I’m not sure Chicano Park would rank on most people’s lists of most beautiful places in San Diego, but it’s at the top of mine. When people think of history in San Diego, they inevitably think of Old Town, a place of pristine fixed-up old buildings, a lawn strewn court yard and Mexican Margarita restaurants. Chicano Park to me represents a real history.
When Coronado Bridge was built, it divided the neighborhood of Barrio Logan, which was at one time the second largest hispanic community in California. Residents fought for a park that would help reunite their community, and were promised a park under the bridge. After several years, bulldozers came in not to build the park but to build a CHP station where the park had been promised. This infuriated residents who felt betrayed. They demonstrated, and fought for this park. One of the residents, the artist Salvador Torres, conceived of a large public art project to be a feature of the park, making use of the Coronado Bridge pillars. The result was Chicano Park.
Coincidentally, Puja and I went to check it out on the same day we went around the city to view a street art project the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego had commissioned. It turned out to be an appropriate interlude between viewing the street art exhibit that was displayed publicly throughout the city. (This was all back in January 2011)
There is a website for the park, explaining its history and there are pictures of some more of the murals.