San Diego’s Chicano Park pursues recognition as a historic site

What was once “street art” now is one of the city’s cultural landmarks

San Diego’s Chicano Park pursues recognition as a historic siteEFE Agency
EFE Agency

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SAN DIEGO. - With more than 40 years of history behind it and famous for its mural paintings, San Diego's Chicano Park is seeking a space in the National Registry of Historic Places.

After a laborious struggle by activists, the nomination of Chicano Park and its murals was approved last week by California's State Historical Resources Commission and in 45 days a decision in the matter will be made public.

Local activist Josephine Talamantez, a member of a family who has lived in the surrounding community of Barrio Logan since 1908, was the person in charge of gathering the information needed to ensure that the emblematic site would be considered.

For that task, Talamantez and the members of the Chicano Park Steering Committee presented a document many pages long in which they emphasize both the history of the site as well as the significance of its more than 70 mural paintings.

“Chicano Park represents an era of development in San Diego associated and identified with events in local history. It exemplifies the cultural, economic and social policy of the community,” said the document.

For Barrio Logan it's important to get this recognition because then they would be able to obtain protection for the park from any modification.

This protection would bring calm to a community that has fought for decades to keep the site alive and offer to Latinos a spot in San Diego County where they can remember their roots, Tomasa "Tommie" Camarillo, the chair of the committee, explained to Efe Agency.

“Community support has always been behind every fight,” she stressed.

The nomination received eight letters of recommendation including the now mayor-elect of San Diego, Bob Filner, Assembly member Ben Hueso, Council member David Alvarez and Senator Juan Vargas, among others.

Chicano Park was founded in 1970 after a protest against the construction of a California Highway Patrol station at the site.

After negotiations with members of the municipality a decision was reached to preserve the park, which has become a reference point for San Diego's Latino community.

"It's a spot where we can feel that we belong, each mural paint describes a part of our history," said Camarillo.

Over the years, Chicano Park has become a place for important events to celebrate Hispanic heritage, as well as a starting point for demonstrations like on May 1st.

Also, "quinceañeras" (15th birthday parties) and weddings have been celebrated there.

San Diego resident Gus Chavez recalled his daughter's wedding there 15 years ago.

"Even now, I meet friends who tell me that they haven't forgotten the day of my daughter's wedding," he told Efe.

For Chavez, the park is a symbol of the presence of Latinos in the United States, which is becoming stronger as times goes by.

“Glad to see young children playing here and know that their parents grew up in this community, generations come here for what it symbolizes,” he said.

Chicano Park is a venue for arts and example of this is Calpulli Mexica dance group, they regularly practice under the kiosk in the center of the place.

The National Registry of Historical Places is a list of more than 80,000 sites, mainly old buildings, districts and objects.

editorial@sandiegored.com

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