The Barrio Logan area, found adjacent to downtown San Diego, is one of San Diego’s oldest chicano communities, having faced a variety of cultural and economic change over the decades.It was originally called East End during the 1880s and later renamed to Logan Heights in 1905. As the years progressed the United States faced much change and Logan Heights changed with it. As a result of the Mexican Revolution, the America became subject to a wave of immigrants attempting to liberate themselves from their country’s poor economy and political turmoil. This marked the beginning of the area’s physical and cultural transformation and was soon renamed, again, Barrio Logan. Furthermore, the history of the land where Barrio Logan rests prior to World War II was entirely residential up until 1920 when a navy dock and fleet repair base was established, this was the first step into the community becoming industrialized. Post-WWII brought about drastic change for the Logan Heights area with the shift to a more industrialized economy. Since Barrio Logan was along the San Diego coast, it became the prime location for trade and industrial growth. Industries and corporations slowly began taking over the residential areas and town of Barrio Logan, altering its physical appearance and sense of community. As the years progressed, the people of Barrio Logan continued to establish and promote their culture throughout the area, in the form of art, cuisine, music and more. Barrio Logan is a community of people who are proud of their cultural heritage and strive to keep it alive on a daily basis
Backstory and Context
Barrio Logan was primarily a residential area up until World War ll. Between the years 1910-1920, there was a large wave of Mexican immigrants that entered the US on permanent visas, with half a million in 1920 alone. Some of these immigrants settled in what is now Barrio Logan. Prior to being industrialized Barrio Logan was primarily a residential neighborhood. The land where Barrio Logan resides now had been granted to the government by Alonzo Horton who had purchased 960 acres of land in what is not San Diego County. Some of this land had been set aside to bring a transcontinental railroad to San Diego but the project never went through. Barrio Logan was bound to end up in the government's hands and on September 3, 1919, the city of San Diego gave the US government 21 acres of water and 77.2 acres of land to build a docking fleet repair base all which are on the outskirts of Barrio Logan. On February 15, 1921, the US government gave this land to the Navy, this was the beginning of a large industrial presence in the Barrio Logan community. By 1940 Logan Heights housed one of the biggest Mexican American communities in California.The Barrio Logan area of Logan Heights first gained its name around 1910, with the arrival of refugees who were displaced by the Mexican Revolution. Some of the oldest established residential buildings in the Barrio Logan area were built in the 1880’s, and feature Italianate, Folk Victorian, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival style architecture. The architecture shifted in the early 1900’s to feature Craftsman Bungalows, False Front Commercial, and Mission Revival style housing. Some notable historical buildings in Barrio Logan include the New Mexico Tortilla Factory at 1784-86 Newton Ave. (est. 1929) and the tortillaria and restaurant at 1857 Logan Ave., which are both still owned and run by their respective establishing families. The Barrio Logan area was initially a residential area that had access to the beaches of San Diego Bay, but this beach access was restricted during World War II when the Naval Base expanded and additional Military buildings were established on the waterfront.
The neighborhood experienced an increase in industrial areas throughout the 1950s and 60s due to rezoning the city from a residential zone to an industrial one, resulting in the degradation of the city. NASSCO was founded in 1905 and moved into the neighborhood during World War II and got into the shipbuilding business. The base was redesignated as a U.S. Naval Repair Base in 1943 and continued until the war ended. Much of the economy in the area was dictated by the base. Because of the area was rezoned, it got an influx of junkyards and eventually lost a huge portion of its residents due to the construction of the Interstate 5 freeway and loss of housing. Today the industry of Barrio Logan is beginning to shift from big industries to include more locally owned restaurants, breweries, stores, and art galleries due to relatively low rent. The area gets comparisons to a nearby neighborhood named North Park.
Barrio Logan’s transformation into an art inspired neighborhood came about due to the the Coronado Bridge’s encroachment of its highway cutting through the city; furthermore, this allowed the expression of artists in the form of murals, art galleries, and culinary expression . For instance, when talking about the murals at Chicano Park they are the world’s most expensive murals in relation to Chicano art and culture. The art can be seen ranging from the revolutionaries of Mexico a throwback to the initial population migration of the fleeing refugees of the Mexican Civil War in the early 1920s to contemporary Chicano activists such as Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. Furthermore, Chicano Park also itself holds significant cultural value to the residents of the neighborhood who fought tirelessly for their right to the park that their city had promised, and as a result, created an attitude and tireless spirit in Barrio Logan to fight for what is right and preserve their land. In terms of cuisine Barrio Logan has several restaurants but among the most popular remains Las Cuatro Milpas a restaurant founded during the inception of Barrio Logan that cooks using a traditional method of frying everything in pig lard retaining the traditional aspect on preserving family recipes. Lastly with limited space in Barrio Logan and abandoned lots becoming prevalent rather than scarce many residents began turning these lots into art galleries such as La Bodega which now holds music nights, exhibitions, and many more events.
San Diego Tourism Authority. Barrio Logan A Hidden Hub for Art. SanDiego.org. . Accessed October 31, 2018. https://www.sandiego.org/articles/downtown/barrio-logan.aspx.
Schoenherr. Barrio Logan in San Diego. December 04, 2000. Accessed October 31, 2018. http://history.sandiego.edu/GEN/projects/178/barriologan00.html.
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