Photos: Tucson in 100 objects

We're telling the story of Tucson in 100 objects.

A committee of writers and editors chose the list of 100 objects, and we consulted with local historians and asked readers online to send in additional suggestions.

We tried to choose objects that personified Tucson in the “greater Tucson” sense of that word, which allows us to venture beyond the city limits.

Check back daily to see a new object. 

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  • We're telling the story of “Tucson in 100 objects.”

    The objects are as small as a tepary bean and as big as San Xavier del Bac.

    Some are quite old, like the spear points left behind some 13,000 years ago by the Paleo-Indians called Clovis.

    Some are as new as the Sonoran hot dog stands that popped up on street corners around Tucson in the last decade.

    Some, like the Gadsden Treaty, are documentary, and others, like our famous sunsets, are ephemeral.

    Some will be instantly recognizable and others might surprise you.

    A committee of writers and editors chose the list of 100 objects, and we consulted with local historians and asked readers online to send in additional suggestions.

    We tried to choose objects that personified Tucson in the “greater Tucson” sense of that word, which allows us to venture beyond the city limits.

    We think we’ve succeeded. We have a good list. It is finished, but it is not set in caliche. (Hey, maybe we should add a caliche bar.)

    We invite your comments, questions and suggestions.


    You might wonder, for instance, why we chose a chimichanga over an enchilada or a tamal.

    The easy answer, as you can read today in the first installment of “Tucson In 100 Objects,” is that the chimichanga has a nice bit of Tucson lore to go along with it.

    Agree? Disagree? Post your comments online.

    We’re also hoping you think of some quintessential Tucson object that we’ve overlooked.

    Send in your suggestions and we’ll consider them. We’ll publish a list of those we receive and we might even knock an object or two off our list to accommodate your favorites.

    Email me at with your recommendations. If you’re suggesting an object you have in your possession, attach a photo of it. You can also give me a call at 573-4158, follow me on Facebook, or send a tweet to @bealagram.

    Heck, you can even write me a letter: Tom Beal, Arizona Daily Star, 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85714.

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  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Our open horizon is the principal ingredient in our spectacular sunsets.

    The sun, after all, is simply a bright, white light in a black sky. You need atmosphere to break that light into its various colors.

    Molecules in the air scatter light. When the sun is overhead, the small, predominant ones — oxygen and nitrogen — are scattering low-wavelengths of sunlight, the blues and the violets. Our eyes are better at detecting blues and that’s why we see a blue sky.

    When the sun sinks lower, we look through a longer stretch of atmosphere, and most of those colors on the blue end of the spectrum get filtered out.

    Our eyes see the reds, oranges, and yellows, said J.J. Brost, science officer for the National Weather Service in Tucson.

    That’s why the best sunsets are seen from beaches or mountaintops — anywhere the horizon isn’t blocked.

    In Tucson, we have the added advantage of interesting natural features. The sun sets over ridges topped with saguaros and behind distant mountain ranges, each a different shade because of their relative distance.

    And now it’s time for “Tucson in 100 Objects” to ride off into a perfect Tucson sunset.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The giant cacti that dot the slopes of our foothills in every direction make Tucson’s setting unique.

    The saguaro’s white, waxy, spring blossom is the state flower. The harvest of its sweet, red fruit in first summer is essential to the O’odham ceremony that brings rain to make our second summer a wet one.

    It is the largest cactus in the United States, growing to heights of 40 to 60 feet. A mature saguaro, fully plumped in rainy season, weighs two tons.

    It is slow-growing and long-lived, up to 200 years.

    The saguaro ranges throughout the Sonoran Desert but the Tucson region is home to the densest saguaro forests, said Mark Dimmitt, retired director of natural history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

    Those dense forests are conserved by Saguaro National Park and the county’s Tucson Mountain Park.

    Dimmitt says the saguaro is a “keystone” species. Its fruit is the only moisture available to many species, especially white-winged doves, in the region’s hot, dry June.

    Saguaros became a potent symbol of the Old West during the 1940s and ’50s when they were backdrop to a series of motion picture Westerns shot at Old Tucson.

    Today, no photograph of a Tucson sunset or lightning-streaked sky is complete without a saguaro silhouette.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus has always mixed its more classical music with pop tunes and Western classics.

    Now in its 75th year, the chorus continues to reflect Tucson’s Western traditions as a bow to the past and an excuse to break out the lariats.

    The chorus began in 1939 under the directorship of Eduardo Caso, a famed tenor whose career was cut short by tuberculosis.

    He found relief and a return to health in Tucson, where he founded a chorus that was modeled on classic European boys choruses.

    He led the chorus until his death in 1965. He was followed by Jeffrey Haskell, John Davis and today’s director, Julian Ackerley, who has been at the helm since 1980.

    The group has always had a two-fold purpose — to train young men in music and to serve as ambassadors to the world at large.

    Over the years, the Boys Chorus has toured Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and throughout the United States.

    It has performed at the White House and the Vatican and on the Ed Sullivan Show.

    It has showcased the musical talent of generations of Tucsonans, including singer John Denver.

    Recently, one of its lariat-twirling singers, now known as Loop Rawlins, impressed the judges on “America’s Got Talent” by setting his lariat on fire.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    This is a page from a notebook former Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup filled at a meeting on how to make good on the city’s pledge to build an “All-American streetcar.”

    The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the city $63 million in 2010 to help build the Sun Link system that starts operating today.

    Voters had approved money from the Regional Transportation Authority for a streetcar in a bond election in 2006, but the city needed a big chunk of federal money to actually get the thing built.

    Walkup, an engineer who had put together federal proposals for former employers at Fairchild Republic and Raytheon Missile Systems, said the city needed an edge in the competition for federal transportation dollars.

    One of the firms bidding for the city’s contract, Oregon Iron Works, had never built a streetcar at the time, but it was the only domestic firm bidding.

    Walkup said the city decided its bid would be better received “if we put a sign on it that said, ‘Made in America.’”

    He drew the schematic of the streetcar systems to give himself a better understanding of what components were needed and how they might be obtained from a variety of congressional districts.

    The city needed to reach 60 percent American parts and components to be considered American-built under federal transportation guidelines.

    It is now at 75 percent, said Shellie Ginn, Sun Link project director. All but the doors (Germany) and the motors (Austria) are made in the United States.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The first officially surveyed map of Tucson was used to incorporate it as a village in 1871 and as a city — the first in the Arizona Territory — in 1877.

    The city encompassed two square miles, much of it undeveloped.

    According to C.L Sonnichsen’s “Tucson: Life and Times of an American City,” shortly after incorporation, “lots went on sale for five to ten dollars, title of landowners were confirmed and many parcels were distributed by lottery.”

    The city sold off a good chunk of its holdings to the Southern Pacific Railroad, which brought its tracks through town in 1880.

    The area identified as “occupied by the military” was the site of the U.S. Army’s Camp Lowell, which moved seven miles northeast to become Fort Lowell in 1873.

    Part of that parcel is now Armory Park.

    The city would later grow over the parcel labeled “cemetery” in fairly careless fashion.

    Construction of the county’s new courthouse, now nearly completed, was delayed for years by the need to relocate 1,500 bodies from the site at North Stone and Toole avenues.

    Tucson now measures 226.71 square miles.

    This map, from the city’s electronic archives, is signed by Sidney R. DeLong, the first elected mayor of Tucson.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    This is what we tell our friends and relatives about Tucson:

    “In January, you can walk around in shirtsleeves in 70-degree temperatures in the morning and then drive 30 miles up the mountain and be skiing in the afternoon.”

    And, yes, there is a ski lift at Ski Valley on top of Mount Lemmon and enough snow from time to time to ski or snowboard.

    The runs are short and the snowpack is seldom deep, but what do you expect from the southernmost skiing area in the United States?

    This past dry, warm winter forced the first time in 50 years of operation that Mount Lemmon Ski Valley did not open for skiing.

    The ski lift still operates every day except Tuesday and Wednesday, providing visitors with a peek over the top into Reef of Rocks and panoramic views of the San Pedro Valley on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

    You can combine the ride with a hike down the mountain on the Aspen Draw trail, a treat in summer when temperatures are at least 20 degrees cooler than in Tucson.

    Ski Valley, operated on U.S. Forest Service land by the Davies family, also has a patio cafe and a restaurant, the Iron Door.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The figures of a Nativity scene can be found throughout the Christian world.

    The annual procession called Las Posadas, in which children go door-to-door seeking a place for Mary and Joseph to stay, has been enacted in Mexico since the 1500s.

    In Tucson, the longest-running Las Posadas tradition is at Carrillo K-5 Magnet School, inaugurated by school teacher Marguerite Collier in 1937.

    Collier wanted to celebrate the traditions of her students at a time when they were forbidden to speak Spanish in the classroom.

    This re-enactment of the New Testament story of Jesus Christ’s birth has survived many changes in school leadership and complaints to the Tucson Unified School District that it is a religious activity, unsuited for public school. It has survived as a voluntary, after-school cultural activity that does not use school district money.

    Each December, Carrillo students, some costumed and angel-winged, walk through the streets of Barrio El Hoyo, the historic Tucson neighborhood south of downtown, where their school is located.

    They carry candles and sing in Spanish. They seek shelter — room at the inn, or a “posada.”

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Other places have “Do not enter when flooded” signs — but they usually show up on rural highways where traffic is slow and you can wait out the storm.

    Tucson grew up with that “wait-it-out” attitude and kept it even after it became a real city with real traffic.

    These days, the rivers and washes are bridged at major streets, but there are plenty of crossings you don’t want to make during or after a heavy rain.

    Many streets drain so badly that hydroplaning is possible at low speeds.

    The city of Tucson deploys swat teams of traffic workers to erect barricades during the rainy season. The Department of Transportation’s “Operation Splash” website lists 20 arroyo crossings that regularly flood.

    Still, we ignore the warnings, and each good downpour brings tales of trapped cars and swift-water rescues.

    The state even passed the so-called “stupid motorist law” that makes it possible for public-safety agencies to charge motorists up to $2,000 for their rescue efforts.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    “Tumamoc” is the O’odham word for “horned lizard,” which is why you encounter a lizard design on the bike racks at the foot of Tumamoc Hill.

    The hill, which offers a quick but arduous walk or run to hundreds of Tucsonans each morning and evening, sits beside Sentinel Peak on the west side of the city and it has an equally fascinating history.

    It is the site of the world’s oldest continuously surveyed vegetation plots and the birthplace of the science of ecology.

    Tumamoc was chosen in 1903 as the site of the Carnegie Institution’s Desert Botanical Laboratory. The Tucson Chamber of Commerce bought and donated 88 acres or the purpose.

    In 1905, botanist Volney Spalding laid out 19 quadrants, each 10 meters by 10 meters, in differing habitats on the slopes of the hill. He mapped, measured and photographed each piece of vegetation.

    Today, that work continues by University of Arizona researchers working nine plots that survived periods of neglect on the hill.

    One of the first studies, done by Spalding’s wife, Effie, measured the expansion of saguaros in the rainy season, providing the first botanical explanation for their accordion-pleated design.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The Arizona Daily Star, founded in 1877 as The Daily Bulletin, has published an edition every day since June 26, 1879.

    Initially it was a vehicle for the Democratic beliefs of its politician/owner, L.C. Hughes, who would later become governor of the Territory of Arizona.

    Together with its competitor and sometime partner, the Tucson Citizen, it chronicled the life and growth of our desert city.

    One of its more colorful owners, William R. Matthews, bought the paper in 1924 with partner Ralph Ellinwood. Matthews was editor and publisher from Ellinwood’s death in 1930 until 1969.

    With no journalism training, he not only set the political agenda in Tucson, but reported and wrote about world events, including a published prediction of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    In 1965, the Star was bought by William A. Small, who also owned the Tucson Citizen.

