Reader’s Choice: ASU Campus, Tempe AZ

Posted: June 1, 2008 in 101 in 1001, Arizona, photography, Readers Choice, weekend

So last Friday (May 23rd, for those of you following along at home) was the day that I had planned and set aside to take the pictures for the reader’s choice photo tour of Mill Avenue and Old Town Scottsdale. I had several vacation days scheduled to give myself a nice, long weekend. To top it off, the weather was supposed to be blessedly cool – in the 60’s and 70’s, as compared to the high 90’s that lead up to the weekend.

I got up early on Friday morning, surprising Calvin by getting up when he did, instead of sleeping in on my day off. I saw him off to work, then got my workout in since I knew I wouldn’t feel like exercising later that afternoon. I showered and got my gear together (camera bag with lenses but sans a lot of the crap that made it heavier than necessary, tripod, cell phone and cash, iPod and a book just in case), and left the house by 9:00.


Me, all geared up.

I went through the drive-thru at Jack in the Box and indulged in a breakfast sandwich – a rare treat for me. I sat in the parking lot and muched and read a book, keeping a weather eye on the sky and the thickening clouds. By 9:30 I was headed up Rural Road toward University Drive in Tempe.

The entire block just south of University up to Rio Solado to the north, and Rural Road to the east to just past Mill Avenue in the west, is home to the Mill Avenue “cultural district” and the Tempe Campus of Arizona State University. Lots of shops and main-stream stores, lots of restaurants, lots and LOTS of bars – a very typical party college town. In fact, I believe ASU has received several, um, “awards” for their partying atmosphere.

At any rate, my intent was to take some shots of the older, original part of the ASU Campus, and then head up one side of Mill and down the other, finishing up at one of my favorite spots, an Irish pub which I’ve enthused about here a time or two, Rula Bula.

(By the way, click on any of the pictures to see larger versions over at Flickr, and the entire photo set can be seen here – not all of the photos I took are included in this entry.)


What you see here is a map of the ASU campus and downtown Tempe area. The area inside the red square is the portion of the ASU campus that I toured.

I parked in the Chili’s restaurant parking lot on the corner of Mill and University, and walked back along University. It was so lovely and cool that I could almost imagine myself back home, walking along State Street in Portland. There was some traffic, but few people walking along the sidewalks. The area I walked along was away from the secular office buildings, and it being late May meant that much of the student body was gone for the year.


This is a bar with many different incarnations. It was once called “Flip Flops”, then “Daisy Dukes”, I think it was once the location for “Dos Gringos”, and now I have no idea what it’s called. Two small support buildings house the kitchens, and the seating and tables are primarily outdoors, as are the dual bars. We’ve had a Corona or three, here.


A bit further down the street, a landmark church. This is the All Saints Catholic Newman Center.


The ASU Fulton Center, which houses some college administration, and the administration for the liberal arts and sciences departments.

Directly across the street from the Fulton Center is the subject of many college brochures for ASU hopefuls.


This is the original founding building of what later became ASU, called “Tempe Normal School”. The name gave me a chuckle, until I looked up the meaning and history of “normal schools”. From Wikipedia, “It (Arizona State University) first opened as the Tempe Normal School for the Arizona Territory in Tempe, Arizona in 1885—the first institution of higher learning to open in the territory.”


I walked along the Cady Mall, which was usually extremely crowded while school was in, but which I now had nearly to myself.





I really had no idea where I was going, I was just wandering around and picking directions at random. I realized the light of the overcast day wasn’t the best for taking pictures, but I was grateful for the clouds and the cool weather, even if I was getting sprinkled on from time to time.

I happened upon the Farmers Education Building, for which I was grateful, since I had to use the necessary. It’s hard to hold still and take good pictures when you have to, well, tee-tee.


The entrance to this building was so huge that there was an indoor courtyard with various staircases, plants, and a fountain. I used my most excellent powers of deduction and figured the bathrooms would be near the vending machines and water fountains. I was right. I am smart.

I exited the building, got hopelessly turned around (shocker), shrugged, and continued on my way. A college student with a rather shrill voice was conducting a tour of the campus, leading a bored-looking crowd of teens and their parents. It seemed every direction I took, I ended up running into them again. I amused myself wondering what they thought of me, climbing up on benches and contorting myself to get the shots I was after.


Some unlucky students were finishing up the semester. Ew.


Another popular ASU landmark, though I couldn’t seem to find any information about it on ASU’s on-line tour.


With the scuplture off to my left, A Mountain can be seen in the distance between buildings.


Along the walk a little further, I happened upon Gammage Auditorium, where we went and saw The Jersey Boys TWICE. (Weirdly, I looked for this entry, which should have been transferred from the old blog when I consolidated over here, and it wasn’t present. There are some gaps in the archives and I’M THRILLED, because that means I’m going to have to go back through ALL the archives and see which entries made it and which didn’t, and then manually transfer the entries that are missing. LE SIGH.)

From here I decided to turn back and head vaguely in the direction of University Drive, via other malls and avenues and walkways.


The Danforth Chapel.


The garden behind the Virginia G. Piper Writer’s House.


The Virginia G. Piper Writer’s House.


I snuck up on the porch and took a picture of the rocking chairs. It was sprinkling pretty consistently at this point and if I’d dared I would have sat there for an hour and read my book.


