Old Tucson

What Tucson, Arizona looked like in the 1800s.

Individuals have been living in what is now the Tucson region for over 4,000 years, which makes this among the oldest continuously inhabited places in the United States. This place was known as Chukshon, which could be translated as”in the bottom of the mountain.” The Spanish pronounced it”Tucsón” and went on to establish a mission there named San Agustín.

When a Spanish king decided to combine his lands, Colonel Hugo O’Conor, Irish expatriate and officer in the Spanish Army, was sent to the northern frontier to reorganize the empire’s defenses. He found that the Presidio at Tubac was too much to the southwest so that he purchased it moved roughly 45 miles north to the opposite side of the river. The new article, Presidio of San Agustin de Tucson, was on a mesa having a dominating view of the valley. The soldiers remained there for over 80 years, under the flags of Spain and Mexico, maintaining an alliance with the O’odham and performing their very best to guarantee peace on the frontier.

The Gadsden Purchase of 1853 brought Tucson into the United States, but it stayed a rough frontier community. Visitors were somewhat more likely to hear Spanish spoken to the roads than English, along with Mexican silver that appeared to be the default currency. The local economy relied heavily on contracts to supply the Army. In 1867, Tucsonans were delighted to earn the honor of being home to the territorial capital, just to lose it ten decades later — for their disappointment.

The Southern Pacific Railroad came in 1880, transforming Tucson by a sleepy little burg to more of a metropolis. The town grew farther in 1885 when it secured the University of Arizona, the first faculty in the territory.

The biggest growth spurt, however, came in World War II as well as the invention of air conditioning. In only a decade, Tucson’s population grew five-fold. The novices spread out and attention shifted from the once-vibrant Downtown. Most Tucsonans still considered from town center and worked through the 1980s and 1990s to maintain Downtown worthy of its nationwide reputation for culture and arts. Together with the new millennium, a surge of investment and the hard work of committed individuals has created an urban renaissance Downtown and assisted revive it to its rightful place as the core of the community.