[page 84]

6.1. Alternative Future: If Things Continue Much As They Now Are

Whether the Butterfield Freeway is built or not, Barrio Historico and El Hoyo are slated for change. Major alterations will be dictated by the new Community Center, which will generate increased traffic on the existing streets and increased demands for additional parking. Changes in the social structure of the two areas are also likely to take place. All changes will be reinforced by a general increase in traffic as Tucson's dependence on the automobile continues to grow.

Activity in the form of increased land speculation has already started, especially in the Barrio area. From 1960 through 1971, 14% of the property in the area changed hands. Approximately 5% of the total has been exchanged during the last six months.1 Most of the activity has been concentrated directly opposite the Community Center along 14th Street from Main to Convent, with some lesser activity from Convent to Stone. The difference in the rate of property turnover along the same street is possibly caused by the negative influence of the new Police and Fire Stations directly to the north across 14th Street.2 If the status quo is maintained, this phenomenon of different rates of turnover could foreshadow a definite development trend. In any case, real estate activity in the area will continue to increase with the Community Center as the prime generator.

Tucson has always been inclined towards real estate speculation, partly bacause of the well-known successes of real estate entrepeneurs during all phases of the city's growth. Natural market conditions now dictate an upswing in property exchange. Consider that property within the Community Center itself generally sells for between $5 and $10 a square foot (with a considerable amount of deed restrictions). However, similar property in the Barrio Historico, just across 14th Street, currently changes hands for between 40 cents and $2.50 per foot, with no unusual restrictions.3 As a result, present high potential combined with low market price leads towards increased speculation.

As far as the structures in the Barrio are concerned, inclement weather and benign neglect have taken their toll. Several houses on Meyer Street

[page 85]

disappeared as a consequence of heavy rainfall this last summer (1971). There is no reason to assume that this process won't continue, with the possible exception of a few blocks near 14th Street and the Community Center. Many vacant lots have already appeared in the proposed freeway corridor. Easy availability of land, coupled with the fact that, so far, the Community Center is 400 parking spaces under its seating capacity, is likely to mean that parking lots will be the first new uses to appear in the Barrio. This may not occur in a consistent fashion for some time. So far, patrons of the Center have not discovered the Barrio as a source of inexpensive parking directly adjacent to the Community Center's grounds. Patrons may be wary of the Barrio area because of its rundown appearance and, as yet, parking pressure is not very intense. At present, overflow parking demands are taken up by future sites for a hotel and the La Placita shopping area. However, as these areas are built up and no longer available for parking, there will be considerably greater parking pressure placed on Barrio streets themselves.

Next to appear along 14th Street will be highly organized automotive support functions, such as service stations and towing services. Small souvenir booths and gift shops would spring up. The Police and Fire Stations would also exert some influence by creating a demand for a carryout restaurant near the corner of 14th and Stone.

A second band of development south of 14th Street could contain restaurants and nightspots of many conceivable varieties, including at least one topless bar beckoning the lonely conventioneer in the placid civic complex with all manner of electric graphics.

As the Community Center matures as an entertainment complex, a third band of loft space development is likely to appear further south, containing such uses as warehousing, display companies and costume supply houses, in which large amounts of floor space are needed at an extremely low price. Raw space and relative proximity to the Community Center, not prestige location, are the criteria for this type of establishment.

It is doubtful that major office buildings, hotels and apartments will locate in the Barrio Historico. The presence of adequate hotel accommodations on the Center grounds will preclude all but the smallest types of motel development vying for attention in the first or second potential development bands. Demands for professional office space, especially for law firms, is likely to be satisfied by the El Presidio district directly north of and much closer to the Court House and Governmental Complex than the Barrio. Large-scale apartment projects will have serious trouble in the Barrio area if the Community Center is the only generator, hardly capable of attracting prime residential uses by itself. Besides, there would be difficulty in financing such large-scale projects in an area of doubtful economic future.

