stand as a symbol of the community.
Additional Articles & Resources: chicanoparksandiego.com, Explore the Murals of San Diego’s Chicano Park, An Iconic San Diego Park Is Now a National Historic Landmark