A multicultural community with a rich and varied history, Tucson has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. One of the first groups to create extensive settlements, the Hohokam Indians built villages about 1,000 to 1,500 years ago.
Their apparent disappearance has been a puzzle for local archaeologists who continue to discover and excavate Hohokam sites today.
In the late 1600s while the Tucson area was under the control of Spain, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit missionary, established a church in the area, called the Mission San Xavier del Bac. By this time, the Tohono Oodham and Pima tribes had been living and farming here for hundreds of years. The mission, also called the "White Dove of the Desert" for its stunning exterior, now sits on the modern-day Tohono Oodham reservation.
In 1775, Hugo OConnor, commandant inspector for the Spanish Crown, was instructed to layout, build, and fortify a new presidio to protect Spanish settlements from raiding bands of Apaches. On August 20, 1775, he borrowed the Pima Indians name for their village, Stjukshon, which means roughly "spring at the foot of the black hill," and established the new outpost, "San Augustin de Tucson," next to the Santa Cruz river at the foot of what is now called "A" Mountain. The walled presidio was soon called "the Old Pueblo," a nickname still used for Tucson today.
A variety of flags have flown over Tucson. In 1821, Spain gave way to an independent Mexico. By then cattle and grain thrived in this fertile area within the desert. In 1854, as a result of the Gadsden Purchase, the United States acquired much of the American Southwest. From 1867 to 1889, Tucson was the new territorys capital city. In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state.
Acquisition by the U.S. opened Tucson to increasing Anglo settlement. In 1860, Tucsonans numbered less than 1,000 but by 1880 the towns population had grown to 8,000. Today, metropolitan Tucson has a population of over 750,000.
Sources: City of Tucson, Los Tucsonenses
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