Chicano Park in San Diego’s Barrio Logan displays one of the largest assemblages of public murals in North America. The monolithic pillars, the pylons of the Coronado Bay Bridge, have been transformed into an outdoor museum of art and history. These awe inspiring murals are giant mirrors of Chicano Mexicano history, and a tribute to the force of community.
Barrio Logan, a Chicano neighborhood since 1930s, was bisected by the building of Interstate 5 in the mid-1960s, and the completion of the Coronado Bay Bridge created a looming concrete tangle over a barren patch of land. In 1970 the state which owned the land decided to make this area a park to surround a California Highway Patrol office. And the community rebelled. Barrio Logan and Chicanos throughout San Diego wanted a park, but not one that featured the CHP as the centerpiece. Spurred by activist Mario Solis, a student at San Diego City College, the men, women and children surround the bulldozers as a human chain and began occupying the land. They planted cactus and flowers, they camped out and cooked meals. Supporters came from across California and from across the country. Activists demanded that the property be donated to the community as a park in which Chicano culture could be expressed through art and leisure.
And after a twelve day occupation, the state relented, ceding the land to the city for a community park. Muralists and community members working together created the dozens of monumental murals which pay tribute to Chicano history and the lost lands of Aztlán.
The result is Chicano Park. It’s lovely, peaceful, tranquil, magical, empowering.
The 44th annual Chicano Park Day celebration will be held on Saturday, April 19, 2014 from 10 am to 5 pm, between Logan and National Avenues, under the Coronado Bay Bridge, San Diego, CA 92101.