SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today the relocation of the Mexico Liberty Bell at Mission Dolores Park. The Bell will be placed an estimate of 25 feet east from its current location. The new location will allow the area to be leveled and become ADA accessible. The relocation of the Mexico Liberty Bell is part the $12.4 million Mission Dolores Park Improvement renovation. The construction began March, 2014, and is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2015.
“The relocation of the Bell is emblematic of the way this entire project has been conducted – with reverence for the past and an eye toward the future” said District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener.
According to the Historical Resources Evaluation (HRE), in 1966, a replica of the “Mexican Liberty Bell” was installed in the park. Prior to installation of the bell, Adolfo G. Dominguez, Consul General of Mexico, presented the historical background of the Liberty Bell offered to the city, stating, “It was a replica of the bell which had been rung by Father Miguel Hidalgo on the morning of September 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores when the Mexican people were seeking their independence from Spain.” The bell was unveiled on 16 September 1966 and was presented by Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, president of the United Mexican States. The plaza in which the bell is situated was designed by architect Donald Clark, whose drawings showed “the mounted bell in an attractively landscaped plaza, 50’ x 100’, which would be installed by the Mexican Government at no cost to the city.” Both the plaza and bell remain extant.
“We are excited to preserve the Mexico Liberty Bell, and the new location will increase its visibility at Mission Dolores Park where everyone can be reminded of San Francisco’s enriching history,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager.
In addition, the HRE reports that the Mission District thrived as a self-contained European-American ethnic community until the close of World War II. As veterans returned from the war, many moved to the newly developed housing tracts in the Parkside and Sunset neighborhoods, as well as Marin County and the Peninsula. As the European-Americans left the Mission District, they were gradually replaced by Salvadoran, Mexican, and Nicaraguan immigrants who were attracted to the area’s inexpensive rents and established Catholic parishes. From the 1950s through the 1970s, the continued influx of Latino immigrants transformed the Mission District into San Francisco’s largest predominantly Latino neighborhood.5 This was symbolized in part by the installation of the statue of Manuel Hidalgo and the Mexican Liberty Bell in the Mission Dolores Park during the 1960s.
For nearly a century San Franciscans have enjoyed the 13.7-acres of recreational opportunities provided by Mission Dolores Park. To help keep up with the use of the park and make much-needed infrastructure improvements, San Francisco voters approved the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, a $185 million general obligation bond that includes bond funding to improve Mission Dolores Park.
The Mission Dolores Park Improvement focuses on improvements to park facilities, sports areas, and the general infrastructure. The improvement includes the repair and renovation of the courts, field, and play area; restoration of existing roads and pathways; upgrades to subsurface infrastructure, irrigation and lighting, modifications to the site to remove barriers and improve accessibility; overall reconditioning of the park landscape. In addition, building changes include the removal of the existing restroom building and the two storage containers as well as the construction of three new buildings.