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Inside the Icon: Chicano Park

The newly crowned National Historic Landmark in Barrio Logan celebrates 47 years of Chicano culture and community this month


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Photo by Robert Benson

Visit the Icon

Chicano Park 
1949 Logan Avenue, Barrio Logan 

The Takeover

Chicano Park was the result of a long struggle between Chicano artists and activists and the city of San Diego over new junkyards, factory-induced pollution, and the displacement of many families due to construction of I-5. In 1970, residents came together to protest the building of a California Highway Patrol station and, along with hundreds of artists, students, and activists, seized the land on April 22, demanding it be turned into a community park to show residents’ roots through art.

 

The Makeover

There are more than 80 murals in Chicano Park. In 2012, 18 were restored thanks to $1.6 million in state funds.

 

Murals of the People

The 7.4-acre park’s murals, painted on the concrete girders of the San Diego–Coronado Bridge, depict important historical events of the Chicano community forged in Barrio Logan. Some Chicano Park muralists have called them “the history textbooks of la raza.”

 

Heroes and Heroines

The murals feature notable Mexican figures, including Benito Juárez, Cesar Chavez, Frida Kahlo, and Our Lady of Guadalupe. They also show the founding of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, and the Mexican Revolution. Other murals depict more recent events, including the 1970 takeover.

 

In Memoriam

This year’s Chicano Park Day, which celebrates the founding of the park with family-friendly music and dance, will remember the life and legacy of Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, a musician and activist who died last year. Chunky, who was involved in the takeover of the park, was also a founding member of iconic Chicano band Los Alacranes.

 

National Treasure

Though it’s been listed on the California Register of Historical Resources since 1997, Chicano Park was named a National Historic Landmark in January. Hotel del Coronado and Balboa Park also share this esteemed designation.

This Month

The annual free Chicano Park Day features mariachi bands, ballet folklórico groups, and more at the park.

April 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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