The Santa Cruz Valley was originally settled by Spaniards as part of a system of missiones and visitas under Padre Kino in the early 1700s. In 1744 and 1747 the Spanish king approved advancement of the military frontier to the Gila River in response to the threat of French expansion westward from the Gulf of Mexico, and presidios were established in the Alta Pimerfa. The presidio at Tubac was one of these, situated some thirty miles south of the present-day site of Tucson. It had a combined military and civilian population of about 500 in the 1760s. In 1772 instructions were received from the viceroy to relocate the presidio to Tucson; it is a reflection of the scarcity of funds and personnel that this was not accomplished until 1776, and further, that the presidio walls were not completed until 1782. The presidio was approximately three hundred years on a side, bounded by twelve-foot-high adobe walls three feet thick at the base. it had a single gate centered on the west side, around which the first civilian settlement grew up. The interior of the presidio was split by a row of buildings into two plazas, with military stores and quarters built along the outer walls. This pattern was maintained after the wafls came down. In 1791, in an effort to induce further settlement of the area, the governor of the Provincias Internas set aside four square leagues around each presidio for civilian settlement (Mattison 1946:281). In fact, this had little impact outside of the area immediately around the presidio; like the Rio Grande settlements, the outlying Santa Cruz and San Pedro ranches were subject to frequent attacks by Apache Indians, and there was thus little incentive to settle beyond the safety of the presidio.
In 1821, Tucson had a population of about 1,100 persons, approximately 500 of whom were Spaniards (Sonnichsen 1982:26). They occupied an area of less than two square miles and were engaged primarily in subsistence agriculture and stock raising. In his narrative history of Tucson, C. L. Sonnichsen describes the town in the following way:At the end of the Spanish period, just before the revolution of 1821, Tucson was a moderately prosperous village in which Spaniards and Indians lived side by side, but the native population was slowly giving way to Hispanics and mixed-bloods. Retired soldiers were occupying fields which once belonged to the Papagos, though they were not allowed to take possession of the lands controlled by the mission. Other Spaniards had come up from the south in response to the settlement law of 1791. . . . There was trouble between mission Indians and settlers, giving a preview of problems that were to plague the community for many years to come. (Sonnichsen 1982:27)
During the three decades of Mexican administration, Tucson experienced a general decline–the economy was disrupted by Apache raids, the mission was weakened by secularization in 1828, and the Indian population was reduced by disease and a declining birthrate.
The first Americans who came to Tucson during this period were trappers looking for beaver along the Gila and Santa Cruz rivers in the 1820s. The "Mexican War" in 1846 brought U.S. soldiers to the area, and when the Gadsden Purchase was finalized in 1854 U.S. troops took charge of the garrison, bringing with them Anglo settlers who could make a living serving the military's needs.
Sonnichsen describes the period from the mid 1850s through the American Civil War as "the great transition" in Tucson's history: a transition related to developing communication and transportation linkages to the rest of the United States. The first mail routes became dependable at the end of the 1850s, the regular arrival and departure of stagecoaches (at 1:30 P.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays for westbound mail and passengers, and at 3:00 A.M. on Wednesdays and Saturdays for eastbound coaches) imparted a new rhythm to the town's life, where contact with the outside world had been limited to infrequent and intermittent military and government-controlled commercial expeditions (Sonnichsen 1982:43).
Stagecoaches were followed by wagon trains as the number of California immigrants choosing to take the southern route through Tucson rose. This was a period of economic growth for the town; the mines in the region became active again, and there was an increase in the number of military and Indian Agency personnel whose needs generated a corresponding increase in trade. The population doubled between 1850 and 1860–the census of the latter year counted 623. By 1858 there were three general stores, two butcher shops, and two blacksmiths; 1859 saw the first saloons, and a gristmill on the Santa Cruz; and by 1869 there was even a brewery and beer garden established by a German immigrant (Sonnichsen 1982:59).
The business center of Tucson was Calle de Correo, renamed Pearl Street in the Anglo Territorial period. The original name indicates the location of the post office; opposite that was the Buckley House complex, which provided accommodations for travelers and horses, as well as storage for merchandise prior to sale. Contiguous with the Buckley House complex was Pacheco's blacksmith shop and residence. The courtyard complex occupied on one side by the post office contained a store on the side fronting Calle Real, later Main Street (Sonnichsen 1982:43).
