Home / Tucson Community Info / Tucson History
A Brief History Of Tucson
Some historians believe Tucson to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States. Evidence has been found dating back to at least 900 A.D. of Native American civilizations. Recorded history of our lovely desert city dates back to 1539 when Mendoza, the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico dispatched Fray Marcos de Niza in search of the Seven Cities of Coloba. His journey led to Don Francisco Basquez Coronado's famous expedition and discovery of the area in 1540.
The early 1600's gave way to a religious movement of Spanish Jesuits from Mexico establishing Christian missions. In 1692 a Spanish missionary, Father Kino, visited a Papago Indian community and named it St. Jukson. Variously translated to mean "Dark Spring" or "At the Foot of Black Hill". Father Kino also founded Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1692. The Papago called it "La Paloma del Desierto", which means "The White Dove of the Desert".
Mines and ranches started being established and in 1776 the Presidio of Tucson became a walled city. "The Old Pueblo", Tucson's present nickname, originated from the one time existence of a wall completely surrounding the community.
Considered part of a newly created Mexico in 1782, Tucson served as a military outpost. This ended with the Gadsden Purchase in December of 1853, which finally made it part of the United States. In 1861, a territorial delegate was elected to the Confederate Congress by a total of sixty American voters. By 1862, confederates from Texas marched unopposed into Tucson, but were routed three months later by the California volunteers who raised the US flag over Tucson. Arizona was organized as a territory in 1863. John Goodwin, the first Governor, declared Tucson a municipality in 1864.
When the Transcontinental Railroad arrived in 1881, Tucson seemed to be a sleepy Mexican village, with a population of just a few hundred. Shortly after, The University of Arizona was established in 1885. At the turn of the century, Tucson had become a booming business and supply center of a large territory. It was even considered a renown health resort, where Easterners came to relax and soak up the desert sunshine.
By 1909, Tucson was the largest city in Arizona with a population of over 7,000. Throughout the balance of the 20th Century, Tucson grew steadily as more and more people took advantage of the opportunities and attractive climate found in our picturesque city. With a population of almost 900,000, all signs point to continued growth. In spite of Tucson's rapid growth, it has been able to retain its southwestern ambiance and lifestyle.