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Tucson History



  • The name Tucson originated from the Pima Indians. It comes from the word schookson meaning "spring at the foot of a black mountain". This saying refers to the dark base of the Sentinel Mountains where the Santa Cruz River flows near Tucson. The area around Tucson has been dated back to 800 to 900 A.D., from pottery shards found in the ruins of a pit house. The first European influence came in 1694 with the arrival of Eusebiio Francisco Kino. He established a mission called San Augustin de Oiaur and a village named San Cosme de Tucson. However, Kino spent most of efforts at the San Xavier del Bac mission.
  • Tucson is believed to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States, with prehistoric roots dating back 15,000 years. The Hohokam Indians settled in the Tucson area around 300 B.C. and created an extensive canal system to irrigate crops. The original Indian village of Tucson has had many names including: Chuck Son, Shookson, and Tuquison which translated mean "blue waters at the foot of black mountain".
  • The first non-Indian visitors were Spanish explorers searching for riches in the early 1500's. Captain General Franciso Coronado came to this area looking for the famed "seven cities of Cibola" in 1540. While he never found the riches he was seeking, he did pave the way for future explorers - bringing the Spanish flag along with him.
  • Tucson was formally founded in 1775, about the time the nation's forefathers were signing the Declaration of Independence. Locally, the city is still called the Old Pueblo for the adobe fortress or "presidio" that marked its early borders. Over the past three centuries, Tucson has grown from Native American farming community, to Spanish outpost, to dusty frontier town, to bustling, territorial days' railroad hub, to the mature Southwestern metropolis it is today.
  • Tucson has grown up from its rowdy frontier days to become a sophisticated cultural center, yet the influence of its colorful past and diverse ethnic heritage make Tucson a truly unique place - part town, part city, and all interesting.