On the early morning of Sunday September 16th a.d. 1810, Miguel Hidalgo Y Costilla rang the bell of his church in the town of Dolores, in the now state of Guanajuato calling the people to mass and to bear arms against the Spanish yoke of 300 years. The original bell stands now above the central balcony of the National Palace in the City of Mexico where the president rings it at exactly eleven o’clock in the evening of each September 16th in a traditional ceremony called “El Grito” – The “Cry” of Independence
Plaza and monument presented to the City of San Francisco by Lic. Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, President of the United Mexican States September 16th 1966
On May 17th, 2009 the San Francisco Chronicle ran this interesting article:
This seems like heresy, given the apartment prices around Dolores Park, but that gloriously hip plot of land connecting the Mission District to the Castro neighborhood was once deemed “cheap” enough to house the dead. According to Charles Fracchia, president emeritus of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, when Dolores Park (then Mission Dolores) was purchased by Congregation Sherith Israel for a Jewish cemetery in 1861, the area was “well out of town.” “There were virtually no residences in around the park,” he said.
Like the 15 to 20 other cemeteries in San Francisco, the graves were moved when property values got too high to justify burial grounds. (Parking lots, on the other hand …) After the city of San Francisco bought the land for nearly $300,000 in 1905, Dolores Park was briefly a refugee territory for people stranded by the 1906 earthquake and the accompanying fires.
Nowadays, the park has become the place to enjoy a sunny afternoon in the Mission. As the wide variety of park visitors indicates – from Latino families to young hipsters to Castro gays – it sits at the intersection of a number of San Francisco demographic groups. And it always has. Fracchia says that even while the park’s two statues – one the Mexican liberty bell and the other of Miguel Hidalgo, the George Washington of Mexico – speak to the Latin American heritage of the area, the immediate environs were a haven for the Irish community for much of the first half of the 20th century. The more things change, the more they remain the same.