Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Memorial Plaza

This plaza has benches along both sides of a curved wall. One side of the wall (see below) is lined with plaques — like the one on the right for the U.S. Merchant Marine:

The other (west) side is as peaceful — not counting the bursts of traffic along Aviation Parkway (which runs just south of the Plaza):

Location: On Richey Boulevard just north of Aviation Parkway.

Hours: 24 hours, but there's not much to do at night! I've seen homeless people sleeping in the area; you might want to leave them in peace and come back during the daytime.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Feld Davis Park

On December 19, 2011, I posted photos of a pocket park to the Tucson Murals Project blog (before I'd come up with the idea of this Pocket Parks blog). Click there if you'd like to see the photos.

Many of Tucson's pocket parks are hidden away in a residential neighborhood, and this one is too:

Around the park — with benches for sitting and signs to read (there's one below) — was a mural of water flowing through the street, around the curbs. In the water were lots of critters and other fun things. I haven't checked the condition of the mural recently, but I hope you'll go by and enjoy the park, anyway! (And please give us an update on the condition of the murals by leaving a comment below.)

Here's a sign that tells about the park — and Feld Davis:

(To get a larger view, click on the photo.)

Update (March 28, 2014): Today the Arizona Daily Star published a YouTube video of Feld Davis Park.

Location: at the southeast corner of 8th Street & Martin, just west of Campbell.

Hours: Basically sunrise (which is when I visited; it's nice on an early summer morning) or any daylight hour. It's tucked away in a residential neighborhood, where I'm sure neighbors will appreciate quiet!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Beautiful murals (and walking) at Santa Cruz River Park

The Santa Cruz River Park is too big to be called a “pocket” park. But the walking trails connect to a central plaza that’s like a world of its own — thanks to Community artists and Santa Theresa Tile Works.

You can see close-up photos on the Tucson Murals Project blog in today's post Beautiful tile work at Santa Cruz River Park.
Location: north Riverside Drive at west Ontario Street, just south of Speedway and west of I-10 (click for a satellite view and map from Google).

Hours: Basically, daytime hours. (Not well-lit at night… closed late nights… and maybe not too safe at night, either.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sit on a Gila Monster, share a book

It’s tucked away under a spreading mesquite tree, on the northwest corner of 10th Avenue & 2nd Street, in the art-rich Dunbar/Spring neighborhood. It’s my favorite Pocket Park — so far, at least! Here's the scene:

This particular Heloderma suspectum enjoys reading books — or (at least) putting her or his front foot on an open book:

You can join your six-foot-long buddy by sitting on her (or his... if you know, please leave a comment below) bumpy back (being there is sort of like getting a massage) — after you’ve chosen a book from the Little Free Library at the gila monster’s head.

Be sure not to miss the museum-esque surprise behind the Gila Monster’s tail. (Hint: Thanks to artists Hirotsune Tashima and Jason Butler, this is where I found out that the scientific name of our scaly friend is Heloderma suspectum.)

Update (November 27, 2013): There's a mural on a cistern just west of this scene. Click there to see a photo on today's Tucson Murals Project blog post.

Location: Northwest corner of 10th Avenue & 2nd Street

Hours: The best hours for reading are between sunrise and sunset (unless you bring a flashlight). The gila monster is pretty well-shaded... but, in early mornings and late afternoons, you may get some strong sunlight.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fabulous Feast (for the eyes and stomach :)

If you're looking for a peaceful garden to sit and reflect, the space between the buildings at the Tucson Buddhist Meditation Center, Wat Buddhametta, is a good choice. There are benches for sitting as well as a sculpture:

Please take your shoes off at the front door.

The Center also holds a number of classes and community events. (To find out more, click on their website, above.) My favorite is the monthly Thai buffet on the third Saturday of each month (except this month; see below about Tucson Meet Yourself). It starts at 5 PM in cooler months, and 6 PM other months. That's the time to arrive if you'd like the best choice of food and seating (though they do add some other dishes as the first ones have been eaten). They ask a $10 donation (this helps support the Center). The food is home-made (much of it by people who were born in Thailand — and learned how to cook Thai food because that’s what their family… and friends and neighbors… ate, too… :). I've heard that the monks make some of the food, too. Everything I had was delicious, and it's all-you-can-eat.

