Have you discovered the Stairizona Trail, Globe-Miami’s newest recreation resource?
Recently, Globe residents and visitors have temporarily lost access to trails in the national forest and the Old Dominion Historic Mining Park. To compensate, volunteers with the local public art initiative I Art Globe proposed a creative solution: an art-filled urban trail good for the body and the soul.
Several routes were discussed, and finally the organizers landed on a unique alternative: a trail featuring the hidden, historic concrete staircases scattered throughout the neighborhoods surrounding Globe’s downtown.
Many longtime residents have been amazed to learn of the existence of these staircases, some located only half a block from their own homes. Other residents have been asking for maintenance of these historic stairs for decades and felt these were untapped community gem.
The staircases were built in the mid-1930s by federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers. They formalized routes that historians think residents first created as shortcuts for getting around town. The Stairizona Trail includes these staircases, as well as sidewalks and huge retaining walls created by WPA workers. The WPA stamp can be seen everywhere once a person knows to look for it.
President Franklin Roosevelt created the WPA to combat the joblessness and despair of the Great Depression. Employing 8.5 million workers, the WPA focused primarily on the construction of roads, parks, schools, and public buildings. Globe was a base for a large WPA crew who created many public safety and recreation features in the Globe-Miami area, in the Tonto National Forest – including the CCC camp and the Kellner Canyon Picnic Area – and even Besh ba Gowah.
Highlighting the history of the WPA in Globe is a secondary benefit to creating this outdoor walking route for the community. Borrowing a name Dezi Baker coined a decade ago, the Stairizona Trail was proposed, and Regina Ortega stepped in as the champion overseeing the project.
The proposed route is designed around the historic staircases, a pedestrian bridge, and art. I Art Globe committee members selected a theme of flora and fauna that will unify all the trail art.
Community members were asked for input, and people loved the initial concept. They pushed to include other staircases and another footbridge not part of the original design. In response, both a 1.5-mile and a 2.5-mile route were designed. Then additional residents asked for inclusion of the stairs and bridge near the “G” and also wanted to include the historic cemetery, so a third route was mapped.
With the routes roughed out, I Art Globe began fundraising, with plans to install art along the route one piece at a time. Since the City intends to build a playground, skate park, and parking lot on the site of the former Pascoe Livery on Broad Street, this site made the most sense for a future trailhead, so the art started here.
Freeport McMoRan jump-started the project with a $10,000 grant to begin three art projects on the first staircase – an 82-step monster now named the Pascoe Stairs. Brandt Woods painted a cascading poppy design, where each step has the number of flowers corresponding to its location, resulting in more than 3,400 flowers in this mural.
Local artist Rob Portero completed the Gila monster and poppy mural at the top of the stairs, and another local artist, Jim Ohl, started a creative lighting project, which unfortunately was derailed due to the historic nature of the site.
Next, BHP awarded $50,000 to continue adding art along the trail. Artistic benches have been ordered (including one with a Chinese design to honor the former location of Chinatown), and artist Katie Stewart was hired to create a quail-themed mosaic on the Yuma staircase.
The BHP grant will also fund murals on the Sutherland wall (leading to the footbridge), Sutherland Stairs, East Street Stairs, Sycamore Street wall (between the East and High staircases), and High Street Stairs.
Globe Mayor Al Gameros has adopted the Sutherland pedestrian bridge. Gameros has also invested $1,000 from an Arizona Creative Communities Initiative grant to purchase copper paint to repaint the bridge.
Currently I Art Globe is awaiting approval of designs submitted to the City of Globe for three additional painting projects – one of which will be completed by community volunteers if approved. The Sycamore Street wall mural is scheduled to be finished in July by Averian Chee, who will paint an impressionistic landscape on this massive wall.
Keep your eye on the Stairizona Trail as new art arrives over the coming year. And please volunteer if you can, to help create more beauty!
Thea Wilshire works as an author, psychologist, speaker, healthcare consultant, and AirBnB host. Her passions include community development, the creation of public spaces, trying new adventures, and sharing her therapy dog with schools and medical facilities. Find her blog at https://www.acornconsulting.org/blog.