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.
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.