Saturday, January 26, 2008

Round Robin (Part Two): Over, Under, Behind and Through

Here, as promised, is my follow-up entry on Tucson landmarks. I'm not actually going to show you all the famous ones; for one thing, I've covered some of them in the Round Robin "Railroad" entries, the Dillinger entry, the Monday Photo Shoot and in a few entries last summer when I had jury duty. No, tonight I want to show you two more interesting bridges, another shot of an historic hotel, and some odd, non-landmarky-sights I stumbled across two weeks ago, trying to get back to the Historic Depot after crossing the Diamondback Bridge. First off: one sight filmed from the car on the way downtown that day:

As far as I can tell, the Lizard Bridge (don't know that that's the name, but what else could it be?) isn't open yet. It doesn't seem to actually go anywhere. If I had to guess, I'd say it's another pedestrian bridge from the guy who designed our friend the giant snake. It's visible from the highway I take downtown, the one that comes out just a few feet from the Diamondback Bridge. I've never figured out where the lizard bridge might be in terms of surface streets.

That day when I reached downtown, I turned onto a detour that looked as though it might get me through the construction to the rail station. It didn't work. (Looking at a map now, I see it was probably Stevens Ave., off Fourth Ave.) Between me and the depot, as seen above, were a fence, heavy equipment in a rather dangerous-looking construction site, and the railroad tracks. Up ahead, the road dead-ended suddenly. I asked a local for directions, but her suggestions were what I would have tried next anyway. But I made friends with her dog, so it was worth the effort.

The Historic Depot is on Toole Ave., across the street from the Hotel Congress, built in 1919. Last weekend I told you about the hotel's must infamous guest, John Dillinger, who was captured in Tucson a few days after staying there. It's a National Historic Landmark. The place is still very 1920s inside, but it's also the hub of the local music scene, and the coffee shop has great food in a surprising variety. When I tried to eat there two weeks ago, the hostess asked whether I was there "for the storytelling," for which all the tables were reserved. I sat at the bar instead, ate hummus and chatted with the bartender. But all that was after the walk. Let's get back to it!

From the Hotel Congress and the rail station I made my way down another street under construction, passed some zombies, and turned left onto Broadway. I tried to photograph some murals based on old pictures of people walking downtown, but I'm not happy with the results. Besides, I'm saving those for another entry. Eventually I got through the crosswalks and under the Diamondback Bridge itself to get to the footpath marked with this turquoise-colored railing. It took me up past this interesting old building on a bit of hillside, up to the Diamondback tail and the bridge's entrance.

As I mentioned last night, the other end of the bridge empties out onto a long pedestrian footpath. Eventually I got to the end of this and out onto a street - the same one I'd been on earlier, where I'd seen the Historic Depot from behind! I followed a detour sign and found myself in the Iron Horse neighborhood, obviously named for the nearby railroad.

Following a sign for a bike route to downtown led me to more back streets, viewing the seamy side of several landmarks from behind. This building, for example, apparently belongs to the Old Pueblo Trolley, which goes up and down Fourth Street, Tucson's student/counterculture district. In the yard here were two or three derelict trolleys. I don't know whether they were to be refurbished, scrapped, or stripped for parts.

Still following the railroad tracks, trying to get through at one of Tucson's old bridges, I passed a couple of fenced enclosures containing old railroad cars. At least I think that's what they all were. Several were heavily and artistically tagged with colorful graffiti. One was wrapped in yellow plastic, as if to cover up an obscene word or image from the graffiti peeking out at the edges.

There are two or three interesting old bridges/underpasses downtown, and I can never quite get a handle on which is which, or why going north takes me onto one of them, and going south leads me to another. I think only one of them is actually one way. The detour I was on forced me past the Fourth Ave. one, but let me onto the Sixth Ave. one, which may or may not be the same bridge I used to drive through onto Stone Avenue. I kind of think that's a third bridge. A policeman who testified at the DUI trial when I was on jury duty last summer called it "the Chute."

This was the first time I covered one of these underpasses on foot! I really like the look of this old tunnel, despite the graffito and the water damage.

After going through it, I went over it. Note that some of the globes on the elderly streetlamps have been vandalized, or maybe just broken.

From there it was only a block or two back to the rail station. I ate at Hotel Congress, took a few shots of the depot at dusk as my camera batteries started to give out, and headed home.



mjd said...

Thank for your unique tour of Tuscon sites. I like your picture down the long tunnel. John Dillenger escaped from a nearby Indiana jail by reportedly carving a gun out of soap and painting it with black shoe polish.

MyMaracas said...

That tunnel shot is amazing, and "the chute" is deeply mysterious ... but I gotta say I worry about you going through that rough-looking part of town on foot. (Yeah I know, I'm one to talk. Still.)

Great shots, as always!

Sandra said...

I visited Tucson a year or so ago, and found it to be wonderful. Love the bridge photos... seems like a growing town.

Kiva said...

Those pictures of the underpasses were impressive as was the sign for the Ironhorse neighborhood. The Tourist Bureau for Tucson should have you on their list! It makes me want to take a walkabout in Tucson.