Welcome to the Stairizona Trail

How do we combat the physical, emotional, financial, and educational challenges that have hit our community because of the COVID-19 pandemic?  We use the power of art.

I Art Globe (IAG) is a volunteer-driven, public art initiative of the non-profit Cobre Valley Center for the Arts in Globe.  The City of Globe signed on as a partner with I Art Globe to bring art to our community as a way of enhancing the wellbeing of local residents and inviting tourists to the area.  IAG has sponsored over 30 art projects and 10 art events over the past two years.  One of the IAG projects is the creation of the Stairizona Trail.

To compensate for the temporary loss of access to trails in the national forest and the Old Dominion Historic Mining Park, volunteers with I Art Globe (IAG) proposed a creative solution: an art-filled urban trail good for the body and the soul. Several routes were discussed before landing on a trail that features the hidden concrete staircases spread throughout the neighborhoods surrounding the historic downtown.   

Many longtime residents have been shocked to learn of the existence of the staircases, some only half a block from their residences. Other residents have been asking for maintenance of the historic stairs for decades and felt these were untapped community gem.

The older staircases were built by Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers in the mid-1930s and formalized routes that historians think residents created as short-cuts around town. The Stairizona Trail features sidewalks, huge retaining walls, and staircases created by WPA workers and the ubiquitous WPA stamp can be seen everywhere once a person knows to look for it.

Community members were asked for input on the proposed route designed around staircases, pedestrian bridges, and art. People loved the initial concept, but pushed to expand the route to include other staircases and footbridges, as well as the town’s “G” and our historic cemetery.  For this reason, 1.5 mile, 2.5 mile, and 6.2 mile routes were created. 

With the routes roughed out, IAG began fundraising with plans to implement art along the route sequentially. Knowing the city intended to build a playground, skate park, and parking lot on the site of the former Pascoe Livery, 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 over 3400 flowers in this mural. Local artists Rob Portero completed the Gila monster and poppy mural at the top of the stairs, and Jim Ohl started a creative lighting project that unfortunately was derailed by 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), Katie Stewart created a quail-themed mosaic on the Yuma staircase, and Averian Chee completed a massive 130 foot long impressionist landscape mural on a wall along the trail. Another mural was completed by 14-year-old Apache artist, Aili Sneezy.  Additionally, art was added to the East Street Stairs where a 71-step beaded pattern was painted by 19 volunteers, and Manuel Gonzales completed a gorgeous Arizona flora design on the High Street Stairs. The Sutherland pedestrian bridge was beautified with a $1500 purchase of copper paint from an Arizona Creative Communities Initiative grant.

Since opening the trail, additional murals along the route have been added, like the “Welcome to Globe” mural by Myron Starr, the “Broad Street” mural by Chris Carnahan, and the “Dominion Hotel Cactus Room” mural completed by Al Gameros.  Others are planned for the Safeway retaining wall, the High Desert Humane Society wall, and the Hicks-Cline building downtown.  Additionally, IAG is initiating a plan for 30 small whimsical Gila monsters to be painted on the fronts of downtown buildings.

IAG has been working with a local high school student to create a map of the route with descriptions of the 40+ art projects to be found along the route.   An interactive Google map is in-the-works and IAG is asking the ASU Media Department to help create augmented reality segments that tell the history of features along the route.

Keep your eye on the Stairizona Trail as new art arrives over the next year and please volunteer to help create more beauty.


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