    The two papers had begun sharing infrastructure in 1940.

    Small sold the Star to Pulitzer Publishing Co. in 1971.

    Gannett Co. bought the Citizen in 1976. It ceased publication in 2009.

    In 2005, Lee Enterprises bought the Star and the rest of the Pulitzer chain.

    The edition shown at right was a particularly proud day for the Star. In 1981, reporters Clark Hallas and Bob Lowe won a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation of the University of Arizona athletic department and its football coach, Tony Mason.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Forget Halloween — Tucson’s major fall holiday is All Souls’ Day.

    Each year, on the Sunday closest to Nov. 2, the streets of downtown Tucson fill with face-painted and costumed walkers and artfully designed puppets.

    The event began as a performance-art piece in 1990 and has grown steadily into a 2-mile procession of 40,000 or more people that culminates in an acrobatic fire show and the burning of an urn filled with prayers and wishes for deceased friends and relatives.

    The website of Many Mouths One Stomach, the arts collective that organizes the procession, describes it like this:

    “The All Souls Procession is an event that was created to serve the public need to mourn, reflect, and celebrate the universal experience of Death, through their ancestors, loved ones, and the living.”

    It was inspired by the Mexican tradition of gathering at cemeteries on Dia de los Muertos to honor the dead with gifts of flowers, sugar skulls and favorite foods.

    It is also a time to clean the cemeteries, repaint the crosses and picnic with family and friends.

    Tucson’s procession, like the Mexican tradition, is a mix of the somber and the festive — an embrace of death as a natural part of life.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The University of Arizona campus has grown up around its first observatory, which is still used to show the night sky to guests of its public lecture series.

    Steward Observatory was on the outskirts of the campus — and the city — when it was dedicated in 1923.

    Astronomer Andrew Ellicott Douglass noted that it would be important to work with the City Council to control lighting nearby.

    Douglass had come to the UA in 1906 after establishing Arizona’s first observatory for Percival Lowell in Flagstaff.

    He worked with smaller telescopes in existing buildings until getting a grant — “the princely gift of $60,000” — from Lavinia Steward, who wanted the observatory to honor her late husband, Henry.

    Henry got a lot more recognition than Lavinia ever bargained for.

    Steward Observatory, the research arm of the UA Department of Astronomy, now encompasses a host of observatories at sites in Chile, the Antarctic and on most of Southern Arizona’s mountaintops.

    It builds the world’s largest telescope mirrors at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab on campus.

    Douglass, in his dedication address, said he wanted the observatory to live and grow.

    “From time to time, further equipment should be added in order to enlarge human knowledge,” he said.

    He, too, got his wish — and then some.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    On my first weekend in Tucson, friends drove me to Gates Pass west of town to watch the sunset. We climbed the slope a little ways and I was introduced to the species of cactus called cholla, or “jumping cactus.”

    Cholla doesn’t really jump, of course; it forms in segments that can easily become more attached to you than to the parent plant.

    There is a species of cholla specifically called “jumping cholla” (Opuntia fulgida) but any of the many varieties are capable of inflicting pain and creating a removal dilemma.

    There are sharply pointed spines on the entire surface of each segment. You don’t want to touch one.

    Fortunately, I got stuck in an era when men still carried combs in their pockets. One of my friends used his to dislodge the cholla segment from my ankle.

    I now have a specially designed cholla comb, courtesy of my mountain-bike-riding son.

    Cholla impalement is an avocational hazard for Zach and his fellow Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists.

    I’m determined to never need it. I don’t pedal down desert trails and I no longer hike in sandals, but I have a cholla comb just in case. You won’t see one of these in Cleveland.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    A river runs through Tucson — one that always amazes our visitors from wetter climates.

    They somehow expect rivers to have water in them.

    The 210-mile Santa Cruz is a desert river. It never flowed like the Ohio but it was once a much wetter place.

    It supported perennial springs, including those that lured settlement to Tucson as early as 2100 B.C. It sustained later settlers.

    It watered marshes and forests of cottonwood and mesquite trees.

    It watered crops grown by a succession of farmers — Hohokam, O’odham, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and Anglo.

    Its springs and surface flows vanished as the region’s population grew and the groundwater table beneath it sank.

    The mesquite bosques vanished and the channel deepened.

    On its run through Tucson, the river’s banks have been stabilized to protect bridges over it and development alongside it.

    It can still run bank-to-bank after a good storm, but usually it is a dry, silt-filled curiosity.

    It is the reason this place exists, but on its run through Tucson, it is a river no more.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    At times we would rather forget Jan. 8, 2011 — the day a mentally ill young man shot and killed six people and wounded 13 others at a Congress on Your Corner event.

    Cards and flowers, stuffed toys and other items began showing up spontaneously at three sites — the Safeway where the shooting occurred; University of Arizona Medical Center, where survivors fought for life; and the office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the target of an assassination attempt that day.

    Giffords had been wounded so seriously that we feared she would not live.

    The objects left at the three sites have been collected, catalogued and archived. Some will return to public view in a permanent memorial at the Pima County Courthouse.

    It will remember those who died: Dorothy “Dot” Morris, Dorwan Stoddard, Phyllis Schneck, John M. Roll, Christina-Taylor Green and Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman.

    It will celebrate the resilience of the survivors, including Giffords, who resigned from Congress to pursue recovery and to join with husband Mark Kelly to lobby for measures to prevent gun violence.

    It will remind the world of what happened, said U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, when the site was announced in January. Barber, who was wounded that day and later won election to Gifford’s seat, said it will also remind the world of “what happened afterward: the kindness, the caring and love that came forward.”

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The yellow blossoms of the palo verde tree are as much a signature of spring in Tucson as cherry blossoms are in Washington, D.C.

    The palo verde is Arizona’s state tree and grows throughout the Sonoran Desert.

    You’ll see several varieties in the arroyos and foothills around Tucson and the tree is a prized landscaping element along city streets.

    It blossoms between March and May, depending on the weather each year.

    Mark Dimmitt, former director of natural history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, notes that the palo verde is also important to our other regional icon, the saguaro.

    Young saguaros need a “nurse plant” to protect the plant and to shade some, but not all, of the harsh desert sun during germination and early development.

    The palo verde is uniquely suited for that task. Its slim leaves stipple the ground with shade.

    A fully leafed palo verde has the same leaf mass as any other tree, said Dimmitt, but it absorbs less heat than broad-leafed trees.

    It also has the capacity to shed leaves and even branches in reaction to drought. Its green, chlorophyl-filled bark can continue to photosynthesize.

    The bark color gives the tree its name — Spanish for “green stick.”

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    If you were to pick an object to typify the offerings of Tucson’s Chinese markets, you might choose wrongly.

    Most were born in an era when Tucson was predominantly Hispanic, and those that still exist are mainly in Hispanic neighborhoods.

    According to a history compiled by the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, the 100 or so groceries that Tucson’s Chinese families operated in Tucson by the 1940s catered to a clientele that shopped for Mexican specialties.

    “As the Chinese grocers became a part of their neighborhoods, they offered foods matching the tastes of their customers, including ‘Chinese’ chorizo, which is still remembered fondly by those who prepared it in ... their stores.”

    Chorizo remains a specialty today at T&T Market, 2048 S. Sixth Ave.

    The T&T Market was opened in 1942 by Gee Poon Lim, who had moved to San Francisco from Canton, China as a teenager and later moved to Tucson, according to a history compiled by the center for its exhibition on “The Vanishing Chinese Grocery Store.”

    The market’s current co-owner, Kenyon Lee, is the third generation of his family to operate the South Tucson store.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    These pascola masks are familiar objects for Tucsonans who have attended a “deer dance” or other ceremonies in Old Pascua Village or other Yaqui settlements.

    They are worn by the ceremonial hosts, called the pahkolam, or “old men of the ceremony.”

    The oldest, on the left, has lost its hair tufts and most of its markings. It was collected by the padres of San Xavier del Bac in the 1930s and donated to the Arizona State Museum in 1994.

    The center mask was also collected in the 1930s by noted anthropologists Edward and Rosamond Spicer. The newer mask was made in 1996 by Yaqui carver Frank “Chico” Martinez.

    The Yaqui, or Yoemem, inhabited the river valleys of what is now northern Mexico long before Europeans arrived.

    When the Spaniards came, the Yoemem combined the Catholic religion brought to the New World by the Jesuit missionaries with their own beliefs and customs.

    They did not, however, easily succumb to the land grabs of the Spanish and Mexican governments. As a result, they were targets of campaigns of occupation and eradication.

    Many fled north to Arizona in the late 1800s and during the violence of the Mexican Revolution in the 1900s, settling along the Santa Cruz River downtown, then at Old Pascua, south of West Grant Road, close to where Interstate 10 now intersects it.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Much of Arizona’s copper mining is done from open pits with massive earthmoving equipment, but it was once the domain of the underground hard-rock miner.

    It was tough, dangerous work.

    The miners at San Manuel, north of Tucson, worked from shafts up to 2,700 feet deep — drilling holes to plant explosives, using pneumatic drills like the jackleg drill pictured here.


    The blasts would fracture the ore, making it possible to load it onto underground railroad cars for transport to the top.

    According to mining historian William Escarza, San Manuel was the largest underground copper mine in the world in the 1980s and its “block-caving” method brought 93 million tons of ore to the surface in its 44 years of operation.

    Underground copper miners are honored prominently in another Southern Arizona mining town — Bisbee — where a 9-foot-tall copper-plated statue of a miner holding a sledgehammer and bit stands in front of the Cochise County Courthouse.

    The “Iron Man” may not be a famous as depictions of lumberjack Paul Bunyan, but it represents a profession equally as demanding, especially when it was done by hand in the early Arizona copper mines.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Old Main, the only building sitting astride the University of Arizona’s nearly mile-long mall, is the oldest building on the UA campus.

    It was the only building on campus when it opened in 1891, and its 12 classrooms accommodated all of the university’s students.


    After a $13.5 million renovation, it is set to reopen in August with newly added offices for UA President Ann Weaver Hart and her staff.

    The building is usually described as “Territorial” in its architectural style, but its metal mansard roof is reminiscent of French design. That roof, by the way, proved to be a good feature. It was replaced for the first time in 123 years in the recent rehabilitation.

    The stone and brick building was in remarkably good shape as well, said architect Corky Poster, who worked with UA architect Rodney Mackey and Sundt Construction on the project.

    It had been protected over the years by the building’s wrap-around veranda, which shields Old Main from the Arizona sun.

    The veranda had to be totally replaced during reconstruction.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The hardwood floor of the McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus is a revered spot.


    Tucson may not have a major professional sports team and the UA football team has never won a Rose Bowl, but during basketball season, none of that matters.

    James F. “Pop” McKale got the basketball and football programs moving at the University of Arizona, beginning in 1914.

    His name is on the building where the Wildcats play.

    You can name a number of coaches who contributed to the UA Wildcats’ emergence as a power in college basketball, but only one coached them to a national championship. His name is on the hardwood floor.

    Lute Olson coached the UA men’s basketball team from 1983 to 2007, compiling a record of 589 wins and 188 losses.

    He took the team to 25 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament, including four trips to the Final Four. His team won the national championship in 1997.

    Lute and Bobbi Olson Court is named for the coach and his late wife, who died of ovarian cancer in 2001.

    The court is now the domain of Sean Miller, who re-ignited the program in his first four seasons with a 48-24 record and two trips to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

    Keep that up for another two decades and we may have to rename something.

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    You need an elevated view for today’s object — the “Bear Down” sign atop the University of Arizona’s gymnasium.

    Reader Frank Soltys and his wife, Ginny, made the case in a recent email:

    “We Tucsonans have our own ‘Win one for the Gipper’ story in John ‘Button’ Salmon.


