The state of Arizona has a special relationship to the USS Arizona and so it is no surprise that throughout the state you can find different memorials dedicated to the fallen Marines and sailors of the ship.
One of the most interesting memorials is the one found near the the Arizona Capitol at Bolin Memorial Park.
Below, I’ll walk you through the different sites you’ll see when visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park.
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What is the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park?
The USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park is a special part of the Memorial Plaza that pays tribute to those who lost their life while serving on the USS Arizona and also to all of the heroes of World War II.
At this memorial, you’ll find the USS Arizona anchor, signal mast, and gun barrels from both of the USS Arizona and USS Missouri.
This USS Arizona memorial is one of several memorials found in Phoenix.
Another USS Arizona memorial in Phoenix is called the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River (read all about it here).
It’s a beautiful memorial to visit at night when you can stroll through rows of glowing columns that form an actual size perimeter of the ship.
The memorial also houses a relic from the ship, known as the “boathouse relic,” which was originally used for the memorial at the site of the sunken ship in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Eventually, the memorial was found unstable and they replaced it with the current memorial that stands today.
There’s another USS Arizona memorial on the campus of University of Arizona in Tucson.
It’s home to one of the bells from the USS Arizona and it’s currently hanging in a clock tower. (Each month, the bell would be rung symbolically but they recently stopped doing this in order to preserve the bell.)
They also have a room full of artifacts like the original bottles that were used to christen the ship and a lot of other interesting items and photographs that tell the story of the people who served on board the Arizona.
In the middle of the University of Arizona Mall, there’s a brick outline of the ship (made to scale).
How to visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park
USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park is located at: 1616 W Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85007. This is right next-door to the Arizona State Capitol.
There is free two hour parking located right next to the memorial on either side of the park (2-98 S 16th Ave Parking and 1-99 N 16th Ave Parking) so it is very convenient to drive yourself to the memorial to pay a visit.
Note: The arrows in the parking lot are a little bit confusing because they are basically backwards compared to the normal driving directions but just be careful getting in and out and you’ll be fine.
Sites at the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park
The USS Arizona signal mast
The middle of the plaza is home to the upper 26 foot of the signal mast from the USS Arizona, which was dedicated and donated to the state of Arizona on December 7, 1990.
According to AZlibrary, the mast is located 1,177 feet away from the dome of the Capitol building which is symbolic for the 1,177 sailors and marines who perished on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. An American flag proudly waves on top of the mast today.
The gun barrels
Dedicated in 2013, this memorial is known as the “Guns to Salute the Fallen” and it honors the service members of Pearl Harbor and all World War II veterans.
There’s a 14 inch gun barrel that belonged to the USS Arizona and a 16 inch gun barrel that belonged to the USS Missouri. These two gun barrels are located 405 inches apart and each inch represents 1,000 American lives lost in World War II.
The USS Arizona 14 inch gun barrel, which is 55 feet (17 m) long and weighs 70 tons, was not taken from the wreckage. Instead, it was one of the gun barrels on rotation and so that is why it is in such good condition.
It was previously on the Arizona but at the time of the attack it was located at the Dahlgren Naval Support Facility in northern Virginia.
However, the gun barrel did return to service when it was placed on the USS Nevada (BB-36) during World War II. It would be used to bombard the shores of Iwo Jima and Okinawa before making its way to Tokyo Bay.
If you’re not familiar, the USS Missouri was the last battleship commissioned by the United States and it’s well known for its “surrender deck” which was the site where the Empire of Japan surrendered, officially ending World War II.
Having both of these gun barrels on display near each other is perfect in many ways.
First, it was the bombing at Pearl Harbor of ships like the USS Arizona that launched the US into World War II and it was on the USS Missouri that the Empire of Japan finally surrendered in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
Second, the USS Missouri is located in Pearl Harbor and its guns overlook the remains of the USS Arizona, symbolically protecting over the ship. Just like in Hawaii, these gun barrels remain side-by-side.
Blue steel pillars
In-between the gun barrels you’ll notice nine blue steel pillars that bow out similar to the shape of a ship’s hull. These are meant to signify the nine minutes that it took the USS Arizona to sink after getting hit by bombs.
On these you’ll find hanging stainless steel nameplates for each of the 1,902 Arizonans who were killed in WWII. On a sunny day when the wind is blowing, they appear similar to waves in the ocean.
The USS Arizona anchor
You also can find one of the anchors for the USS Arizona on display. This 16,000-pound (7,300 kg) anchor is painted blue and it sits at the end of plaza, near a water fountain structure with a massive chain draped over it. It’s the oldest of the USS Arizona memorials at the plaza — dedicated on December 7, 1976.
Surrounding the base of the anchor, you’ll find all of the names of those who lost their life on the USS Arizona.
The anchor is located just behind a fountain that I imagine would look pretty beautiful when running but we caught it when it was completely dry.
Something interesting is that from the center flag pole (east of the anchor) to the first marker for BB-39 it is 608 feet and that represents the length of the USS Arizona from bow to stern.
And from the center flag pole to the second marker for BB-63, it is 887 feet and 3 inches representing the length of the USS Missouri from bow to stern.
Another anchor is currently on display at Pearl Harbor and you can see it whenever you visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii. I believe there was also a third anchor but I’m not sure about its current whereabouts or if it even was salvaged.
Bolin Memorial Park has several other memorials on site for you to explore and pay tribute to and these include:
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
- Arizona Pioneer Women Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Purple Heart Memorial
- Ernest McFarland Memorial Arch
- American Merchant Seaman Memorial
- The 10 Commandments Memorial
- Civilian Conservation Corps Memorial
- Armenian Martyrs Memorial
- Navajo Code Talkers Memorial
- K9 Police Service Dog Memorial Park
We got to check out a few of these but we also made the mistake of visiting in the middle of the day on a summer day where temperatures were hitting about 113°F.
With no shade, it got uncomfortable pretty quick out there and so I would love to come back when temperatures are better so that I can check out all of the memorials without thinking about how sunburned my neck is getting.
The Arizona Capitol Museum
If you have the time you should definitely go check out the USS Arizona exhibit at the Arizona Capitol Museum.
They have an exhibit displaying artifacts from the USS Arizona including a US flag that was on the ship when it’s sank, a large 500-pound piece from the ship’s superstructure, and 59 pieces of the ship’s silver service donated to the Navy in 1919.
The USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park is a well done memorial and worth the visit.
Try to time your visit when temperatures are cool so that you can comfortably visit all the different sites, as you’ll probably end up spending much more time there than you originally anticipated.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.