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Chicano Park is under an interstate highway and home to the biggest collection of Chicano murals in the world. Photo: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.
Chicano Park is under an interstate highway and home to the biggest collection of Chicano murals in the world. Photo: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

Chicano Park of San Diego celebrates its 52nd anniversary

The Chicano landmark and beloved “heart of Barrio Logan” turned 52 this April.

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Walk into San Diego’s Chicano Park and you will be greeted by Chicano murals, picnic tables, playgrounds, and gardens all beneath a freeway.

Located in San Diego’s oldest Mexican-American neighborhood — Logan Heights, or Barrio Logan — Chicano Park is referred to by some as the “emotional heart of Barrio Logan.”

The park is located beneath the Interstate 5 freeway, built by the California Department of Transportation in the 1960s. 

The freeway’s creation ordered the destruction of homes and split the neighborhood into two zones. 

In 1969, residents were promised a park underneath the city’s Coronado Bridge. By 1970, the promise was officially rescinded in favor of a California Highway Patrol station.

A protest followed the decision from the city. Residents occupied the three-acre land for 12 days and formed a human chain around bulldozers. During the 12 days, residents were not alone. 

Residents of sister neighborhoods, activists from across the state and Chicano studies students all traveled to help occupy the land. 

The protest ended with the city’s approval to build the park. The park was officiated by law in 1971.

It was artist Salvador Torres who successfully proposed the use of the bridge’s pylons as canvases for residents' artwork, and to alleviate the obvious eyesore.

Chicano park holds the world’s largest and most expansive collection of Chicano murals. The park houses over 80 paintings. Surrounding the park is an established arts district.

Each April, the park holds Chicano Park Day. The park also hosts some music and Aztec dance festivals throughout the year.

Since 2017, the park has been a National Historic Landmark. Congressman Juan Vargas, and Josephine Talamantez and Manny Galaviz of the Chicano Park Steering Committee were said to be behind the effort to obtain the landmark status.

The park’s legacy continues in Barrio Logan. This April, Chicano Park celebrated its 52nd anniversary. 

Today, you can find murals of Latino and Latina leaders such as Frida Kahlo, Don Pedro Gonzalez, and Cesar Chavez at the park. 

The annual Chicano Park Day celebration is being held virtually this year. The celebration began this Monday and ends on Sunday, April 24.

Chicano Park Day is a free and family-friendly annual cultural pride celebration with costumes, performers, live bands, food and craft vendors, art workshops for kids, and a lowrider car show.

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