Tucson, Arizona is a city of neon. In the early twentieth century, Tucson turned from being an old, remote city-in-a-desert, to being a key rest-stop for early motorists travelling from Florida to California on the Old Spanish Trail.
By the 1930s, Oracle Street in Tucson was clustered with motels. Their bright, colourful lights begging tired motorists to stop for the night. It was a midcentury dream.
Then the world changed. In the 1970s, a new highway, the I-10, was built; air travel became popular. This section of Oracle Street—dubbed the Miracle Mile—fell into disrepair and disrepute.
While it does still have its shabby areas (No-Tel Motel, I’m looking at you), this area is being transformed, not least by the awesome piece of public art in the photo above. Created by Dirk Arnold in 2009, “Gateway Saguaro” is, to me, the iconic distillation of Tucson: a contemporary work referencing the city’s past.
Gateway Saguaro, 2009
Address: A short way north of the intersection of Oracle and Drachman, in the centre median.
Visible: 24/7, but so much better at night.