Recently installation was completed on one of Tucson’s new public art sculptures designed by local artist Dirk Arnold. The Neon sculpture, titled “Gateway Saguaro,” is 30 feet tall and is located in the median near Oracle/Adams.
In 1937, what is now Oracle Road from today’s Miracle Mile to Drachman was the first divided highway in Arizona, with roundabouts at both ends. Because of the wide medians, it was considered to be very safe and was called the Miracle Mile of Safety by Arizona Highways. It was part of the main motor route through Tucson, US Routes 80 and 89. The public sculpture project is part of the Oracle/Main/Drachman intersection reconfiguration, which removed the final remaining roundabout that gave the area its name.
After I-10 opened, the area fell into decline and Miracle Mile became synonymous with drugs and prostitution in the minds of many. In the late 70′s the road was renamed to Oracle as a result of that stigma.
The design of the sculpture is homage to the neon signs of the motels and restaurants along the Miracle Mile, a number of which remain. After the Ye Olde Lantern sign came down the artist, Dirk Arnold, felt like the area had lost an iconic image, and wanted the public art he created to be of a similar scale to replace that loss. The Saguaro is an iconic image of Tucson because the city is bracketed by two units of a national park dedicated to the preservation of the Saguaro.