Tucson (pronounced too-sonn) is the county seat of Pima County, Arizona and is home to the University of Arizona. After serving as a Spanish and Mexican outpost, and then as territorial capital for both the United States and Confederate governments, Tucson is a mere sixty miles north of Mexico on the cross-country I-10. Equal parts college town and retirement community, it has become one of the more attractive cities of the Southwest. Tucson is the second-largest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, which both anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. (Rough Guides and Wikipedia)
Tucson has always been a crossroads. Until recently, water was relatively plentiful in Tucson, in spite of its location in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. This made it an important travel route, an agricultural center, and a communications nexus.
Tucson’s history is ancient, with evidence of human occupation stretching back 10,000 years. Between A.D. 200 and 1450, the Hohokam culture dominated the area — the Pima and Tohono O’Odham peoples that still occupy the area are descendants of the Hohokam. In 1699, Father Eusebio Kino, S.J., established the Mission San Xavier del Bac, southwest of present-day Tucson. Over the next 100 years, other missions were established in the area, but European presence was minimal.
It wasn’t until 1775 that the Presidio of Tucson (Fort Tucson) was built by Don Hugo O’Connor, Spanish conquistador, and was the founding structure of what became the city of Tucson. At that time, it was the northernmost Spanish outpost in the New World. After the American arrival in 1850s, the original walls were dismantled, with the last section torn down in 1918. A reconstruction of the northeast corner of the fort was completed in 2007 following an archaeological excavation that located the fort’s northeast tower.
In 1821, Tucson became part of the new country of Mexico, and in 1853 it became part of the United States as a result of the Gadsden Purchase. In 1863, Arizona became a US territory, and by 1880, its population was around 8,000. In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state to enter the union.
Today, Tucson is still a crossroads, with European, Native American, Mexican, and Asian cultures bumping into one another, in sometimes conflicting and sometimes compatible — but always interesting — ways. (http://wikitravel.org/en/Tucson)
Historic Site: Pima County Courthouse
The first Pima County Courthouse, a single-story adobe structure built in 1868, was replaced in 1881 by a large two-story stone and red brick Victorian building which, in turn, was removed in 1928 to make way for the present structure. This distinctive building, designed by Tucsonian Roy Place and completed in 1929, reflected the Spanish colonial and Moorish influences on the architectural heritage of the Southwest. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The building still serves as a courthouse for lower level state criminal matters as well as housing the offices of the Pima County Treasurer and Recorder. (signage)
Gates Pass is a popular scenic, mountainous route west of Tucson, a shortcut through the Tucson Mountains. Popular for sightseeing, the area well known for sunset viewing with many pullouts and two overlooks. The land was purchased by Thomas Gates—a local pioneer, and saloon and ranch keeper—and begun in 1883.
One could spend days drinking in desert scenery and Tucson activities.
Click on Cheryl’s Digital Photography above for additional Tucson images, under Travel.November 10: Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum Visited November 17: Saguaro National Park Visited