By Mario A. Cortez
Despite being a National Historic Landmark in the heart of the City, many San Diegans still don’t know Chicano Park.
But this weekend, anyone unacquainted with the park or wanting to get a different perspective will have a chance to learn more.
From Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8, the San Diego Architectural Society’s Open House San Diego program will be offering free tours of Chicano Park focused on the intersection between architecture, artwork, and social struggle which has shaped the site’s history.
Chicano historian and USD professor Dr. Alberto Pulido will be guiding some tours over the weekend. He sees the program as an opportunity to educate local residents beyond the vivid sight of murals, and about the struggles which lead to the creation of the park and its large-scale artwork.
“We have to speak to the importance of the murals, what they have to say, and how the park exists in relation to the creation of the Coronado Bridge,” said Pulido. “How does one live with a highway right above? How did these pillars become canvases?”
Chicano Park has been an inalienable part of Josephine Talamantez’s life. As a lifelong activist and member of the park’s Steering Committee, she sees the tours as a way of presenting the park in a positive way to new people.
“Chicano Park was born out of a promise of a park by the City. And when no park was coming through, the community took it upon themselves to occupy the land and create their own park,” she stated. “Often times when we do these tours, people say ‘wow, I never knew this place existed’ or ‘I never understood why the park is here.’”
This year, in addition to Chicano Park, Open House San Diego will also be offering tours of over 100 sites and structures of noteworthy architecture in other neighborhoods, including Point Loma, Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, East Village, La Jolla, and Coronado. The showcase’s mission is to promote awareness of San Diego’s urban environment and critical issues related to urbanization.
Tours of Chicano Park and other Barrio Logan sites will meet at the Bread and Salt building, located at 1955 Julian Avenue. Free maps will be available at the site, which will act as a hub for Open House San Diego activities in the neighborhood. Souvenir guides will be available for a five dollar donation.
For schedules and more information on Open House San Diego visit http://sdarchitecture.org/program/openhouse/