Monday, July 3, 2017

Shady and artistic spot in Dunbar/Spring

How about exploring for some fun and funky art this Fourth of July? One of the best places in Tucson to find impromptu art is the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood. It runs north and west from the corner of 6th Street and Stone Avenue. You'll find traffic circles with whimsical direction posts, several murals (especially the longgg mural on 9th Avenue, a seen on the Tucson Murals Project blog), a bicycle on the roof of a home, some sculpture scattered around, and more.

We have two other articles about the neighborhood on this blog: Dunbar/Spring playground on Playable Parks blog and Sit on a Gila Monster, share a book.

Anyway, while you're in the neighborhood, a shady spot to sit is under the spreading trees in front of a dragon mural:


The photo is from David Aber. (Thank you!) I'd been at the corner back in 2010, after neighbors painted the dragon over graffiti. (You can see the scene back then on the Tucson Murals Project blog entry Topping taggers.)

The table and seats were added sometime before August, 2016. (They suddenly appear on a Google Street View timeline of the corner taken during that month.)

Location: southeast corner of 10th Avenue and University Boulevard

Hours: There's a dim street light next to the spot. (Neighbors will especially appreciate quiet in the evening and early morning!)

Parking: Street parking.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Pitch a horseshoe in this pocket park

In a way, Reid Park is a collecton of Pocket Parks connected by lawns and trees. Here's one: Tucson Horseshoe Pitchers' Club:


Their website has a lost of events and more.

Location: Reid Park north of McDonald's. See the map on their website for more information.

Parking: Reid Park lots nearby.

Hours: Competition hours (see website), but probably other practice times. Talk with members (click on "Contact" on the website).

Monday, April 3, 2017

PVNA's Pocket Park being developed

The Palo Verde Neighborhood Association (from Speedway to Grant and Country Club to Alvernon) has a pocket park next to a Tucson Water well. There seems to have been a burst of enthusiasm around 2014 and 2015, then — from the looks of the bulletin board (see the photo below), website/blog, and Facebook page — things aren't as active right now.

The park is in a quiet spot, though, and it has a bench near two big mesquite trees:


The address is on Fairmount Street… there's a photo of that side below. But you can also come in from Willard Street — on the south side of the parklet.


I haven't asked anyone in the Neighborhood Association about the pocket park's status. I did find a webpage on Conserve2Enhance.org with information about the park's watershed enhancement goals.

Here's a sign with more information. I've saved it extra-large so, I hope, you can read it by clicking on it:


There's also a bulletin board with listings for events in 2015:


Location: Center of Palo Verde Neighborhood

Hours: 7 am to 7 pm

Parking: Street parking

Monday, March 6, 2017

San Antonio Park

More or less centered between Aviation Highway to the south and west, Kino Parkway to the east, and Broadway to the north, is this little gem. David Aber found it on January 28th and sent these photos. He wrote:
It’s a pocket park of about 3/4 acre. It is designed for families. For the parents, it has shaded seating and tables, a charcoal grill, and a message board. For the children, It has a sandy play area with lots of toys and activities. [There's also] some shade and a water fountain.
Now for five photos:






Location: The easiest way to get here, by bike or car, is to head south on Highland from Broadway. After the bend, turn right (west) on 14th and go one block. (Or click the address below for a Google Map.)

Hours: Daytime hours. No streetlights.

Parking: Street parking.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Take a break on Marvelous Meyer

Just south of the Convention Center — where the Barrio Viejo starts — after you walk past the historic Teatro Carmen, Meyer Avenue looks uninviting. There's some dilapidated fencing, a block-long vacant lot, and lots of Tucson-strength sun. Keep walking.

Another block or two south are some fun residences. You'll pass a private museum with a dreamy mural on the south side.

A bit farther south is another mural showing the history of the Barrio.


Halfway between 17th and 18th Streets, on the shady west side of the street, is a perfect place to rest and take in the neighborhood — which, by now, has changed from looking like old Tucson to looking like modern-emulating-old Tucson. The architecture is modern. Look up and you'll see a mural/sign ”La Frontera”. (Click there to see photos of the mural being made, and a close-up taken from the height of the mural, on the Tucson Murals Project blog.)

