In February I got to visit one of my dearest friends and former housemate who now lives in San Diego. After walking the Coronado beach past the ritzy, mansion-like hotel, she took me to see a very different part of the city: Bario Logan.
Barrio Logan is a neighborhood rich with Mexican culture. In 1967, the city of San Diego decided to build a bridge that would extend from Coronado to the Barrio. The structural supports on the Barrio Logan end just happened to tear apart Chicano Park that’s located in the heart of the neighborhood and a primary place where the community gathers, plays and lives life. The residents protested, but the bridge was built as planned.
Rather than suffer defeat, however, the residents got busy with their paint and creativity, converting those ugly gray concrete structures into bright, beautiful murals. Each one depicts a different aspect of Latino culture, history and resiliency.
They even built a platform stage in the center of it!
In Thin Places, Jon Huckins with Rob Yackley who live nearby talk about the significance of this bridge:
“While there is still sporadic violence in this park, it is also home to some of the most brilliant and powerful graffiti art I have ever seen. The whole base of the bridge is covered in it, and it tells a story of our city that otherwise would never be seen, heard, or understood by the majority of San Diegans. A walk through the park will unveil both the history and modern story of the joy and the struggle of living in a home away from home due to oppressive circumstances.” (p. 39)
They also note that the bridge represents the power divide across class, demographics and socioeconomic, saying:
“While their story is told through the art on the bridge, the story of this neighborhood is not well understood by most. In fact, because of its reputation, most people would never drive through it, let alone offer economic support. Every day the wealthy and powerful drive right over this park and many do not even know it’s there—let alone know its significance. It is a place of poverty and displacement for those who haven’t been accepted or haven’t been able to engage with the larger population.” (p. 40)