People had their pictures taken against a mural. Photo by Chris Stone
A mural at Chicano Park. Photo by Chris Stone

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell Wednesday designated 24 new National Historic Landmarks, including Chicano Park in San Diego.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell Wednesday designated 24 new National Historic Landmarks, including Chicano Park in San Diego.

The park was the site of Latino community protests in 1970 that halted construction of a California Highway Patrol office on Barrio Logan property that the city had promised to use as parkland.

The park was eventually built under the mainland end of the San Diego- Coronado Bay Bridge and is now the site of numerous community festivals.

A bill introduced by Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, that called on Jewell to study whether to make the park a landmark passed the House of Representatives last year but wasn’t taken up by the Senate. He reintroduced it last week.

“The designation of Chicano Park as a National Historic Landmark is incredible news for the community of Barrio Logan in San Diego, the future of the park, and the many activists who throughout the years have advocated for a space where families can gather and where people can celebrate their shared cultural heritage,” Vargas said.

“As a National Historic Landmark, Chicano Park will contribute to the diverse history of our nation for years and years to come,” he said. “This designation will ensure that the story of struggle and unity of the Mexican- American community in Barrio Logan will continue to be told.”

The park is part of the San Diego City Council district represented by David Alvarez.

“I am very pleased to receive the news of the National Historic Landmark designation given to Chicano Park,” Alvarez said. “Receiving this landmark status will help preserve this location for generations to come and further validate the communities’ struggle for equality and social justice.”

Among the other new landmarks are:

— the former Jackson, Mississippi, home of slain civil rights advocate Medgar Evers;

— the site where four Kent State students were fatally shot during a 1970 protest by members of the Ohio National Guard;

— the Neutra studio and residences in Los Angeles, also known as the VDL Research House, which are associated with Richard Neutra, a major figure of the 20th century modern movement in architecture; and

— Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel in San Jose, a key site in the Mexican American civil rights movement.

“These 24 new designations depict different threads of the American story that have been told through activism, architecture, music, and religious observance,” Jewell said. “Their designation ensures future generations have the ability to learn from the past as we preserve and protect the historic value of these properties and the more than 2,500 other landmarks nationwide.”

According to the Interior Department, the landmarks program recognizes “historic properties of exceptional value to the nation” and promotes the preservation efforts of federal, state and local agencies and Native American tribes, as well as those of private organizations and individuals.