Underneath is a mosaic-topped bench:


(I used my favorite free Photoshop-like editor, GIMP, to darken the sunny spot at the bottom between the left and middle edges.)

Location: Between doors to 630 and 648 South Meyer (I couldn't find an address for the building it's on, though I told Google Maps my guess of 640).

Hours: Daylight hours, I guess, though it might be interesting on a warm summer night. (The street is quiet. Please respect neighbors by being quiet yourself; thanks.)

Parking: Street parking (If you drive, you can park near this spot. If you walk from the north, there's no free parking near the Convention Center.)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Shady benches and Little Free Library



In the El Monte Neighborhood is this spot. It's shaded from the hot western sun. A Little Free Library is stocked with books; if you'd like to share, bring one along.

Location: A block west of Alvernon between Calle de Soto and Calle Ensenada

Parking: Parking along El Camino Del Norte is a tight squeeze. There's some parking in front of the homes on side streets.

Hours: Daylight hours

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bike Church



This is probably the smallest pocket park on this blog (so far). It's the Bike Church, built to honor bicyclists — mostly ones killed in traffic accidents.

Only a few people can fit inside. (If you feel like kneeling, there's nowhere except on the floor…)


The photos above are from 2010. Since then, the church is now on a concrete pad with other park-like features around it. Here's the area on September 28th. A path from the north side:


A little garden, bike rack, bench, an an area covered with brick:


Now the church is sitting on a platform instead of on the ground. Here's the view from the entrance:


This shows a bicycle along the wall with shadows from sun shining through the stained glass:


Location: North of downtown on Granada, just south of the railroad tracks.

Parking: A parking lot behind the church or along Davis Street.

Hours: There are a couple of streetlights in the area, but you'll probably want to come while it's sunny so you can see the stained glass.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Desert Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church


David Aber told me about this spot — on the east side of town, near 22nd & Harrison. It's almost three acres (350 x 350 feet) of desert environment with dirt paths, benches, foot bridge, ramada, fire pit, maze/labyrinth, and a multi-sided column with messages in several languages. He visits often because it's a great place for wildflowers. But he also points out that the only shade is under the ramada, and there's no water. David sent these photos to give you a good idea of the place.

Here's the column and some benches for contemplation:


David wrote that it “has two words on the side that I photographed — Dodolimdag and Vrede. Dodolimdag is Pima/Tohono O’odham meaning peace. Vrede is Dutch, also meaning peace. Presumably, the other sides also have words meaning peace.”

Views of the rest of the parklet:


Thanks so much, David!

Location: Southeast of the church buildings and parking lot. Directly south of Saguaro Eastside Medical Group at 9302 E. 22nd. Here's a Google satellite view.

Parking: You can use the church parking lot, though it might be polite to leave spaces for churchgoers during services and other events. (The church website is immanuelpc.org.) During weekends, you can also use the Saguaro Eastside Medical Group, then walk south into the parklet; there's easy access to the trails from there.

Hours: Always open, but no light at night… and, as David points out, desert critters (like rattlesnakes) may be visiting at night, too. (Still: Walking a labyrinth under the full moon can be magical — especially on a warm summer evening.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

A pocket park in your complex

As I've mentioned before, your neighborhood can set up a parklet to bring neighbors together… or just sit yourself… at almost no cost, with much benefit.

Here's a photo of a little spot at a friend's apartment complex that sits next to a former dumpster pad. It used to be desolate; now it's a pleasure:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Pima County Extension

The Rillito River has paths for biking and walking (and horseback riding and…) along most of both its sides in the Tucson area. Though there are benches and shady spots, a special spot is southeast of the junction with Campbell Avenue: the gardens (and more) at Pima County Extension:

Pose as farmers or veggies (I added the red arrows)... though I'm not sure if selfie sticks work here:

You'll find benches and picnic tables among the gardens:

Last but not least, there's a tile mural near the entrance. Click there to see it on the Tucson Murals Project blog. I took the photos during one of the twice-monthly Saturday morning tours May 14th.

You can read more about the gardens, and one of the Saturday tours, in the Arizona Daily Star article Tucson's hidden glorious gardens are open to all.

Location: Entrance is east of Campbell, across the street from the Trader Joe's parking lost.

Parking: Limited. The parking lot for the Rillito River trail is nearby. You might try the parking lot at the shopping center's parking lot — or walk along the river from one of the other spots.