When I was there last month, there was a celebration of the founding monk's birthday. He had two birthday cakes to share and a talk about happiness. There were dancers and other performers to keep us entertained. You can sit outside at tables or inside on sofas or tables with fold-up chairs. It's fun and the food is great!

(Note: This month, there'll be no third-Saturday dinner. Instead you'll find your Thai feast at the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival.)


Update (January 14, 2016): There's a new mural near the entrance. Click that link to see a photo on the Tucson Murals Project blog.

Location: On the east side of Swan, just north of 22nd.

Hours: During events (at least). See the website, above.

Parking: Dirt parking lot behind the gate.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Epes Randolph Memorial

At the northeast corner of Reid Park, and the west edge of Randolph Park — is this memorial to railroad man Epes Randolph. A big man in Tucson history, he lived from August 16, 1856 to August 22, 1921.

Epes Randolph Memorial, Tucson, Arizona - from the south


Between the train wheels are benches.

Mr. Randolph and a plaque about this memorial:

Epes Randolph sculpture in Tucson, May 2013

Plaque at the base of the Epes Randolph sculpture showing railroad map of the Tucson-railroads that Epes Randolph commended

You can read more — and see a lot more photos — on the page about this memorial at The Historical Marker Database.

American-born sculptor Nicholas Lowell Burke, who was born in 1957, is listed as artist (on a plaque there). The project was funded by the City of Tucson; it's dated 2006.

Location: Northwest corner of Camino Campestre & Randolph Way.

Hours: Open 24 hours, though it's not well-lit at night.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cancer Survivors Plaza

This week’s pocket park is actually part of a big park: Reid Park. It’s on 22nd Street just south of the entrance to the zoo. But this little plaza has so much charm… and, whenever I drive by, I hardly ever see anyone there to enjoy it.

Once you see photos, you’ll probably recognize the place (if you don’t know it already):

Cancer Survivors Plaza and sign Plaque at Cancer Survivors Plaza
Cancer... There's Hope - front view Cancer... There's Hope - rear view

The whole name is The Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Plaza. It’s a small plaza surrounded by greenery and brightly-painted columns, with benches for sitting and a fountain (which, whenever I’ve visited, has always been dry). The main features are informative and inspiring plaques (if you have cancer or have had it, stop by to read these!) as well as the sculpture Cancer… There’s Hope by Victor Salmonfs.

There’s a big parking lot just west of the Plaza.

Location: 22nd St. at Lake Shore Lane (click for a satellite view and map from Google).

Hours: Always ready to welcome you.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Springerville (but not in Springerville)

This week's pocket park is not far south of downtown on a residential street that’s artsy and fun. “Springerville,” a passing cyclist told me, is the name (his name, at least) for a set of family-sized chairs (some chairs tall, some short) around a table:

There’s a closeup of one of the chairs in the public art section of

I'm guessing that the name is at least partly a play on the community of Springerville in east-central AZ? But then there are those springy chairs...

Location: East side of Meyer Ave. just north of 19th St. (between 851 and 871 S. Meyer). Here's a satellite view from Google Maps; from there, you can also use the Street View feature to scan around the area.

Hours: You're in a neighborhood, between two homes, on a narrow street. People need their ZZZs. There may not be much light (except porch lights). So I'd suggest being there only between 9 or 10 AM and sunset... maybe a bit later on summer evenings and weekends? (Please feel free to leave comments below — especially if you live on that part of Meyer Street!)

Note: People living nearby need their peace and quiet. Please be extra-respectful in this tiny “park.” Thanks.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tucked away at Congress & Scott

If you spend much time downtown, you may already know about this shady nook at (actually, below) the northeast corner of Congress & Scott. Or, if you don't visit downtown much, maybe — now that downtown is opening back up (after endless streetcar construction) — you'll want to come in to see all that's new in the past year or two... and take a break down under?

I spotted this park (but didn't go in because I didn't have my bicycle lock with me) July 28th.

Location: The park is west of the building at 97 East Congress, The Partnership: Pima County Teen Court. (Click there for a satellite view from Google Maps.)

Hours: Confusingly, one sign on the fence says "Park closed sunset to 7 AM." Another sign (not shown here) said "Park closed dusk to dawn." But I'd guess that the only time you can get in is when the building is open... so you can go downstairs, then head outdoors into the park. If you have more details, please leave a comment below or send me email.

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!