    “You probably know that on his death bed — when asked by coach ‘Pop’ McKale if had any words for the team — Salmon’s last words were: ‘Tell them, tell the team to bear down.’”

    Salmon’s words, spoken on October 17, 1926, were relayed by McKale to his team after Salmon died the following day. The football team went on to beat New Mexico State University in Las Cruces 7-0.

    Salmon, in addition to being the football quarterback, was catcher and captain of the baseball team.

    Salmon’s words, painted on the roof of Bear Down Gym, inspired Jack Lee in 1952 to write the words and music to the UA fight song, “Bear Down Arizona.”

    Lee had seen the slogan as he flew home after interviewing for a job as UA’s band director. He got the job and held it for 28 years.

    The UA has recently “rebranded” itself with the slogan: “Bigger Questions. Better Answers. Bear Down.”

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    Bicycling is big in Tucson and the biggest annual event, El Tour de Tucson, features 9,000 cyclists circumnavigating the city.


    El Tour, first held in 1983, is a chance for pro riders and novices to compete or simply ride on roads closed to vehicle traffic for distances ranging from 40 miles to 104.

    But the November El Tour is not the only time Tucson’s bicyclists take to the roads on nearly 1,000 miles of bike lanes.

    According to the U.S. Census, 3 percent of Tucsonans commute daily to work or school by bike.

    That may not sound like much, but it places the city sixth in that category nationwide.

    The number gets a big boost from students at the University of Arizona, where campus planners encourage bike riding with valet parking and repair stations.

    Underpasses beneath Speedway and the designated bike path on North Mountain Avenue also add to the appeal.

    Pima County, meanwhile, is nearing completion of a 52-mile off-road Urban Loop that uses the banks of washes and rivers to keep bikes out of traffic.

    All that has earned Tucson a designation as a gold level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

    Transportation planners say they are not satisfied and are shooting for “platinum.”

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    The starburst Lucky Wishbone sign on North Swan Road near East Broadway is a great example of why cities pass sign ordinances.

    It is tall. It is unattractive. It features a blinding strobe flash.

    It was there long before Tucson’s city fathers ever dreamed of passing ordinances limiting the size and style of signs.


    “It’s kind of an ugly thing that stayed around,” owner Clyde Buzzard told the Arizona Daily Star in 2010.

    It survived in “grandfathered” status through a recent demolition and replacement of the store it advertises.

    The store moved to an adjacent lot, but the sign stayed put.

    Buzzard told the Arizona Daily Star in 2010 that he checked and rechecked with city sign officials to make sure the sign would be able to remain.

    The sign fits the retro feel of “The Bone” — a Tucson institution with seven locations that feature a menu of chicken, gizzards, livers, steak fingers, fish and shrimp.

    The entrées are breaded and fried, of course, though a grilled chicken sandwich is available.

    You can read the full history at

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    That conical hill just west of downtown is officially known as Sentinel Peak.

    It is where sentinels from the Spanish presidio at Tucson kept watch for Apache raids.


    For decades, though, it has been known simply as “A” Mountain, site of a whitewashed pile of rocks that celebrates the University of Arizona and its sporting victories.

    Construction of the “A” — 80 feet wide at the base and 160 feet from top to bottom — began in 1914 after a particularly thrilling football victory over Pomona College.

    A road that passes beneath the base of the “A” provides a panoramic view of the city. Recently, the city of Tucson has spiffed up the trails and built new picnic ramadas and interpretative displays beneath the peak on the west side.

    For the past three decades, the city has lofted its annual Fourth of July fireworks display from the mountain, occasionally setting fire to the vegetation.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The seasonal wind shift that brings monsoon thunderstorms and half of Tucson’s annual rainfall usually occurs in the first week of July.

    Unlike our winter rains, which are prone to disappear from time to time, the monsoon is dependable.


    Only once, in 1924, has it failed to produce at least 2.5 inches of rain in Tucson. Summer rainfall in 1924 was 1.59 inches.

    In 2008, the National Weather Service offices in Tucson and Phoenix declared a new “monsoon season” from June 15 to September 30.

    Tucsonans mostly ignore that declaration and wait for the moisture that used to signal the onset — technically, the first of three consecutive days with an average dewpoint of 54 degrees or more.

    Forget dates and calculations.

    The monsoon begins when you feel it — when the clouds pile up over the mountains all day, then roll off in late afternoon to darken the sky above your house.

    The monsoon begins when lightning pulses and crackles and occasionally shocks you into fleeing for safety.

    It begins with a sudden downdraft that scatters dust in all directions, followed — if you’re lucky — by a white wall of rain that floods curb-to-curb and cools things down for an evening of watching white veins of lightning on the horizon.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The valley of the lower Santa Cruz River is ringed by mountain ranges, but the Santa Catalinas to the north of Tucson have the benefit of being very tall and very close by.


    They are so close, in fact, that you don’t see the high, forested peaks of Mounts Lemmon and Bigelow from most parts of the city.

    What you see is the front range — Pusch Ridge — which is punctuated by a 100-foot spire of rock that resembles a hand with its index finger extended. At least we like to believe it is the index finger.

    “Finger Rock,” of course — what else would you call it?

    You can walk there, but it takes some doing. The Finger Rock Canyon Trail is 5 miles long and gains 4,200 feet of elevation along the rocky path to adjacent Mount Kimball.

    In summer, it’s best just to appreciate the iconic skyline of the Catalinas from the shaded confines of a porch or patio.

    As the sun begins to dip below the Tucson Mountains to the west, shadows outline the canyons and crevices, bringing the front range into sharper focus.

    The dusty tan facade changes color.

    Watch closely, have a shaker of something handy and remember what they say:

    “When the mountains turn pink, it’s time for a drink.”

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Golf and retirement became synonymous in the Tucson region beginning in the 1960s with development of Green Valley, south of Tucson, which today boasts nine championship courses.


    For decades after developer Fairfield began selling the “Green Valley grin” to duffers from the frozen North, nobody dared build an “active adult” community without putting in a golf course first.

    That’s changing, courtesy of what the National Golf Foundation calls a “correction” in the oversupply of golf courses.

    In 2013, according to the, only 14 new courses were built and 157.5 courses closed.

    In that same year, 3.7 million Americans took up the game, but 4.1 million left it, many of them, no doubt, for those big links in the sky.

    The region has seen its share of failed golf courses in the past few years. The city of Tucson recently hired a Scottsdale firm to try to keep its five municipal courses in the black and avoid closures.

    Golf and golf cart crossings are not going away, however.

    One of those 14 new courses built nationwide last year was the Sewaila course, connected to the Yaqui Tribe’s Casino del Sol resort.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:


    There were three C’s that moved Arizona’s economy in the early days — copper, cotton and cattle.

    We added two more along the way — climate, which we sold to increasing numbers of tourists; and citrus, which became a really big deal north of here in the lower deserts.

    One region of Tucson, however, proved to be the perfect place for oranges, grapefruit and the date palms that traditionally line the groves.

    Maurice Reid, whose son, Gene, would later develop Reid Park as Tucson’s Parks director, identified a “thermal belt” in Tucson where the desert vegetation hadn’t been damaged by a severe freeze.

    He bought land, beginning in the late 1920s — 1,500 acres of what is now the Casas Adobes area between two roads that Reid would name, Ina and Orange Grove.

    They were tearing out citrus trees to build homes in Phoenix, so Reid bought them and hauled them down to his “thermal belt,” which, it turned out, wasn’t completely immune to freezes.

    Reid’s groves mostly survived to be torn out for subdivisions over the years.

    Look along Orange Grove Road, though, and you will find some trailer courts that look like Arabian oases, with date palms and orange trees.

  • The dashboard shade that keeps the intense summer sun from heating your steering wheel to untouchable temperatures was not a Tucson invention.

    The idea was imported to the Sunbelt from Israel in the 1980s. It caught on quickly.

    The early ones were the accordion-folded cardboard variety.


    Some came with a reversible message to display in case of emergency, asking passing motorists to call police.

    Too many people displayed that message carelessly, leading to a “boy cried wolf” scenario that rendered them ineffective.

    Some had labels warning you not to operate your motor vehicle with the shade in place. As if.

    They lower temperatures inside a parked car by a considerable amount. Claims vary, and it depends on a whole bunch of factors.

    It’s enough to know that a sun-shaded steering wheel won’t burn your hands when you have to park your car in the midday sun in this land of vast, unshaded parking lots.

    Recently, businesses have begun installing rows of photovoltaic panels atop parking structures, but shady spots are still few and far between.

    Be careful out there: Do not leave pets, children, chocolate, gum or cellphones in your car.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Speedway was never “the ugliest street in America,” and Life magazine didn’t make that claim in 1970.

    The magazine simply called it “loathsome,” according to the Star’s indomitable Bonnie Henry, who tracked down the facts in 1996.


    “Just about everyone who was around these parts back in the mid-’60s will tell you it was Life magazine that pointed the finger at our 20-mile strip. Twice,” wrote Henry.

    “The first time was in March of ’66, during the sensational trial of Charles Schmid, who was ultimately convicted of murdering three teenage girls.”

    Henry said Schmid was “sensational grist for the magazine.” It depicted him cruising Speedway — “a garish stretch of hamburger palaces and juke joints.”

    Four years later, Life revisited the street and titled its photo spread “Look Down, Look Down, that Loathsome Road.”

    It attributed the “America’s ugliest street” phrase to Tucson Mayor James Corbett. He denied it.

    Speedway has since been widened and businesses along it have been beautified, sort of. Its signs have been gradually shrunk by city sign ordinances. In the university area, it is now lined with UA buildings and towering student housing.

    Tucson, meanwhile, has become nostalgic for its old neon business strips.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Unsuspecting visitors wonder why they can’t find a hotel room in Tucson in February.

    Natives know — gem show.

    Nothing packs in the visitors like the wholesale mania surrounding the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, which recently marked its 60th year.


    The main show was created and is annually organized by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, a nonprofit founded in 1946 to “encourage interest and study in geology, mineralogy, lapidary and allied earth sciences.”

    The gem show attracts dozens of affiliated shows, dealing in fossils, beads and international crafts.

    They overflow all available exhibit space into giant tents that pop up on vacant lots and parking lots, transforming the city into an international bazaar.

    Savvy Tucsonans take advantage of the wholesale prices to add to their collections of jewelry, African masks, trilobites and geodes.

    Tucson is an obvious setting for such pursuits. The University of Arizona has highly ranked programs in mining and geological engineering, geophysics and seismology, geology and earth sciences.

    Our copper mining heritage has provided a wealth of gemstones , with many displayed in world-class collections at Flandrau Science Center and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Legendary Tucson dress-shop owner Cele Peterson created a copper dress on a dare, said Laraine Daly Jones, museum collections manager at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson.

    Peterson was a board member of the Tucson Trade Bureau, which put on a weeklong celebration called Tucson Copper Days in the 1960s and 1970s.


    One of her co-organizers bet her she couldn’t make a copper dress, Daly Jones said.

    Peterson won. The dress took 33 yards of copper, 11 yards of bronze and 600 hours of work, said a 1975 article in the Kingman Daily Miner.

    You had to wear it carefully, Daly-Jones said. “It had the potential to rip skin.”

    That didn’t deter Fiesta Bowl Queen Paula DeDario from wearing it in the pre-game parade in 1975.

    “Her complexion and auburn-colored hair set the dress off well,” the Daily Miner wrote.

    The dress is now part of the Cele Peterson collection of the Arizona Historical Society.

    Peterson, who opened her first Tucson dress shop in 1931, was usually more practical in her designs, though always elegant.

    She died in 2010 at age 101. Her business lives on and is still family-owned.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. Follow along at:

    The dark-eyed junco of North America, a member of the sparrow family, is a hardy bird.

