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Tucson’s Oldest Historic Landmarks



Tucson’s Oldest Historic Landmarks View large version If you are planning a vacation to Tucson, chances are you have heard of Old Tucson Studios, great golf courses and the Casinos. All of these are good reasons for visiting “the old pueblo”, but while there, be sure not to miss the historical sites that tell the story of Tucson.

The Tucson area has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. The Hohokam Indians populated the area for 4,000 years before the arrival of Spanish soldiers and missionaries in the 1600s. In the late 1700s, Tucson’s two oldest structures were built on the land that is present-day Tucson. Tucson was founded as an official town of New Spain on August 20, 1776. Less than 75 years later, it became part of the United States through the Gadsden Purchase. Settlers began to come in from the east and the north, which brought conflict to an area possessing very little in the way of law of order. This was the era of the Wild West.

Over time, settlers absorbed many of the customs of the Mexican and Tohono O'odham people. Its multicultural heritage has remained and grown over the last two hundred years. With a population of over one million, Tucson is the second largest city in the state of Arizona. Though new architecture, stores, restaurants, residences, hotels and attractions abound in the city, two 300 year old reminders of history still stand. For a real sense of Tucson’s roots, you simply must explore the Mission San Xavier and the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson.

Tucson’s Oldest Church: The Mission San Xavier

The mission was established in the 1600s, but the church itself was not finished until late in the 1700s. At this time, Arizona still belonged to the Spanish. Fr. Juan Bautista Velderrain borrowed the money from a rancher, found an architect, and hired Tohono O’odham to build the church for the Mission San Xavier. Constructed of brick, stone and lime mortar, it is designed in the baroque style. Due to damage from an earthquake and age, the church has gone through several restorations and continues to be restored today.

Though made an official historic landmark in 1967, the church at the Mission San Xavier continues to serve parishioners and reach out to the community. Thousands of tourists visit the church every year to take in Old Spanish architecture, dramatic baroque-style interior and spiritual eminence that radiates throughout the mission.

Presidio San Agustin del Tucson

Colonel Hugo O'Conor established the Presidio for the Spanish army in 1775. A wooden palisade surrounded the place until an assault by the nearby Apaches prompted the building of an 8 to 12 foot adobe wall.

The fort was dismantled by the Americans in 1856. In 1918, the last remaining piece of the wall was taken down. The current structure is a reconstruction of the original Presidio. Designed through careful study of records and archaeological finds, a 20 foot tower and 10 foot adobe walls have been constructed on the exact site of the original Presidio. A nearby adobe building has been transformed into a gift shop and museum.



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Liz Rogers
8 years, 4 months ago
One of the oldest landmarks ,that gets overlooked, is the Rillito Race Track. It is the first offical Quarter horse track in the U.S. And yet people are still trying to get rid of it?? So many people look forward every year to" GOING TO THE RACES":)



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