Throughout the middle of the 20th century, Miracle Mile, Oracle Road, and Drachman Street were together known as Tucson’s “Miracle Mile Strip.” This was the northern segment of Tucson’s primary automotive corridor: the vehicular route into the city from the North, a crossroads for those traversing the nation on Routes 80 and 89, and an economic arterial that fostered development in several regionally popular architectural styles. For many, this defined their Tucson experience; for others, it shaped their first impression of the Old Pueblo. Swimming pools, flickering neon and lush grassy courtyards welcomed visitors to motels with names like La Siesta, El Rey, Frontier, and El Rancho. Restaurants served steak and music for under $2.00.
Today, these iconic buildings and glowing signs have emerged from history to provide a persistent reminder of the continuing American fascination with the Automobile, and to enhance our society’s understanding of the mythic 20th century West. Classic neon still signs evoke an era of fast cars and a slower pace of life. These wonderful examples of mid-20th century commercial art are an evocative night experience.
In March 2012 working in partnership with Pima Community College, THPF restored and reinstalled a series of historic neon signs along Drachman (between Stone Avenue and Oracle Road) along the alignment of Tucson’s Mid-Century Modern highway: Historic Route 80 & 89 and State Route 84.
If you know of a Historic Tucson Sign that is in storage or in a backyard please contact the foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, with support from the Arizona Humanities Council, produced the Award Winning booklet: The Neon Pueblo: A Guide to Tucson’s Midcentury Vintage Advertising. Printed copies are available through the Sunshine Shop in Tucson.