By Ron Donoho / Photos by Jeff "Turbo" Corrigan
In 2012, the 7.4-acre tract under the Coronado Bridge underwent a mural restoration project and won a "Grand Orchid" during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's annual Orchids & Onions award ceremony. Now, the Barrio Logan parkland has been included on the National Register of Historic Places.
The park, created in 1970 at the intersection of National Avenue and Dewey Street, was recognized for "critical association with the Chicano Civil Rights Movement."
This "critical association" stems from an incident, on April 22, 1970, when bulldozers arrived to raze the land for a parking lot, despite government officials' promises to local residents that the land would be used for a park. Chicano (a word for Mexicans living in the u.S.) activists initiated a peaceful, 12-day standoff with police that, in an uncharacteristic twist in modern protests, actually accomplished something.
In 1973, a few years after the momentous victory, artists from all over the Southwest were consigned to create nearly 50 murals on pillars of the eastern- most end of the Coronado Bridge. Today, the works number over 70, making Chicano Park the home of the largest street-art collection in the world.
On the heels of the national nod comes a new, visitor-friendly "Barrio Logan" neighborhood sign slated to be installed on Cesar Chavez Parkway between Main and Newton.
"The sign will be a unique cultural entrance and a source of pride for the community," says San Diego city councilmember David Alvarez.
The 80-foot, yellow and orange beacon will incorporate symbols used in some of the parks more recognizable murals. It may say "Barrio Logan," but it will stand more as a sign of the neighborhood's burgeoning status in San Diego.
Visit chicano-park.org for more history and a listing of park events. Park admission is always free.
Chicano Park joins an impressive list of local landmarks included on the National Register of Historic Places. Here are 10 other San Diego spots that made the cut:
Cabrillo National Monument
El Cortez Apartment Hotel
Gaslamp Quarter Historic District
Hotel del Coronado
George W. Marston House
Mission Beach Roller Coaster
Naval Training Center
U.S. Grant Hotel