Hours:The office is open 7:30-4:30 weekdays. After 5pm the gate to the parking lot may be closed, and you can park in the Rillito lot… but it may not be safe (there have been break-ins). The office (and parking lot) are are also open some Saturday meetings.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Alfonsa McKenna-Luis Redondo Park

Though the solid fences and walls around this parklet may look a bit forbidding, they actually make it a safe place to bring kids — or your whole family:


David Aber (who also contributes to the Tucson Murals Project blog) visited on December 28th. He wrote “It’s the nicest pocket park that I’ve seen. It has a basketball court, a playground and a covered picnic area with charcoal grills.”

This plaque along 5th Avenue, next to the park entrance, tells a bit of the story:


These photos are by David Aber. The park walls are lined with murals, inside and out; you can see them on today's McKenna Park entry on the Tucson Murals Project blog.

Thanks, David!

Location: 2020 S. 5th Avenue (more accurately: Just north of the alley, west of 5th Avenue between South 30th & 31st Streets)

Hours: When the gate is unlocked. At night, there are lights along 5th Avenue, inside the park, and along the alley south of the park.

Parking: Street parking along 5th Avenue and 30th Street.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sit a while at 36th & Kino

Here's a little spot that's not worth a long drive to reach. But if you're visiting the (soon-to-be) UA Tech Park at The Bridges, or you want a place to take a break on a bicycle ride, this bench surrounded by desert plants might be just what you're looking for:


Walk south a minute or two and you'll be at a series of tile murals. (Click there to see them on the Tucson Murals Project blog.) Across the street, behind the library, is the larger Quincie Douglas Park.)

We're still short on new pocket parks. I'll keep looking! And please feel free to suggest one.

Location: Southwest corner of 36th Street & Kino Parkway

Hours: 24 hours

Parking: Across 36th, next to Quincie Douglas library.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Your own parklet


Like pocket parks? Why not get together with your neighbors — or your neighborhood association — and make a special spot? It can be more than a place to relax… it can bring neighbors together.

A bench like this one is a good start. One neighborhood has a simple group of outdoor chairs on the “traffic-calming” circle in an intersection of their quiet streets.

If you make a parklet in your neighborhood, please let me know about it (if you'd like to spread the word, that is). You can reach me through the TucsonArt.info comment form.

By the way, there's a little tile mural at the south end of Tucson Boulevard — a very short walk away. Click there to see it on the Tucson Murals Project blog. Also check out the beautiful garden-covered mailbox at 1521 Bristol Avenue (on the Tucson Mailbox Art blog).

Location: Southeast corner of Tucson Blvd. and Warwick Vista, one block south of 22nd Street.

Hours: Daytimes

Parking: Street parking.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hunting for parklets

I didn't come across any new small parks during December, so I don't have any to post here for January. I've done some searching online and found a few places to check out. If you know of a pocket park that isn't on this list — which is open to the public without payment — I'd be glad to pass your tips on to other readers. You can reach me through the TucsonArt.info comment form.

See you next month!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Take a break at Grant-Campbell Park(let)

Just northwest of the traffic-clogged Grant-Campbell corner is this patch of green:


Logically enough, its official name is Grant-Campbell Park. Thanks to sponsor U of A Phi Delta Chi (the professional pharmacy fraternity - Alpha Nu Chapter), you can pull over here on your bike — or park on a side street from your car — to catch your breath along a busy ride.

Location: Northwest corner of Grant & Campbell

Parking: Street parking on Edison Avenue just northwest of the park

Hours: You'll probably like daylight more than the distant nighttime streetlights and car headlights along Grant, just south

Monday, November 2, 2015

Peaceful corner at Govinda's

Maybe you've come to Govinda's to chow down on their vegetarian buffet or for one of the festivals. (For more about Govinda's, see the ISKCON website.)

Besides the outdoor patio near their buffet — which doesn't count as a parklet because it's a restaurant seating area — head toward the back (north) side of the parking lot to find an aviary and koi pond with some benches and stones for sitting. It makes a nice place to relax before or after a meal — or even if you just want to stop by for a complete change of scene. (I wouldn't suggest spending a long time here unless you check with the people who live at Govinda's. This small space is next to private residences. If you love this little spot, you could always book some time in their guest cottage.)


