By Lupita Peimbert.
(Culture) – As it turns out, San Francisco is hell of a lot more Hispanic and Latino than many would think, and although some would like to have Hispanics, Latinos and the Spanish language as “nada” (nothing), the city by the bay has deep ties to Hispanics and the Latino culture, all around and over the 48 hills and the 7×7 miles of this beautiful, vibrant city. Here are some pieces of evidence, in no particular order :
It has a Spanish name
Very few think much of it, but San Francisco is Spanish for Saint Francis, its name given by the explorers and colonists from Spain who founded the Presidio of San Francisco and the Mission San Francisco de Asís (now Mission Dolores) in 1776. AND the city was called Yerba Buena before, which means “good herb,” in Spanish.
It was once upon a time Mexican
Yes dude, it is true. When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, San Francisco was Mexican; but 20-something years later, in 1848 Mexico ceded the territory to the United States.
The Murals in the Mission by Latinas
Oh Dear!, lots to say about this but I’ll keep it brief. Patricia Rodriguez, Consuelo Mendez, Irene Perez, Graciela Carrillo, Susan Cervantes and other women artists and activists of Hispanic descent have had an impact in the city. In the 70s they gave street murals a new feeling; in the present time many of the artivists still are around bringing art to life and communities.
Food for the Foodies
Silly and all, but What would we all do without Tacos, Burritos, Pupusas, Chiles Rellenos, Enchiladas and long list of delicious food from Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other Latin America? Seriously. Life wouldn’t be the same. These are joyfully eaten by the millions. The pleasures brought by Hispanic and Latino food and antojitos make life better. Enough said.
Streets, Neighborhoods, and Districts:
The statue of Yoda in front of Lucas Studio at the Presidio, which was a Spanish military base at the beginning of San Francisco (Yoda knows, Yoda sees.)Divisadero St., De Haro St., Castro St., Guerrero St., Dolores St., Potrero Ave., Cesar Chavez Blvd., Sacramento St., Laguna Honda Blvd., Mission District, Yerba Buena District, Noe Valley, The Embarcadero, and The Presidio –All of them were named after a Hispanic person and/or a have a name in Spanish. The Presidio deserves a special mention: Located on the spectacular Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the Presidio was originally a Spanish military base. Now the Presidio is home to the Disney Museum, Lucas Studios, and many new neighbors, but it was at the beginning of San Francisco an area heavily populated by Spanish and people of Hispanic descent who contributed to the making of San Francisco. Yoda understands me; Yoda knows.
The Welcoming Murals on Balmy Street in the Mission D.
In the 80s, artists from all genders and sexual orientations, Latinos and those who love the Latino culture painted the walls along what is now a highly visited alley in the Mission Street: Balmy Alley or Balmy St., a colorful, full of history and full of love alley. The idea was to express solidarity to people from el Salvador and other Latin American countries seeing sanctuary in San Francisco after the horrendous civil wars. (Find it in the Mission District, on Balmy Street, starting on 24th St.)
Olmec Head in Town
Gigantic Olmec head at CCSF. Photo by Lupitanews.
A large Olmec head is the centerpiece of the Frida Kahlo Garden at City College of San Francisco. The 14-ton, 9-foot tall replica of “El Rey” (The King) San Lorenzo was created in volcanic tuff by Ignacio Perez Solano. In 2004 the governor of Veracruz Mexico presented this gift to San Franciscans. The original heads date from 900 BC and are a distinctive representation of the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica, and a treasure to humanity. (Find it inside City College of San Francisco, Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan St., in the southwest part of the city.)
Coming up on How Hispanic/Latino is San Francisco? Part II…The Murals by Diego Rivera, The woman who may have founded San Francisco but hasn’t been acknowledged as such, Latino Chefs, the first openly gay candidate was Latino, and more!Content by Lupita Peimbert.