From here I found myself on the Palm Walk, at the end of which is the University Bridge, which I’d taken a picture of back when I was in front of the Normal School building:


I always wanted to figure out how to get up on the bridge, since we’ve driven under it innumerable times. Here is the approach to the bridge from the end (beginning?) of the Palm Walk:


On top of the bridge, in the exact center, over University Drive and looking west toward Mill Avenue:


And turned around, looking east toward Rural Road. The large building on the left houses dorms for students in residence:


Looking north, still on top of the bridge – a good vantage of Sun Devil Stadium (and the descending cloud cover), where we went in September of last year to watch a college football game (another entry that didn’t transfer, grr…).


And back down off the bridge again:


At this point it was starting to rain in earnest. I was back near the point I started, so I walked back along University Drive to the truck. As soon as I got in it started raining even more heavily, and I was glad the timing was such that I got all the photos I needed and was back near my vehicle before the sky opened up.

I drove up Mill Avenue and parked in Rula Bula’s parking lot, thinking I’d wait a few minutes, let the rain lighten up, then walk down Mill to take more pictures, and end back up at the restaurant for some lunch. The weather didn’t cooperate, though. I read for a half an hour and talked with Calvin a bit on the cell, while the sprinkle turned into a steady rain, with intermittent downpours. I gave up on my plans for more photos and headed back home, getting back at about noon. I fixed myself some lunch (leftover American Chop Suey, as it happens), read for a while, and thought about taking a nap.

Calvin got home a couple of hours later, just as I was loading these pictures from my camera onto my hard drive. Which is when the crash occurred, AFTER, of course, I’d deleted the pics off of the camera. So I packed up my laptop, took it over to AcronymCo’s IT guys, implored them to try to save the data, and came back home in NOT the best of moods. Which Calvin fixed by putting my butt in the truck and taking me over to Pier 54 for a couple of beers and some munchies.

Despite the crash, I had a really good day. It was so much fun to wander around the campus and take some pictures. I was lonely for Calvin, of course, since he and I love to do stuff like this together. But I had him with me the following day, when he and I went to Old Town Scottsdale for the afternoon.

That entry will be up soon. Thanks for giving me your choices for a photo entry! Hope you enjoyed.

  1. Weetabix says:

    Weird, I’ve climbed that A Mountain and sat on that A back in the early 90’s, and also stayed at the fugly dorm pictured in the view east on Rural! Not recommended (although I did appreciate the air conditioning, something my Wisconsin dorm did not have).

  2. Taoist Biker says:

    I walked the palm walk a few years ago in February, in upper-70s weather, while it was snowing back home and thought to myself, “Man, it’s a whole different world.”

    (Being surrounded by comely co-eds in skimpy clothing after a long and bleary winter back home had no effect on me whatsoever. Nope.)

  3. Frank says:

    One of the things I enjoyed most as my kids got older was visiting various colleges with them as they tried to decide where to go school. There is something I find electric about colleges and college towns. I had the chance to visit ASU back in the 80s while doing business with Motorola. Coming from the east, the campus is much different than what I was use to architecturally.

  4. Kim says:

    I work at the University of South Carolina and it’s funny how many similarites I saw with my campus and yours. Beautiful pictures!

  5. Jen says:

    You went to the nipple of knowledge! go you!

  6. Laura says:

    Weet – Really? Weird! Also, CONGRATS on achieving your Masters!!! Are you going to go for the Doctorate?

    TB – Comelly co-eds? We have those? (HAH. Calvin can’t keep his eyes in his head when we’re around there.)

    Frank – I confess to being rather envious of those kids, and you’ve GOT to know that they didn’t appreciate one BIT the opportunity they have in front of them. I wish I’d gone away to college when I was of an age… but NOOOO, I had to go and get married instead. Sheesh.

    Kim – They all do seem to have a running theme, don’t they?

    Jen – Yeah, thanks for explaining that one to me. I had NO idea what you were talking about.

  7. maryanne says:

    beautiful pictures! =)

  8. farmwife says:

    Would you believe I lived in the Phoenix area for 13 years? 🙂 Your pictures made me homesick, though I guess the Apache Junction area is nothing like it was in the old days when the freeway ended at Power Rd.

    Speaking of — if you are ever over on Baseline and Recker — take a picture of my old house for me! It’s directly south of Recker Rd right on Baseline. Sniff. We had 3 acres of horse property — we used to ride all over there in the orange groves that they tore out to put the Park N Swap thing in.

  9. Laura says:

    Maryanne – Thanks!

    Farmwife – Really? Which do you prefer, AZ or the prairie? AJ has built up a lot, but not as compared to most of the other Phoenix area ‘burbs. There are multiple freeways out that way now… I’m pretty sure your horse property on Baseline is gone now, replaced by yet another strip mall. You’re better off where you are! Snow, goats, and all.

  10. farmwife says:

    You know, both places have their appeal. When I was in Phx, I was really heavy into the horse sports, and endurance riding, and had a LOT of riding friends. Not so much here. I gave up endurance when we moved here because it was impossible to keep a horse in condition.

    On the other hand — I am VERY grateful that I am able to raise my kids in what is really a modern day incarnation of Mayberry. No worries about gangs or shootings, and our schools don’t have metal detectors.

    It’s a much slower paced way of life here. There simply is no traffic. We have less than 1000 people in a county the size of Rhode Island. I do miss everything being so close in Phx — and available 24 hrs a day. I miss fast food, lol. I also miss the hours upon hours spent riding the Superstitions.

    I don’t miss the commuting, the traffic, the throngs of people, the crime….I do miss the big paychecks we used to have! 🙂

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