St. Augustine Cathedral
The Presidio had a Chapel of the Royal Presidio of San Agustin in Tucson and although the Presido has long disappeared the name of that chapel lives on in form of St Augustine Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the city. The cathedral was built in 1896 in the Mexican baroque architectural style and the cast stone facade modelled on Cathedral of Queretaro in Mexico was added in 1928. By 1966 the cathedral had become structurally unsound so all but the facade and towers were demolished. After rebuilding, the cathedral reopened in 1968. The reconstruction has left the cathedral with relatively modern interior, slightly at odds with its traditional exterior.
Mormon Battalion Memorial, El Presidio Park
In the Mexican-American War there was a battalion of 500 Mormons fighting on the US side. Formed in July 1846 at Council Bluffs, Iowa Territory, the battalion marched to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and over the then Mexican border to Santa Fé. The Mormons initially found adapting to the austere life in the army difficult. At Santa Fé Lieutenant Colonel Cooke was assigned to command the battalion. He inspired them as they marched on towards California. On December 16, 1846 the battalion approached Tucson where they encountered some Mexican soldiers, but the Mexicans fled allowing the battalion to enter the town unopposed. The march continued through to San Diego, California, a total distance of around 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles). This memorial in El Presidio Park commemorates the arrival of the Mormon Battalion in Tucson.
Old Pima County Courthouse
Old Pima County courthouse was built between 1927 and 1928 covering part of the site of the Presidio. Designed by Tucson architect Roy W. Place, it is in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Its brick structure is covered with pink stucco and it has Moorish arches that open onto a central patio. The dome is covered with ceramic tiles. A new courthouse opened in 1972, but the old courthouse is still used as a public building.
Up to around 1450 this area was farmed by Hohokam Indians. Europeans arrived in 1692 with the founding of Mission San Xavier del Bac about 15 kilometres (9 miles) from modern day Tucson. In 1775 the Spanish built a fort (presidio) and the town of Tucson sprang up around it. Independence from Spain in 1821 saw Tucson became a Mexican town and in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War it remained in Mexico as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo drew the border just south of Phoenix. However, the USA found that it needed more land for the route of a southern railroad, so in 1853 under the Gadsden Purchase a strip of land to the south of the then border was acquired and Tucson became part of the USA. The city now has a population of over half a million people and is the home of the University of Arizona.
Downtown from Convention Center
Tucson is a relatively low rise city, so the towers of St Augustine Cathedral still stand out rather than being dwarfed by skyscrapers. We found it a pleasant city to walk round on a cool January day, but it is probably not so pleasant in the summer heat.
Houses in Convent Avenue, Barrio District
The Barrio District is an area bounded to the north by Cushing Street, to the west by the railroad, to the south by 18th Street and to the east by Stone Avenue. In this district can be found 19th century Sonoran-style adobe row houses that directly abut the street, a style typical in Mexican towns. The buildings shown in this picture are among many that have now been restored to their original splendour. There are a few restaurants and art galleries in the district, but most of the restored buildings are used as offices.
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