Day Tour Recap
The tour is about 10 to 12.5 miles long. Typically the tour will cover many, but not all, of following locations:
- The Buffet - Tucson's oldest bar. Opens at 6am!
- Rattlesnake Bridge - 280' bridge modeled after the Sonoran Desert snake. Listen for the rattle. Get views of the Catalina mountains and the football stadium, the only athletic facility that is home to a telescope mirror lab!
- The Shanty - Gabby Giffords old watering hole.
- Hotel Congress - Classic 1919 hotel. Biker-artist Larry Boyce painted the art-deco lobby. Hotel is famous for a fire in 1934 that led to John Dillinger's arrest.
- Rialto Theatre - Just across from Hotel Congress. Most elegant theater west of the Mississippi when built in 1919.
- Southern Pacific Station - Train arrived in 1880 to much fanfare, including a telegram to the Pope. Tucson changed from a village to a city. Cut travel time to San Francisco from 10 days to 2. Also site of Wyatt Earp shooting Frank Stillwell. Engine 1673 hauled a million miles of freight and appeared in the 1954 movie Oklahoma.
- Barrio Brewing - One of many craft brewers in Tucson. They specialize in adding local ingredients, like prickly pear. First brewery was built by Alexander Levin in 1864. A surreal mural in the back wall.
- Goddess of Agave - Biggest mural in Tucson, by Rock Martinez.
- Mural of "El Jefe." He lives just outside of Tucson and is one of two known wild Jaguars in the USA.
- El Charro - Oldest continuously family-owned Mexican restaurant in the USA. Popularized the chimichanga.
- Sonoran Row Houses - Beautiful homes from the 1860's and 70's.
- Main Ave - Used to be Calle Real, or Royal Road, part of a spanish road system starting in Mexico City.
- Owl's Club - Turn of the century bachelor pad with the motto of "Let us live while we live." Now home to a conservation organization that got its start protecting owl habitat.
- Steinfeld Mansion - Wealthy retailer's home designed by Henry Trost. Had Tucson's first bathtub.
- Sam Hughes House - Kicked off a stagecoach in 1858 to die of TB in Tucson. Recovered and became one of Tucson's most important civic, business, and educational leaders.
- Tucson Museum of Art - Nice campus with an impressive collection of Western American, Latin American, and Pre-Columbian art.
- Casa Cordova - The oldest house downtown, from 1848.
- Old Town Artisans - Old 1860's building, now home to an interesting artists' market and a beautiful courtyard offering food and drinks.
- El Presidio de San Agustin - Spanish fort founded in 1775 by Hugo O'Conner. Mostly gone now, but the original foundation remains in places along with reconstructed walls. Also home to an ancient Hohokam pit house.
- Pima County Courthouse - Designed by Roy Place. Beautful mission revival style. There was some controversy about the color and design at the time, but now much admired.
LA PLACITA & ARMORY PARK
- Veinte de Agosto Park - Site of original cathedral. Now the site of a federal homeless rights lawsuit and a statue or Poncho Villa, a controversial present from Mexico.
- Fox Theatre - Neat old theater. Saw success during the Great Depression. First building in Tucson with air conditioning, which was critical to post WW-II growth.
- La Placita - 40 year old mixed use urban renewal project. Home of the Tucson visitor and convention centers. Wiped out a good chunk of the Old Barrio.
- Tucson Citizen - Oldest running newspaper in Tucson. Closed in 2009. Former employer of Charles Bowden, a prominent southwest author.
- Old Pueblo Club - Former gentlemen's club that hosted John Wayne, Buffalo Bill, and Charles Lindbergh. Made from California brick. Currently veteran housing.
- Cathedral San Agustin - 2nd site. Built in 1896. Has some nice southwest features, such as horned-toad lizards and saguaro cactus.
- Temple Emanuel - First permanent synagogue in Arizona. Now home to Jewish history museum.
- Cesar Chavez Park - Big mural in a little park to honor the leader of the UFW and Mexican-American civil rights. Chavez worked in this neighborhood.
- Drachman School - Remains of a 2nd generation school named after prominent Tucson family. First Anglo child born in Tucson was Harry Drachman.
- Convent & Meyer Aves - Colorful adobe homes line these two narrow streets.
- Lee Ho mural - Former site of Lee Ho's store, the most important of the Chinese markets. Nice tribute mural. Chinese came to the area with railroad construction and were banned from mining, so many grew vegetables and operated small markets.
- Quatro Esquinas - Little Chinese markets used to be on each corner. Lalo Guerrero's house on the SE corner. Lalo Guerrero is the "Father of Chicano music."
- Carrillo House - One of the older buildings in the city with a reconstructed courtyard. Front door is from the former county jail.
- Teatro Carmen - Built in 1915. Was a Spanish language cultural institution.
- El Tiradito - A little shrine that saved Barrio Viejo from being destroyed by freeway construction. In memory of a ranch hand who was killed due to romantic involvement with his mother in law! Still a functioning shrine where many people write messages and burn candles to ask for a wish.
- La Pillita & Elysian Grove Market - The area used to be Carrillo Gardens and Elysian Grove, a nice area in the late 1800's for a picnic and even a boat ride. Leopoldo Carrillo was Tucson's wealthiest man. Owed over 100 properties, appointed himself water commissioner, and went by the job title "Capitalist."
- San Cosme Chapel - From 1929 with nice art. Cosme is Greek for "harmony" and was the name of the first European mission established in Tucson along the Santa Cruz river in 1692.
MENLO PARK & THE LOOP RIVER TRAIL
- Santa Cruz River - The reason Tucson exists. For thousands of years this stretch always had flowing water. Due to groundwater pumping, now dry.
- "A" Mountain - Made of basalt rock, it is the reason why the Santa Cruz river water was pushed to the surface here. The name Tucson is comes from the Pima Indian word "chuk-shon", which means "at the foot of dark mountain." Also called Sentinel Peak. Sentinels were indeed stationed at the top to watch for attacks. The "A" was placed on top with stones by University of Arizona students in 1914 after a football victory.
- Mission Gardens - Recreation of historic 1770's garden and mission. The area has native artifacts going back to 2000 BC. Was turned into a landfill but it is in the process of being redeveloped.
- Mercado San Agustin - Nice market offering traditional Sonoran cuisine.
- Phina's Tree - Tallest tree in Tucson. Planted by a girl in 1910.
- Gardens of Gethesemane - Religious park built by Felix Lucero, a homeless WW-I veteran living under the Congress St bridge.
- The Loop - a 55 mile paved path around Tucson.
- The Bike Church - Cool art gazebo made from old bike parts.
- BICAS - Non-profit bike organization that offers classes, a community workshop, and studio of of bike related art.
- Jim's Market - Pretty little former market.
- Mural at Merle's - Sprawling mural by Sue Johnson, who helped create the All Souls Procession. Water harvesting projects in this area too.
- University Avenue - Important biking corridor. The University has 50,000 people on campus but only 17,000 parking spots.
- Main Gate - Bustling college area, full of shops, bars, and restaurants.
- Old Main - The first University of Arizona building from 1891. Tucson originally wanted the insane asylum, but now we're happy we got "stuck" with the university. Ted Degrazia painted Power of the Press here in 1944.
- Student Union - Tower houses the bell from the USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941.
- Steward Observatory - 1916 observatory established by Andrew Douglass.
- Tree Ring Research Building - Check out a 1701 year old Sequoia without counting the rings. The field was developed by an astronomer investigating sun spots. The leading facility in the world.
- 4th Avenue - Funky shopping and entertainment street.
- Light Rail - First arrived in 1906. It's recently returned to Tucson.