San Diego’s Chicano Park, Part 2
On October 17, 1989, a 6.9 earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area. It is known as the Loma Prieta earthquake, named after a mountain peak near the epicenter. Many people throughout the world got to watch the earthquake live on television since it happened just before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. How ironic that the most powerful earthquake to strike San Francisco since the great 1906 earthquake would include two Bay Area major league baseball teams. Destroyed in the earthquake was Interstate 880 as it ran through Oakland. Also damaged was the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
On January 17, 1994, a 6.7 earthquake struck the Los Angeles Area. It is known as the Northridge earthquake, named after the city where many deaths and great destruction occurred. Destroyed in this earthqauke were many sections of freeways throughout the Los Angeles area, including the nation’s busiest freeway, the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10).
After the destruction caused by those two earthquakes to the many freeways used daily by millions of people, the building codes were modified to include seismic retrofitting of all bridges and freeways throughout California. That retrofitting threatened to destroy the murals of Chicano Park as it would require encasing bridge support columns in additional steel and concrete.
The people living in the areas surrounding Chicano Park fought the new retrofitting standards…. and won!
There was a community protest gathering on Saturday, March 23, 1996. The City and State were petitioned, and actually listened. Imagine that. Governments listening to its citizens [that was an editorial comment].
CalTrans engineers came up with a different method of retrofitting the columns that would leave the murals intact and visible. The picture below shows the type of retrofitting, called “hinge extensions,” used on the bridge columns in Chicano Park to keep freeway sections from separating during an earthquake, as happened in the two mentioned earthquakes.
The following graphic shows both the “hinge extensions” and the “steel casing” which would have been used on the columns in Chicano Park, forever encasing the murals in grout, steel, and concrete.
Additional pictures of the murals in San Diego’s Chicano Park are below, with the first picture being of the very first mural in Chicano Park, dating to 1974 and recently restored.
San Diego’s Chicano Park, Part 3, will be published on Wednesday, June 13.
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