For four decades, Chicano Park has served as a beacon for San Diego’s Mexican-American community. The site – well known for its murals and for serving as a meeting place for Latino organizing – undoubtedly has local importance. On Tuesday, the U.S. government made it clear that the park also has national significance. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell named Chicano Park one of the 24 new National Historic Landmarks, according to KPBS.
After the construction of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in 1969, the city planned to make the space beneath a California Highway Patrol substation. But after complaints from those in the neighborhood, it became the 7.4-acre park that has a special place in history. In 2013, federal officials added the park to the National Register of Historic Places, a roster that includes 90,000 other properties. Only 2,500 places are National Historic Landmarks.
A bill that Rep. Juan Vargas introduced last year received unanimous support by a congressional committee back in November. The Senate didn’t take up the bill, forcing Vargas introduced it once again in the first week of January.
“The designation of Chicano Park as a National Historic Landmark is incredible news for the community of Barrio Logan in San Diego, the future of the park, and the many activists who throughout the years have advocated for a space where families can gather and where people can celebrate their shared cultural heritage,” Vargas said. “As a National Historic Landmark, Chicano Park will contribute to the diverse history of our nation for years and years to come. This designation will ensure that the story of our struggle and unity of the Mexican-American community in Barrio Logan will continue to be told.”
Jewell also named Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel – a San Jose church that played a crucial role in the Mexican-American civil rights movement – and Casa José Antonio Navarro, the home of political leader and defender of Tejano rights, National Historic Landmarks.