    In summer, juncos inhabit the forests of Canada and range as far north as Alaska.

    They build nests on the forest floor and forage for seeds and insects.


    They winter in the middle latitudes, showing up in climates where snow still covers the ground — hence the nickname “snowbirds.”

    But that’s not what you expected to hear about, is it?

    No, hereabouts, the only juncos are the yellow-eyed ones that migrate up and down our Sky Island mountain ranges to find an ideal seasonal climate.

    The snowbirds of the desert floor are the humans who migrate here each winter to escape the snow and ice of northern latitudes. Some bring their homes with them, rather than building nests.

    They congregate in flocks at trailer parks. Those who do build nests here prefer the aprons of golf courses.

    They are active during the day, especially in early morning, but grow sluggish as the day progresses, particularly in traffic.

    They are omnivorous and are known to forage at restaurants with senior discounts.

    Their mating habits are unknown but they do not appear to produce offspring.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Our friends in the monstropolis up north are fond of dismissing us as sandal-wearing, vegan, tree-hugging liberals.

    So we proudly include a pair of Birkenstocks in our list of 100 objects that represent Tucson.


    We come by sandal-wearing honestly in these parts.

    The oldest collection of clothing at the Arizona State Museum contains more than 1,000 sandals, some dating back to 450 A.D.

    The best preserved local sandals are from Ventana Cave on the Tohono O’odham Nation, made of plaited yucca leaf and worn by the O’odham’s ancestors, the Hohokam, between 700 and 1400, said Mike Jacobs, the museum’s archaeological collections curator.

    Natives of the region weren’t inclined toward moccasins or boots and didn’t use leather for the soles of sandals until the Spaniards brought cattle in the 1700s, Jacobs said.

    Sandals are the most practical footwear for our desert climate, where it’s usually too hot for shoes and hardly ever rains.

    So whether you prefer Birkenstocks, Tevas, Chacos or off-brand flip-flops, rest assured you are following in a long tradition while simultaneously upholding our image as the non-Phoenix.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Tucson banned gambling long before Arizona became a state.

    In 1905, The City Council forbade faro, roulette, blackjack, keno, dice, monte and several other games.


    Arizona law would later regulate gambling, making exceptions for things such as parimutuel betting at dog-and-horse tracks.

    Indian tribes challenged imposition of state gambling laws on their sovereign nations, beginning in the 1970s.

    In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which required states to enter into gaming compacts with the tribes.

    Now you don’t have to go far to find a casino.

    The Tohono O’odham Nation operates its Desert Diamond Casinos in Why, Sahuarita and at the Tucson city limits on South Nogales Highway, where it also has a resort hotel.

    Gaming boosted tribal employment to 4,350 in 2013.

    The Pascua Yaqui Tribe operates its Casino of the Sun and Casino del Sol, along with a resort, spa and conference center, southwest of Tucson on Valencia Road. The tribe and its casino arm together employ 2,400.

    The Arizona Department of Gaming says Arizona’s tribes have contributed more than $954 million to state and local governments since 2003.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    In 1973, Newsweek Magazine declared that “Tucson is fast becoming to marijuana what Milwaukee is to beer.”

    It wasn’t the image the Chamber of Commerce had in mind, but we had scored a place in the counterculture as the home of the $10 “lid” (ounce of pot).


    Sure, Mexican pot didn’t have the cachet or the potency of Thai sticks or “Maui Wowie,” but it was cheap.

    Along with pot’s easy availability in Tucson came a seamier side — organized crime and bodies found in the desert that were attributed to drug buys gone awry.

    Tucson’s role as a stash-and-deliver hub for Mexican marijuana continued for decades.

    Star reporter Tim Steller, in a 2001 series titled “Stash City,” estimated that the marijuana trade pumped $350 million into the local economy in the year 2000.

    In these days of available medical marijuana and outright legalization in some states, the domestic production of potent pot buds has increased.

    The marijuana import business has slowed, but it certainly hasn’t stopped.

    Last year, the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol found or confiscated 1.19 million pounds of marijuana.

    Contact reporter Tom Beal at or 573-4158.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Tucson is defined by its natural setting — a dry river valley ringed by mountains ribbed with trails that can take you from desert floor to forested peaks.

    All you need is a good pair of boots.


    These particular mountain boots belong to outdoor writer Doug Kreutz of the Arizona Daily Star, who gets paid, mind you, to go hiking and write about his experiences.

    He follows in the boot steps of Pete Cowgill and Ed Severson, two legendary Star outdoor writers who introduced generations of Tucsonans to their favorite hikes.

    Along the way, Cowgill founded the Southern Arizona Hiking Club. Kreutz interviewed him on the club’s 50th anniversary in 2008.

    “I had written in a column that anybody interested in forming a hiking club should meet at Hutch’s Pool,” Cowgill said.

    Cowgill said 11 people showed up and that seemed like a quorum. Club membership grew to more than 2,400 by the 1970s, Cowgill said.

    Today, the hiking club averages 100 guided hikes each month. That includes, according to its website, 433 peaks, 95 canyons, and trails in the Chiricahua, Superstition, Santa Rita, Huachuca, Santa Catalina, Tucson and Tortolita mountain ranges.

    So what’s your excuse for just sitting there?

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The mural movement of post-Revolution Mexico led to the colorful art that adorns the walls of private and public buildings in Tucson.


    The themes of the government-supported murals of artists such as Diego Rivera celebrated Mexico’s history and the common man, including an elevation of indigenous people.

    Those themes echoed in the United States during the Civil Rights era, finding expression in Chicano communities, beginning in Los Angeles and spreading across the Southwest.

    In Tucson, it found expression on public buildings, notably El Rio Neighborhood Center, scene of a political struggle between the city of Tucson and westsiders who wanted a park where the city owned a golf course.

    Antonio Pazos and David Tineo painted the first two murals. More were added over time at El Rio — and across Tucson.

    The Tucson version of the art form received its “artistic” imprimatur when Tineo and Pazos were hired to create a mural on the exterior wall of the Tucson Museum of Art, to accompany an exhibit of Chicano art in 1992.

    That “temporary” installation, weathered and flaking, was finally taken down in 2011.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The horse once defined Tucson’s winter tourist season.

    In 1925, polo enthusiast Leighton Kramer and a couple of his cowboy friends dreamed up the idea of an annual rodeo in Tucson.

    La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, Kramer predicted, would one day make the annual rodeo in “the Sunshine City” as famous as “the Mardi Gras of New Orleans, the Beauty Pageant of Atlantic City, or the Flower Show at Pasadena.”

    Well, almost.


    It did become the biggest annual event in Tucson’s winter tourist season.

    Schools closed for “Rodeo Days” and it seemed the whole town and all its visitors showed up to watch the parade.

    The Rodeo Parade, which once wound through the streets of downtown, moved south for the safety of wider streets in 1990.

    It lost some luster as the city grew but it is still billed as the longest non-mechanized parade in the country.

    Schools still close for two days.

    The rodeo goes on, too. This year, 650 contestants competed for nearly $500,000 in prize money.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    “Futbol,” as they call it in every country but this one, has been popular in Tucson for decades.

    These pins, from the Fort Lowell Soccer Shootout, represent our soccer mania.

    Every year, youth soccer teams from across the city, across the country and from Mexico fill the fields of Tucson.


    For the 24th edition of the tournament last January, 328 teams, each with 10 to 18 players, participated.

    Soccer mania isn’t limited to that tournament. Youth leagues abound. Soccer is a major sport in area high schools. City and county parks have trouble keeping up with the demand for soccer fields.

    The kids aren’t the only ones playing.

    Adult teams — men, women and coed — play across the metro area. The University of Arizona has fielded a women’s soccer team since 1994.

    Tucson has a semipro team, FC Tucson, with a large and growing fan base.

    Fans pack Kino Sports Stadium for pro soccer exhibition games.

    The conversion of that stadium’s fields for Major League Soccer spring training has eased the pain of Major League Baseball’s exodus from Tucson. The stadium was home to the Tucson Sidewinders and then the Tucson Padres, and it hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox for spring training

  • The U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector ranked 13th in the Star 200 list of Southern Arizona’s largest employers this year, with 4,135 employees.

    That does not include the employees of its parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Combined, those two agencies employed 6,500 people in 2012 in the Tucson Sector.

    Agents patrol the 262-mile Arizona border with Mexico.


    Today’s force is a far cry from the 35 agents who patrolled the Arizona border in vehicles and on horseback when the Border Patrol was formed in 1924.

    Today, the Border Patrol uses an array of vehicles, from helicopters to ATVs. It deploys cameras, sensors and scanners along the border and operates 11 checkpoints north of the border on major traffic routes.

    Agents in the Tucson Sector apprehended 120,939 people in fiscal year 2013 and confiscated 1.19 million pounds of marijuana.

    The buildup of Border Patrol staffing has occurred mostly in the past 20 years. The Tucson Sector now has nearly as many as the entire agency had in 1992 — 4,139.

    The national total for fiscal year 2013 was 21,391, mostly deployed on the Southwestern border.

    Contact reporter Tom Beal

    at or 573-4158.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The trail of belongings left behind by migrants in the mountains and deserts of Southern Arizona tell a sad tale.


    The worn-out shoes, plastic water bottles and discarded backpacks have been memorialized in art and denounced as environmental blight.

    Efforts to set out water bottles to prevent deaths have been praised as humane and condemned as encouraging lawbreaking — and have led to littering citations from federal land managers.

    Archaeologists and anthropologists have collected and curated the evidence of people passing through the harsh landscape.

    Clean-up campaigns have united environmentalists, humanitarians and federal agencies.

    Rescue efforts and education campaigns about the harsh reality of the desert trek also unite disparate groups on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

    Too often, those efforts fail.

    People die of exhaustion and exposure — of dehydration in summer and hypothermia in winter.

    The remains of more than 2,000 people have been found in the deserts and mountains of the Tucson sector of the U.S. Border Patrol in the past decade.

    And many, no doubt, have not been found.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    This is the document everyone talks about in our continuing debates about immigration.

    The “green card,” formally known as a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    Such papers weren’t needed for much of Tucson’s history as a U.S. city.


    When our Mexican town became part of the United States in 1854, the border was not marked.

    For decades after that, it was barely marked and it didn’t matter where you worked or lived.

    Numerical limits on immigration weren’t imposed until 1921. The Border Patrol came into existence in 1924.

    The “green card,” the short name given to the “Alien Registration Receipt Card,” came into being in 1945.

    It turned blue in 1964 and went through a variety of color and typography changes to combat counterfeiting.

    Its green hue was restored in 2011.

    The population of green-card holders, estimated in 2011 by the Office of Immigration Statistics of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was 13.1 million. About 250,000 lived in Arizona.

    In 2012, 2,895 Tucson residents received green cards. About half were born in Mexico and a majority of them had immediate relatives here who were U.S. citizens.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Tucson could celebrate flag day five times a year. It has flown the flags of Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, Arizona and the United States.

    The Old Pueblo began its European life as part of the Spanish empire, which declared a presidio here on Aug. 20, 1775.


    Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, but it took two years for Mexican troops to replace the Spanish garrison here.

    Tucson became a territory of the United States with the ratification and acceptance of the Gadsden Purchase in 1854.

    It has flown Old Glory ever since, with one brief exception.

    The first flag of the Confederacy, the Stars and Bars, flew over Tucson for 80 days, beginning with the arrival of a small Confederate force in February of 1862.

    California troops loyal to the Union sent them fleeing on May 20. No battles or skirmishes were fought here.

    The Arizona flag is the most recent addition.

    In 1863, Arizona became a territory to itself, splitting off from New Mexico.

    On Feb. 14, 1912, it became the 48th state. The Arizona flag was not officially adopted until 1917.

