Wednesday, August 3, 2005

A Desert Oasis for the 21st Century

This is my overambitious (as usual) contribution to the latest Round Robin Photo Challenge.  The topic, suggested by Mary of Alphawoman's Blog, is "Oasis."  I promised that this entry will not involve pictures of Tucson weather, Mount Lemmon, or my church, so please ignore the fact that a few of these photos were taken outside in the rain. 

Tucson is in the desert, of course.  It gets to be 110 degrees or higher here for much of the summer.  An oasis is therefore something that Tucsonans really need.  Almost nobody wants to spend much time out in the heat, or in a car whose air conditioning might once have been adequate for Michigan but doesn't cut it here and now.  Even hanging out at home can be unpleasant, especially if you only have a "swamp cooler" (evaporative cooling, like St. Michael's, I think) or air conditioners in the windows of selected rooms (as at Casa Blocher) instead of central A/C.  You're probably nice and cool at work, unless you work outside, but who is going to do a lot of overtime just to stay out of the summer heat?

So where do Tucsonans go on hot summer days?  Where is their oasis?  Why, the mall of course!

The outside of the mall is more attractive than most.  

Park Place Mall is probably the best and most successful of Tucson's four indoor malls, although the only one that's really hurting at this point is El Con Mall.  Originally built in 1974, Park Place was plain old boxy Park Mall until General Growth Properties bought it in 1996 and renovated the heck out of it.  Now it's pretty inside...

Shopping, food, the arts, and a place for the kiddies.

...and out...

Part of the "street scene"

...with an attractive "street scene" of stores accessed from the parking lot. What a concept!  The look is more Main Street U.S.A. than local shopping center, but definitely modern and upscale. People don't want to hang out in front of these stores on summer days, but for evenings and cooler times of the year, and sometimes even in the rain, it works. And heck, you can always go into the stores to stay cool - and to shop, of course.

But the prettiest part of this mall is the desert-themed playground at the edge of the food court.

Unfazed by the giant snake.

Mallgoers, even the littl'uns, are unfazed by the giant snake.

I like this picture so much I had to use it again.

Pretty cool place to hang out, huh?  I love this picture too much not to use it again.

This oasis even has a pool and running water!

This oasis has a pool, running water, and even (metal) critters coming to enjoy it!  A plaque even identifies it as an "oasis," per the artist who designed it. 

Kids can go run and play in the colorful desert-themed playground.

Kids can run, jump, spin, slide or even crawl, while parents sit and rest nearby.

Concrete cactus has a concrete woodpecker

Go ahead and make tracks, and run around this concrete saguaro.  No needles will prick you!

Food, plants, people.

The food court itself is rather pretty, too.  This is the heart of Park Place Mall.  McDonald's and Subway compete with pizza, "yummy yummy" teriyaki chicken, Chinese, Greek, Mexican and other food choices.  Early last week I ran into a couple of St. Michael's parishioners who were visiting the mall for the first time since the expansion and renovation.  They loved it so much that "we've gone there every day since," they told me on  Sunday.

  A place to sit and eat, read, write, chat.

People come here to eat, read, write, rest, chat, do some people-watching, kill time until the movie starts, or all of the above.  Many of the tables and booths are decorated with photos of cacti, Mission San Xavier del Bac, and even old saloon tokens.

 Running water, sculture and other attractions.    

As you can see, the place is pretty darn popular now, although it's seldom seriously overcrowded - inside, anyway.

I don't mean to write a puff piece here, so here's my one little gripe.  Sometimes parking is a bit of a problem, especially at Christmas or when a hit movie premieres.  Summer presents a special parking problem of its own.

round and round, looking for a shady space. 

On summer days, everyone wants a spot in the covered parking.  It's not really a parking garage, just ground level plus an exposed roof.  The covered parking probably accommodates a couple hundred cars, tops.  People are so desperate for those spaces that they will often drive up and down the rows for ten minutes or more, hoping to be in the right place at the right time when a spot opens up. 

Me, I usually park just outside the covered parking.  Sure I'm in the sun, but at least I can walk to the mall entrance in the shade.


Check the Round Robin Challenges journal (especially comments) for any last-minute additions, but here's the list of participants for now:

Aunt Nub  














Mary...Alphawoman's Blog

Deb... Sassys EYE


ondinemonet said...

Hi Karen :)

This looks just like my favorite mall out here...the Hacenda Crossing in Dublin California. We like to sit out in front of the IMAX and watch's pretty fun sometimes. :) Terrific pictures as usual!

Always, Carly :)

gaboatman said...

I would not have thought about a mall as an oasis, but you sold me here!  Well done!

rap4143 said...

Before AC malls were very inviting for relief of the heat :).

gotomaria said...

Malls are getting so attractive and inviting. You are right these photos make ME want to stop and rest there!

mariebm56 said...

Looks like a nice place to spend the day AWAY from the heat!

ryanagi said...

Dang! I forgot about the photo challenge again. Hmm. Let's see what I've got in the archives for this one. (I have an urge to go shopping...wonder why...)

deabvt said...


auburndawn said...

I used to work for UofA, and spent alot of time in Arizona.  I loved the heat, but I think it is because I didn't have to do it year around!  

sassydee50 said...

Karen~Your photos make an ordinary mall look like a must see! I enjoyed my visit! ;-) Blessings, Sassy

geminiwilder said...

really, really nice.  you've certainly shown an oasis.
i could stand hanging out there on hot days!   ~Phinney

alphawoman1 said...

Very cool!!!

montaukny said...

Oh how I wish I'd thought of the mall!  We've got a wonderful 1 near me called the "Palisades Center"...the 2nd largest 1 closely behind "Mall of America."  There were people skating at the ice rink, meanwhile it was 95 outside!  I love going to this mall ~ certainly an oasis!

~Aunt Nub~

sonensmilinmon said...

Now THAT would be my daughter's idea of oasis!!!  As for me, take me to the lake ... unless I'm living in AZ then I'll worship the MALL! :-)