|Mill Avenue, April 2011 (photo by Art Collazo and Tuesday Marquez)|
Mill Avenue (between Rio Salado Parkway and Baseline Road), Tempe
Mill Avenue is located in Tempe roughly ten to fifteen minutes away from down town Phoenix. It is roughly in between Rio Salado Parkway and Baseline Road, however the majority of residents and visitors know mill for it’s bar scene in between Rio Salado Parkway and University Dr. Mill Avenue is one of Tempe, Arizona’s oldest and most historic landmarks. That being said most people who are over twenty one, and the occasional people who have fake I.D.’s, walk up and down the street going to all the bars on the way without thinking about the history and stories behind it. For example the street originally got its name because of the big water powered flour mill that was located at the north end of the street just before one gets to what is now Tempe Town Lake. In 1871 Carl Hayden developed a ferry system that connected Phoenix and Tempe across the Salt River as well. But since the closing of the mill, the Tempe fire department and other emergency units in the town have used this site to train some of their personnel.
On Mill Ave itself there are many bars and clothing outlet stores. Something worth mentioning is the original and very first Harkins Theater is also located in the middle of this street. It only has one theater and only really shows independent films anymore. However it has been well maintained and when one walks through its doors, one cannot help but to feel the history this place has to tell.
Originally the Tempe High School was also located on Mill Ave. in 1909. Its location to be exact was on Mill and 8th street. Construction on the new location began on Mill and Broadway and the new and still current location opened in 1952.
But it is not all fun and games on mill. Some things to look out for are parking in a safe and designated parking lot and the police. Mill has been the host of many illegal towing’s by companies that have people on foot trying to spot people parking illegally, or as I have personally seen, legally in some cases who then calls in a truck to tow your car away in literally a matter of seconds. The police are also worth mentioning. They deal with drunken rude and obnoxious kids all night every night from around 9pm to 3am. So it would be in your best interest to be as friendly to them as possible if one encounters a police officer. There also has been a law passed deeming it illegal to sit, laydown, and in some areas loiter and solicit on mill. This law was clearly constructed with certain people in mind and to me is clearly is a form of classism. Activists who feel the same way have held sit-ins on mill refusing to get up because of the way that Tempe treats their homeless. Many of them also feel that there is inadequate means of helping the homeless. One reason they feel this way is due to Tempe not incorporating enough homeless shelters.
However California had a similar ordinance stating that no one may sit, lie, or sleep in public areas. The state of California found this ordinance to violate the 8th amendment, cruel and unusual punishment, and voted against the ordinance. This vote alone shows how ridiculous this ordinance actually is in the Tempe and Phoenix metropolitan area.
- Art Collazo and Tuesday Marquez