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EARTH DAY, CHICANO PARK, AND THE URBAN PARK MOVEMENT

NEWSLETTER FALL 2006

Earth Day, Chicano Park, and the Urban Park MovementApril 22, 1970, is special day because it marks the birthday of both Earth Day and Chicano Park in San Diego, California, an early victory in the urban park movement. This year we are celebrating the greening of the Los Angeles River with healthy parks, schools, and communities through an Earth Caravan/Caravan de la Tierra in Los Angeles. The caravan stops will include El Río de Los Angeles State Historic Park along the L.A. River, Ford Park in Bell Gardens, and MacArthur Park in Pico Union, and end at the new Chiparaki Cultural Center at the Los Angeles State Historic Park at the Cornfield.

Groups in the caravan include Anahuak Youth Soccer Association, Asociacion de Fraternidades Guatemaltecas, Center for Law in the Public Interest, Chiparaki, Earth Day Network, Eco Maya, KIPP: LAPREP, Mujeres de la Tierra, William C. Velásquez, and Youth Empowered Scholastic Sport Services.

Chicano Park, like Los Angeles State Historic Park, El Río de Los Angeles State Park, Baldwin Hills Park, and Ascot Hills Park, reflect the struggles, hopes, and triumphs of communities coming together for equal justice, democracy, and livability for all. The history of Chicano Park is the future of the great new urban parks in the Heritage Parkscape linking recreational, public art, cultural, environmental, and educational sites in Los Angeles.

Chicano Park was founded on April 22, 1970, when the community of Barrio Logan joined activists to protest the construction of a Highway Patrol station on the present site of the 8 acre park. The community had already been degraded by the demolition of hundreds of homes to make way for Interstate 5, toxic industries and junkyards, and the lack of community facilities, good schools, jobs, and medical or social services.

Protesters took over the site and faced police and bulldozers for days while negotiations took place that resulted in the creation of the park. The park victory led to the creation of a Chicano Free Clinic, now known as the Logan Heights Family Health Center, and the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.

Public art in the public park includes murals by Latino artists including Victor Ochoa, Mario Torero, Yolanda Lopez, José Montoya, Sal Barajas, Juanishi Orozco, Berenice Badillo, Carmen Linares, and many others portraying social, political and cultural issues. The park was designated an official historic site by the San Diego Historical Site Board in 1980, and its murals were officially recognized as public art by the San Diego Public Advisory Board in 1987. There is currently a movement to have the park listed on the National Register of Historic Places.