    The flags pictured here are in the lobby of the Arizona Historical Society Museum, 949 E. Second St.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The javelina has been a game animal in Arizona since 1929.

    Emphasis on game.

    You will run into people who tell you they know exactly how to dress a fresh-killed javelina so its musk gland doesn’t foul the meat.


    They will slow-cook it for hours or days to get rid of the toughness, and will douse it in five-alarm barbecue sauce to mask the taste, and offer it to you as a regional delicacy.

    But take my word:

    It will be tough.

    It will be gamey.

    It will not taste like chicken or pork.

    The javelina is not a pig. It is a peccary — a collared peccary in these parts.

    Though sometimes called a New World pig, peccaries are not related to Afro-European pigs, nor to their escaped and feral cousins, the razorbacks.

    Javelinas are omnivores, who mostly get by on plants. Prickly-pear cacti are a major portion of their diet.

    They travel in packs, have sharp tusks and will usually avoid you — but not all the time.

    Like all wild animals, they can become a nuisance on the suburban fringe or even the center of town if you’re close to a wash — especially when people feed them.

    Here is all you need to know about javelina:

    Don’t feed them.

    Don’t let your dogs chase them.

    Don’t eat them.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    One of Tucson’s oldest foods nearly disappeared from the culinary map.

    When Spaniards first ventured into the lands settled by the Pima-speaking tribes, they found a thriving agricultural community producing corn, squash and beans.

    The beans were varieties of tepary beans, which could be coaxed from flood fields in a short, hot growing season.


    With irrigated agriculture, the larger pinto bean came to dominate, and tepary beans began to disappear.

    The bean was one of the original targets for preservation by ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan and the Native Seeds/SEARCH movement he helped found.

    Native Seeds/SEARCH has collected and cultivated 90 varieties, said Director Chris Schmidt. It sells 33 varieties of the beans.

    Tohono O’odham Community Action grows white and brown tepary varieties on heritage farms.

    Tepary beans are smaller than the more popular varieties, but they are the hardiest of the legumes and are beginning to be recognized for their taste and health advantages.

    They contain more protein than ordinary beans and have a lower glycemic index.

    Today, they can be found in dishes devised by the Southwest’s most creative chefs.

    “They are a classic underutiilized species,” said Schmidt, who added that they could be widely used in other semiarid and arid environments.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    My friend Oscar Davis went back into the tack room for his revolver when he found out I was going to ride his horse “Billy” in my sneakers.


    ”This is just in case your foot slides through the stirrup and he spooks and starts dragging you down the riverbed,” he said, as he loaded cartridges into the cylinder.

    ”You’d really shoot Billy to save me?”

    ”Who said anything about shootin’ Billy?”

    Cowboy boots have a heel for a reason. And their ankle/shin coverage protects against snakebite and goatheads.

    They’re still worn hereabouts for their everyday utility. Mostly, though, cowboy boots are a fashion statement in our urban setting.

    They look best with blue jeans, but you see them on lawyers in suits and women in skirts.

    The monogrammed boots shown here are the fancy-dress boots of a genuine cowboy.

    Ed F. Echols was a champion calf roper who was instrumental in starting the annual Tucson rodeo, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros.

    The boots were made of alligator by Lucchese Boot Co. of San Antonio.

    They were custom-made to accommodate Echols’ broken foot, said Laraine Daly Jones, collections manager for the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tucson, where the boots reside.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The website of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia’s Gallery in the Sun refers to him as “one of the most reproduced artists of the twentieth century.”


    In the 1960s, after one of DeGrazia’s paintings was chosen for a highly popular UNICEF Christmas card, his simple designs of faceless Indian and Mexican children became ubiquitous.

    Hallmark cards, paperweights, refrigerator magnets, area rugs, dolls, plates and jigsaw puzzles were among the wares he produced or allowed others to mass produce.

    His popularity, combined with the simplicity of some of his work, led many to dismiss him as simply a commercial artist. One critic called him “an expressionistic Walt Disney.”

    He was more than that.

    He studied muralism with Diego Rivera and José Orozco.

    He wrote histories of Spanish explorers, including Father Eusebio Kino.

    He played trumpet and conducted a big band.

    He challenged the government, burning 100 paintings, valued at $1.5 million, to protest the IRS’s valuation scheme for inheritance taxes.

    He designed and built the chapel and studio at the end of Swan Road that now houses his foundation and much of his life’s work.

    He chronicled the lives of Mexicans, Navajos, Hopis and Tohono O’odham in his work.

    And his simple renderings of faceless children of varying hues spoke to millions of people who bought and treasured his cards.

    That could be art.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Barbara Kingsolver no longer lives in Tucson, but her first novels were written here, where she used the city’s rich setting and the diverse characters who inhabit it.


    “Bean Trees,” published in 1988, tells the story of Taylor Greer, driving into town from Kentucky, and daughter “Turtle,” thrust into Taylor’s life along the way.

    Tucson readers will recognize the sometimes satirized elements of its downtown setting — the train horns, motor courts, New Age communes, Chinese grocery — and the “Jesus is Lord” tire shop that fronts for a shelter used by the Sanctuary Movement.

    The characters and the setting are revisited in her 1993 novel “Pigs in Heaven.”

    Subsequent settings for Kingsolver novels have ranged from Africa to Appalachia, but all are informed by knowledge of the natural world and reflect the education she received in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.

    Kingsolver follows a long tradition of Tucson authors for whom the environment is a principal theme — writers such as Edward Abbey, Charles Bowden and Joseph Wood Krutch.

    And she continues a rich tradition of literary giants with connections to Tucson — among them: Leslie Marmon Silko, David Foster Wallace and Richard Russo.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    More than a few authors have called Tucson home and more than a few books have used it as a setting.

    What makes “Chicken Every Sunday” special is its look at a well-known Tucson family and its description of what life was like in this burg in the early 1900s.

    Rosemary Drachman Taylor was raised in a house at 35 E. Third Street (now University Boulevard), one of three children of Mose and Ethel Drachman.


    The Drachmans were pioneer Tucson merchants and real-estate developers.

    The book was a pretty good success commercially and was turned into a Broadway play and a movie, starring Dan Dailey and Celeste Holme.

    It’s not about the Drachmans per se, but it closely parallels their lives — dad, the hustling entrepreneur and mom, the wife who rented rooms and cooked meals to help make ends meet. Drachman told the Arizona Daily Star that she wrote about her family because she knew they wouldn’t sue her.

    Tucson, in 1916, was a different place, as Taylor describes:

    “When they built, there wasn’t a house between us and the Catalinas to the north. About a mile away to the east was the university. A half-mile to the west was the Indian School and the Roskruge Grade School, where I went.”

    “Uncle Harry, Father’s brother, said, ‘I think you two are crazy to build so far out. The town will never catch up with you.’’’

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    When Tucson native Linda Ronstadt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, none of the songs from this album were deemed “essential Ronstadt” on the Hall’s blog.

    The blog did note, however that Ronstadt is the only artist to win Grammy awards in pop, country, Mexican American and Tropical Latin categories.


    She won a Grammy for this album and for its successor, “Mas Canciones.”

    For Tucsonans, “Canciones de mi Padre” is the essential Ronstadt. It conveys the ranchera songs transported to this slice of desert by its original settlers, including Ronstadt’s own family.

    Ronstadt is the granddaughter of Sonora-born Federico José María Ronstadt, who came to town as a wheelwright and blacksmith. He spent his working hours building a wagon business and his spare time making music. He founded Tucson’s first orchestra, the Club Filarmonico Tucsonense in the late 1890s.

    One of Fred Ronstadt’s daughters was Luisa Espinel, a renowned interpreter of Spanish songs and dances, who collected the songs her father had taught her in a booklet entitled “Canciones de mi Padre.” When Linda Ronstadt crafted an album of songs sung by her father Gilbert, she used the same title.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Architect Josias Joesler designed a modest chapel and plaza for St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church in the early 1930s.

    It sat next to a tearoom and a sales office that Joesler and his patrons, John and Helen Murphey, installed near the intersection of North Campbell Avenue and East River Road.


    Joesler designed homes and the Murpheys built them on 7,000 acres of land north of the chapel — the first large-scale incursion into the Foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

    Swiss-born Joesler was an “architectural linguist” who borrowed from many styles, said architectural historian R. Brooks Jeffery.

    Joesler designed more than 400 homes and buildings in Tucson, including Broadway Village at the corner of East Broadway and Country Club Road.

    Joesler produced mini-versions of Tudor mansions and Italianate villas, and dabbled in Art Deco, Moderne and Modern.

    His Foothills homes are notable for their siting and minimal disturbance of the lush Sonoran upland vegetation.

    St. Philip’s has undergone a number of additions since 1936, including east and west transepts, an art gallery, a memorial garden, a children’s center and a recital hall.

    It is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    It is a coveted, though not a rare, document.

    Since 1895, the University of Arizona has awarded 336,890 diplomas to undergraduates and graduate students, the UA Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support says.

    That first 1895 graduating class consisted of Charles Oma Rouse, Mercedes Shibell and Mary Walker.


    In the 2013-14 academic year, the UA awarded 9,400 degrees, all signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

    This one was awarded to the author’s wife, Ginny Beal, in 1987, and is something of a collector’s item.

    It is signed by Gov. Evan Mecham, who participated in one spring graduation between his inauguration on Jan. 6, 1987, and his impeachment and removal from office on April 4, 1988.

    An even rarer December diploma bears the signature of Gov. Wesley Bolin, who died in office five months after succeeding Gov. Raul Castro in October 1977.

    Among the many notables awarded UA diplomas are the late Sen. Barry Goldwater; Brian Schmidt, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics; and novelist Richard Russo.

    A host of athletes parlayed their UA careers into professional sports stardom, led by Sean Elliott, formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, and Jennie Finch, who pitched Team USA to a gold medal in softball in the 2004 Summer Olympics.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The Tomahawk cruise missile, built in Tucson, has been the U.S. Navy’s weapon of choice for targeted destruction since the first Gulf War in 1990.

    In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, 320 Tomahawks were launched in the first wave of the U.S. military’s “shock and awe” campaign.


    The Tomahawk notched its 2,000th “expenditure” by the U.S. Navy during the 2011 revolt against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

    The Navy defines the Tomahawk’s primary function as a “long-range subsonic cruise missile for striking high value or heavily defended land targets.”

    Launched from ships or submarines, it can hit targets up to 1,000 miles away.

    The current version — the Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile — costs about $600,000 and is manufactured in Tucson by Raytheon Missile Systems.

    Raytheon is the largest private employer in Southern Arizona. It reported revenue of $6.6 billion and 9,933 jobs in the 2014 Star 200 list of major employers.

    The Tomahawk was originally developed in the 1970s by General Dynamics, whose missile unit was bought by Tucson-based Hughes Aircraft in 1992.

    Hughes merged with Raytheon in 1997.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    This paper replica of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis was a table favor at a banquet held at the University of Arizona dining hall on Sept. 23, 1927.

    It held nuts.

    The famous aviator had flown into Tucson to dedicate Davis-Monthan Field.


    It was then a municipal airport, owned by the city of Tucson.

    Its location southeast of town gave Tucson’s aviators more room than they had at the first municipal airport, which had opened just eight years earlier at the current site of the Tucson Rodeo Grounds — South Sixth Avenue and Irvington Road.

    The field, then just a paved runway and a used hangar hauled in from Nogales, is now Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

    Tucson International Airport came into being after World War II, when it became clear that military uses and the burgeoning airline industry needed separate runways.

    A couple members of the Arizona Historical Society were smart enough to grab this party favor for safe-keeping at the society’s museum in Tucson.

