Monday, April 28, 2014

Cesar Chavez Park

This parklet is one of Tucson's smallest “official” parks. It covers an angled corner next to Five Points. There's one park bench under a big, shady tree... if you can snag it on a summer day with a bit of a breeze, you'll be set!

Otherwise, you can enjoy some of the other shade... and admire the long mural. There are photos in Chavez, Gandhi, Tolstoy and Tonan, the August 27, 2012 post on the Tucson Murals Project blog.

Location: Just northwest of Five Points, along Stone at the corner of Russell Avenue.

Hours: 7 AM to sunset.

Parking: Street parking in the area.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New parklet on North 6th

There's no visible progress on this new pocket (very) park. A January 20, 2014 article in the Arizona Daily Star mentions the plans:

     Tucson group, businesses preparing small 'parklet'

If you visit the neighborhood (basically, the corner of 6th Ave. and 6th St.), please leave a comment below to let all of us know what's happening there.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dunbar/Spring playground on Playable Parks blog

I've just run across a blog that covered a pocket-sized playground in the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood. Click there to see the entry.

The blog Playable Parks is written by a mother who's taking her two-year-old son to as many different playgrounds as they can find. Some of them are sure to be pocket playgrounds, as this one in Dunbar/Spring is.

Monday, March 17, 2014

La Pilita Museum grounds

Next door to the El Tiradito (pocket) shrine... and just along Simpson Street from El Parque (pocket) de San Cosme... are the grounds of the La Pilita Museum. (Click there to see some of the museum's murals... from the Tucson Murals Project blog.)

Besides the murals, you'll find gardens and shaded picnic tables on the grounds:

Look for the Fountain of Youth, disguised as a sundial:

(My camera's GPS says the real location is 32° 12' 57.09" North, 110° 58' 29.51" West.)

Location: 420 S. Main Avenue.

Hours: daylight, early evening (it's in a neighborhood, and neighbors will appreciate quiet). The museum is open shorter hours.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

El Tiradito

The historic marker here explains this popular little shrine:
This is the only shrine in the United States dedicated to the soul of a sinner buried in unconsecrated ground. It is affectionately called “El Tiradito” – the castaway. The many legends about its origin all involve a tragic triangle love affair in the early 1870s. The mysterious powers of El Tiradito are still an important part of local Mexican lore and culture. This site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
People still come to light candles and leave notes in the niches in the wall behind.

Location: The east side of Main Avenue between Cushing and Simpson (here's a Google Maps satellite view).

Hours: I'm not sure there are formal hours, but I'd suggest daylight or early evening.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nice place for a break in Poets' Square

Life has been busy and I haven't been out on my bike for far too long. That explains why I haven't been posting more pocket parks here. I'm hoping to be out on the road (Tucson's side streets, that is) by the start of March!

In the meantime, here's what I'd call a true pocket park. As far as I know, it doesn't have a name. It's a wide spot in Montecito Street (actually, the street splits in two and runs around both sides of the park) between Longfellow and Irving Avenues — in the Poets’ Square (also often called Poets’ Corner) neighborhood just east of Randolph Park.

The park has benches around a mesquite tree, with a drinking fountain for parched bicycle riders (and others :). The benches have mosaic murals — which you can see on today's entry in the Tucson Murals Project blog.

Location: North of the home at 4050 E. Montecito (click on the Location link below for a map).

Hours: Nothing posted, but 8 AM to sunset seems courteous to me. (There's not much light at night, and neighbors need their rest...)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Reid Park Rose Garden

There are a lot of “parks within a park” inside Tucson's popular Reid Park. (You'll find several of them on this blog.) It's also one of our best places to take a long walk (or run) on the new path surrounding it — though the better-known path is around Randolph Park, just to the east.

One of the hardest places to locate — unless you have directions, or you've been there before — is the Rose Garden. It's toward the west end of the park, a ways from Country Club Road. (More directions below.) Inside a circular fence, you'll find paths between the rose bushes and benches where you can sit — but not much shade other than the central ramada.

It's not open all of the time. For instance, when I went by this evening, the gates were locked: The garden is closed from (this year, at least) January 1 to March 18, waiting for the spring bloom.

Location: Turn east from Country Club at Eastland Street and drive to the farthest parking lot. (Here's a Google Map.)

Hours: The gates are generally open from morning to evening. It's closed from 9:30 to noon Thursdays, and during much of the winter. I like morning hours best... especially during our hot summer months. (To check current hours, try calling the Parks and Recreation office or Reid Park administration. I'll try to get a good number and update this post... or, if you find a good number, please leave a comment below.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Korean War Memorial

On August 8, 2011, I posted photos of the plaques and other artwork at the Korean War Memorial; you can click there to see that entry on the Tucson Murals Project blog. But the flags weren't flying that day. I found a photo by Wayne (no last name) on a March 10, 2007 article:

(The original article is These Colors Don't Run Eagle Strike! Tucson, AZ welcomes the Caravan 3/10/2007 with River of Flags.)

The park is surrounded by a circle of lawn. There's not much shade at the memorial itself, so you might want to avoid mid-days in the summer. If you're out on your bike on the El Paso-Southern Greenway (a new trail between downtown and the Kino Sports Complex), the trail runs just north of the memorial. [Note: As of the start of 2014, only parts of the trail are finished.]

Location: Northeast corner of East Ajo Way & Forgeus Avenue. Parking is to the northeast; turn north on Forgeus, then right.

Hours: Not well-lighted at night.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sentinel Plaza

Just across the Santa Cruz from the Garden of Gethsemane is Sentinel Plaza:

A plaque near the entrance tells the story (click for a larger view):

There aren't any picnic tables, but there's a small covered area near the back. Of course, there's lots of sitting room along the paths. And the art is great; there are more photos in the Sentinel Plaza page on’s Public Art page.

Location: Just off the west I-10 frontage road, north of Congress. (If you search the Internet for Sentinel Plaza, you'll probably find the new apartment complex on the south side of Congress. It's across the street from this place.)

Hours: No lighting, except from lights along Interstate 10 and Congress.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Garden of Gethsemane

I last visited this special little place (very small!) in 2007. It's an isolated spot just west of I-10. Though a sign at the entrance says this place is under renovation, it's open... and as peaceful as ever.

The City of Tucson lists this as a Tucson Special Place. I like the description on the website, from the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau:
“In return for prayers answered during World War I, Tucsonan Felix Lucero began work on sculptures depicting biblical scenes. The result: this lovely park at 602 W. Congress St. on the west bank of the Santa Cruz River. Now it's city-maintained and open from dawn to dusk. You'll find shade trees and, across Congress St., Tucson's official largest eucalyptus tree.”

I took these photos on April 17, 2007.

Location: Just west of I-10 and the Santa Cruz River on the north side of Congress. (Note: both Google Maps and Bing Maps currently have the wrong location. Mapquest gets it right.)

Hours: Around 8 AM to dusk. (A City worker comes to unlock and lock the gate.)

Update (April 29, 2015): Good news and bad news. The good is that I found a City of Tucson video published on March 4, 2014 titled Gethsemane Statuary Restored. The sickening news, less than a year later, is the City press release The Garden of Gethsemane Closed Due to Vandalism.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Parque de San Cosme

Back on December 30, 2011, I posted an entry to the Tucson Murals Project blog about Parque de San Cosme, a new little park south of the city's new fire station complex. Click there to see the great murals at the park.

But there's much more than murals in this little gem. One is that it's close to downtown... and the new streetcar will stop close by. (From the stop, you can hop on your bicycle and cruise the bike path that runs by the park.) Until the streetcar opens for business next year, you can also drive to the park (though the address is listed as 496 West Cushing Street, the park is actually just south of there on Simpson Street). Here's a Google Map with the marker on the spot.

The park's listing on Tucson's Parks & Rec “Special Places” webpage says it well:
Located near Cushing and Simpson, and next to the little chapel of San Cosme, this park includes a gazebo, a colorful mural, pathways, desert landscaping, orange trees, and a memorial to Barrio Viejo. A historic railroad photo exhibit sits along the pedestrian/bicycle path that follows the preserved El Paso-Southwestern Railroad tracks. The gazebo can be rented...
Update (March 3, 2014): A few photos showing the church, benches, the gazebo, and part of the mural (which you can see better in the Tucson Murals Project entry I mentioned above):

Location: 460 Simpson Street, a few blocks east of the I-10 east frontage road.

Hours: 6 AM - 10:30 PM

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jacome Plaza

November 24th, on the very familiar walk near the main library to the Tucson Museum of Art (where I volunteer as the museum's event photographer... if you'd like to see photos of one especially fun evening, click there), I passed through the western end of Jácome Plaza.

If you've walked through the Pima County Courthouse (with its bright dome), you've probably seen this pocket park. (If you haven't, here's a satellite view from Google Maps.)

The most fun part for me is the set of “viewers” — for instance, the one in the first photo that shows the same scene through various lenses. (You can click on the photo for a larger view.)

Here's a photo of this part of the plaza:

The page About Joel D. Valdez Main Library - Jácome Plaza has much more information, including the history of Jácome’s Department Stores. (You can even book the plaza for special events.)

Location: Downtown, just west of the main library: on Church, half a block north of Pennington.

Hours: You can walk through anytime, though the plaza may technically be “closed”... there may also be homeless folks camped out on benches, etc. Daytime is probably most fun, anyway, because there's more to see with the viewers.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bicycle Park (and former air pump)

As you may have seen on other blogs of mine, I ride my bicycle around Tucson's back streets to find art… and Pocket Parks. So, imagine my delight when — on June 30th — I came across this tiny park for bicyclists:

It's tucked away, in a neighborhood between Campbell and Treat, a block north of 6th Street. It even has — well, had — an electric air pump for bicycle tires:

(Brass part stolen, I'm guessing, by metal thieves. Sigh.)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sunny strip on 22nd

Earlier this year (I think it was …), I noticed earth-moving equipment along the north side of 22nd between the railroad overpass and Tucson Boulevard. By July 28th, the scene looked like this:

I don't know whether there are plans for more development, but it already looks like a pocket park to me!

Location: Northwest corner of East 22nd & Tucson Boulevard

Hours: Probably always open. (Not much light here at night, though.)

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!