Broadway Project on Tucson's Sunshine Mile

photo by: GM Vargas Photography

11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Sunshine Mile

  • Location: Tucson, Arizona

Located on Tucson’s Broadway Boulevard, the two-mile long Sunshine Mile, with its glass storefronts, geometric building designs, and quirky signage, is one of Arizona’s most significant concentrations of historic Midcentury Modern architecture.

Constructed primarily between 1939 and 1972, the Sunshine Mile developed as a commercial corridor after World War II as a new American optimism and economic boom were transforming the nation and the Southwest. These midcentury commercial buildings along the Sunshine Mile were designed by influential architects, including Sylvia and William Wilde, Anne Rysdale, and Nicholas Sakellar.

“Preserving this two-mile stretch will not only add to this city’s strong sense of place, it can also be a powerful tool for urban revitalization.”

National Trust President and CEO, Stephanie Meeks

Today, the Sunshine Mile is threatened by a proposed transportation project calling for the widening of Broadway Boulevard from four to six lanes and in some sections, all the way up to nine lanes—a plan that currently requires the demolition and sale of several properties on Broadway. However, a committee comprised of Tucson’s architects, planners, citizens, property owners, and community advocates is seeking a compromise. Working with city officials, this committee sees an opportunity to develop policies that would preserve Broadway Boulevard’s iconic Modernist buildings.

The Sunshine Mile remains an important and irreplaceable part of Tucson’s history, and underscores recent research by the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab, which indicates that the Sunshine Mile and other areas with historic, smaller buildings and mixed-vintage blocks contribute significantly to the city’s economic vitality, neighborhood livability and residential density. At a time when cities across the country are reusing their older buildings to attract residents and grow their local economies, the Sunshine Mile deserves to be an integral part of the city’s future.

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