Tuesday, August 27, 2013


By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com


                 all photos by Evan Dain

Those trolley tracks are in and every cobweb is blown out. From decades of dust and indifference, downtown Tucson is emerging with a vibrant energy full of busy sidewalks and bustling restaurants.

Even the side streets are popping on new lights as this rejuvenation of Congress and Broadway between the Fox Theatre’s bright marquee to the west and historic Hotel Congress to the east turns up the volume.

On a Wednesday night in August, you needed reservations to get a table in the most popular spots. Just imagine what it will be like when college students and snowbirds are filling the sidewalks every evening.

“It’s starting to feel like a real city,” said one veteran watcher of downtown’s development. “The streets aren’t dark and scary anymore.”

Among those new faces are a variety of ages – along with the wide-eyed families out on their own urban adventures there are plenty of hip older people joining the restless young professionals in this search for new fun in unexpected places.

And the best part of all in this transformation of creating new restaurants out of old storefronts, everything so far is home grown.

Instead of tearing down the old to make room for something new, it’s all about keeping the old buildings and making their insides new again.

Putting a forgotten charm back into the two-story brick walls and cozy corners, hanging chandeliers from lofty spaces and giving everything new air conditioning. Tucson’s venerable architecture is getting lots of respect from this new generation of entrepreneurs pushing the Old Pueblo into the 21st century.

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