Sunday, February 7, 2010

Welcome to 4th Avenue

It was unusual to receive a welcome to an avenue, but we would soon learn that Tucson's 4th Avenue was a bit out of the ordinary.

Karen Fernau of the Arizona Republic described 4th Avenue as the place "where New Age meets Old Pueblo, cowboy meets vegan, hippie meets techie and tattoo artist meets sculptor."

The welcome was not a "bumper-sticker" type of welcome, but more like a "shout-from-the-rooftop" greeting. This message was also a permanent, "we-really-mean-this" statement.

One of the first storefronts that we approached had a sign in the window that provided more information about the owners of the businesses on 4th Avenue.

Next to this sign "Something Metaphysical This Way Comes" was another sign: "Going Out of Business."

We weren't sure whether this storeowner was taking a positive step in another career direction or expressing the means used to deal with an unfortunate economic downturn.

The craft works of over 200 artists are represented at Creative Ventures. We weren't sure whether this fellow on the wall was a gila monster, some type of bug, or some other critter. But it certainly got our attention.

Walking along this colorful street, we passed cafe's and coffee shops. Almost all had outdoor seating; this particular setting looked very relaxing.

The Medusa Hookah Lounge, an establishment where patrons share shisha (flavored tobacco) from a communal hookah or nargile at each table, was another interesting shop along the avenue.

Another place about which we have no first-hand information was Bumstead's. We liked the sign for this restaurant that "puts its own twist on the menu."

It was time for lunch. Not being the adventurous type, I suggested Lindy's on 4th rather than Maya Quetzal, a Guatemalan restaurant. Tomorrow's entry will report on our meal at Lindy's.

After lunch, we resumed our walked along 4th. Sabine's Café Passé (left in the photo) and Cali-Kind Clothing were just two of the colorful stores along the block. Cali-Kind invites its customers to "reconnect with your inner hippie at this tie-dyed clothing store."

The mural on the wall of the Hippie Gypsy was quite impressive. The store sold T-shirts, smoking accessories, incense, posters and more.

Shown here is The Food Conspiracy Co-op, which sells a great selection of organic and local produce, but it was the brilliant blue next to the yellow car that caught my attention.

Even the Goodwill Store broke into the color theme. It was a refreshing appearance, especially in contrast to the usual gray concrete exterior of Goodwill stores.

At the end of the walking portion of 4th Avenue, we came to the 42-unit, historical Coronado Hotel Apartments. It had been a source of low-income housing downtown for many elderly and disabled, but it is now for sale.

By the end of the walk, we felt we would agree with Karen Fernau: "Together, the merchants create a funky retail harmony, a street offering an alternative to master-planned, squeaky-clean, climate-controlled malls packed with a predictable mix of chain stores."

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