Originally called Marina Linear Park, the twelve-acre park began as a competition won by The Office of Peter Walker and Martha Schwartz in 1987. Dedicated as Martin Luther King Jr., Promenade in 1992, the park was implemented by successor firm Peter Walker William Johnson and Partners and opened to the public in 1997.
Adjacent to the active Santa Fe Rail and San Diego Trolley corridor, the 0.6-mile-long linear park begins in the Gaslamp Quarter and extends past the San Diego Convention Center to the Marina District. Palm and poplar allées with circular mounds of ice plants separate Harbor Drive from the railway, and two flat, pedestrian pathways run along both sides of the tracks. The northern path is lined with 30 plaques engraved with Dr. King’s words. The park is dotted with outdoor sculptures including Breaking of the Chains by Melvin Edwards installed in 1995 and several others added in 2001, with one placed in the middle of a hedge maze near the park’s northwestern end. At the center of the promenade, between Front Street and First Avenue, is a 200-foot-wide, circular reflecting pool. The shallow pool is studded with a small grid of ten-foot-tall, steel sprinkler poles and contains two rows of rectangular stone slabs that meet at a right angle. Used as steppingstones to access the pool, the slabs extend into the pine grove of the Children’s Park beyond, part of the initial design competition and likewise implemented by Peter Walker William Johnson and Partners in 1995.