While at the firefighter’s statue last week near downtown Tucson, I also saw a plaza nearby with another statue I needed to check out. The City of Tucson Fire Department dedicated this plaza as a memorial to the Barrio El Hoyo which was displaced during the 1960’s downtown redevelopment.
People living in the barrio enjoyed social solidarity, ethnic pride, bonds of kinship and neighborliness. It was a poor neighborhood where people knew and helped each other. In 1921 on Meyer Street, there was a mixture of Jews, Syrians, naturally many Mexicans, Chinese, Lebanese and everyone spoke Spanish.
Mrs. Solana M. Sosa was born in the Leopoldo Carrillo house where she raised her daughter and died in the house after living 111 years, 1795-1906. The 8 acres of land known as the Carrillo Gardens had trees, flowers, different roses from around the world, huge cottonwood trees, a little zoo, small lake and pavilion for dancing.
The barrio was named El Hoyo, which means “The Hole”. In the 1940/50’s hard rain flooded homes by 2 – 3 feet since this barrio was on land lower than the surrounding area. Drainage pipes and culverts were eventually put in to divert the water, but eventually houses were torn down. The northern 2/3 of the barrio is where we find the Tucson Convention Center and the Central Station Fire Department. It was heartbreaking for many people as they built these homes with their own hands, but downtown was to be redeveloped.
Information for this post is from plaques at the plaza where this statue is, along with my own research. We should feel fortunate the history of this area is saved for others to learn about and understand the sense of community once here.