Blog Archives

Touring downtown Phoenix… by bike

Visiting the murals in the alley behind 5th St. near Roosevelt (photo source: Tony Arranaga)

[Source: LightRailBlogger.com] — I took my neighbors on a hour long bike tour of downtown Phoenix.  Mike and Jane were not too familiar with the backstory to some of the historic sights in our urban core, so it was fun to give them some background on the landmarks in the heart of the city.

We started in the Evans Churchill neighborhood near 4th Street and Fillmore.  We visited the community garden near Conspire Coffee and the murals in the alley behind 5th Street near Roosevelt in the arts district.  Mike, Jane and I then went to the Phoenix Public Market, the Westward Ho and Civic Space Park.  Our tour then continued south on 1st Avenue to see the Orpheum Lofts, 44 Monroe and the old City Hall.

Next. we made our way over to Hanny’s Restaurant, which used to be home to a high end department store back in the day.  We then stopped by St. Mary’s Basilica where Pope John Paul II visited several years ago.  Our trip ended at Heritage Square and then we stoppped for a bite to eat at Front Row – TGIFriday’s restaurant inside Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play ball.

How did I do?  Where would you take friends or out of town guests to explore the heart of Phoenix?  [Note: Read the full blog entry at Touring downtown Phoenix… by bike.]

Preserving history in downtown Phoenix

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Downtown Phoenix's Civic Space Park (Photo: Tony Arranaga)

[Source: Tony Arranaga, Light Rail Blogger] — Downtown Phoenix reminds me of a puzzle.  Over the last several weeks, and in various parts of the city, I’ve noticed a new piece being added to the bigger picture of a vibrant urban core.  I told you about the Phoenix Public Market opening soon, and earlier tonight there was a dedication of the A.E. England Building at the Civic Space Park.  Si Robins gave us a preview of the festivities in the Downtown Phoenix Journal.  The building has an interesting past as Seth Anderson, an Arizona native, points out in his blog:

The building was built in 1926 in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style and was used as a Hudson and Essex auto dealership.  The large windows displayed the cars and it became Phoenix’s first “auto row.”  In the 1930s the building was sold to the Electrical Equipment Company.  They sold radios, batteries, and refrigerators up until the 1950s.  It changed hands numerous times and fell into disrepair and abuse until 2005 when it was purchased by the City of Phoenix to be integrated into the new Civic Space Park.

Tonight was the first chance the public had to see the inside of the England building – which has Central Station as its neighbor on the south and ASU’s Cronkite building to the east.  I pass the old brick landmark during my carfree travels on the lightrail, but this is the first time I’ve seen the inside.

The city of Phoenix did a great job restoring the building and making it functional for public use.  A window encased mezzanine wraps around a huge conference hall at the center of the building.  Outside the building there’s the Civic Space Park stage and grass area and of course the public art display “Her Secret is Patience.”  Did I mention the England has a basement which contains the second location for local coffee house Fair Trade Cafe?  I unlocked my bike to go home and noticed all the people enjoying the weather at the park.  Phoenix has a centerpiece and I love it!  [Note: Read more of Tony’s light rail blog entries here.]

Park(ing) Day Phoenix: from car spaces to people places, 9/18

pd2009_poster_commemorative_previewPark(ing) Day is coming to downtown Phoenix on Friday, September 18, as community activists, neighborhood leaders and urban planners throughout the city step up to the curb, put a quarter in the meter, and proceed to transform curbside metered parking spots into temporary public parks. PARK(ing) Day is an annual, one-day, global event that promotes the importance of green and urban public spaces.  It is intended to help people rethink the way we use our streets and creates diverse conversations about how we can make sustainable cities.  This concept of PARK(ing) Day is based on the idea that putting money into a parking meter is like ʻrentingʼ a public space.

Jane Jacobs, in The Death and Life of Great American Cities wrote that, in order to make a city safe, prosperous and worth living in, one must start with “lively and interesting streets.”  With this end in mind, Park(ing) Day PHX is an opportunity to create community, engage the public and begin a dialogue on topics ranging from city parks and public space to the environment to mobility options and community improvement projects.

The Park(ing) spaces will be located adjacent to ASU Downtown, on 1st St. between Polk St. and Fillmore St. between 7 and 9 a.m.

PARK(ing) Day was originally created in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, as an experimental exploration in repurposing public space. Since then has been creatively adapted and sparked imaginations around the world.

For more details on Park(ing) Day in general, click here.  Please contact any of the co-organizers for information on the Phoenix event: Kathryn StewartYuri Artibise, or Tony Arranaga.

Silenced bells ring again at downtown Phoenix basilica

[Source: Tony Arranaga, Channel 15] — From glory, to hard times, to papal blessings, St. Mary’s Basilica in Downtown Phoenix has weathered more than a century to sing once again.  Parishoners, growing in numbers in recent years, heard silenced bells toll once again late Saturday afternoon.  Jerome Doris says the three bells were silenced after the church went through a rough period with the rest of downtown.

The church spent nearly $60,000 to fix the three bells, and is looking to make other improvements to keep up with the rapid growth in that section of Phoenix.  ASU’s downtown campus is up and running, so is a nearby high rise Sheraton Hotel, and the newest wing of the convention center is set to open early next year.  St. Mary’s is hoping to raise two million dollars to finish other upgrades around the facility.  The church is raffling a car later this month, to find out more, click here.