Railroad executives built homes, many of which are on each side of Railroad Street, and were built in the style of the East (Queen Anne, brick) to remind them of home, I suppose. They typically have two front doors, one for the family and the other for an office or for other executives who visited. My house has a dirt basement opening from the outside with ledges built in for the railroad workers to sleep where they would be cooler, if not very comfortable. –Nancy Myers
Our neighborhood developed and grew as a result of the railroad so there should be more of its history reflected in any art project depicting Armory Park. The Queen Anne style homes, Victorians, etc. were made possible because red brick and lumber was more plentiful now that the railroad came through here (1880). Folks could actually build their home with a peaked roof, wrap around porch and out materials other than adobe. In fact some of the existing adobe structures had porches added just to blend in to the “new” style of home sprouting up in the area. My own family worked for the Southern Pacific railroad for three generations starting with my grandfather (laborer) back in the early 1920s until retirement in the late 1940s, then my dad (mechanic/welder) from the late 1930s until he passed away in 1972. One of my cousins retired about ten years ago after a very successful run of about 30 plus years in sales for now the Union Pacific.
Finding a home in Armory Park during housing shortages was quite the achievement and the motivations were: 1. proximity to work-the railroad yard on 22nd street and cherry/aviation was located at Toole as was the Round House (back in the day of steam engines and the tower previously located in what is now Armory Park del Sol. PFE (Pacific Fruit Express) also had a significant presence in the neighborhood.
2. Good school nearby–Safford still stands despite a shaky reputation in the 1950s and 1960s–much improved since I attended during that era and
3. A Catholic Church –All Saints-now a condemned building on the southwest corner of 14th Street and 6th Ave.
Great place to grow up, to live, to retire, to enjoy all of Tucson’s vibrant offerings in art, history, nearby museums and educational institutions, spiritual development and continuing the welcoming spirit of the southwest. Oh, and the plethora of downtown restaurants, a new grocery store, and for the most part, good, solid decent neighbors. Now, bring on the retailers that were part of the history!
The focus of Armory Park was, indeed, the SPRR after its arrival in 1880. The maintenance yard was located where AP del Sol now is. Homes of managers, on the east side of 3rd Ave., were torn down when the yard was moved eastward as downtown grew, so SP didn’t have to pay the high taxes on them. Lower level staff & laborers lived in many of the small houses along the alleys (now dedicated avenues) & streets. Many of the larger avenue houses (& even some smaller houses, like mine) have a second front (or other) door that led to a single room that was rented out to temporary/transient RR laborers. There are also what used to be rooming houses for these workers