This sign is not a warning of what lies ahead but an acknowledgement of what lies below: the Court Street Cemetery, some of which remains beneath part of the Dunbar Spring Neighborhood, south of Speedway and west of Stone in Tucson.


Four rammed-earth monoliths occupy prominent real estate in downtown Tucson.

The monoliths stand at the northwest corner of West Congress Street and Interstate 10, in Sentinel Plaza.

The hard-to-miss sculptures - the tallest monolith is 28 feet tall - went up in late 2001, but the surrounding plaza, which is named after Sentinel Peak or "A" Mountain, wasn't completed until 2003, according to Star archives.

The monoliths face "A" Mountain and are intended to offer a connection to the city's ancient inhabitants, who lived along the Santa Cruz River and built their dwellings out of the earth.

The site at one time was also home to the Desert Inn, but the hotel was demolished to make way for wider I-10 frontage roads, Star archives show.

A smaller monolith decorated in tile also is featured in the plaza.

Then there is the "spirit" line that zigzags across the plaza's floor.

The "spirit" line energizes and unites the site, according to a description of the project on the Tucson Pima Arts Council's website.

"The 'spirit' line conceptually links the site to Sentinel Peak while referencing the Piman-speaking settlement located at the foot of the black mountain. The name 'Tucson' is believed to derive from 'Schookson,' meaning 'at the foot of Black Mountain,' " the description reads.

A group of artists that included Joy Fox, Andrew Rush, Chuck Sternberg, Judith Stewart and architect Bob Vint designed the public art project.

The monoliths and the surrounding plaza were built with two $250,000 federal grants awarded to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Contact reporter Andrea Rivera at or 807-8430.