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San Diego's Chicano Park
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If you've never visited San Diego's Chicano Park, you might imagine that it is just another typical park: grass and trees, playgrounds and picnic tables, weekend gatherings of families and friends. However, unlike other parks, Chicano Park is steeped in a profound sociopolitical history of Chicano life in our city.

By Jordan Tresham and Tom Johnston-O'Neill
Photos by Shimona Carvalho

Mural 3

Unfortunately, beginning in the 1940s the Logan Heights area and its residents fell victim to the designs and manipulations of outside interests and forces. There was little chance to stop these encroachments and damaging changes because, until quite recently, Hispanics have had little representation or say in the city's decision-making process. In the succeeding decades a series of events brought severe dislocation and upheaval to the community.

During World War II, the community's direct access to the waterfront was entirely cut off by expanding naval bases. In the 1950s, local zoning laws reclassified several residential areas into industrial zones. As a result, junkyards, car repair shops, and other industries injurious to a serene and cohesive community aesthetic sprang up in the area. The largest upheaval came in the 1960s when construction for the I-5 freeway severed the Barrio Logan community in half. A few years later, the neighborhood was further fragmented by the building of the Coronado Bay Bridge. More than 5,000 homes and businesses were destroyed in order to make way for the freeway and the bridge, and more than half the population was displaced, forced to move elsewhere.
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