Adobe streetfront: door...window...sky. Color.
Much of Tucson, like most western U.S. cities, is devoted to strip-malls and parking lots, but the historic core still has blocks of 19th-century Sonoran-style row-houses. In the 1960's, acres and acres of the Barrio Viejo was razed, but fortunately not all of it. Today it's a combination of gentrification and the pleasantly decrepit--attorney's offices, student rentals and family homes share this yard-less streetscape in a bilingual neighborhood.
In reading about the history of this neighborhood, I came across this description, written back in the 1930's by Dr. James Harvey Robinson of Columbia University, who was visiting Tucson for the first time:
"But this cannot be the United States of America, Tucson, Arizona! This is northern Africa - Tunis! Algiers! - or even Greece, where I have seen as here, houses built flush with the sidewalks with pink, blue, green and yellow walls, flowers climbing out of hidden patios and overall, an unbelievable blue sky. And the sweet-acrid smell in the air? Burning mesquite. Lovely! And the people - charming. But all this is the Old World, not America."
The Barrio Viejo is perfect for a bike-ride--you do feel as if you've left reality-TV-obsessed Gringolandia...if only for a few blocks...