140 N. Stone Ave., Tucson
HOURS: Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
COST: $3 adult, $2 student 12–18 and senior
Until shopping malls began to proliferate in midtown starting in the 1960s, downtown Tucson  was the commercial and social heart of the city, a fact that this small museum celebrates.
While there are ongoing attempts to revitalize downtown through a project called Rio Nuevo, it’s unlikely the once-bustling mixed-use area will ever return to its former glory, when locally owned department stores, barber shops, boutiques, hotels, restaurants, and theaters lined the narrow streets, the sidewalks crowded with people working, shopping, living, and playing all within the same few blocks.
The Arizona Historical Society Museum Downtown, tucked away in a few rooms off the lobby of the Wells Fargo building on Stone Avenue—a still-busy, business-minded downtown district crowded on the weekdays but largely deserted after 5 p.m. Friday—shows artifacts from the early days of downtown through to its desertion, with large, rare photographs and saved ephemera from different eras of the city’s history.
An especially interesting installation tells the history of the Dillinger gang’s capture in Tucson  in the 1930s.