The Muse – Downtown Tucson

It’s demolished now. The end of a period and a clear sign of consumption, “Just knock it down and throw it away. We’ll make a new one.” This building, to my untrained eye, was just as good as any old school or community center. Perhaps with a bit of help it could have stuck around.

The old YMCA turned Theater turned Vacant. It was a friend of mine who introduced it to us and led the way. And as it turned out, it was an amazingly huge facility, complete with pool, basket ball courts, racketball courts, dance room, MPR, and a gaggle of classrooms. Just about the comprehensive pinnacle of my own urban spelunking in that respect.

We entered through the basement door into a classroom. Because of it’s central location in town and easy access (no fences were climbed) it was clear that there was a kind of resident ‘flow’ through the building. The room we came into had a certian eirre air to it; dissheveled things, a couple of desks, writing on the chalk board. Each room after seemed to reflect the same look and we could never figure out why.

From the entrance we explored the bottom floor finding changing/shower rooms a couple more class rooms and a number of utility rooms full of boilers and such for the whole building. We moved slowly up the stairs and onto the first floor. However this was where ground level was and therefore it was well lit and quite visible to the street view with large windows. After a gentil scan of this floor, including a key locker that seemed to have more keys that expected still hanging, we moved upward. The second floor contained more classrooms and as we moved to the south of the building we found the real gems.

The gyms, racketball courts, and the suspicion that below us was the pool. After a quick once over we found our way down stairs and into the pool room. It was grand. A ceiling so far away it was impossible to discern detail with a flashlight and benieth it a pool to rival any high school competition pool, deep and long, drained.

We climbed down into the pool and ran around for a bit, however like any large room covered in tile, noise echoed and reflected and shook our bones with fright everytime we got our own sounds back. We decided from there to move through the pool locker room and then into the multi-purpose rooms and then back up stairs.

In our last effort to find roof access I opened a door to find the largest pidgeon roost I’d ever upset, dumping about 50 birds into my face, the hallway and fortunatly out the roof access hatch that was just above them. Once the door was clear we then moved out onto the roof to enjoy the subtle serene temporary ownership of space that accompanies any urban spelunking expierence. Sitting atop the roof we could see the bulk of Tucson, watch poice helicopters fly past in persuit of some college party, hear the hoots and screams from 4th ave, and in general watch the night glide by uneventful for so much of the city as we harmlessly tresspassed on condemned property, soon to be demoloshed.

(… draft in progress)

*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell


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