    It will be part of an exhibit of the museum’s 150 most-treasured items, being put together for the Arizona Historical Society’s 150th anniversary this year.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Isabella Greenway bought 14 acres of desert near Tucson and built an inn to provide a market for her furniture business during the Great Depression.

    The Furniture Hut, begun in the late ‘20s to employ disabled veterans of World War I, built all the furnishings for the Arizona Inn, which opened in 1930 and survives today as the premiere example of Tucson’s 20th-century casual elegance.


    Greenway, a close friend of Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt, became active in politics during FDR’s 1932 presidential race and herself ran for a vacated U.S. House seat in 1933, becoming Arizona’s first woman in Congress.

    The Arizona Inn, a sprawling expanse of gardens and Mediterranean-Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, remains an oasis of gentility on East Elm Street, just a few blocks from busy North Campbell Avenue and the medical complex of the University of Arizona.

    In the tradition of the Furniture Hut, it still employs staff carpenters to build and restore furniture.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The Fox Theatre is the only true movie palace built in Tucson.

    Thank the Diamos family, who also built the even grander Grand Theater in Douglas.

    The family sold its Tucson theater before it opened, under pressure from the Fox Theatre chain of 1,000 movie houses, but continued to operate it.


    The Fox opened a year after the stock market collapse of 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression.

    Movies, as you may remember or may have heard, actually thrived during the Depression. They were an affordable diversion from the drudgery of life.

    The Fox was quite a diversion, a modern movie theater with air conditioning and Art Deco design. It showed movies until 1974, when businesses of all stripes were fleeing downtown for newer shopping centers and malls in sprawling Tucson.

    The Fox sat vacant and deteriorating until a nonprofit led by Herb Stratford began a restoration campaign that eventually spent about $11 million in private and public money to get it up and operating.

    Its marquee, with its 850 light bulbs and 187 feet of neon, began glowing again in June 2002 as a promise of its eventual return.

    It reopened on Dec. 31, 2005.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The stone bridges of Sabino Canyon transport 1 million visitors a year across Sabino Creek.

    The canyon has long been a destination for those seeking a respite from desert heat and a target for those seeking to augment the area water supply.


    Over the years, plans for it included a dam and reservoir, a hotel and a mine.

    Access would be a road that would cross the creek nine times on stone bridges.

    The big dam was never built, though a smaller one in Lower Sabino was.

    The road and bridges were built during the Great Depression by a succession of federal agencies, beginning in 1934, with the Emergency Relief Administration, which built the first four.

    The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built the remaining bridges and a road to the dam site. The Civilian Conservation Corps built campgrounds, picnic tables and grills, according to a history written by U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Kathy Makansi for the Friends of Sabino Canyon.

    The canyon became an increasingly popular site for drive-in recreation until, in 1978, the U.S. Forest Service contracted for tram service on the road and access to private vehicles was prohibited.

    The bridges continue to make the canyon the most accessible natural outing for Tucsonans and their visitors

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Geronimo’s ultimate surrender in 1886 ended the fear of Apache raids that had kept Tucsonans close to their fortified homes for more than a century.

    Geronimo actually turned himself in several times. This rifle is the one he gave Indian agent John Clum on one such occasion on April 21, 1877.


    It was donated by Clum’s family to the Arizona Historical Society and is part of the Geronimo exhibit at the society’s Tucson museum, 949 E. Second St.

    Geronimo’s return to the San Carlos Indian Reservation with Clum was short-lived.

    He and a small band of Chiricahua Apaches managed to escape and elude capture again and again.

    You can measure the importance of his final surrender by the forces arrayed against him.

    Gen. Nelson Miles commanded 5,000 troops — 25 percent of the U.S. Army — in the final campaign to capture Geronimo, Chief Naiche and 40 other Chiricahua Apaches.

    Their surrender to Miles’ troops in a canyon near the U.S.-Mexico border on Sept. 4, 1886, marked the end of Apache raids.

    It ended two centuries of conflict between the raiding Apaches and the Indian tribes, Spaniards, Mexicans and Americans who lived in the region.

    It was the cause of great celebration in Tucson, which held a parade and hosted a banquet saluting Miles and his troops.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The adobe blocks used to build the U.S. Army’s Fort Lowell were made on site by the soldiers posted there, working with Mexican and Indian laborers.

    The soil used for the adobe walls included shards of pottery from previous inhabitants of the site, where the Tanque Verde and Pantano washes converge to form the Rillito.

    The Hohokam had settled the area for much the same reason the U.S. Army had — here there was reliable water.


    The Army had other reasons, according to a history of the area written for the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood.

    Captain W. Henry Brown wanted to move his Cavalry troops away from Tucson, with its prostitution and bars.

    Camp Lowell, located in Tucson where downtown’s Armory Park now sits, moved 7 miles northeast in 1873.

    The fort was situated strategically to defend settlers from Apache raids, especially those coming from the notch in the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains at Redington Pass.

    Campaigns against the Apaches culminated with Geronimo’s surrender in 1886.

    The fort closed in 1891 and today is site of a city park with soccer fields, swimming pool, nature trails and adobe ruins. The Arizona Historical Society has a branch museum on the site.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The Tohono O’odham keep track of important events in the life of a village by carving reminders of them on a stick usually made from a saguaro rib.

    The calendar sticks were traditionally destroyed upon the death of the man who carved them and remain rare items.


    The broken calendar stick pictured here was found in 1967 in the abandoned Tohono O’odham village of Old Ak Chin and donated to the Arizona State Museum.

    The museum also has a prized two-generation calendar stick in its collection. It was donated in 1939 and interpreted by its second carver, Jose Maria of Sil Nakya.

    It records the coming of the railroad to Papago country in 1879 and the Sonoran earthquake of 1887.

    Maria’s father, Miguel Maria, had also incorporated some events from an even older calendar stick, dating to 1841.

    Emil Haury, director of the museum in 1939 when the calendar stick was donated, told the Arizona Daily Star that “the many notches and symbols are but jogs to memory and are intelligible only to the owner and carver of the stick.”

    In addition to regionally important events, the stick recorded the drilling of the village’s first well and the first automobile death on what was then the Papago Indian Reservation.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The prickly pear is one of the most easily identifiable cacti in the region, though telling one species from another can be a chore.

    The Engelmann prickly pear, with its segmented, flat pads, 3-inch spines, yellow flowers and red fruit, is the most common, said Mark Dimmitt, longtime director of natural history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and author of “Plant Ecology of the Sonoran Desert Region.”


    The prickly pear provides shelter and nourishment for a host of desert creatures. Packrats nest amid clumps of the plants. Rattlesnakes follow the packrats, as do kissing bugs. It’s not just the spines you have to worry about.

    The flesh of the prickly pear is eaten by packrats, jackrabbits, javelinas and humans.

    The young pads of prickly pear, nopales, are a staple of Mexican cuisine — sautéed with onion in a red chile sauce or sliced into a salad with radishes and tomatoes.

    Like many indigenous plants in these “locavore” times, nopales have migrated to the menus of non-Mexican restaurants.

    The red fruit, or tuna, is used to make syrups and jellies, and it shows up on fancy cocktail menus, flavoring martinis and margaritas.

    The prickly pear is the state plant of Texas. Here in Arizona, we can do better than that — but that’s another subject (object).

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Tucson’s spiritual side is reflected in its many outdoor shrines — from crosses and “ghost bikes” along the highways to yard shrines devoted to various “santos” of the Hispanic Catholic tradition.

    The candle in the foreground of the photo depicts one of the most popular — the apparition of the Virgen de Guadalupe.


    It has been placed at El Tiradito, probably the most enduring and famous of Tucson’s shrines.

    Located on South Main Avenue just south of West Cushing Street, it purports to be the burial ground of a sinner.

    Folklorist Jim Griffith recently recounted one of the stories about the shrine in the Arizona Daily Star.

    “A young sheepherder named Juan Oliveros, who worked on a ranch out of town, was carrying on a passionate affair with his mother-in-law who lived in Tucson. One day the husband/father-in-law discovered the couple in their guilty love, killed Juan with an axe, and fled for Mexico. Juan was buried where he fell. People praying for Juan’s soul began to notice that their prayers were answered.”

    Trouble is, said Griffith, there is no historical basis for that story, or any other.

    Still, the shrine has been visited since the mid-1800s, candles have been lit and wishes have been granted.

    In 1971, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group operates a storage facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base that everybody calls the “boneyard.”

    Here, more than 4,400 aircraft are mothballed in latex coatings to keep their parts safe from the desert sun.


    Some will regenerate, for use by U.S. allies or for sale to museums. Others may return to service, as some did during the Iraq War.

    Some will be reused as parts for other planes, and some will eventually be scrapped.

    The site takes up 2,600 acres. Access is restricted, but regular tours are offered by the adjacent Pima Air & Space Museum.

    Davis-Monthan occasionally opens it to the public, as it did in April when it hosted the first Desert Boneyard 5K fun run/walk through the rows of aircraft.

    D-M started storing B-29 and C-47 aircraft here after World War II.

    It now stores vehicles for all branches of the service and for NASA as well.

  • We’re defning Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The President’s Plate at Mi Nidito Restaurant in South Tucson commemorates the visit of famous gourmand (aka heavy eater), President Bill Clinton.

    My former colleague M. Scot Skinner reported on Clinton’s February 1999 visit in the Star:


    “First, waitress Virginia Lopez brought a chile relleno. Then the president chowed down a chicken enchilada. He moved on to a bean tostada, then took up two more courses: a shredded beef taco with a flour tortilla and a beef tamale.

    “All that and rice and beans, too.”

    Mi Nidito didn’t really need the presidential visit to boost its popularity. It was already noted for its lines of waiting diners — still is.

    Mi Nidito is smack in the middle of South Tucson’s Fourth Avenue restaurant row.

    If you don”t like the length of the line, you have a half dozen alternatives nearby.

    The other restaurants don’t have a Bill Clinton presidential plate, but that may just as well. Keeping up with the president is not a healthy idea.

    Clinton himself regretted his over-selection, telling Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz.: “I feel like Porky Pig. I ate too much.”

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Before there was a “Love Bug,” there was a “mouse car.”

    It was the invention of Truly Nolen, who mastered the notion of branding his business early in his career.

    According to the company history of his pest-control company, Truly David Nolen did not have much money for advertising when he first moved a branch of the family business to Tucson in 1955, so he painted advertising all over his service vehicles.


    Then he began parking them strategically and adding antique vehicles to the mix.

    In the 1960s, he added his now-famous “mouse cars” — yellow Volkswagen bugs outfitted with big ears and tails. The company also made mouse cars from a Fiat and the three-wheel BMW Isetta pictured here.

    You’ll see those cars around Tucson because they are part of a working fleet. Nolen also affixed his name to a rotating fleet of strategically parked antique cars.

    He lives in Florida today and, at age 86, reports to the office five days a week. He retains control of the sales and purchases of the antique cars.

    By the way, there are now four generations of Nolens named Truly. Truly David Nolen also has a son named Really and a daughter named Sincere Leigh.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino may not be a household name elsewhere, but hereabouts he’s a hero.

    You’ve no doubt driven down Kino Boulevard, where this statue of Father Kino on horseback sits at its intersection with East 15th Street.


    You may have been treated at Kino Hospital, played golf at Kino Springs, sailed Kino Bay, attended Kino School or watched a ballgame at Kino Sports Park.

    Kino, an Italian-born Jesuit missionary, who arrived in New Spain in 1683, founded a string of 24 missions and visitas in what is now Baja California, Sonora and Arizona. They include the nearby missions of Tumacácori and San Xavier and the visita he called San Cosme y Damián del Tucson, where Spain would later locate a presidio that eventually grew into the city of Tucson.

    Kino traveled the vast, empty stretches of most of New Spain on horseback. He was known for his compassion and sense of justice, opposing, for example, the use of Indian slave labor in the Crown’s silver mines.

