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Fifty Years Ago, Fed Up With the City’s Neglect, a San Diego Community Rose Up to Create Chicano Park

Abiding by an inner voice is a powerful thing. If listened to carefully, it can guide you through those critical decision points in life, ones that give it meaning and purpose.

This past Saturday, April 25, Chicano community members in San Diego commemorated the 50th anniversary of Chicano Park. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis forced the postponement of what would have surely been a large and boisterous community celebration. Nonetheless, the legacy of Chicano Park and all that it continues to signify remains forever embedded in the hearts and souls of all who had a hand in its making, and to those who have visited and been moved by it ever since.

Barrio Logan, formerly called Logan Heights, is a historic Mexican American/Chicano working class neighborhood located just south of downtown San Diego; with its origins dating to the turn of the century. Starting in the 1940s, U.S. naval operations, along San Diego Bay, cut off resident access to the beaches along the waterfront. Adding insult to injury, in the decades that followed, the city rezoned the area to permit rapid industrial expansion.

Yonkes, Chicano slang for junkyards, and other blight-causing operations proliferated, resulting not only in the loss of residential structures but in harmful environmental degradation.

A long-standing demand from residents for a community park seemed to be on the verge of being met with the city prepared to launch the project. But, on April 22, 1970, community activists noticed the presence of construction equipment set up around the park's designated site.

Read entire article at Smithsonian Magazine