One of the success stories of Tucson, the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood has a rich history and offers many amenities, not the least of which is incredible access to downtown, the University and the Interstate. Named after Paul Lawrence Dunbar and John Spring, it was the city’s first African-American neighborhood and today it continues that heritage as one of the most diverse, important and vital parts of Tucson. Whereas it had fallen into some disrepair and ill repute in the 80’s and 90’s, the neighborhood has bounced back nicely on the strength of the people who live there and their love for their home.
Dunbar/Spring is a small neighborhood, but you’d be hard pressed to get bored. Neighborhood businesses include Elden Luthiery, a guitar repair shop, Zinman’s Foods, a vegetarian food store and bakery, Bicas Inter-Community Art & Salvage, where you can learn to repair your own bicycle or donate an bike to the cause, and the Royal Sun, a hotel bar/restaurant which in some folks’ opinion hosts the city’s best karaoke night! If that’s not enough you can get yourself over to Congress Street downtown, or 4th Avenue if you prefer, without ever using your car. The area is very bikeable with University Boulevard providing easy access to the East, 6th Street with it’s protected bike lanes, and of course easy access to the Santa Cruz River portion of The Loop bicycle path. If you still prefer to use a car you have I-10 within throwing distance, about a 2-minute commute into downtown and easy access to Speedway Boulevard and Oracle Road (Main Ave while in Dunbar/Spring) for your crosstown needs.
Insofar as “neighborhood-y” elements, Dunbar/Spring features a community bulletin board, an organic community garden, a lending library, plenty of neighborhood artwork including metal sculpture work and murals, and a smattering of small seating areas throughout. The neighborhood somehow manages to feel at once tied into the Downtown and University areas, but also can feel remote and very true to it’s Sonoran desert roots. Many of the homes are being renovated, but they maintain their sense of place and don’t detract from the mature feel of the place in general.
In all, it’s an excellent place to take a walk and see some interesting historic home sites, some public art, maybe start a nice tour of this and other nearby neighborhoods such as Barrio Anita (just to the West), West University (just to the East) and the always wonderful El Presidio (just to the South).