Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Scenes from Tucson

We must postpone our restaurant reviews of San Diego one more day.

We continued our visit to Tucson, AZ, with a walk around the downtown historic district. I was intrigued by the Pima County Courthouse because of its pinkish color. The courthouse, designed in 1928 in Spanish Colonial style, is an architectural homage to Tucson's Spanish-Mexican past. The best part of the complex is actually its glittering mosaic-tiled dome in vaguely Moorish style.

Near the courthouse is this wall which was part of the Presidio, built in the late 1770s to enclose the 11 acres to protect people inside the fort from Apache attacks.

St. Augustine’s Cathedral was completed in 1868. A two-year restoration program was completed in 1968, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the original church.

The facade was magnificent, e.g., above the entryway, next to a bronze statue of St. Augustine, are carvings of local desert scenes with saguaro cacti, yucca, and prickly pears.

Then, we came upon two theaters that warranted tours. Unfortunately, we didn't know about the Rialto until we were ending our stay in Tucson. The Rialto was across the street from the Hotel Congress. When it opened in 1920, the Rialto featured vaudeville.

Motion pictures or “photoplays” didn’t predominate the theater business until a decade later with the arrival of “talkies.” (The Rialto itself sported a lighted mini-marquee in 1930 that read “Our Screen Talks!”).

We knew about the Fox Theater, but a phone call was not returned, so the possibility of a tour could not be pursued.
Construction began on what was to become the Fox Theatre on August 24, 1929. Opening night, April 11, 1930, marked the beginning of its 44¬year life as the center of Tucson’s entertainment world.

In 1974, competition from other venues, drive-ins and television conspired to end the run of popularity the Fox had enjoyed. It remained hidden from the view of the public for more than 26 years.

Restoration and rehabilitation began in 2000, and the theatre was re-opened in 2006. The colors of the entryway are indicative of Southwestern Art Deco, and they are intriguing enough to make this a "must see" stop on our return to Tucson.

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