T+L: "San Diego is becoming California's coolest city."
Written by David Amsden for Travel+Leisure:
“Walking to Chicano Park in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood, I got the distinct impression that I was lost. According to my phone’s GPS, I was less than a block away from the seven acres that locals had described to me as a stronghold of the city’s Mexican-American community. All I could see, however, was a colossal highway overpass — a sea of highway overpasses, actually. It was hard to imagine that the thing I’d come to San Diego hoping to understand — how the city is continually shaped and reshaped by its standing on the border with Mexico — would be revealed in what looked like an urban no-man’s-land.
But as I entered this imposing tangle of concrete, the atmosphere brightened. I saw majestic bands of color crawling up the gigantic pillars — dozens of intricate murals painted with the aggression of graffiti and the precision of fine art. This near-mystical constellation framed sculptures, plantings of cacti and wildflowers, a skate park, and swaths of grass where children played and people lounged at picnic tables painted in the colors of the Mexican flag.
Chicano Park evolved from an act of protest. In 1970, residents of the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood learned that the area, which had been promised to them for parkland, was set to be turned into a highway patrol station. Frustration had been mounting for decades among locals, who lost access to the waterfront when naval installations were built during World War II and, later, saw the neighborhood’s integrity suffer when it was rezoned for industry. Tired of feeling marginalized, hundreds of people occupied the land for 12 days, demanding to be heard. They were; the city backed off of its plan. In 2017, the park, which contains one of the largest collections of outdoor murals in the country, was designated a National Historic Landmark.
I didn’t know this history as I walked around. But I could feel it. A cross-cultural vibrancy percolates through San Diego in ways that are thrilling and unexpected, if a little hard to uncover. This aspect of the city is particularly potent throughout Barrio Logan, still a Mexican-American stronghold but hardly a stagnant one, as younger immigrants and transplants are changing the neighborhood in compelling ways. Earlier that day, I’d eaten a tasty lunch at ¡Salud!, a boisterous, newfangled taco shop on the main stretch of Logan Avenue, where piñata shops and galleries showing Chicano art have been joined by places like the vintage-vinyl shop Beat Box Records and the white-cube gallery BasileIE. After hanging around Chicano Park, I made my way to Border X Brewing, a Mexican craft-beer tasting room with a punkish vibe, where the Horchata Golden Stout offered yet another taste — subtle, delicious — of the ways San Diego is rediscovering and reinterpreting its heritage.”
Read the full article here.