Without an urban freeway, such as the Butterfield, to move people and goods around the district, traffic pressure would insure its primarily commercial character. Under increased pressure to do something about the abysmal traffic situation, a one-way pairing of 14th and Simpson (15th) Streets would be instituted, with a like pairing of Stone and 6th Ave.,

[page 86]

necessitating the widening of all four arterials.4 Increased traffic volumes on 14th Street might impede any kind of development related to the Community Center, unless pedestrian access could be improved by overhead footbridges.

All development in the Barrio would eventually fade out some blocks south of 14th Street, perhaps terminating in a final belt of social service agencies facing a landscape of by now dilapidated housing and vacant lots owned by speculators busy recalling the successes of their earlier counterparts closer to the Community Center.

The people, who at one time may have felt their homes safe from the intrustion of the Butterfield, would have been forced into an increasingly smaller supply of rapidly deteriorating housing within the Barrio or out of the area entirely. A negative potential for development would be heightened by the presence of the large area of public housing immediately to the south of 18th Street. The present HUD policy against concentration of such housing is likely to prevent expansion of either La Reforma or Connie Chambers Housing. A no-man's land would result between the 14th Street Commercial Area and the zone of public housing, remaining deadly static, unsuitable for either purpose.

The El Hoyo area lies just west of the Barrio on land sloping sharply from Main Avenue towards the Santa Cruz River flood plain. At the present time, El Hoyo is at the same point as the Barrio was 15 to 20 years ago. Previous social changes in the Barrio might serve well as a pattern for El Hoyo. At one time, the neighborhood was two to three times the present size, but the construction of I-10 cut off its west side. At a later date, an equally large portion was claimed by the Community Center parking lot. El Hoyo hangs on, remaining true to its Mexican heritage; the last really cohesive neighborhood of its type close to downtown. With the rising mobility of the younger Mexican-American population, the older, less stylish, poorly drained area of El Hoyo has lost favor. Many of them would now prefer to live on the more prestigious far East and West sides.

El Hoyo is now at the stage in its life cycle when older, long-term residents are beginning to die, and some of the middle-aged residents finally have amassed enough money to move to their "dream homes" in more stylish areas. Fewer and fewer young Mexican-Americans stay in the area to raise their own families. Even new Mexican immigrants tend to move into newer neighborhoods, such as Oury Park and the Manzo area.5 Only a rise in the prestige of El Hoyo, possibly enhancing its distinctive Mexican atmosphere and that of the adjacent Barrio Historico, would bring back the status-conscious young adults.

Assuming that the situation of El Hoyo stays pretty much as it is, original owners or their descendants will become absentee landlords. Renters would then come from only one social class--poor blacks: people that cannot afford to move to any other area, much as is the case now in some portions of the Barrio. Since absentee-owned rental property tends to be poorly maintained compared with owner-occupied homes, deterioration will continue to the point where a once large Mexican-American neighborhood will, in time, become a small, black core of

[page 87]

some two or three blocks, centered near Elias and El Paso Streets. Houses and vacant land will, over a long period, cease to be owned by the original families of the area and increasingly fall into the hands of speculators. This will effectively reduce the likelihood of developing mainly single family homes. Speculators will more probably be interested in assembling large parcels of land, hoping that development demands will cause the Community Center to jump the drainage ditch that now separates El Hoyo from the Center's parking lot. Converting the present residences to anything but parking lots is made difficult or impossible by the detached building-type itself, as compared with the flush-front row houses in the Barrio, which can readily be converted or expanded gracefully to almost any use. The small, detached residences of El Hoyo can only be converted to the smallest of commercial uses, possibly in conjuction with a family residence or a restaurant. The long walk to the Community Center and its commercial area might kill even the possibility of this limited sort of development.

Existing industry, now concentrated between El Hoyo and I-10, could expand to fill the vacuum left by razed homes, but this sort of development would only hasten the decay of El Hoyo's existing small-scale, residential character by increasing traffic on the narrow existing streets to the point where they would have to be widened.

Based on all the information available at this time, the future is not at all bright for either the Barrio Historico or El Hoyo. Unless definite and purposeful action is taken, a combination of narrow commercial interests and natural social processes can only tend to destroy these once strong neighborhoods which now exist with an increasingly tenuous grasp on life.

