This three-acre urban park sits in the heart of Houston’s Second Ward, across the street from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Originally built in 1988 as a zócalo-style performance venue for the adjacent Mercado de Sol retail development. The Mercado closed in 1988, after which Guadalupe Plaza Park went through a period of neglect and decline until its renovation was included in a 2012 federal grant application. SWA Group completed a concept drawing in response to community member’s request for a safe, shaded park. Just one block east of the park is the Esplanade at Navigation Boulevard. Together, these two public spaces commemorate the Latino heritage of Houston’s Second Ward.
The park layout is organized via a rectilinear grid, emphasized by allées of trees that include live oaks, red oaks, crepe myrtles, lacebark elm, and desert willow in grass or gravel beds. The predominant paving material is concrete with stone paving accents. A plaque at the foot of a singular, large pecan tree memorializes Eli Escobar, a young boy killed by police shooting in 2003. Additional interpretive signage can be found throughout the park, describing the historical timeline, community leaders, and centers of Mexican-American culture in the Second Ward neighborhood. The park’s most prominent feature is the arcade and plaza. Rectangular stucco columns supporting a wooden beam roof create a double arcade that provides spatial definition and encloses a plaza on three sides. The fourth side opens onto a splash pad. Original to the site’s earlier Mercado de Sol development, a tiered, Spanish-Colonial style fountain anchors the splash pad to the south. Today, the park is maintained by the East End District and City of Houston Parks Department.