Through Our Parents Eyes
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An Early History of Tucson and the University
A View to Campus in 1900

The first view of the University that a traveler coming from the East would see when arriving by train was a vast expanse of desert. To these travelers, the UA buildings looked like specks in the distance. The railroad ran near what is now Santa Rita Avenue and Eighteenth Street, four blocks west of the place that the present-day Murphy overpass on Kino Boulevard crosses above the railroad tracks.

This picture was taken 1990, at the same place Tom Marshall took a picture in the same location. You can see the UA Admin building and football stadium in the middle.
This picture was taken 1990, at the same place Tom Marshall took a picture in the
same location. You can see the UA Admin building and football stadium in the middle. PPS

At the turn of the century the UA was the only university within five hundred miles and because of the Land Grant Act and funding, the main focus was agriculture and mining.

After the Gadsden Purchase, the Territory of Arizona was surveyed. A two mile square could be set aside for a town. In 1893 George Roskrudge drew a map of the city. The line decided upon for the west border was a quarter mile east of the place where Congress street crossed the Santa Cruz River, just west of the former city wall; then a mile north, a mile south and a mile east for a two mile rectangle. Roads were numbered starting in the northeast comer (First Street and First Avenue) bordered on the south by Twenty Second Street and on the west by what would be Twelfth Avenue. This avenue did not continue all the way because of pre-existing roads dividing small farms between the town and the river.

A wagon ride to campus. Photo taken by Tom Marshall, ca. 1899-1900, looking NE from the railroad tracks near what is now the Fourth Avenue underpass and the Coronado Hotel.
A wagon ride to campus. Photo taken by Tom Marshall, ca. 1899-1900, looking
NE from the railroad tracks near what is now the Fourth Avenue underpass and the
Coronado Hotel. On the horizon far right is the University. Above the driver and team
are two buildings of the Presbyterian church-sponsored Tucson Indian School. This
path was the most direct walk between town and the University. TKM

A map of northeast Tucson 1906 showing that many streets existed only on maps.
A map of northeast Tucson 1906 showing that many streets existed only on maps.
The original walled city is in lower left corner. West wall is now Main Avenue, the gate
was at Alameda, north border was Washington, east and south waslls were almost to
Church and Pennington. Even in 1900 most of the homes and all the business buildings were
near this area. Broadway (Eleventh Street) and Stone (Eighth Avenue) are the center for
street numbering. The original city limit on the north bordered, but did not include, Feldman
Street (later The Speedway). The original east border was First Avenue. By 1906 numerous
additions had been made to the city limits. This is a small portion of a map by J. B. Wright,
Civil Engineer of the City of Tucson. Original is 34 inches high and 28 inches wide, encompassing
Lee Street to Twnety-ninth Street and from Tucson Boulevard to the north and south line from
the bridge on the Santa Cruz River at Congress Street. TKM

Continue with The Path From Town