Rincon Park was More Than a Median Strip

Only one block long, Rincon is one of the oldest streets in Santa Cruz. Its name means “inside corner” which is an apt name for its gentle curve along the bottom of Mission Hill.
Only one block long, Rincon Street is home to Rincon Park.

At the end of Rincon Street in Santa Cruz, California, is a small park which today looks mostly like a landscaped median strip. But in the late 1880s, neighborhood property owners bought a triangular lot along Chestnut street from one of Santa Cruz’s early founders, A. J. Hinds, whose grand house still stands next door. The neighbors gave the lot to the city with the intention of turning it into a park.

Instead, for decades the city used the land as a kind of corporation yard and stored graders, gravel, and manure. Finally, in 1905 the Improvement Society was able to raise more private funds, and gained approval to put a sidewalk around the park. In subsequent decades, the park became a beloved public space. It was one of the first areas of Santa Cruz that visitors saw after leaving the train station at the Mission Union tunnel.

Forty years later, it was common for the newspaper to report on the latest flower blossoms of Rincon Park:
“No one loves flowers better than Joe Biondi, the city gardner. He finds time not only in making the city hall grounds one of the most beautiful spots in the city but also works on the triangular Rincon park-He is bordering the park with rows of a small pink flower unusually beautiful at the present time. He is also planting colorful mesembryanthemum [iceplant] and a lot of portulaca [purslane], now coming back to the gardens again in reds, yellows, and pinks all of the brightest colors.”

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  1. Sources Used

    • The material that is being removed Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 15, 1888.
    • Plans for the city beautiful, Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 13, 1905.
    • Flower lover engaged in planting, Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 1, 1941
    • The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, 3rd Edition. John Leighton Chase, edited by Judith Steen. Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, 2005.

About The Author

Linda Rosewood

Linda Rosewood loves to research Santa Cruz history and has lived in downtown Santa Cruz for over 30 years. She loves to walk everywhere; that way she can find the next interesting local landmark to research. She posts her discoveries at her blog, History Right Here.

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