Kenneth Ethridge

[page 88]


[page 89]

6.2. Alternative Future: If the Butterfield Is Built

The proposed Butterfield Freeway has been the object of wideranging controversy even before its official 1970 debut in a master plan submitted by the Tucson Area Transportation Authority (TATPA). (See Fig. 6.1.) Much has been said about the impact and advisability of the project, and pro and con arguments have been presented with equal ferocity. However, it is not within the scope of this chapter to recap the arguments in the context of a city or regional scale; rather, the projections will center on one small portion of the proposed route. The discussion will be concerned with an area bounded on the north by 14th Street, 18th Street to the south, I-10 on the west, and Stone Ave. to the east. From Stone to Main Ave., the area is loosely termed, the "Barrio Historico," while the remaining portion is generally called, "El Hoyo."

Obviously, the form of the proposed freeway will have a controlling effect on the future of the area. The final form of the project has not been decided upon, so an evaluation of several possible types and their characteristics is included. These evaluations, as presented in Freeways by Lawrence Halprin,6 are in terms of four criteria; the first three factual, and the fourth subjective and open to interpretation. The criteria are:

a. Amount of land in cross section.
b. Crossovers and relationship to existing street system, traffic separation, and pedestrians.
c. Access from existing streets and interchanges with other freeways.
d. Community impact.

The first type discussed is the "At Grade" freeway. The facility is on the same level as the existing street system, with all local streets carried on overpasses.


a. The at-grade freeway requires the greatest amount of land in cross section. In addition, more land is required at the sides for sight and sound buffering, particularly if the adjacent areas are residential.

[page 90]


Fig. 6.1. - Location of Proposed freeway corridor.

b. Crossovers to local streets must be achieved by bridges and ramps which occupy additional space. Inevitably, the ends of such ramps create pie-shaped areas difficult to use for any purpose.

c. Access to existing streets is very simply accomplished by tight curves or ramps because both streets and freeways are on the same level.

d. Community impact is extremely unsatisfactory particularly if enough space isn't allotted for buffering. This type of freeway must be thoroughly blocked off by fences and barriers or it will be extremely unsafe. If designed as a wide, planted parkway, the destruction of the land is considerable. Usually, the resulting green area is inadequate or so fenced off as to fail to provide a satisfactory substitute for a park system.

The next type, the "Depressed Freeway", moves traffic in a wide ditch with space on both sides for mounding and landscaping. Local traffic passes overhead on bridges at the same level as the existing streets.


a. This type requires the widest right-of-way. For eight lanes, the total width without buffer strips is about 150 feet, assuming vertical retaining walls. If planted slopes, buffer strips and local streets at the sides are added, the width can exceed 400 feet.

b. This type permits easy crossover at street level for both traffic and pedestrian by means of overpasses at the same level as the existing streets.

c. Access from existing streets to the freeway is comparatively simple, in the form of long diagonal ramps or fast spirals requiring additional land.

d. The community impact in terms of noise is fairly good and from a short distance the facility is hidden from view. However, the implication of a 300 to 400 foot swath cut through a dense urban area is serious. It tends to disrupt neighborhoods and necessities the widespread destruction of existing structures. This is the best of all the side-by-side configurations because its appearance is somewhat softened by its being depressed, thereby lessening the volume of noise.8

The next example is the "Elevated-Stacked," where lanes in both directions are stacked one on top of another; the entire facility elevated above ground level on columns.


a. The right-of-way requirement for this type is the least for any, since it can be built within the width of an existing street, plus room for the supporting columns.