Location: Just east of 1st Avenue, north of Glenn

Parking: Small parking lot, but street parking just outside the entrance on Blacklidge is kind to other visitors

Hours: Lunch through dinner unless you're staying overnight

Monday, October 5, 2015

Labyrinth at Unity of Tucson


There are lots of labyrinths around Tucson; we can't list them all here. (If you'd like to find others, try the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator.) As Unity's website says, “Unity of Tucson is a Church, School, Bookstore, Wedding Chapel, Health Ministry, and a House of Worship...”

Along the middle of their north-most parking lot (which is graveled) is a sign welcoming you to the labyrinth and asking for quiet. At times when the parking lots aren't emptying or filling, it's definitely quiet.

If you aren't familiar with labyrinths: A labyrinth is a place for meditation… for some people, it's a holy journey. As you walk very slowly around, step by step (it's not a maze; there's only one path through), noticing the details along the way can help make your time there more meditative. For instance, Unity's mural is lined with small colored tiles and some hearts. There's more about labyrinth walking at Walking the Labyrinth: Labyrinth Walking for Spiritual Exercise.


Location: 3617 N. Camino Blanco (south of River Road between Swan and Craycroft), north of gravelled north parking lot

Parking: Parking lots south of labyrinth

Hours: Daylight hours (though it's also magical at night, with a flashlight and city lights in the distance... no other lighting). It's hot out here in the summer, so early mornings or evenings may be best then.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Plaza Palomino

Although Plaza Palomino is a shopping center, it's also a place with benches for sitting (many of them shady at different times of day):


There's a fountain in the middle of the complex:


There are also restrooms, a drinking fountain, and plenty of shops to browse if you'd like.

Location: Southeast corner of Swan & Fort Lowell (not Camp Lowell)

Hours: Business hours (into the evenings when the restaurant — currently closed — is operating)

Parking: Lots on north and south sides (south lot is bigger)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Women's Plaza of Honor

The University of Arizona campus has lots of surprises scattered around (and in) its buildings. Between Centennial Hall and the south side of the Arizona State Museum — just inside the Main Gate, southeast of University & Park — is a long, narrow memorial to Arizona women. (It's also lined with shady spaces — including benches hidden under cool, spreading trees.) You'll probably see the north end first:


That's one of three parts — north, Youth Plaza; center, Maturity Plaza; and south, Seniority Plaza — representing three stages of a woman's life.

As you can see above, the Youth Plaza is a series of arches supported by columns with curved sides. Each arch describes the women memorialized below it. For instance, the arch inscribed Women Lawyers … Women Leaders has two lists of women's names below it, one on each column. Here's one of the two:


The whole plaza is lovingly documented on its website, womensplaza.arizona.edu. There — among many other things — you can look up an honoree by her name (on the Women Honored list) or see lists of the Youth Plaza arches and the women listed under each (for instance, Women Lawyers … Women Leaders).

The central part, Maturity Plaza, is lined with low walls topped by tile mosaics like this:


The plaza was dedicated in 2005:


Location: See first paragraph above

Hours: 24 hours

Parking: Street parking along University Blvd. west of Park Avenue, campus parking.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fixed location for El Parque de Orlando y Diego Mendoza, and others

The other two blogs I contrubute to, The Tucson Murals Project and Tucson Mailbox Art, have a place near the bottom of each entry that gives its location. You can click on that location to get a Google map.

I've filled in the location box most times I've made entries here on the Tucson's Pocket Parks blog. But today I discovered that the location info hasn't been appearing as it does on the two other blogs. I just fixed that this morning. So, although this particular entry you're reading just now doesn't have a location to click (because this entry isn't about a particular place), most of the others should.

If you'd like an example, have a look at the end of our February, 2015 entry 8 x 18.

See you next month!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Miramonte Park(let)

This place is called a “park,” but I'd call it a pocket park. It's packed with benches, a table with a checkers-chess board, a sandbox, a quote by Emerson along the winding sidewalk, and a Little Free Library at the street corner.


Location: Just southwest of Speedway & Alvernon at the corner of 3rd & Richey

Hours: Daylight hours (I didn't see any lighting in the park)

Parking: Street parking