Tucson's Birthday celebration in August celebrates all the history, environmental features and the many cultures that have made our community what it is today. All our known history is summarized on a series of small markers surrounding the site of the Presidio reconstruction at the corner of Church Ave. and Washington St. The markers give context to the structure with a time line covering more than 13,000 years of Tucson history. City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department personnel researched the project, and their time line is recounted here through the courtesy of the Office of Mayor Bob Walkup.
13,000 YEARS AGO
Paleoindians crossed the Tucson basin in pursuit of mammoths and other large animals. When most of the big game animals became extinct 11,000 years ago, people hunted smaller animals and gathered wild plants.
4100 YEARS AGO
Maize (corn) arrived from Mexico and farmers settled in pithouse villages along the Santa Cruz River. By 3200 years ago, Tucson farmers grew maize, squash, beans, cotton and tobacco
Tucson-area Hohokam built ball courts and platform mounds, and made painted pottery and carved shell jewelry.
Explorer Estevanico from Morocco, North Africa, explored Arizona. Estevan Park at 1000 N. Main Ave., in the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood, is named after the explorer.
The first known European contact in the Tucson area occurred when Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit priest, and a small party of other Europeans travelled north along the Santa Cruz River to the O'odham village of Wa:k, which had 800 residents.
Father Kino established a mission in the O'odham village of Wa:k and christened it San Xavier del Wa:k. For the next half century, priests visited occasionally to conduct services.
During the Pima revolt, a faction within the O'odham let by Luis Oacpicagigua rebelled against Spanish control and killed more than 100 Spanish settlers. In response, the Presidio San Ignacio de Tubac, a Spanish fort, was established in 1762.
Jesuit missionaries were expelled by the King of Spain and replaced by members of the Franciscan Order.
A chapel was constructed at ChukShon, an O'odham village at the base of a black hill, today called Sentinel Peak or "A" Mountain. The Mission of San Agustin served several hundred Native Americans, including the Sobaipuri O'odham whom the Spanish had relocated here from the San Pedro River.
On August 20, Captain Hugo O'Conor selected the site for the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson in what is now downtown Tucson. (See a reproduction of the original proclamation) On October 24, Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and his soldiers passed through Tucson with 198 people from Mexico. Anza was leading the settlers to California to establish the presidio in San Francisco.
Soldiers move north from the presidio at Tubac to establish the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson.
Several hundred Arivaipa Apache, led by Nuatil Nilche, agreed to settle next to the presidio. They gave up raiding and, in exchange, are supplied with food, clothing and tools. They become known as the Apache Manso.
The census of Tucson listed 395 soldiers and civilians living inside the presidio. About 300 Native Americans lived nearby. The present-day church at San Xavier del Bac was completed, and construction began at the Mision de San Agustin on the west side of the Santa Cruz River.
Spanish soldiers from Tucson were sent to Mexico to fight revolutionaries who were fighting for independence from Spain.
Mexico achieved independence from Spain and ended the system of providing supplies to the Apache. The Apache resumed raiding, disrupting the lives of residents of the Pimeria Alta (now southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico) who lived at ranches, mines, missions and presidios.
Mexico attempted to expel all people born in Spain, including local priests. Priests from Magdalena, Sonora, occasionally visited Tucson and San Xavier into the 1850s to perform religious rites.
The Mormon Batallion, a U.S. Army unit, briefly occupied Tucson on its journey to San Diego. Many Tucson residents fled to San Xavier, while others remained and bartered with food for trade goods such as cloth, buttons and pins.
During the California Gold Rush, hundreds of people used Tucson as a stop over on the way west.
The Gadsden Treaty made Tucson part of the United States instead of Mexico.
Mexican soldiers withdraw from Tucson and Americans raised their flag. Over the next decades, the walls of the presidio were torn down, and some of the adobe bricks were re-used in new structures.
Tucson was briefly occupied by the Confederate army unit led by Sherod Hunter. The Union army marched in from California to re-take the community. The first detailed maps of Tucson were drawn by John B. Mills.
Arizona became a separate territory from New Mexico.
Tucson became the territorial capitol. By 1870, the population reached 3200.
The Southern Pacific railroad arrived, bringing a flood of new people and consumer goods to the community.