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La Placita  (1860s - 1960s)
St. Augustine Church and La Placita, 1800s St. Augustine and La Placita, 1800s
La Placita was a communal plaza used mostly by the Mexican and Mexican American residents of Tucson from the 1860s to the 1960s. When urban renewal occurred in the Tucson downtown during the 1960s, a committee, made up primarily of women, saved a small part of the plaza, located near Congress and Broadway Streets.

Region: Tucson and Southern Arizona
Theme: Women in Historic Preservation

In 1967, a group of women and a few men formed the Society for the Preservation of Tucson's Plaza de la Mesilla, which became known as La Placita Committee. This committee challenged urban renewal downtown which would destroy Tucson's oldest barrio and commercial area. In the mid-1960s, residents were being relocated while homes and businesses were torn down. This committee hoped to save La Placita, a plaza which symbolized their barrio's communal space. La Plaza de la Mesilla was the site of the first church in Tucson, San Agustin Church, constructed by Mexican residents in 1868. The plaza in front of the church became known as La Placita, and many businesses were located around its perimeter. Serving as the public square for the Mexican and Mexican American community for nearly 100 years, the plaza represented the community's history and memories.

City planners proposed that Broadway run right through La Placita in order to build a new La Placita Village with shops, restaurants and "quality development." If old shops were to be preserved, the city required La Placita Committee to shoulder the costs of bringing them up to code. Due to continued resistance from the city officials, the La Placita Committee agreed to a limited compromise - preservation of a small triangular patch of grass where Congress and Broadway streets intersect and the gazebo in La Placita Village that opened in 1974. Visit the small square that represents the old communal gathering spot of Tucson's Mexican American community.

Address: La Placita, Congress and Broadway Streets

Sources used in preparing this form: "La Placita Committee," by Lydia Otero in Memories and Migrations, edited by Vicki Ruiz and John R. Chávez.

This site is on the AWHT Tucson Walking Tour which begins at the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House. Brochures/maps will be available in May at the Tucson Visitors' Center in La Placita at 100 S. Church Ave.

Photo Credits:
St. Augustine Church and La Placita, 1800s (B-27070) - Courtesy of Arizona Historical Society, Tucson
St. Augustine and La Placita, 1800s (B111391) - Courtesy of Arizona Historical Society, Tucson

 

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