San Diego tuna industry, part three
I promised I would take you on a tour of Cesar Chavez Park (neé Crosby Street Park) a couple of miles south of downtown San Diego, in the heart of San Diego’s heavy industry comprising NASSCO ship building, the BNSF Railroad, 32nd Street Naval Base (the largest Navy base on the West Coast), and several Port of San Diego marine terminals. The area is known as Logan Heights. In its prime, it was a fascinating neighborhood of hard workers on San Diego’s Cannery Row. Sadly, Logan Heights now often tops the list of most dangerous San Diego neighborhoods.
Although I thought the park was rather small, it does have many amenities usually found in bigger parks, such as restrooms, picnic tables, sandboxes, playground equipment, and a baseball field.
There is a long pier just feet from the NASSCO shipbuilding facility, the Navy base, and several marine terminals, making it easy to watch the maritime traffic go by.
Although I did not play in the sandboxes, have a picnic, or use the playground equipment, I still had a lot of fun. That’s because I love history, and Cesar Chavez Park is full of history, literally. There is a high wall, probably ten feet high, that separates the park from the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. Attached to the wall are hundreds of tiled historical pictures creating a long mural about the history of the San Diego tuna industry, the canneries, and the community of Logan Heights. It took me about an hour to be fascinated by them and take pictures.
Logan Heights In Its Golden Years
The text below the following pictures was transcribed from the picture above. All grammar/syntax/punctuation errors were transcribed as is.
Aztec Brewery Art Ensemble adorned the ceilings and walls of the Rathskeller & Beer Tasting Room of the brewery in the early to mid 1900′s on Main Street.
Features hoop skirts, 1932 Model T car with rumble seat and white 1936 Ford, Metro Theater usherette twins, model parents of the era, neighborhood Rhythm & Blues bands and their followers.
Papa Chuey founding proprietor of Chuey’s Restaurant cashed checks & provided credit accounts for fishermen and cannery workers in hard times.
Nifty Fifties teen scene in “The Heights” spotlights Physical Education class, jitterbug dancing and positive socialization. Friendship was a true binding factor among teenagers.
Tuna boats filled with tired fishermen arrived at the tuna canneries bringing work for hopeful dockworkers and cannery workers. Their arrival meant livelihood for countless families.
This 1948 Cannery Workers group photo depicts the numbers and spirit of the work force of the various canneries of San Diego’s Cannery Row.
The “Leona C – San Diego” fishing crew portray the faces of the hard working men who in turn provided for numerous jobs for entire communities.
Logan Heights landmarks include the street car @ 5 cents per ride, Jack’s Island a triangle house, the beautiful earlier architecture of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Las Palmas night club hosted the legendary Ray Vasquez Mambo Orchestra and the Big Jay McNeely Rhythm & Blues Band.
Community social groups fostered a healthy and happy neighborhood where age gaps did not exist. Neighbors watched out for each other and provided a safety net for the youth.
Teen social clubs such as LosGallos, Los Chicanos and the Drifters comprised the Southeast Youth Council, which was sponsored by the Old Neighborhood House.
Neighborhood House provided many community programs including Rondalla musical groups for women. Lupita, far right first row, is a legend in Logan Heights.
The final text on the tiles is this:
This mural is dedicated to the people of Logan Heights that they may forever know the rich culture and history of this magnificent community. The tuna canneries were the livelihood of countless families in Logan Heights, National City, and beyond. The cannery workers were primarily Mexican American & Japanese American and the fishermen were primarily Portuguese American and Italian American. Various canneries were located at this site over the years. This unique waterfront community experienced happy times of youth clubs, streetcar rides and a long working relationship with the Port of San Diego.
Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer,
Realtor Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572
If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!