Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions
For several reasons, you may want to begin and end your tour at the Mercado located at West Congress & Avenida Convento. First, in the open-air Mercado courtyard, there are many convenient shops and services: bakeries, coffee shop, restaurants, and public restrooms. Second, long-term parking is FREE, at least for now, in the vacant lot across Avenida Convento. Third, the corner of Congress Street and Avenida Convento is the western-most terminus for Tucson's Modern Streetcar. You can purchase your streetcar day pass at the ticket vending machine here or any streetcar stop.
Fourth, this is where Tucson began. Jesuit missionary Father Kino established a "visita" here that, decades later, became Mission San Agustín del Tucson in 1770. This was a sister mission to the one he founded in 1692 at Wa:k (or "Bac"), a Sobaipuri (O'odham) village along Rio Santa Cruz, about 9 miles upriver (south) from present-day Downtown Tucson. That historic mission we now know as San Xavier del Bac. However, its beautiful church was not completed until 1797, more than 100 years after Father Kino established a mission there.
Seis Kitchen features Mexican Cuisine from six culinary regions. You order at the window, take a number, then find a table in the courtyard. A server will bring your order out to you. Conversely, opposite Seis is Agustin Kitchen serving new American cuisine. Either will be a fine place for eats and drinks at the beginning or end of your journey.
Estrella Bakery ioffers Mexican pastries, cookies, and such. Stella Java is like Starbucks, only different. The Santa Cruz Farmers' Market is here, Thursday evenings.
Prior to beginning your journey back in time, you may want to relax in the Mercado's pleasant courtyard, enjoy something to eat and drink, use the public restrooms, and read a bit about Tucson history.
For most of Tucson's early history, it was home to a small and fairly isolated population surrounded by a hostile desert. When Father Kino arrived here in 1692, he estimated there were about 2,000 native people living in four villages along the Santa Cruz river. Tucson's population did not grow much during the Spanish period, and by 1860 it was a town of about 925 people. It wasn't until 1870s and 1880s, after Arizona became part of the United States, that large numbers of Anglo-Americans began settling here.
Cover photo: hncarmer via Instagram.