Wishing Shrine  (Dates: 1880s to the present)
Wishing Shrine or El Tiradito
Legend has it that the Wishing Shrine, also known as El Tiradito, at 221 S. Main Street in Tucson, is the burial spot of a young man who had engaged in an affair with a married woman and then was murdered by her vengeful husband. Other explanations have been proposed but no one seems to know for sure exactly why the shrine was built except that it involved broken hearts and a crime of passion.

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

The shrine has been maintained by Hispanic women as a place for prayer and reflection for more then 120 years. It is located in one of Tuscon's historic Mexican-American neighborhoods, called Barrio Viejo, just south of downtown Tucson.

El Tiradito, which means little castaway in Spanish, proves the cultural importance of shrines. It is still visited by many aficionados who light candles, offer prayers and make wishes. According to legend, if one makes a wish and lights a candle, the wish will be granted if the candle burns to its base.

The shrine has been revered and preserved by city officials as well as ordinary Tucsonans. For example, in 1936, Tucson's city engineer and architect Ed Herrera built the stone wall that protects the shrine. In the late 1960s, the city developed plans for urban renewal that threatened the site, but Annie Laos and other people in the neighborhood organized a movement to save El Tiradito. Later the Arizona Department of Transportation considered building a new freeway in the area that would involve tearing down the shrine, or relocating it. However, Laos and others worked to help list the site on the National Register of Historic Places. It was placed on the Register on November 19, 1971. Again the shrine survived.

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

Photo Credits:
Wishing Shrine or El Tiradito - © Peggy Price, photographer


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