Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said: “Tucson is proud to celebrate this important historic designation. Our city and my office will work to ensure these architecturally significant buildings and their façades are protected and adaptively reused. This designation compliments recent placemaking efforts, the forthcoming zoning overlay, as well as the City’s Move Tucson mobility and complete streets Masterplan. The tax incentives associated with this designation will further support the small local business as well as our economic recovery.”
Broadway Boulevard was born modern. The avenue expressed the new American optimism and post-World War II economic boom that was changing the nation. Like many cities, Tucson grew rapidly during the middle of the 20th century. In 1940, the population was 35,000; by 1960, it soared to 212,000. Broadway became an important suburban corridor with modern structures built along its edge to support new suburban neighborhoods. Broadway was a reflection of the American Dream. A high-end shopping district emerged with stores to meet the new demands of the 1950s and 60s. Furniture, lighting, photographic equipment, shoes, clothes, and cars were just some of the offerings of the street. Glass storefronts, geometric designs, new materials, and evocative signage combined to create a vision of Tucson as a modern metropolis. In 1953, the East Broadway Merchants sponsored a contest to name the strip between Campbell and Country Club. They received over 5,000 ideas and the winning entry was The Sunshine Mile.
An extraordinary collection of mid-century modern buildings designed by Tucson’s most influential architects of the era shaped this modernist boulevard. Architects who contributed to the unique character of this commercial shopping district include: Bernard J. Friedman, AIA (1916 – 2012), Anne Rysdale (1920 – 2017), Frank J. Nelson (1893 – 1950), Cecil H. Moore (1913 – 2009), Nicholas Gust Sakellar (1918 – 1993), Roy Place (1887 – 1950), Lew Place (1913 – 1986), Josias Joesler (1895 – 1956), Terrence “Terry” Cloney Atkinson (1915 – 1983), William Wilde (1904 – 1984), and Sylvia Wilde (1907 – 1954), Blanton and Cole, Charles Cox (1922 – 1996), Cain, Nelson, Wares, & Cook, Juan Wørner y Bas (1929 – 2015), Gordon Maas Luepke (1913 – 1984), Jaastad & Knipe, Phoenix’s Ralph Haver, and California’s Ronald Bergquist.
Broadway Boulevard, currently under construction, is being widened as part of a Regional Transportation Authority project. Rio Nuevo, the local tax increment finance district, is actively engaged in the preservation of numerous historic resources along the street. Fletcher McCusker, Chairman of Rio Nuevo, said: “A large part of our interest in engaging with the Sunshine Mile was to protect its historical assets.” McCusker summed it up, “This registration will enhance the area as a destination.”
Full Nomination can be downloaded at Sunshine Mile.