Barrio Logan

Barrio Logan is a predominantly Mexican/Chicano, low income, working class community located south of Downtown San Diego, north of National City and west of the Interstate 5 freeway. It is home to the national treasure Chicano Park, which is the site of the largest collection of outdoor murals in the world. The people that make up the community of Barrio Logan have a long history of standing up and defending their culture and civil rights.

Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Paul “Paulie” Torres

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Paul “Paulie” Torres

by Maria Garcia 08.30.2014 Culture

By Maria Garcia

Paul “Paulie” Torres is a retired longshoreman who attended Neighborhood House from 1947 to 1954. His family moved to Logan Heights from the Little Italy area of San Diego. Paulie says there was a little barrio located in the Little Italy area with several Mexican families living there. Little Italy was in the proximity of the canneries and as far as Mexicans could live in the downtown vicinity–Point Loma to the north was the dividing line where whites and ethnic Europeans lived.

Like many others, Paulie had heard stories about the Logan Heights guys and felt intimidated when he first moved there. Within a short period of time, Paulie fit right in with the other boys who called Neighborhood House their other home. He states in a straightforward manner that the reason everyone called it Neighborhood House was because everyone in the neighborhood went there. He recalls the boys sitting there on the steps, talking, laughing, hanging out for as long as they could.

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Art Crawl Once Again Takes Over Barrio Logan

Barrio Art Crawl Once Again Takes Over Barrio Logan

by Brent E. Beltrán 08.28.2014 Arts

San Diego’s Last Bastion of Grassroots Art Spaces Join Forces for Monthly Series

By Brent E. Beltrán

On Saturday, August 30 the various arts venues in Barrio Logan will join together for another Barrio Art Crawl. The Crawl is a self-guided tour of open studios, galleries, and local businesses within the Barrio Arts District. The Barrio Art Crawl was initially created for the Barrio Arts District by the operators of The Roots Factory.

Participating venues in this installment of the Barrio Art Crawl include Border X Brewing/SD Taco Co., Chicano Art Gallery, Chicano Park, La Bodega, La Esquina, Pop-Up Art Gallery at Fuller Lighting, The Church, The Glashaus, The Roots Factory, The Yard at Stronghold Collective, Union Barrio Logan and Woodbury School of Architecture. Each venue will have either visual art, music, food or a mixture of all.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized” Part II

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized” Part II

by Maria Garcia 08.23.2014 Editor's Picks

From the Toltec Club to the election of Pete Chacon and la lucha to get there

By Maria Garcia

Last week’s article introduced readers to Leonard Fierro, who grew up in Logan Heights, attended Neighborhood House in the 1930′s and upon returning from World War II began shaping and chronicling the history of Mexican Americans in San Diego. It is Leonard who wrote “We had just fought the war for liberty and justice and when we came home we found we didn’t have it in our city.”

The problems and frustrations of the Latino community had been constantly there, as noted in so many of the prior interviews, but it wasn’t until the establishment of the Toltec Club that political involvement was seen as the remedy to discrimination. The Toltec Club was initially envisioned as a social club with dances. The resistance members faced transformed it into a forerunner of the Chicano movement and laid the foundation for the political activism of the 1960′s.

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Thumbnail image for A Trail for Humanity’s Final Walk Begins in Chicano Park

A Trail for Humanity’s Final Walk Begins in Chicano Park

by At Large 08.18.2014 Activism

Exclusive San Diego Free Press video package of the Barrio Logan portion of the 300+ mile pilgrimage to the border

Video by Horacio Jones

On the morning of Saturday, August 16 over 100 people gathered by the temescal (sweat lodge) in Chicano Park for a ceremony to honor the walkers of A Trail for Humanity. On July 22 a group of women and children left Merced, California on a journey south to the US-Mexico border in San Ysidro to pressure the Obama administration to put a halt to its deportation enforcement only policies; call for an end to the use of police as immigration enforcement agents; demand an end to family separations; and stem the tide of racial profiling that has incarcerated so many migrants and African Americans.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized,” Part I

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized,” Part I

by Maria Garcia 08.16.2014 Activism

The Castro Sisters, Frank Peñuelas, Leonard Fierro and the beginnings of the Toltec Club

By Maria Garcia

One of the goals of the settlement house movement, which was established in urban centers at the beginning of the twentieth century, was to “Americanize” the immigrant populations that had settled in those cities. When Neighborhood House was established in 1914 as the only United States settlement house on the Mexican border, its role was to “uplift” Mexican immigrants in the Logan Heights community and Americanize them in doing so.

