Tucson, Arizona

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Some History Of Tucson AZ

People have been living in what is now the Tucson area for more than 4,000 years, making this one of the oldest continually occupied places in the United States (with some really old roofs!).  This rich history and culture helped transform it into the flourishing community it is today, full of people, life and activities. See some of Tucson’s annual events here.

During a 1698 visit, Jesuit missionary Father Francisco Eusebio Kino found a small O’odham village surrounded by irrigated fields on the west side of the Santa Cruz River. This place was called Chukshon, which could be translated as at the base of the black mountain. The Spanish pronounced it Tucson and went on to establish a mission there called San Agustin.

The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 1,010,025 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second most-populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix , both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor . The city is 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.Mexico border Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 58th largest metropolitan area in the United States (2014).

Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita south of the city, and South Tucson in an enclave south of downtown. Communities in the vicinity of Tucson (some within or overlapping the city limits) include Casas Adobes, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Midvale Park, Tanque Verde, Tortolita, and Vail . Towns outside the Tucson metro area include Benson to the southeast, Catalina and Oracle to the north, and Green Valley to the south.

I find the history of Tucson fascinating, and enjoy leading our Southern Arizona Guide Tucson History & Libation Tour one Sunday a month. It is much easier to get my mind around all that has happened here over the past many centuries when I can put it all into context. For me, the simplest and most effective context is a chronological timeline.

I’m happy to share this History of Tucson Timeline with you.  I believe there are lessons we can learn from history so that we don’t have to repeat the mistakes of the past. While doing the research for this Timeline, I learned a few lessons. Perhaps you will discover some too.

The Tucson area was probably first visited by Paleo-Indians , who were known to have been in southern Arizona about 12,000 years ago. Recent archaeological excavations near the Santa Cruz River found a village site dating from 2100 BC.

The floodplain of the Santa Cruz River was extensively farmed during the Early Agricultural Period , circa 1200 BC to AD 150. These people constructed irrigation canals and grew corn, beans, and other crops, while also gathering wild plants and nuts, and hunting.

1854: Gadsden Purchase The Tucson Presidio was part of the 29,670-square-mile swath acquired for $10 million from Mexico primarily to build a southern transcontinental railroad line. Arizona became a separate U.S. territory in 1863 and, after a contentious political process, finally gained statehood in 1912.

The 1870s were a time of great change for Tucson.

People from all over the world and other parts of the United States came to the territory to seek their fortunes. The 1870 census included immigrants from Mexico, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Poland, England, Germany and the West Indies.

1880: The railroad arrives Tucson was the territory’s largest community with 7,000 residents when the Southern Pacific brought new goods and people, including U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes. Tucson freight company owner Estevan Ochoa introduced territorial legislation in 1877 to facilitate the railroad’s completion.

1891: University of Arizona opens Many Tucsonans wanted the territorial capital back, a designation lost to Prescott in 1877. Instead, the 1885 Arizona legislature awarded the Old Pueblo a university, a decision that left some residents extremely disgruntled. Six years later, the first classes were held in the building now known as Old Main.