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Once upon a time in North Park: A brief history of Bird Park

In 1902, Samuel Parsons, president of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the superintendent of Central Park in New York City, accepted a commission to design San Diego’s city park. When taken for a tour of the vast, undeveloped area that had been set aside, Parsons became lyrical about the view from the northeast corner of the park that became the corner of 28th and Upas streets.

Standing there, he compared the view of the Coronado Islands to the “stately pleasure dome of Xana Du decreed by Kubla Khan.” The corner was, for years thereafter, called “Parsons’ Gate.”

Despite Samuel Parsons’s identification of the northeast corner of what would be Balboa Park as having one of the best views in the entire park, that corner would be one of the last areas to be developed. It would be 95 years before Parsons’s vision would become Bird Park.

In 1992, the East Mesa Precise Plan (EMPP) published by the City of San Diego called for a new children’s park on the land south of Upas Street between 28th Street and Pershing Drive. Questions were raised, meetings were called and the traffic study outline in the EMPP was revised to the satisfaction of the city engineers and the residents of Pershing and 28th streets. The Pershing spur was closed in order to prevent fast-moving Pershing Drive traffic from entering Pershing Street at high speed. Additionally, at the five-way intersection of 28th, Pershing and Upas streets – the entrance to the narrow 28th Street – was closed with the same intent. Construction began on Bird Park based upon a designed created by local artist Robin Brailsford.

Read the full story in San Diego Uptown News, a SDGLN media partner, HERE.