Chicano Park’s murals capture the history of San Diego’s Chicano community in a stunning display of public art.
Located in the heart of Barrio Logan, San Diego’s oldest Mexican-American neighborhood, Chicano Park is home to the largest collection of Chicano murals in the world with more than 80 paintings. These beautiful works of arts record the history and culture of San Diego’s Mexican-American community making it a major hub for Chicano culture in the city.
The park spreads across 7.4 acres of land beneath the Coronado Bridge and includes multiple sculptures, gardens and playgrounds alongside its collection of murals. The public space was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2017, but official recognition of Chicano Park’s status as the heart and soul of San Diego’s Chicano community has taken locals decades to achieve.
The area had been a popular gathering spot for local families since the early 20th century. In the early 1960s, with the construction of the I-5, residents were promised the construction of a park beneath the Coronado bridge as a reward for dividing the neighborhood, but in 1970 the city opted for constructing a government building instead. Locals rallied quickly to halt the project and hundreds of people gathered at the site, occupating it for 12 days in order to attract the government’s attention. Chicano Park was later signed into law in 1971 and mural painting started two years later in 1973.
Chicano Park’s murals painted on the towering columns supporting the bridge offer a contemporary reflection of the Chicano Civil Rights movement and employ Colombian, colonial, modern and contemporary imagery. The majority were painted during the late 70s and early 80s by renowned local artists including Guillermo Aranda, Yolanda Lopez, Victor Ochoa and Salvador Torres.
With the years, many artists have been invited to contribute to the evergrowing collection of murals embracing Chicano heritage. The latest addition by artist Victor Ochoa was unveiled on Sunday, September 13, and commemorates Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a San Diego resident killed by border patrol agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Chicano Park also serves as a local gathering spot and hosts festivals of music and Aztec Dance, the most popular being Chicano Park Day, held each year in April. If you’d like to visit, you should that the park’s influence as a cultural hub extends well beyond its boundaries with plenty more to explore in the surrounding areas including galleries, boutiques, brewpubs and even craft coffee shops.
[Featured image: Chicano Park Steering Committee]