The Americanization process included everything from introducing Mexican families to white flour and white bread to the provision of the first English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in the city to support for cultural, social and recreational activities in which athletics programs for the boys were particularly prominent.

When I recently spoke to Rose Castro, she provided a particularly illuminating comment about Neighborhood House–”They taught us leadership!” …

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Thumbnail image for A Trail for Humanity Comes to San Diego

A Trail for Humanity Comes to San Diego

by Brent E. Beltrán 08.14.2014 Activism

Marchers take a stand against violence targeting migrant women and children

By Brent E. Beltrán

On July 22 a group of mothers and their children began a journey from Merced, California to the U.S./Mexico border. This Saturday at 7am they will be at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan for the final leg of their pilgrimage.

After a ceremony at Chicano Park participants in A Trail for Humanity will leave around 8am and walk to Kimball Park in National City. From there they will be transported by vehicle to the MAAC Charter School in Chula Vista where they will have lunch.

After lunch and a brief rest they will continue their journey on foot to Larsen Field in San Ysidro. They will arrive at the park sometime between 3pm and 4pm where a rally will take place with speakers on immigration rights, danza Azteca and entertainment.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Garden Parties at the Marston House and Other Fundraising

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Garden Parties at the Marston House and Other Fundraising

by Maria Garcia 08.09.2014 Culture

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

Neighborhood House, like other settlement houses throughout the country, was established through largely philanthropic efforts with the intent of social reform. Its goals were “To understand its Mexican neighbors; to interpret the needs of the community; to perform the intimate and friendly service of a good neighbor; to direct needed educational and recreational work. ”

Funds were initially raised by the College Women’s Club. Neighborhood House, upon its incorporation as a private non-profit in 1914, became a charter member of the Community Chest, the precursor of today’s United Way. It would depend upon an extensive network of donors and continued philanthropic efforts to maintain its presence in Logan Heights.

The local history of Neighborhood House is in many ways the history of prominent San Diegans. In the early years of the Neighborhood House the fundraisers held in the beautiful gardens of the Marston House were a main source of revenue.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights:  Emma Lopez

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Emma Lopez

by Maria Garcia 08.02.2014 Culture

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

Emma Lopez is a spunky lady who will turn eighty-eight in November. She was born at 821 Beardsley in Logan Heights and started attending Neighborhood House when she was around nine years old, in the early 1930′s. Her parents owned the Neighborhood Café which they had purchased in 1935. The Neighborhood Café was next door to Neighborhood House. Like the others interviewed Emma has very fond memories not only of Neighborhood House but of the Logan Heights community.

It has been very difficult finding women who attended Neighborhood House. Unlike the boys who spent most of their day at Neighborhood House the girls took a specific class and then went home. Emma’s participation in Neighborhood House activities reflected that social expectation. While she was allowed to attend activities at a young age as she got into her mid-teens her participation was more limited. Emma’s independent streak, however, exposed her to a few more adventures than other girls of that time.

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Thumbnail image for Premiere Video Learning Tool Gives Power Back to the Communities

Premiere Video Learning Tool Gives Power Back to the Communities

by At Large 07.31.2014 Activism

Environmental Health Coalition Launches “Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Community Planning to Overcome Injustice”

By Environmental Health Coalition

On Monday, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an organization fighting toxic pollution in San Diego and Tijuana, released its video learning tool to empower residents to speak up and advocate for positive changes to their communities. Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Community Planning to Overcome Injustice is a bilingual video demonstrating the impacts of discriminatory land-use in San Diego and teaching community members how to achieve environmental justice in seven empowering steps.

This series of strategic planning techniques has led to great successes for low-income communities of color in San Diego. In Old Town National City, this process guided residents to provide input and influence policy in their community to achieve a collective vision. In 2006, residents successfully advocated for adoption of an ordinance to phase out heavy polluters from a predominately residential area in close proximity to a local elementary school. In 2010, the city implemented the Westside Specific Plan, bringing affordable housing units within walking distance of public transit and vastly improving the quality of life in Westside National City.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary Hart Taylor and the Health Clinic, 1914 to 1938

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary Hart Taylor and the Health Clinic, 1914 to 1938

by Maria Garcia 07.26.2014 Activism

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

For over two decades Mary Hart Taylor directed the health clinic and various core health programs at Neighborhood House. She was well liked and respected by the community. It was a well-known fact in Logan Heights that if your child became ill in the middle of the night, you knocked on Miss Taylor’s door and you would be allowed in or she would follow you to your home to administer medical advice and care.