The irregular pattern of this settlement derives in part from Tucson's origin as a presidio, which occupied the approximate square containing the Plaza Militar and Plaza de las Armas in Fergusson's 1862 map (fig.22). The civilian community established itself just outside the main gate, within a bend in the acequia serving the presidio. This growth was not governed by the Laws of the Indies; lacking a plaza as a generator of form, buildings grew along established routes of travel between the presidio, the river, and the mission. The initial southerly offset (with respect to the gate) began a pattern of development that shifted southward around the edge of the old presidio, between its plaza and the Plaza de la Mesilla. Analysis of the 1883 Sanborn map shows the greatest density centered around Pennington and Congress and around Main and Meyer streets.
The Sanborn map of 1883 also shows that the initial business area west of the presidio gate underwent a cultural "replacement" process as well as a physical one: the uses indicated on the Sanborn map are "Chinese Laundry," "Chinese Opium Den," and "Chinese Grocery." There had been Chinese in Tucson since the 1860s; when the railroad was completed in 1880, a group settled in this part of town and had developed more than one hundred acres of truck gardens along the Santa Cruz floodplain by 1884. Pacheco's blacksmith shop was altered by the addition of a new row of rooms behind the first, to accommodate the "lodging house" for Park Brewery, part of the new "entertainment district" west of the acequia.
Tucson was incorporated as a town in 1874, occupying two complete sections; streets and blocks were laid out parallel to the section lines, and the street numbers began on the eastern section line–rather than at the center of town–an indication of the power of the survey grid as a tool to rationalize the landscape.
The 1870s saw the first public school, and as a consequence, a first small influx of unmarried Anglo women. Up until this time Anglo merchants often married Hispanic women, thereby assuring cultural assimilation, and in the case of those who married into wealthy families, access to the important social and economic network. The availability of Anglo women in the community marked the beginning of an important cultural shift. Sonnichsen notes that intermarriage became less frequent throughout the 1870s and 1880s and that newspaper accounts of social events contained fewer and fewer Hispanic names (Sonnichsen 1982: 88). Although a cause-and-effect relationship would be difficult to document, one can speculate that these Anglo women began to transform their environment at the smaller scale levels. Certainly their attitudes are well known through the diaries they kept (Susan Magoffin's diary of her travels and time in Santa Fe during the 1840s is the best-known example). The adobe house with its dirt floors, whitewashed walls, and dirt roof, which needed constant attention to maintain, seemed primitive to Anglo women used to raised wood floors, glass windows, and painted or papered walls. Beginning with their inundated environment, the house interior, transformations occurred at the detail level–rooms were filled with furniture brought by wagon from the East or Midwest, glass windows and trim were installed in existing openings or new ones, wood boards covered dirt floors–such transformations all fall under the category of addition.
While some prosperous Anglo and Hispanic families continued to live in and transform their courtyard houses, others constructed new houses at the earliest opportunity. These houses constituted additions at the district level, new houses inserted into the existing fabric. The residence of Anglo families in Tucson also created the need for certain related institutions. By the 1870s there were three schools, Methodist and Episcopal churches, a hospital (although this was Catholic), and a public bathhouse. These buildings represent addition and infill at the district level; they appear as isolated structures unrelated in form to their Hispanic environment. Infill at the district level can be observed in the circa 1880 photograph of the Plaza de las Armas (fig. 23), where a church and landscaped park now occupy the former plaza, and a two-story house with bay windows has been built on the north side of the plaza. None of these elements follows the formal rules of Spanish and Mexican town form, such as continuous street facades (no set-backs), flat roofs, and open plaza (fig. 24).
Not all of these transformations occurred at the district level: some buildings were reconfigured or added to as a result of the cultural shift. An example was the Cosmopolitan Hotel on the comer of Pennington and Main. An 1874 photograph shows an adobe structure with a heavy portal, and a subsequent photograph of the same building, rechristened "The Orndorff," shows that one wing of the building has added to it a frame second floor and balcony, complete with bracketed cornice (Sonnichsen 1982: 100, 101). A photograph of Meyer Street in the 1880s (fig. 25) shows the addition of several simple porches and at least one brick parapet coping.
