By GIGI KRIEGSMANN, age 11

Located underneath the Coronado Bridge in San Diego, Chicano Park is filled with vibrant murals and a rich history.
Located underneath the Coronado Bridge in San Diego, Chicano Park is filled with vibrant murals and a rich history. PHOTO: kellinahandbasket/Flickr

On April 22, 1970, Mario Solis found out that bulldozers were going to create a parking lot for a highway patrol station under the Coronado Bridge in San Diego. The bridge, with its on-ramps and concrete pillars, was built in 1963 and had already torn into their community. A student at San Diego City College, Solis informed his classmates and went door to door, passing out flyers to alert the community. At the end of the day, 200 to 300 people joined him in a protest to build a park instead, and were able to take over the land by forming a human chain. Chicano student organizations from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles came to offer their support.

On May 1, 1970, the assistant city manager of San Diego, Meno Wilhelms, stated that the land needed to be cleared of demonstrators to reach an agreement. For the next few months, negotiations went on between Wilhelms, the city and the state. On May 23, the bill was signed by then-Governor Ronald Reagan to develop a park.

After getting the rights to paint on structures of the bridge, artists began to create murals. The Colossus, one of the most popular murals, supports the exit ramp from the Coronado Bay Bridge onto Interstate 5 South.

Every year, Chicano Park Day is celebrated on April 23. This year’s theme is “Empowering Our Youth, Ensuring Our Traditions Live On.” The students at San Diego City College were young when they protested and founded Chicano Park. This is inspiring for the next generation of visitors to Chicano Park.

The Colossus, one of the most popular murals in the park, supports the exit ramp from the Coronado Bay Bridge onto Interstate 5 South.
The Colossus, one of the most popular murals in the park, supports the exit ramp from the Coronado Bay Bridge onto Interstate 5 South. PHOTO: Nathan Gibbs/Flickr