One of the reasons that Neighborhood House was established was to address the high mortality rate of Mexican children in Logan Heights.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary and Helen Marston

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary and Helen Marston

by Maria Garcia 07.12.2014 Culture

The Marston family history is synonymous with the history of San Diego. Volumes have been written about their philanthropy and their contributions to the history of San Diego. For those of us that grew up in San Diego, we remember the Marston Department Store. My biggest memory of the department store is of the escalator and the smell of perfume.

I am sure we never bought one thing there. Despite her fear of escalators, my mother would take us there for the express purpose of riding the escalator. It was our simple version of the “E” ride at Disneyland. We would walk around the store, go up to the second floor and ride the escalator down with that beautiful smell greeting us at about the halfway point. In my mind the “Marston” name and “rich” are one and the same.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Joe Serrano

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Joe Serrano

by Maria Garcia 07.05.2014 Culture

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

From the moment Joe Serrano tasted bread for the first time he loved it. Until he attended kindergarten at Neighborhood House in the 1920′s Joe had never eaten bread. He remembers their snack of milk and bread coming from Mike Amador’s store, right across the street. I have surmised that there was some type of an arrangement between the Neighborhood House and Mr. Amador.

After kindergarten at Neighborhood House, Joe attended Burbank Elementary. His principal was Miss Barbara. If students did not behave, Miss Barbara would put her hands on your shoulders and dig her rather long fingernails right into your skin. Even today, almost 80 years later, Joe remembers when a black woman came to enroll her son at Burbank and was told by Miss Barbara that her son would have to have to go to “their” school–Logan Elementary, which was a mere three blocks away.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Dr. Armando Rodriguez and Bea Serrano Rodriguez

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Dr. Armando Rodriguez and Bea Serrano Rodriguez

by Maria Garcia 06.28.2014 Culture

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

Armando and Bea Rodriguez welcomed me into their home to look at old newspapers clippings about Neighborhood House that I had brought. Those clippings set off a conversation filled with memories and untold stories from the 1930’s and 1940’s. One of the pictures that received the most attention was taken at a party at the Marston House. The Marston family played a seminal role in providing both financial support to Neighborhood House and direction. Their garden parties were particularly memorable.

A group of dancers in traditional Mexican dress are all lined up together in one of the clippings. I had no idea who the dancers were other than boys and girls from the Neighborhood House. Much to my surprise, Bea states “Oh my God, that’s my sister and me.” Taking a closer look, the boy with a zarape over his shoulder and a fake mustache was indeed a girl. Bea and her sister Consuelo were the dance partners.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Bill Breitenstein, Athletics Director

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Bill Breitenstein, Athletics Director

by Maria Garcia 06.21.2014 Culture

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

This history of Neighborhood House has introduced readers to some of the programs and activities that placed this organization firmly at the center of life in the Logan Heights community in the 1920′s and 30′s. Past articles have referred to the popularity of formal sports training at Neighborhood House, particularly for baseball. Neighborhood athletes were coached, provided with the required equipment and could participate in tournaments. The team was a source of enthusiastic neighborhood pride.

The Neighborhood House baseball team provided children with tremendous opportunities while it also exposed them to discrimination, as the recent interview with Dr. Bareño revealed. Memories of Coach Bill Breitenstein are inextricably intertwined with the accounts of so many people I have interviewed for this series. Mr. Breitenstein died in 1928, but his influence was felt well into the 1930′s. This “shining star,” as Dr. Bareño called him, deserves a special place in the history of Neighborhood House.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights : John Bareño, 1930′s

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights : John Bareño, 1930′s

by Maria Garcia 06.14.2014 Activism

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria E. Garcia

One conversation about Neighborhood House always leads to another. When I told Kiko I was working on a research paper about Neighborhood House he told me “You have to talk to John Bareño.” “Kiko” is Frank Peralta, one of the people who spearheaded the effort to construct a war memorial in Chicano Park. I took Kiko’s advice and on a Thursday in May I drove to Spring Valley to interview Dr. Bareño in his home.

