Place Where You Live:

Tucson, Arizona

A Bridge to Everywhere: The LuisGutierrez Bridge on the Santa Cruz River              After the gear-whine of the construction equipment has abated with the heat, I walk the Luis Gutiérrez Bridge over the Santa Cruz River.  This is the place of Tucson’s birthplace, of the Spanish Convento with its copper bells lifted into the azurite sky where cottonwood-draped acequias carried river water to the mission gardens under A Mountain.                  I stand on art and culture and history realized in the utility of concrete and steel.  In the elegant lines of the architecture, I see a bridge symbolic of the greatness of our community: our diversity.                 I climb the stairs to the pedestrian deck, each step embedded with replicas of Hohokam pottery shards from our earliest settlers. Under the sweeping arcs of the canopies, perforated with wedding-heart leaves, I walk through dappled light into Tucson’s past: Twelve landmarks sandblasted into the deck, from Father Eusebio Kino’s entrada to San Cosmé del Stjukshon (Tucson) to the University of Arizona’s Phoenix spacecraft landing on Mars.                       And more, something astonishing: history’s sundial reaching out with light and shadow.  On specific days and times, an alignment between the sun and the bridge illuminates the past, like on each October 14 at 8:45 AM when the letters “TPBCo” will come to rest on an image of the Tucson Pressed Brick Company.                    It is here near mid-span that I meet a sun-weathered Hispanic man.  He stops when he notices me.  “My father,” he says, “worked his whole life at the brickyard—right over there.”  He points to a vacant spot above the west bank of the dry river, and then swings his arm toward the base of A Mountain.  “I was born there.”                      We talk for half an hour and he tells me what it was like growing up and raising his family on the Santa Cruz River.  I explain how I’ve raised my own three daughters here, and how my oldest was recently married a few hundred yards fromwhere we stand.           When I ask him what the new bridge means to him, he says:  “I walk across it every day. It’s how I get to everywhere.”