Native American Influence
for thousands of years, Indians were the exclusive inhabitants
of Arizona. Archaeological evidence points to the prehistoric
existence of three major tribal groups - the Anasazai of the northern
plateau highlands, the Mogollon people of the northeastern and
eastern mountain belt, and the Hohokam of the southern desert.
The earliest inhabitants of Southern Arizona were the Hohokam
Indians, who irrigated and farmed the area for more than 700 years,
until about AD 1400. There is no record of the Hohokam after that
time, although it is believed they may have been the ancestors
of the Pima Indians. The name Hohokam in the Pima Indian language
means "those who have vanished." The Pima and Sobaipuri Indians
witnessed Spanish Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino's
visit to the Tucson area in 1687. In 1700, Father Kino established
the San Xavier Mission at the nearby village of Bac. He founded
approximately 24 missions in the region and introduced Christianity
and the Spanish culture to the Indians.
The Beginnings of a City
Spain was the first country to fly its flag over historic Tucson.
The Indian name for the settlement here was Stjukshon, pronounced
like Tucson, which roughly translates as "spring at the foot of
the black hill." Spanish settlers built the walled San Augustin
del Tucson presidio in 1776 to protect themselves from marauding
Apaches. The walls of the presidio gave Tucson its nickname "Old
Pueblo." The Spanish introduced cattle and horse raising and a
variety of new agricultural crops and techniques to the Native
Americans. They left a dominant imprint on the architecture and
culture of the area. Tucson became part of Mexico in 1821 when
Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The American flag was
raised over Tucson in 1846 by the commander of the Mormon Battalion
during the Mexican War, and the ensuing Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo
in 1848 ceded most of Arizona and New Mexico to the United States.
In 1853 the Gadsden Purchase added another 30,000 acres to the
United States and drew the US-Mexico border at its present location.
Except for two brief periods during the Civil War when Confederate
soldiers raised their standard, the Stars and Stripes has continued
to fly over the city. Early Tucson was an Overland Stage stop
and major outpost against the Apaches. From 1867 to 1877, Tucson
was the capital of the territory. The founding of the University
of Arizona paved the way for the modern city of today.
Nearly 860,000 people now live in metropolitan Tucson. Today's
Tucson is a unique blend of Western atmosphere and cosmopolitan
style. The architecture, the Native American and Spanish heritage,
and the cultural activities have created a special ambiance. Listen
carefully, because if the language you hear is not Spanish, it
may be Yaqui or Papago, the languages of earlier settlers. Or
it could well be German, Grench or Dutch. Foreigners sojourn to
Tucson for reasons of culture, climate, commerce and medical care.
While its roots go back to the beginning of recorded history,
Tucson has a young, dynamic population. The average age here is
30.6, compared with 33 for the United States as a whole. And Tucson
is just large enough to offer the perks of a big city and small
enough that natives express outrage if there is a ten-minute delay
It is a big city by virture of its land mass -- at 1632 square
miles it is three times larger than San Francisco. But it is small
enough that when hometowner Linda Ronstadt returns to perform
-- usually singing in both English and Spanish -- Tucsonans respectfully
leave her be as she walks with her family from a concert. The
city of Tucson's neighborhoods are now divided equally between
newcomers and native Mexican-American families. Several of these
neighborhoods -- referred to as barrios -- are governed by strict
historical status: Not a board comes down or goes up without scrupulous
analysis by a neighborhood association.
Because of its casual, welcoming atmosphere, Tucson was included
in the book, 50 Fabulous Places to Raise Your Family, by Lee and
Saralee Rosenberg (Career Press, 1993). In addition to rating
Tucson schools as "excellent" and describing its employment outlook
as "one of the fastest growing job markets in the U.S.," the author
has offered this ultimate high praise: "If you were to go to a
drawing board to create the ideal urban environment of the '90s,
you'd be wise to use Tucson as a model." Historically, agriculture
and copper mining were the basis of Southern Arizona's economies.
Today, tourism is a leading industry. The city's museums, festivals,
specialty shops, and recreation activities attract visitors from
around the world.
1890 E. River Road
Tucson, AZ 85718