Anticipation of the approaching railroad led to a boom in real estate values in the late 1870s; when the first train actually arrived on March 20, 1880, "prices on practically everything were rapidly revised downward," causing the financial ruin of several of Tucson's most prosperous merchants (Sonnichsen 1982:105). Five concerns either sold off stock to their creditors or went bankrupt in the following four years. This loss, however, was limited in scope, and in the long run the railroad only hastened economic and population growth in Tucson.
The new railroad tracks and depot one-half mile from the business center sprouted a district of warehouses and shops. Congress Street developed as a connection between these two areas, and as Sonnichsen notes, "it was the first east-west thoroughfare to break the old north-south pattern" (Sonnichsen 1982:107). Unlike Albuquerque and Las Vegas, where the orientation of the railroad tracks dictated the street orientation of the "new town," the diagonal path of the railroad through Tucson simply broke through the grid of blocks and streets, with the exception of Toole Avenue and the lots fronting the railroad.
An increase in Anglo population relative to Hispanic population resulted in an increase in the pace of environmental change. In 1882, the Arizona Citizen described the "change in building styles" due to replacement of adobe with brick and lumber, observing that "newcomers preferred to freeze in winter and stew in summer rather than live in one of those 'ugly mud houses.' The idea of stepping through one's front door into the street was equally repugnant, and in the new districts a front yard interposed a decent interval between residence and road.... New residents (also) imported the green lawn" (Sonnichsen 1982:107). Wealthy residents built northward on Main Street, their large houses bringing Eastern architectural styles and materials to the desert setting. Reinforcing these directional trends was the location of the university in 1891. Three businessmen donated forty acres one-half mile northeast of the railroad depot, creating an impetus for the development of new residential neighborhoods. The first additions to the original two-square-mile townsite after the turn of the century were in this direction.
These initial trends of growth for the Anglo population to the north and east signaled future patterns: the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and the incorporated town of South Tucson remain in the southern sectors of the metropolitan area, while the wealthy Anglo population has leapfrogged to successively higher and higher around in the foothills of the Tucson, Santa Catalina, and Rincon mountains to the northwest, north, and northeast, respectively.
One example of infill at the city level is the subdivision of the Old Military Plaza (fig. 26), now known as the Armory Park neighborhood. It was laid out in the same pattern of regular lots (50 ft. x 150 ft.) that was used in the rest of the town and built in the Anglo pattern of "solid" volumes in the center of open but private territory; again, the antithesis of the Hispanic pattern of building enclosing private open space (courtyard).
As the business district expanded along Main and Meyer streets, it displaced Mexican American families who, according to Sonnichsen, were either bought out or forced out; they moved southward, concentrating around the Plaza de la Mesilla, renamed Church Square (fig. 27). Adjacent to this area on the north in the 1890s was Tucson's "sporting district," occupying a narrow,, tapering block called "The Wedge." The Wedge provided Tucson with its first opportunity for demolition at the district level when it was razed in 1902 in combination with other street-widening work, which constituted overall reconfiguration at that level.
In the last two decades of the century additions were made to the urban infrastructure. The privately owned Tucson Water Company began operating in 1882, marking the end of private wells and of a part of the service sector of the economy: water carriers had sold in the plaza buckets of water brought from the Santa Cruz for five cents. The city took control of the water system in 1890, coinciding with work on a sewer system. An 1881 proposal for streetcars was not implemented until 1898, when mule-drawn cars went between downtown, the train depot, and the new university. The mules were replaced by electricity in 1906.
As early as the 1880s Tucson began to see tourists and health-seekers arriving for the winter months. By the turn of the century this influx had grown tremendously, facilitated by good passenger rail service and increasing private ownership of the automobile. Tucson actually experienced a housing shortage in the 1890s as tuberculosis patients camped in tent cities at the edges of town and in the Santa Catalina Mountains (Sonnichsen 1982:141). In spite of this, the city's growth was by no means assured. "Indian problems" continued into the mid 1880s, when the last rebel Apaches conducted their campaign of resistance to Anglo control from mountains in southeastern Arizona. Population in Tucson actually fell between 1880 and 1890 but then began a rapid rise, reaching 13,000 by 1910 (Sonnichsen 1982:210).