Early History of the Tucson Region
Located in Southern Arizona, Tucson was founded on August 20, 1775, an event celebrated annually at Tucson’s birthday party, La Fiesta de San Agustín. But people had long before feeling something special here and made it their home. In fact, the area we call Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America.
Hohokam Indians lived and farmed here for 4,000 years before Spanish missionaries and soldiers arrived in the late 1600s and eventually established the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson and the Mission San Xavier del Bac, the two most iconic and historic structures in the region. “The Old Pueblo,” as the adobe-walled Presidio became known, remains Tucson’s nickname to this day.
Tucson in the 1800’s
Then a part of Mexico, Tucson officially became part of the United States in 1854, just years before the start of 1860 to 1880 “Old West” era of clashes among cattle ranchers, settlers, miners, and Apache Indians throughout the Southwest.
In 1877, the city was incorporated, making Tucson the oldest incorporated city in Arizona, and with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880, Tucson’s multicultural roots expanded and deepened as new residents adopted customs of the Tohono O’odham Nation and indigenous Mexicans living here.
A Modern Metropolis
Today, the metropolitan Tucson area is home to more than a million residents, and our University of Arizona (founded in 1885) is one of the top research institutions in the world. We’re the site of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and some of the biggest names in technology call Tucson home, including Raytheon, Intuit, and Ventana Medical Systems.
Tucson has sister cities in China and Kazakhstan and across the globe. We’re a world leader in astronomy and one of America’s Solar Cities. Tucson is also the first stop of the country’s annual rodeo circuit and our bartenders make a mean margarita. And that’s just our first 5,000 years.
You can learn more about Tucson and Southern Arizona’s stories at the Arizona Historical Society and the Arizona State Museum. Stroll through a restored 19th-century neighborhood to see Sonoran architecture and the site of the original Spanish presidio in downtown Tucson. And learn about Tucson’s aviation history at the Pima Air & Space Museum, the world’s largest privately-funded air museum.