arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

Chicano Park

National Landmark, Local Treasure

Chicano Park is the geographic and emotional heart of Barrio Logan, located in Logan Heights, San Diego's oldest Mexican-American neighborhood. The park is home to the largest concentration of Chicano murals in the world with more than 80 paintings on seven acres dotted with sculpture, gardens, picnic tables and playgrounds. Throughout the year, it hosts festivals of music and Aztec dance, the biggest being Chicano Park Day held each April. Additionally, it's the hub of an emerging arts district, with galleries, boutiques, brewpubs and craft coffee shops nearby.

A National Historic Landmark

In January 2017, the park was designated a National Historic Landmark, thanks to the efforts of Congressman Juan Vargas, and Josephine Talamantez and Manny Galaviz of the Chicano Park Steering Committee. This status recognizes the artistic, cultural and sociopolitical significance of the park and preserves the space for future generations.

Chicano Park History

Visitors come from all over to see the monumental murals, arching overhead like an outdoor cathedral to community activism. In the early 20th century, the area had been a sturdy middle-class neighborhood, a place where families gathered for parties and children played at the beach. Things changed when World War II broke out, and the neighborhood lost its beach to the Navy and defense industries. In the 1960s, the California Department of Transportation built the I-5 freeway through the area, demolishing homes and splitting the neighborhood in two. To compensate, residents were promised that the land under the Coronado Bridge would be turned into a park, something the community had wanted for years. More time went by, but no park appeared.

On April 22, 1970, residents learned that the promise had been rescinded and the land would be used for a California Highway Patrol station. The local community rallied quickly to halt construction. Hundreds of men, women and children converged on the site, forming a human chain around bulldozers. They occupied the space for twelve days, attracting the attention of government officials.

Months of negotiation followed as city and state agencies argued questions of land use and ownership. Residents, led by the Chicano Park Steering Committee, kept up pressure. The artist Salvador Torres proposed to transform the bridge's massive concrete pylons into a towering canvas for expression in the spirit of the Mexican Mural Movement.

The formation of Chicano Park was signed into law in 1971 and mural painting began two years later. At first it was an exuberant, unconstrained explosion of color as hundreds of people "attacked the wall with rollers," according to Torres. He, together with many local artists including Guillermo Aranda, Yolanda Lopez, Victor Ochoa and groups such as Toltecas en Aztlan and Congresso de Artistas Chicanos en Aztlan, continued to guide the aesthetic development. As years passed, more artists from across California were invited to contribute, producing a range of Pre-Colombian, colonial, modern and contemporary imagery.

In 2011 and 2012, almost two dozen murals were restored with federal funding. Many of the original artists did the work themselves, aided by friends and family. The restoration received a Grand Orchid award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation, which called the revitalized project "stunning." It also received recognition from the California Office of Historic Preservation, Save Our Heritage Organisation, and the San Diego City Council and Mayor.

The Chicano Park Steering Committee maintains a map of the murals on their website, along with details about the artwork and Chicano Park Day. The free, annual family-friendly celebration features beautiful costumes and cultural pride of performers like Danza Azteca Calpulli Mexihca, along with live bands, a lowrider car show, art workshops for kids, and food and craft vendors.

Chicano Park is best seen in the daylight to appreciate the vibrant color of the murals, but the surrounding area has nighttime offerings too. As with all urban parks, use common sense when it comes to safety after dark. Enjoy a beer and dinner at local favorites ¡SALUD!, Iron Fist Brewing Company and Border X Brewing; catch an art opening at La Bodega Gallery, Chicano Art Gallery or CM Curatorial; and browse the works of local artists and authors in the shops along Logan Avenue between South Evans Street and Sampson Street.

Plans are underway to capture and share the history of the park and adjacent Logan Heights. Chicano Park Museum is currently virtual but contains an extensive archive of photos and stories. Until the museum is up and running, visitors can arrange tours of the park through the Steering Committee. Tours are led by volunteers who were involved in the original takeover as well as those who have guided and protected the park since then. There is no charge but advance reservations are required.

The importance of Chicano Park to San Diego is best summed up by the late Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez, much-loved activist, musician and creator of the heartfelt anthem, "Chicano Park Samba": "There's an energy there that's hard to describe—when you see your people struggling for something positive, it's very inspiring. The park was brought about by sacrifice and it demonstrates what a community can do when they stick together and make it happen."

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you

Tours & Sightseeing

Save 20% on an Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Amazing Scavenger Hunts by Urban Adventure Quest
Valid: Jan 8, 2018 - ongoing

Turn San Diego's Old Town or Balboa Park into a giant game board with this fun Scavenger Hunt Adventure. Combine the excitement of the Amazing Race with a three-hour city tour. Guided from any smart...

Accommodation

Beach Therapy Offer at Beach Village

Hotel del Coronado
Valid: Oct 12, 2017 - ongoing

Follow the sunshine to Beach Village and let your worries drift away as you relax into the gentle ocean waves and sparkling sands of our luxurious California beach resort. From roasting...

Breweries

Pitcher Thursdays

The Brew Project
Valid: Aug 18, 2017 - ongoing

Every Thursday we offer $15 local craft pitchers from 3pm-Midnight. 

Events to check out

Event

Best Coast Beer Fest Presented by Sycuan

Mar 10, 2018

Enjoy more than 200 beers from nearly 100 local breweries, grab a sensible lunch in our food truck alley and listen to the sweet sounds of local bands - all while taking in the gorgeous views of...

Event

2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball 1st & 2nd Rounds

Mar 16 - Mar 18, 2018

NCAA® March Madness is coming to San Diego! Share the experience at the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship First/Second Rounds in Viejas Arena.

Event

San Diego Crew Classic

Mar 24 - Mar 25, 2018

Regarded as the first major regatta of the year, the San Diego Crew Classic brings together thousands of athletes from more than 100 universities, clubs and high school programs from across the United...

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

ChinaGermanyGreat BritainJapanMexicoKoreaSwitzerlandBrazilFranceAustraliaCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish