Proposal to memorialize Tucson’s lost historic sites

 The thing about having been around Tucson since the 1950’s is how much of the city that I grew up in that has been destroyed.

I feel like a ghost wandering around town, remembering things like…

…the Midway drive in
…the old barrio that was torn down for the convention center
…the Tucson Sports Center on West Congress
…the de Grazia studio on north Campbell

A friend of mine Otis B. once had a great idea that I think it time to pursue.

That was to erect historic monuments to the history Tucson doesn’t want to remember.  A record of lost historic sites.

For example, remember the famous picture of Speedway as the ugliest street in America. Otis’ idea was to put that Life Magazine photo on a pedestal at Speedway and Country Club looking east, so folks could remember what the street once looked like, and decide if the new version of Speedway is any improvement.

Years ago the Citizen used to run George Hand’s Diary. Hand, who ran a saloon in the 1870’s, often wrote “got drunk and passed out”.

A plaque would be placed on a curb in downtown reading “George Hand passed out here drunk June 1, 1875”.

Another suggestion was a plaque honoring Elmira, the girl who was the first swimmer in the Stone Avenue Underpass, after a summer thunderstorm flooded it a few weeks after it was completed. The ephemeral body of water that drowns the occasional car is named “Lake Elmira” now.

Missing from the photos on the wall of the new Broadway Underpass is a picture of the original  dark narrow tunnel with all the graffitti  “Mary Loves Tudy”.

Throughout the city photo records of what used to be on a site should be created,  placed in front of the new buildings or parking lots, so the original Tucson won’t be totally forgotten.

A picture of the old Midway Drive In, a picture of de Grazia’s studio on Campbell where the gas station is now. Johnny’s Drive In on Speedway at Tucson Blvd. Street scenes all over downtown of what used to be on the sites.

Maybe this will have to be a Tucson form of guerilla art…print the old photos on metal plates  and glue them to the walls of the replacement buildings.

Tucson is so busy tearing down its history that some effort is needed to preserve the memory of what used to be.


About Hugh Holub

Attorney and writer.
This entry was posted in tucson history, tucson lifestyle, tucson politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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