Monday, September 2, 2013

Plaza of the Pioneers

Welcome to this new blog about small Tucson parks. You'll find them in neighborhoods, on corners of buildings, and other places that you might not look. (Actually, I find these little parks as I ride my bicycle around Tucson, looking for other kinds of art while I get some exercise… and I’m glad to pass the word on to you! Some of the parks are so tiny — maybe just a few chairs and a table in the “traffic circle” that's in many Tucson intersections — that I'll ask neighbors if it's okay for me to spread the word about the spot. (I've been planning for this blog — and collecting photos — for quite a while now.) Today is Labor Day; it's a perfect time to start a blog about places to relax and enjoy life, yes?

This first “pocket park” is no secret... a lot of people already know about it... though it can be a bit hard to find if you haven't been there before:

Downtown, just north of the well-known El Presidio Plaza — which is behind the famous domed Old Pima County Courthouse — is the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block. The museum buildings are grouped around a plaza (a.k.a. a courtyard) — The Plaza of the Pioneers.

Naturally enough, it's filled with sculpture, a fountain, and (as you can see above) some places to sit. There are shady benches (for the summer) and open ones (for the winter, or for summer evening events at the Museum (as in the photo below, which I took while I was a (volunteer) event photographer for the Museum... what a wonderful “job” :))):

On the west side of the plaza is the fabulous (and cleverly named) Café à la C’Art, which used to be the location of Janos’ first Tucson restaurant.

Outside the restaurant is a gorgeous mosaic mural that wraps around the outdoor dining area. You can see it on today's Tucson Murals Project post (click there). Near the northern (right-side) entrance to the dining area is a plaque about the Pioneers:

(That's an evening view, when the plaque is floodlit from below.)

Let's wrap up with a summary:

Location: 150 N. Main Avenue (a bit hard to find; see the description above and/or use this Google Maps satellite view showing the plaza in the center).

Hours: The plaza is open during Museum hours (visit their website or call 520-624-2333 for current hours). I believe it's also open when Café à la C’Art is open; they (currently, at least) are open during times the Museum isn't. (The gates to the plaza are fairly new; the plaza used to be open all night. If you know more, please leave a comment below!)

Best times to visit: Summer daytimes can be hot. Anytime you go to the cafe is nice for a stroll to see the (mostly contemporary) sculpture and to admire that mosaic mural I mentioned above.

I'm hoping to post one Pocket Park per week. Please check back and/or subscribe or follow (see the top right part of this page). Once this blog is established (today's post — on Labor Day, 2013 — is the first) you can also use the links at the right side, or the search box, to find more parks.

See you next time!

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