by James Hudson
After seeing so many readers offended by Linda Ronstadt's recent comments (which came as a followup to an interview she did on NPR's Diane Rehm Show) regarding Downtown Tucson's newer "Stalinist buildings," I was reminded of a photo I took downtown back in October of 2013.
The photo was taken in the empty lot on Broadway Blvd. and S. Fourth Avenue, just north of Tucson Yoga and behind The Cadence student housing and Centro Garage complexes on Congress/Toole/4th. I was fishing for information on the lot via Facebook, not looking to evoke Cold War-era imagery from the 1950s East Berlin.
That said, I've mashed up the original and black & white versions of the photo with images from Stalin's actual razor-wire-fenced East Berlin and elsewhere with stock photos of the latest behemoth University of Arizona student housing complexes to be built off campus (which is key to Ronstadt's and others' ire) in decidedly still-historic neighborhoods.
One doesn't need to be a tenured UA historian or crackerjack old-school journalist to know that all of the student housing complexes I've included in the photo (NEXT & LEVEL, The Cadence, Hub at Tucson— not even mentioning the fearless party-crews of 2012 at District on Fifth!) either tower over or are within eye-shot from not only the Ronstadt family's old storefronts downtown, but one of the neighborhoods to which the clan laid its roots, on E. University Blvd.
If you want to check out the view in person, stop by The Big Blue House on 105 E. University, where Jose "Pepe" Ronstadt himself resided until his death in 1933; it's a quaint B&B these days and they would love to take you on a tour. Just don't bring up Stalin.