Amazing public art is a hidden San Diego gem.

Sculpture of woman fish processor holding a large tuna. This area south of downtown was once the home of many San Diego canneries.
Sculpture of woman fish processor holding a large tuna. This area south of downtown was once the home of many San Diego canneries.

A month or two ago, during a leisurely walk from downtown to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park, I was thrilled to discover some truly amazing public artwork!

The Cannery Workers Tribute at Parque del Sol is tucked away in a place where very few people go. You’ll find it just a bit north of the Coronado Bay Bridge (which you can see in some of my photographs), near the entrance to Cesar Chavez Park.

The large gleaming sculpture honors thousands of hard-working people who were employed by San Diego’s tuna canneries decades ago. I’ve blogged about our city’s once-thriving tuna industry on several occasions. Not only was San Diego home to the world’s largest tuna fishing fleet during much of the 20th century, but numerous canneries dotted our bayside. In the 1950s, the tuna industry provided more than 17,000 local workers with a living. Many of the jobs involved cleaning and packing fish that would be shipped around the world.

According to the Port of San Diego website, this public artwork is situated in a spot where workers at a nearby cannery would take their break. “During the 1970s, former cannery maintenance worker Roberto Carrero and co-workers dug a hole and planted a small tree. This, now large, coral tree was incorporated into the artwork.”

Four bronze plaques mounted on bits of old machinery recall the history of this area and the once-thriving tuna industry. Click the plaque photos to read them.

The Cannery Workers Tribute sculpture was created in 2009 by Valerie Salatino and Nancy Moran, with assistance from Sheila Moran. It is indeed a very cool sight!

Coral tree planted by a cannery maintenance person decades ago is a feature of the Cannery Workers Tribute at Parque del Sol.
Coral tree planted by a cannery maintenance man decades ago is an important feature of the Cannery Workers Tribute at Parque del Sol.
A high arch of gleaming fish seems to rise above the nearby Coronado Bay Bridge. This public art is located in Barrio Logan, near the entrance to Cesar Chavez Park.
A high arch of gleaming fish seems to rise above the nearby Coronado Bay Bridge. This public art is located in Barrio Logan, near the entrance to Cesar Chavez Park.
Few people pass this way. This public art is definitely a hidden San Diego gem.
Few people pass this way. This public art is definitely a hidden San Diego gem.
A large catch of ocean tuna seems to burst from a basket!
A large catch of ocean tuna seems to burst from a basket!
The advent of the cannery industry in the early 1900s. For most of the 20th century, San Diego was the tuna fishing capital of the world.
The advent of the cannery industry in the early 1900s. For most of the 20th century, San Diego was the tuna fishing capital of the world.
The people included Italian, Japanese, Mexican and Portuguese fishermen, and many cannery workers. Fishing boats have no schedule. When the cannery bell rang, it was time to go to work.
The people included Italian, Japanese, Mexican and Portuguese fishermen, and many cannery workers. Fishing boats have no schedule. When the cannery bell rang, it was time to go to work.
The process was smelly and messy! For tuna to go into a sandwich or salad bowl, it often traveled up to 7000 miles!
The process was smelly and messy! For tuna to go into a sandwich or salad bowl, it often traveled up to 7000 miles!
The end of the San Diego tuna fishing era came in the 1980s, due to foreign competition, high expenses and other factors.
The end of the San Diego tuna fishing era came in the 1980s, due to foreign competition, high expenses and other factors.
Another photograph that you might enjoy.
Another photograph that you might enjoy.
An arch of abundant fish above tuna cannery workers. Public artwork that honors an important chapter in San Diego's history.
An arch of abundant fish above tuna cannery workers. Public artwork that honors an important chapter in San Diego’s history.

UPDATE!

I took additional photos on a later walk past the park…

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

4 thoughts on “Amazing public art is a hidden San Diego gem.”

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