After dozens of detours, hordes of headaches and folks finding themselves stuck at a dead end, the Fourth Avenue underpass is reopening with hoopla, hype and a brand new look.
Some may say hip-hip and hooray but I have another thing to say: I liked the old one.
I am in no way downing the renovation or the fact that the new underpass is safer, more practical and – yaay! – finally getting rid of that dead end.
Nor am I trying to throw a wet towel on the celebration, which sounds like a gas.
I am simply lamenting the passing of another chunk, albeit crumbling, of Tucson’s past.
I fell in love with Fourth Avenue’s creepy, cavernous underpass during one All Souls Procession, when the masked and bone-clad creatures frolicked out of its mouth like a throng of glorious souls from the depths of the Earth.
Our Logical Lizard blogger, Geoffrey Notkin, agrees. In fact, I think he’s the one who pointed out that phenomenon at the event.
Frolicking out of shiny new tile just won’t have the same effect.
Sure, the previous underpass may have been ready to crumble and was so low it may have possibly behead someone, but it was also quite charming.
Part of what drew me to Old Pueblo was its ancient buildings and dilapidated underpasses. Let’s call it Tucson charm.
Not that I’m against progress – some things need updating. But it would be wise to ensure we keep that primitive feel that makes Tucson so alluring.
Other “progress” around town includes new construction tall enough to block mountain views in Feldman’s Historic Neighborhood, as outlined in a letter by resident Kathleen Williamson.
A fine rambling patch of desert near the Rillito River along my daily dog walk was once haven to coyotes, lizards, rabbits and twisted debris that made for great art supplies.
Now it’s a parking lot.
While my dogs do enjoy the water fountain the parking lot came with, I’m still wondering if it will ever house more cars than the usual zero to three I see there.
I’m also still wondering why an open-topped, concrete garbage can that gets stuffed with dog doo was placed mere inches from the water fountain.
See, sometimes “progress” can really stink.
Should developers try to retain Tucson’s kitschy charm?
Should all the old stuff be razed to make way for newfangled buildings?
Should we all just move to Phoenix?