A Trolley Tour of Downtown Scottsdale
Recently, I had the opportunity to take a trolley tour of downtown Scottsdale, the historic core of the city and got to know my new home a little better. It was a great tour and free. I’ll share the details of how you can do it at the end of the post.
The tour begins at the old adobe mission, a Catholic church with a great story but not a long history even though it looks like it could be as old as other missions in the Southwest. Built in 1933 by the parishioners, mostly Mexican laborers, who didn’t have another place to meet and worship together. After hearing the story, I might goes as far to say that there were some minor miracles to get it built. They received donated labor, leadership and materials and ended up with a simple but beautiful place to worship and received help from people who others thought would never help.
For the tour, two docents also parishioners, one of them older than the historic building, shared the story of the humble adobe structure. I particularly found the story of the windows interesting since the craftsman who made them had never worked with glass before. He even included his name in one of the windows.
After telling the history of the building, they shared the restoration efforts including finding original windows that had been taken out at some point, Eagle Scout projects that “got things done” and how they hope to be a fully functioning parish soon. The building is used for a handful of services each year and other special events including weddings, but they hope to have daily meetings and be open all the time. The mission is located at E. First St. and N. Brown Ave. Right now I think the best way to see the inside is to go on the trolley tour, but that may not be the only way.
After this introduction to Scottsdale’s historic side (that’s not that old) we boarded one of the trolleys that roam the streets of Scottsdale. The trolleys are free to ride with three routes that can take you through a lot of the city. Our tour was basically the Downtown Scottsdale Route without stops but with a knowledgeable tour guide. As we meandered through Old Town and Downtown we passed through the various districts (Arts District, 5th Avenue, Fashion Square, etc.) that give Scottsdale its history and culture.
Along the way, our tour operator Ace shared historical facts and anecdotes about the city, specific shops and sites and the people who made/make it great. On the tour I was introduced to lots of interesting places where I want to visit and many restaurants I want to try.
There are no stops or real photo ops on the trolley portion of the tour, but it is a great opportunity to experience and learn all about this city that is only 3 miles wide (at downtown) and 31 miles long; a city that has a population that fluctuates by 300,000 or more every winter; a city that was home to one of the greatest American architects and some of the best examples of mid-century design in the country; a city with more than 80 art galleries, one of them my workplace.
The trolley tour is free, but only happens once a month, and it fills up fast. So, if you want to go, and you should if you live in or around Scottsdale or are visiting, reserve a spot online or call Ace. She is very friendly and extremely knowledgeable and happy to help. Ace offers a whole range of tour options in addition to this trolley tour including art tours, architecture tours, trips to special locations in the area like Taliesin West or Paolo Soleri’s studio and home, and so much more. My next tour with Ace will probably be the Hotel Valley Ho Magical History Tour.