[page 92]

b. Crossovers for existing streets and pedestrian access are excellent, since neither are disrupted at ground level.

c. Access to existing streets is complicated by the stacking of the second deck, normally about 40 feet above the ground level. Additionally, access requires a fairly complex system of unbraiding to unwind th e two levels as they ramp to and from the ground. When these connections involve other freeways, the results can become extremely complex and have proven to be some of the most beautiful and, simultaneously, some of the most ungainly structures of all time.

d. Community impact can be overwhelming. In the wrong place, these structures can obscure views and destroy residential areas.9

The next discussion is centered on the "Elevated-Side-by-Side" type where the lanes in both directions are supported in a parallel manner by a stilt-like structure.


a. Right-of-way requirements for this type will vary with the amount of traffic and the number of lanes, but will require the same width as the previous types if buffering is used.

b. Crossovers for pedestrians and cars to existing streets are excellent.

c. Access to existing streets is simpler than the "Elevated-Stacked" type, as the elevation is one-half the distance to the ground, and unbraiding is unnecessary.

d. Community impact can be worse than the double-stacked variety since the width, too, is doubled. Community impact is also worse than the depressed freeway, since the resulting shadows and an oppressive relationship to the ground can be so unpleasant as to destroy the entire area as a pleasant place to work or live. On the other hand, when these facilities are narrow enough to be carried on a single set of centrally placed, widely spaced columns, the resulting area underneath could be an attractive and useful addition to the urban landscape. If they were designed as linear parks, they could bring open space to those areas desperately in need of it. If interchanges could also be designed as parks, they could bring needed recreation space to congested areas. In any case, space for light and air would be required for any of these concepts to be acceptable.10

The final type to be discussed is the "Elevated-on-Embankments," a familiar solution in the Tucson area, since the design of I-10 follows this design principle.


a. Right-of-way requirements are comparable to the depressed freeway, as are several other elements; for example, the question of vertical retaining walls vs. planted slopes.

[page 93]

b. Crossovers are readily made at street level by tunnels through the embankments for cross-street and pedestrian alike.

c. Access to and from existing streets is comparatively simple; the mirror image of the method used for the depressed freeway.

d. Community impact can be worse than the depressed or elevated-on-stilt types. Wide swaths are cut through the community, and the vertical embankments become definite visual barriers. Both objections can be countered if the right-of-way is wide enough to become a park and the embankments gradual planted slopes. However, the vast amounts of land required may change the entire character of the city. There is, however, the possibility of using the embankments with their inherent form-giving capacities to give order and contain urban sprawl.11

As yet, no firm decision has been made as to the final design of the proposed Butterfield.12 Given all the alternatives, it is easy to see why. Indications point to something on the order of a 450 right-of-way, at least from Stone to I-10. This would necessitate razing the entire block between Simpson (15th St.) and 14th Street, forming a divided, six-lane, limited access corridor.13 14 William Ealy, Director of the Tucson Area Transportation Planning Agency, local planners of the freeway, favors depressing the roadway to get it out of sight and to minimize noise.15 The same concept was put forth in a January, 1968, statement by the Engineering Corp. of America, associate planners of the Butterfield. They projected a facility approximately 20-25 feet below ground level with landscaping to avoid blighting the corridor.16 While elevation along the entire route is unlikely because of noise, the likelihood of a harmful visual barrier and the additional expense (informed sources claiming to have seen a preliminary design), indicate that an elevated right-of-way may be the case in the Barrio/El Hoyo area. The vertical space needed to transfer onto and over I-10 to a proposed Avra Valley alignment would necessitate bringing the facility out of the ground some distance from I-10.

Any type of freeway will create a psychological barrier. In a negative sense, such a barrier could divide an area and arrest growth potential. William Ealy suggests that a possible positive benefit might accrue from a barrier. He feels that the freeway might form a handy cutoff point for downtown development, causing more intensive land use inside the central govermental and business districts.

Regardless of the type of alignment, there is clear evidence that commercialization could occur along the entire route, according to Professor John T. Wenders, a University of Arizona economist hired as a consultant to the Engineering Corporation of America. He reported to the City Council that: "...increased accessibility that a parkway offers will result in intensification in use of the adjacent land.. the pressure for change will be toward industrial, commercial and multiple unit (residential) land uses."17

Wenders further added that the freeway would naturally remove properties from the tax roles, but the losses might be recovered as commercial and industrial

[page 94]

interests located along the corridor. However, TATPA stated in a 1965 study that, "Under no circumstances should the facility become a wedge for rezoning adjacent properties for more intensive uses...", and a 1970 City Planning and Zoning Commission declaration said substantially the same. Commercialization along the corridor, given the natural desire of motel owners to be near the Community Center, may be a necessity to keep the tax base of the area up. It should be stressed that the mayor and council, with the advice of the Planning and Zoning Commission, have the final authority in the matter.18