    He is still revered, and his final resting place in Magdalena, Son., where his bones are visible behind glass in the courtyard of the mission he founded, is a site for pilgrimage.

    Recently, the bishops of Tucson, Hermosillo and his home diocese of Trent, Italy, wrote to Pope Francis, requesting that Kino be venerated, the first step in the Catholic Church’s canonization process for saints.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    There is a dark side to constant sunshine.

    Tucson, with its endlessly sunny weather, is the melanoma and carcinoma capital of the United States.

    Here, we value shade and we wear sunscreen — or we pay the price.

    That’s why we wear big hats in summer, dress in long sleeves, carry parasols, walk on the shady side of the street and generally avoid the midday sun.


    We wear sunscreen and promote its use by our visitors.

    The Skin Cancer Institute began a program with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in 2005 to install sunscreen dispensers and educational posters.

    Since then, it has expanded its outreach to most of Tucson’s major attractions. The dispenser in this photo is at the Pima Air and Space Museum.

    The institute’s Protect Your Skin Program has a prospective clientele of 1.5 million visitors.

    Of course, not everyone listens. In addition to its sufficiently sunny climate, Tucson has at least 11 tanning salons.

    You can read more about skin cancer and how to prevent it at the institute’s website:

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Go ahead, sing the jingle.

    E-e-g-e-e, make mine an E-e-gees.

    Partners Ed Irving and Bob Greenberg began selling a frozen lemonade concoction from a truck in 1971, naming the treat for the “E” in Ed’s name and the “G” in Greenberg’s.


    Other flavors followed, food was added and stores were opened across Tucson.

    Giant sandwiches and big foam buckets of Eegee’s became omnipresent at kid’s birthdays and sporting events.

    Current flavors include sugar-free skinny berry, lemon, strawberry, piña-colada and the flavor of the month for May, orange dream.

    By the time the two slush entrepreneurs sold the business in 2006, they had 21 stores and a commissary where the food was prepared. They were on track to gross $20 million that last year, Irving told the Arizona Daily Star.

    CEO Foods, owned by the O’Connor family, now operates the business and, other than expanding the number of stores and updating the look of some, has not tampered with the successful formula.

    Eegee’s — freezing brains and fueling soccer teams for 43 years.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    You will find saguaro rib ceilings in contemporary homes built in the adobe style, but the touch is strictly decorative.

    They were functional in early Tucson, where wood and metal were hard to come by before the railroad arrived in 1880.

    The ribs of the saguaro cactus, with an insulating layer of grass and native dirt piled atop them, served to fill in the spaces between roof beams hauled from nearby mountains.


    In Spanish, the beams are called “vigas” and the lateral pieces “latillas.”

    The ceilings of sleeping rooms were often covered with a sheet of muslin to keep the dirt from falling into your mouth as you snored away at night.

    You’ve no doubt seen the durable ribs on dead saguaros after the flesh falls away.

    Those pictured here are about 165 years old, and form the ceiling of one of the rooms of the Velasco House on South Stone Avenue.

    When owner Bill Dillon applied for historic status, the ceiling beams of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine were dated by the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, which placed the home’s construction in the early 1850s, when Tucson was still part of Mexico.

    This saguaro-rib ceiling has a covering of grass and 18-24 inches of adobe above it, according to the report submitted to the National Register of Historic Places.

    Carlos Ygnacio Velasco, the home’s original owner, was a merchant and newspaper publisher whose printing press for El Frontizero was installed in this building.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Once a year, for the Tucson International Mariachi Conference, the guitarrón count in the Old Pueblo skyrockets.

    The six-stringed bass with the bulbous body and the resonant sound is the backbone of a mariachi ensemble and, along with the vihuela, one of two instruments that are distinct to it.


    The overall effect, with trumpets, violins and soaring vocals added in, is the sound many visitors equate with our town.

    It’s long been a tradition that, when friends arrive from elsewhere, you take them to one of Tucson’s many Mexican restaurants.

    Then, when the strolling mariachis come by your table, you demonstrate your mastery of the culture by asking them to play one of three Spanish songs you can remember.

    That would be “Volver,” “De Colores” and “Bésame mucho.”

    Many Tucson schools have mariachi bands and the music infuses indie-rock bands in the Southwest, notably in the performances of Tucson-based Calexico.

    The origin of mariachi music is usually traced to the Mexican state of Jalisco, but its reach is worldwide.

    Since 1983, Tucson has hosted the International Mariachi Conference, where the greats of the genre mingle with young aspirants in workshops and performances that have included Linda Ronstadt, Lola Beltrán and Vikki Carr.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    As our temperatures reach and surpass 100 degrees each summer, we repeat the mantra “but it’s a dry heat.”

    We joke about lizards carrying canteens.

    As much as we like to laugh off our summer discomfort, the numbers gathered by the Arizona Department of Health Services tell a more somber tale.

    Heat killed 139 people in Arizona in 2013, according to state health officials in a recent report, “The Trend in Morbidity and Mortality from Exposure to Excessive Natural Heat in Arizona.”


    On average, 118 Arizonans have died each year from the heat since 2000, according to the state report.

    The average start date for 100-degree temperatures in Tucson is May 26, according to the National Weather Service.

    The average for reaching 105 degrees is June 12.

    We average 62 days above 100 each summer. In 1994, we recorded 99 days above 100 degrees.

    The record high in Tucson was 117 degrees on June 26, 1990.

    Give up yet?

    In 2013, 526 people were hospitalized for heat-related problems in Arizona.

    We make fun of our winter snowbirds but, by this time of year, we’d really like to join them in some cooler place.

    In lieu of that, you know the drill. Dress in loose clothing that covers you completely. Stay out of the midday sun. Pray for rain.

    Drink fluids, and regardless of what medical professionals may tell you, beer counts.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at


    The squash blossom necklace is usually associated with Navajo silversmiths of Northern Arizona and New Mexico, but it is also part of Tucson’s fashion and culture.

    It combines multiple aspects of the region’s culture and history.


    The squash itself has been an important indigenous food for 4,000 years.

    Most necklace beads, however, are not patterned on the squash blossom but on the pomegranate, a tree imported here by Spanish missionaries.

    The pomegranate is the emblem of Granada.

    The crescent suspended at the end of the necklace is called a “naja” and is modeled on the decorative horse bridles of the Spanish soldiers, according to curators at the Arizona State Museum.

    It is a protective symbol that heralds back to the Moorish occupation of Spain, said Diane Dittemore, the museum’s ethnological collections curator.

    Silver also played a role in Arizona history. Its discovery in 1736 at Arizonac, southwest of what is now Nogales, gave the state its name, according to Thomas Sheridan in “Arizona: A History.”

    The turquoise stones in classic squash-blossom necklaces are found in conjunction with copper ore, and often from a nearby mine, with Bisbee being a coveted site of origin.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Tucson Medical Center and the veterans hospital on the city’s south side both began their lives as sanatoria for the treatment of tuberculosis.

    Tucson seemed to have mixed feelings about the influx of TB sufferers, who began flocking to town in the late 19th century for “heliotherapy,” in a belief that the sun and dry desert air were thought to be curative.


    In the early decades of the 20th century, tourism advocates touted the salubrious effects of our climate, promoting the notion that the region’s natives did not suffer from tuberculosis.

    Some residents, meanwhile, worried about contagion and decried the influx of “lungers.”

    Tent cities grew on the city’s periphery, and over time were replaced by public and private sanatoria.

    Between 1920 and 1930, more than 40 sanatoria were in operation in Tucson, according to Jennifer Levstik, who documented “health-seeker” architecture in Tucson in an application to the National Register of Historic Places.

    Development of vaccines and better drug treatment and understanding of the disease, beginning in the 1950s, slowly eased the need for the facilities.

    Many remain in use today, as offices, clinics, apartment houses and private homes.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Before the interstate, tourist traffic threaded through Tucson along state highways.

    From the north, you would hit Miracle Mile and North Oracle Road before heading south along Stone and Sixth avenues, then east on the Benson Highway.

    Motor hotels sprouted along the route in the 1950s as postwar American families took to the road for vacations.


    Miracle Mile and South Sixth Avenue, especially, hosted an array of motor courts and fancy inns, with swimming pools, air-conditioned rooms, restaurants and bars.

    The Tucson Inn on West Drachman Street, designed by architect Anne Rysdale, was the largest motel in town and the first two-story one when it opened in 1953.

    Many of the motels remain along the route — some are closed, some are restored and some are just limping along.

    A push by historic preservationists, led by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, has restored and relocated some of the motel signs.

    Restored neon now lines West Drachman Street on the north side of the Downtown Campus of Pima Community College.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    The Tucson region abounds with messages from the past — in this case from a civilization that inhabited the area around the northern end of the Tucson Mountains between 450 A.D. and 1350 A.D.

    The Hohokam lived in pithouses near the region’s watercourses and left images depicting themselves and the game they hunted in the nearby mountains.


    They also left images that may be markers for seasonal events such as the solstice and equinox, according to archaeologists.

    The Hohokam had a distinctive style of carving — sort of an early version of pointillism — with lines made from a profusion of dots pecked into the dark patina of a rock surface to reveal the lighter color beneath.

    This spiral is located near the Signal Hill picnic area in the western district of Saguaro National Park.

    A quarter mile trail from the picnic area guides you past a variety of rock art.

    “They could have religious or ceremonial significance,” reads an interpretive panel along the trail. “They may be solstice markers, clan symbols, decorative motifs, or simply ancient graffiti.”

    Fortunately for us, the Hohokam did not have a graffiti-abatement program to patrol for defaced rocks.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    If you wore a baseball cap in Tucson between 1947 and 1992, chances are good it had a Cleveland Indians logo on it.

    The Indians, along with the New York Giants who played in Phoenix, were the inaugural members of the “Cactus League.”


    Wearing the cap in this photo are two Baseball Hall of Fame hitters: player-manager Lou Boudreau and coaching assistant Rogers Hornsby. Sitting on the wall is Hall of Fame owner Bill Veeck.

    The Indians were not just the first team to call Tucson home for spring training, they were the most faithful, staying 46 years at Hi Corbett Field. The field, which began its life in 1928 as Tucson Municipal Park, was named Randolph Park when the Indians arrived.

    It was renamed in 1955 for Hi Corbett, the chairman of the Tucson Baseball Commission who had persuaded the Tucson City Council to spend $300,000 to bring the park up to major-league standards.

    Tucson and Pima County would attract more major-league teams — the Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies — after the Indians left in 1992. By 2010, they were all gone.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The long-time promotion for our favorite Old West town described it as being “12 miles and 100 years from town.”

    Old Tucson was originally built in 1938 to appear 80 years older than the existing town. It depicted the remote adobe village of 1860.


    Columbia Studios built the replica for the movie “Arizona,” which would star William Holden and Jean Arthur. The movie set, on the west side of Gates Pass, was reached via a dirt road.

    Workers made 350,000 adobe blocks and threw up 50 buildings in 40 days.

    When the movie held its world premiere on Nov. 14 and 15, 1940, it was shown at all the downtown theaters — Fox, Lyric, Rialto, State and the Temple of Music and Art.

    More movies followed, intermittently, over the next 20 years, attracting stars such as Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, James Stewart and Ronald Reagan.

    In 1959, Robert Shelton jump-started the movie set’s revival, leasing the land from Pima County and adding more buildings and eventually a sound stage. In addition to attracting movies and television shows, it opened in 1960 as an Old West theme park.

    A fire on April 25, 1995, destroyed much of Old Tucson, but it has since been rebuilt. It functions today mostly as theme park but remains a site for movies, television shows, commercials and fashion photography.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The Fox Theatre on West Congress Street became Tucson’s first air-conditioned building when it opened in 1930.

