Dolores Park’s Mexico Liberty Bell on the Move

The Mexico Liberty Bell. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

The Mexico Liberty Bell. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

The Mexico Liberty Bell, that imposing  bell that greets visitors entering Dolores Park from 19th Street, shall toll again, but it will do so 25 feet east of its original location.

According to the Recreation and Parks Department, the park’s Liberty Bell is being moved as part of the Mission Dolores Park Improvement renovation currently in the works. The Parks Department says the move will make the park’s 19th Street entrance ADA compliant.

From the looks of the renderings provided by the Parks Department, the bell appears to be dropping down from the top level of the 19th Street east entrance to the central terrace of the lower stairs.

Update: San Francisco Public Works is tweeting the bell’s relocation. Here’s a photo taken this afternoon (thanks to a loyal reader who sent us this tip):

 

 

But where did this bell come from? Heather Smith in her 2011 piece about the city’s Historic Resource Evaluation Report on Dolores Park gives us the back-story as well other fascinating factoids:

The report itself makes for fascinating reading. It appears to catalog the history and origin of every lamp post, Muni stop and slanted patch of dirt in the park.

Those 1,600 refugees who lived in the park after the 1906 earthquake? They paid rent to stay there. The kids’ playground? It’s shaped kind of like a wading pool because it was one, from 1909 through the 1920s. That enormous bell? Gift from the Mexican government, circa 1966. That level ground beneath the tennis courts? Thank the Barnum and Bailey Circus, which in September 1905 struck a deal with the city in which it agreed to — at its own expense — dump hundreds of carloads of clay mixed with sand into the wetlands in the northern area of the park, in exchange for the privilege of staking its circus tent there. That’s right: Fixie meadow is built on circus sand.

A press release on the bell’s relocation sent from the Parks Department today offers a little bit more:

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.

The renovations of Dolores Park, with its newly-located bell, should be wrapped up in the spring of 2015.

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2 Comments

  1. Russo

    Hey, where’s your coverage or review of the fantastic new SF Mime Troupe play?

    • Sam

      The last time they reviewed mime, several readers suffered bouts of depression, attacks of ennui and suicidal tendencies.

      They made a prudent decision not to repeat.

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