Any freeway design would do great harm to both the Barrio Historico and El Hoyo. The highest concentration of historic buildings in the Barrio Historico occurs precisely in those blocks slated for destruction. These blocks, 14th to Simpson (15th), and from Stone to Main, contain the last coherent examples of a building type that once formed most all of old Tucson--the flush-front row house. "Almost 26% (45/184) of the buildings deemed vital to the area as a district would be destroyed or directly affected by the present plan. That 26% must be added to the vast number of Barrio structures which already have been destroyed."19 Citing these facts is in no way intended to diminish the importance of the fact that many people would be displaced by the proposed alignment. It is true that substantial relocation allowances are now granted to renter and property owner alike. However, a question the reader might ask is whether there is a significant amount of like housing and commercial property available in Tucson at a price the displace people can afford. If so, is it near enough to essential services and transportation to allow these people to live in a comfortable manner? These questions could probably only be answered by a study larger in scope than this entire report.

"El Hoyo" means, "the hole" in Spanish and is a very descriptive term for the area west of Main Avenue that dips down sharply to meet the Santa Cruz flood plain and is interrupted by the dirt embankment supporting I-10. This is the last socially cohesive Mexican neighborhood near the downtown area. The proposed Butterfield alignment would deal a death blow to the El Hoyo neighborhood, cutting it up into odd sized plots formed by the interchanges at I-10. Closely connected to "El Hoyo" and its traditional Mexican customs is, "El Tiradito," the wishing shrine on Main Avenue dedicated to the memory of a slain sinner. Even if the actual shrine were spared, highway planners would be hard pressed to find ways to provide access to the Shrine through the necessary maze of on-and-off ramps. The focus of the El Hoyo neighborhood, the Carrilo School and its playground, also lies within the proposed alignment. The school, on the site of "El Jardin Carrillo," a public garden of the 1890's, was built at an original cost of $120,000. District One officials estimate a current replacement cost of one million.

Irrespective of how much good can be gained city-wide by allowing the proposed alignment of the Butterfield through the Barrio, there is absolutely no basis for assuming that it would be other than harmful to the Barrio Historico itself, the last remaining area of Mexican row-house development in Tucson. Neither can it be construed as beneficial to El Hoyo, the last remaining portion of what was once a large, viable neighborhood.

Kenneth Ethridge

[page 96]







1. Prepublication draft: Barrio Historico Survey, "Economics Report," Paules and Watts.

2. Personal conversation with Phillip Whitmore, Director of Urban Renewal, City of Tucson, Dec. 3, 1971.

3. Ibid.

4. Personal conversation with William Ealy, Director, Tucson Area Transportation Planning Agency, Dec. 3, 1971.

5. Personal conversation with Phillip Whitmore, Director of Urban Renewal, City of Tucson, Dec. 3, 1971.

6. Freeways, Lawrence Halprin, 1966, Reinhold Publishing Corp., New York, N.Y.

8. Ibid, p. 66

9. Ibid, p. 68

10. Ibid, p. 72-3.

11. Ibid, p. 74.

12. "What is the Butterfield and Where is it Going?", Tucson Daily Citizen, Sept. 29, 1971.

13. Ibid.

14. "Original Planner Urges Caution," Tucson Daily Citizen, Sept. 28, 1971.

15. "What is the Butterfield and Where is it Going?", Tucson Daily Citizen, Sept. 29, 1971.

16. "Butterfield in Big Traffic Jam of Plans ...", Tucson Daily Citizen, Sept. 28, 1971, p 2.

17. "Butterfield is Controversial and So Was I-10", Tucson Daily Citizen, Oct. 1, 1971, p. 31.

18. Personal interview with William Ealy, Director, TATPA, Dec. 3, 1971.

19. Prepublication Draft, Barrio Historico Survey, "Treatment Study," Giebner and Sobin.


© Arizona Board of Regents