I found a man with a wealth of information about Logan Heights, baseball, discrimination and Neighborhood House. Dr. Bareño was born in Loreto, Baja California. His father had been offered $500.00 to move the family to Mexicali. They were going to work picking cotton there.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: 1930′s, the Maids’ Story, Art Classes and More about Summer Camp

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: 1930′s, the Maids’ Story, Art Classes and More about Summer Camp

by Maria Garcia 06.07.2014 Columns

Part of the ongoing series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

The Maids’ Class

During the 1930’s a maids’ training program came to Neighborhood House. It was established under the Adult Education Department at San Diego State University. This portion of the paper was very difficult to write in the 1970′s when I was doing my first research on Neighborhood House. My first reaction was to jump up and feel anger that these women had been put in such a class. I have had to evaluate my biases and try to put myself in the place of young girls and women of the 1930’s who needed employment. I also reviewed pictures of their graduation to try and understand their point of view and sense of accomplishment.

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Thumbnail image for 2014 Primaries: It’s #Ididnotvote by a Landslide

2014 Primaries: It’s #Ididnotvote by a Landslide

by Doug Porter 06.04.2014 2014 June Primary

By Doug Porter

Yesterday San Diego non-voters elected a district attorney personally embroiled in a criminal case, a county clerk supported by anti-gay bigots and a supervisor known for using taxpayer dollars to support religious causes. Call it a resounding victory for apathy and a defeat for advocates of the two tier/jungle primary voting system as a near-record low number (I’m guessing 22%) of voters cast ballots.

Approximately 12% of the city’s registered voters agreed with a corporate campaign almost completely based on lies to overturn a five-year-long community planning process. Incumbents were triumphant everywhere.

There will be runoff elections in November for San Diego City Council District 6 between Carol Kim and Chris Cate, the 52nd Congressional District between Carl DeMaio and Scott Peters, along with Mary Salas versus Jerry Rindone vying for the Mayor in Chula Vista. A stealth campaign by teahadist Donna Woodrum for a seat on the San Diego Community College Board failed to unseat Maria Nieto Senour.

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Thumbnail image for Junco’s Jabs: San Diego’s Maritime Industry Feeding at the Electoral Trough

Junco’s Jabs: San Diego’s Maritime Industry Feeding at the Electoral Trough

by Junco Canché 06.03.2014 2014 June Primary
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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Angel Negrete, the 1930′s

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Angel Negrete, the 1930′s

by Maria Garcia 05.31.2014 Activism

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria E. Garcia

Mr. and Mrs. Angel Negrete were kind enough to invite me to their home to discuss his memories of Neighborhood House. Most of Mr. Negrete’s memories are from the 1930’s. He asked me several times why I wanted to interview him. He is one of the most modest men I have had the privilege of interviewing.

Mr. Negrete learned wrestling at Neighborhood House. It was a skill that he took to San Diego High School, where he became Southern California Champion. Their team went to San Francisco for this event and he remembered it was “a big deal.” Later in the late 1940’s he would become a volunteer wrestling coach at Neighborhood House.

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Thumbnail image for “Yes” on B & C is the Way to Support the Barrio Logan Community

“Yes” on B & C is the Way to Support the Barrio Logan Community

by Ernie McCray 05.30.2014 2014 June Primary

By Ernie McCray

Here we go. Same old same old politics in San Diego. The “Big Boys” have to get their way. They want us to vote “No” in opposition to a plan that was created to make a community healthy and safe. And mayor, Kevin Faulconer, who has billed himself as an “independent” leader, has, as such, been going around talking about how when Propositions B & C are voted down, “it will be our opportunity to pass a plan that works to protect our families, to protect our economy.”

Hey, dude, we already have a plan to keep toxics, pollutants, carcinogens and flammable chemicals, a safe distance away from Barrio Logan schools, playgrounds, and homes. So what does your plan look like? Oh, you don’t have one? And a new plan can’t happen for at least a year?

The Barrio Logan community worked diligently for years to bring about reasonable land use and zoning changes and it happened. It’s on the books right now. There’s a five-block buffer zone that bans new residential and industrial suppliers, while allowing such existing uses to remain in place and expand by no more than 20 percent.

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Thumbnail image for One-Day Art Show Highlights Fight Against Toxic Pollution in Barrio Logan

One-Day Art Show Highlights Fight Against Toxic Pollution in Barrio Logan

by Source 05.29.2014 Activism

“Until Our Last Breath” features more than 20 barrio artists at Chicano Art Gallery

By Mia Bolton

Artists, residents and friends of Barrio Logan, with the help of Chicano Art Gallery, join forces this Saturday for a one-night-only art exhibit to tell the story of how corporate greed and pollution affect the health of Barrio Logan community members.

The exhibit, Until Our Last Breath: Barrio Artistas Contra San Diego’s Toxic Maritime Industry, features original paintings, drawings and sculpture from local artists and many Chicano Park muralists, such as Victor Ochoa, Mario Torero, Berenice Badillo, Armando Nuñez, Stephanie Cecilia Cervantes, Hector Villagas, Patricia Aguayo, Mario Chacon and Isaias Crow.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Construction of a Community Oven

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Construction of a Community Oven

by Maria Garcia 05.24.2014 Activism

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria E. Garcia

In the 1930’s many of the homes around Neighborhood House did not have the facilities for the women to bake. Mr. Tijerina, an unemployed baker who lived at 4650 Cersa Street, volunteered his services. He reconstructed an oven in the yard at Neighborhood House. With the help of other men in the neighborhood, they dismantled an oven, which had been used in an old bake house near Neighborhood House. The bricks from the oven were donated by Mrs. P.J. Benbough. The only cost to Neighborhood House was twenty-five cents for a bar of angle iron that was used over the oven door.

The oven offered the women opportunity to bake and to once again gather and socialize and in today’s parlance, network.

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan Residents Spoil Mayor’s Pro-Pollution Presser

Barrio Logan Residents Spoil Mayor’s Pro-Pollution Presser

by Brent E. Beltrán 05.22.2014 Activism

Desde la Logan columnist amongst “hecklers”

By Brent E. Beltrán

Oops, we did it again.

A handful of Barrio Logan residents, including artist Hector Villegas, my wife Olympia, my son Sandino and myself, gave Mayor Faulconer, ex-Mayor and current corporate shill Jerry Sanders and shipyard mouthpiece Len Hering a piece of our minds and vocal chords at a press conference against Propositions B and C and the Barrio Logan Community Plan.

The press conference took place outside City Hall and was attended by the same suits that have been speaking out against the plan for months. Except this time they didn’t bus in shipyard workers.

Having received a tip, from someone close to the No on B and C campaign, an hour before the presser Hector and my family decided to take action. Olympia made a couple of handmade signs for her and Dino to hold. I brought dust masks to wear as a symbol of Barrio Logan pollution and Hector brought the respirator that he uses while painting.

We got there a few minutes before the press conference started and saw the suits lingering around. When the Mayor showed up we knew it was about to start and we were ready.

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Thumbnail image for Junco’s Jabs: Jerry Sanders and Kevin Faulconer Share Their Disdain for Barrio Logan Residents

Junco’s Jabs: Jerry Sanders and Kevin Faulconer Share Their Disdain for Barrio Logan Residents

by Junco Canché 05.19.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Junco Canché

San Diego Free Press introduces our first editorial cartoonist: Junco Canché! Junco has lived in the San Diego/Tijuana border region his entire life and currently resides in the city of San Diego in the South Bay right next door to Imperial Beach. His cartoons have been featured prominently at Southwestern College’s The Sun newspaper and now shares his work here at San Diego Free Press. Please welcome him by posting your comments below.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Jane Addams and the 1930′s

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Jane Addams and the 1930′s

by Maria Garcia 05.17.2014 Activism

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria E. Garcia

Jane Addams was born in 1860 to a prosperous Northern Illinois family. As a young child she had tuberculosis of the spine. This health problem would affect her the rest of her life. Her father was a founding member of the Republican Party. Her dream of becoming a doctor died after her first year of medical school due to health problems and a nervous breakdown. So why would this woman who wanted to be a doctor and came from a rather wealthy family have any role or influence in San Diego, California? Why would she have any roots in a settlement house in the middle of a Mexican Barrio?

In 1887 she read a magazine article about a settlement house. It became her dream to establish one. She and her close friend Ellen Gates opened Hull House in Chicago. Many women who came from wealthy families and were in the college in the 1920’s developed a similar interest and involvement. College had made them progressive in their thinking. They had a sincere interest in social issues as well as a desire to help immigrants and the less fortunate.

This social philosophy took root in San Diego among various educated, wealthy women who included Helen Marston.

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