    That, of course, means air conditioning defined as an electrical device that involves fans, coils and chemical coolants.

    Simpler “air conditioning” units were already in use — the swamp cooler and the wet sheet on a sleeping porch, for example.


    The first refrigerated cooling system was put together in 1902 by Willis Haviland Carrier.

    World War I, the Great Depression and World War II retarded the commercialization of Carrier’s invention, but business boomed along with population and housing from the 1950s on.

    Air conditioning made migration to the Sunbelt feasible. The region’s population more than doubled in the ’50s and ’60s.

    Many Tucsonans kept evaporative coolers, despite their inability to dehumidify air on muggy days.

    Today, however, 99 percent of new homes in Tucson have air conditioning.

    The air conditioner joins the swamp cooler as the second cooling device on our “Tucson in 100 Objects” list.

    That might seem redundant, but if you’ve ever gone without power for a few days in a Tucson summer, you understand the importance.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    Staying wet is just about the only way to comfortably spend summer outside in Tucson.

    In the early days, Tucsonans flocked to natural pools in the mountain canyons and dammed the Santa Cruz River to create oases in town.

    Swimming pools were fancy-resort luxury items until the post-war building boom when they began showing up in people’s backyards.


    A 2012 study done by Tucson Water and the Pima County Regional Flood Control District, found pools were a feature in 25 percent of homes built before 2000.

    Only 15 percent of those built after 2000 had them.

    Pool-building certainly hasn’t disappeared, though the size of pools installed in today’s smaller backyards continues to shrink.

    Kids still flock to neighbor’s houses with pools and to city, county and private pools in summer.

    Area resorts have installed fancy pools with big slides to lure Tucsonans to come cool off and spend a few bucks when the tourists head for cooler climes.

    And, while Tucson’s last drive-in movie closed in 2009, “dive-in” movies are proliferating at commercial and public pools.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    John Dillinger and his gang of bank-robbers — Charles Makley, Russell Clark and Harry Pierpoint — were captured in Tucson on Jan. 25, 1934.

    The actions of Dillinger’s gang members during a fire at Hotel Congress aroused the suspicions of firemen and police.


    Tucson Police Chief C.A. “Gus” Wollard devised a plan to take the dangerous criminals one at a time in what the Arizona Daily Star called “a series of breath-taking captures, each of which might have at any moment culminated in a stream of lead and death.”

    Clark was pistol-whipped when he resisted arrest at a home at 927 N. Second Ave.

    Makley was arrested at an appliance store and Pierpont was found at a South Sixth Avenue tourist court and taken downtown on the pretext of needing to register his out-of-state car. He pulled two weapons as he was being interrogated, but Tucson police Officer Frank Eyman drew his first.

    Dillinger was arrested easily when he came to the Second Avenue house that night. Tucson police kept the gang’s guns for display.

    In this 1961 picture, Tucson Police Sgt. Tom Keeley holds a Colt Thompson with a 20-round clip, and secretary Linda Bradfield holds a Winchester Model 1907.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at:

    History lies just beneath your feet in Tucson. This excavation of a downtown street corner revealed the foundation of a tower for the original presidio fortress and a much earlier Archaic Era site.

    Those historical features were preserved and a portion of the presidio wall and tower was recreated on the site, at West Washington Street and North Court Avenue.


    Built in the late 1700s to protect the soldiers and families of the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson, the thick adobe walls of the fortress were a bulwark against Apache raiders for ninety years.

    It stood in the area now bordered by North Church Avenue, North Main Avenue, West Washington Street and West Pennington Street.

    The original presidio wall and the buildings inside it were dismantled early in the American era (post-1856) and used to build homes nearby.

    The Romero House, part of the Tucson Museum of Art Historic Block, is believed to include portions of the presidio wall.

    The oldest home on the museum block, La Casa Cordova, is believed to have been built inside the presidio walls before Tucson became part of the United States in the Gadsden Purchase of 1854.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Before the railroad came to Tucson in 1880, anything you wanted from the outside world had to be hauled in freight wagons by teams of horses, mules or oxen.

    Initially, the railroad’s arrival created more work for the wagon builders. The goods it brought had to be short-hauled to their destinations — in wagons.


    This delivery wagon was manufactured by Ronstadt Wagon Works around 1900 for the Tucson department store Steinfeld’s.

    Pioneer wagon maker Fred Ronstadt writes in his memoirs that the first wagon he made for Albert Steinfeld, then manager of Zeckendorf and Company, was a trade for $250 worth of tools and equipment in 1892.

    “That was the first real hand-made delivery wagon that Mr. Steinfeld had for his store. They used it for many years and I made several more for them over a period of ten years as the Zeckendorf-Steinfeld business grew.”

    This one was donated to the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum by Harold Steinfeld.

    The museum collection of 150 buggies, wagons, surreys and coaches is kept in working order by volunteers for annual use in La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Rodeo) Parade.

    Info and photos of the collection are online at:

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The Central Arizona Project is a pretty impressive accomplishment — a 336-mile uphill river that brings Colorado River water to Tucson from Lake Havasu.

    Earlier canals were even more impressive, when you consider the circumstances under which they were built.

    Our earliest settlers built elaborate irrigation systems to channel the irregular but reliable flows of the Santa Cruz, Rillito and Cañada del Oro to farm fields on the flood plains.


    We used to think the Hohokam were the first to settle in our river valleys, but archaeological digs of the past two decades have expanded knowledge of more ancient civilizations.

    Canals excavated at the foot of Sentinel Peak (“A” Mountain) are the earliest known in the Southwest and trace to an Early Agricultural period going back to 2100 B.C.

    Farm fields lined portions of the Santa Cruz River when the Spaniards arrived, and successive waves of pioneers and settlers — Mexican, Chinese and Anglo — grew food along the Tucson stretch of the Santa Cruz.

    The seasonal flows and reliable springs of the region dried up long ago as a growing city mined its aquifer and lowered the water table — creating the need for the CAP canal.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Copper was king in Arizona for much of the 20th century and it still accounts for a significant portion of Arizona’s economy.

    Copper built cities and towns that boomed for decades and some that nearly went bust when the ore played out — Jerome and Bisbee being the notable examples.


    Mines within commuting distance of Tucson — Silver Bell, San Manuel and Sierrita — provided jobs in mining and its support industries for much of the century.

    Sierrita and Silverbell still produce copper.

    Copper provided 11,300 jobs and had a $4.6 billion impact on the Arizona economy in 2011, the Arizona Mining Association says.

    Arizona remains the king of U.S. copper production, producing 68 percent of the nation’s total in 2011.

    The Morenci mine in Greenlee County produces more than half of Arizona’s output. The mining district has been producing ore since the early 1870s.

    Arizona’s copper wealth teamed with the need for copper wire to electrify America in the early 20th Century. It brought the railroads to Arizona and was a catalyst to Arizona statehood in 1912.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    During the Cold War, Tucson was ringed by hardened underground silos holding Titan 2 missiles, all armed with nuclear warheads.

    The 18 silos were operated from 1963 to the early 1980s by the 390th Strategic Missile Wing of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Each held one of the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.


    The two-stage rockets were 110 feet in length and 10 feet in diameter. Each was equipped with a 9-megaton nuclear warhead.

    They were capable of reaching their targets, never identified but presumably in the Soviet Union, in 25 minutes.

    All but one of the silos were destroyed and sealed in the early 1980s.

    A silo near Sahuarita was decommissioned in 1982 and remains open as the Titan Missile Museum. It is operated by the Arizona Aerospace Foundation, which also operates the Pima Air and Space Museum.

    It has become one of the area’s most visited attractions. Info on tours is at:

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The Romanesque portal of the original St. Augustine Cathedral, carved by French stonemason Jules le Flein, was rescued by the Tucson Citizen’s George W. Chambers when the church was demolished.


    The brick cathedral, built in 1863, had been replaced by the current cathedral at the end of the 19th century. It served as a hotel, boxing ring and auto repair shop before its eventual demolition in 1936.

    This arch, disassembled, numbered and stored in Chambers’ yard, eventually made its way to the entrance of the Arizona Historical Society Museum, 949 E. Second St.

    That building, designed by noted Tucson architect Josias Joesler, was built in 1955.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The mosaic dome of the Pima County Courthouse is one of the most recognized architectural features in Tucson.


    The courthouse was designed by Roy Place, who also designed Tucson High School and a number of buildings on the University of Arizona campus, including Bear Down Gym.

    The Moorish dome of the Spanish Colonial Revival building has been the colorful centerpiece of downtown Tucson’s government complex since 1929.

    It is the third Pima County Courthouse. The earlier two have been demolished.

    The dome is leaking. Its tiles are set to be removed, numbered and replaced.

    Plans also call for remodeling and renovating the entire building. The second floor would become offices for the Pima County Board of Supervisors and its administration.

    The plan, expected to be a $20 million part of the county’s upcoming bond package, also includes a museum of Western art and a permanent memorial to the six people killed and 13 wounded in the Jan. 8, 2011, shootings at a town-hall meeting hosted by then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    This Tohono O’odham wine basket is one of the Arizona State Museum’s prized possessions.

    It is a prime example of the tight, elegant weaving of native fibers created by Tohono O’odham craftspeople, and its purpose is central to O’odham culture and religious beliefs.


    It held wine made from the fruit of the saguaro cactus, drunk each year at a harvest celebration that is a critical element in calling forth the monsoon rains.

    In the words of an O’odham song: “The world would burn without rain.”

    Tucson receives half its 12 annual inches of rain in summer and researchers have discovered that when we fail to reach our yearly goal, it is usually sparse winter rain that is the culprit.

    Summer rains, while spotty and sporadic in their daily arrival, are seasonally dependable. Perhaps we have the O’odham to thank for that.

    This basket was woven from devil’s claw (black color) and willow, circa 1907.

    It is part of the world’s largest collection of Indian baskets, housed at the Arizona State Museum on the University of Arizona campus.

    It was previously owned by Lucy Ciprion and collected by Mr. and Mrs. Wetmore Hodges.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Granted, it is big to be called an “object,” but no list of 100 anything in Tucson would be complete without Mission San Xavier del Bac.

    The site for the mission church south of Tucson was established by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, an Italian-born Spanish missionary who first came through the area in 1692.


    He established a mission that he wrote down as San Xavier del Bac, though the name of the O’odham village was actually Wa:k.

    The church is part of the San Xavier district of the Tohono O’odham Nation and was built long after Kino’s death.

    Franciscan priests, who took over the mission after the Jesuits were expelled from the New World by Spain, supervised the building of the church by O’odham craftsmen and laborers between 1783 and 1797.

    When the project ran short of funds, its eastern bell tower was left unfinished.

    The tower was never completed, but the church survived to be stunningly restored beginning in 1992 by a nonprofit group called Patronato San Xavier.

    San Xavier is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    This slice of a giant sequoia arrived at the University of Arizona in 1931 as a gift to Andrew E. Douglass, creator of the science of dendrochronology.

    When the tree died in 1913, it was 1,701 years old. It was displayed for years in the Arizona State Museum before being placed in storage in the late 1990s.


    The sequoia slice is a venerated object, seen and remembered by thousands of schoolchildren who visited the museum during its 70 years on display.

    More importantly, it tells the story of significant collaborative science that was founded at the University of Arizona.

    Douglass was an astronomer who initially investigated tree-rings in an attempt to correlate tree growth with a 300-year record of sunspot activity. Unsuccessful, he turned his attention to archaeology and used tree-ring chronologies to date the great pueblo ruins of the Southwest.

    The sequoia slice is now installed at the Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building, new home of the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, which continues to work with scientists in a variety of disciplines, most notably in climate research.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    If the United States hadn’t invaded Mexico and if it hadn’t subsequently bought up what it didn’t simply take, we’d be writing “en español” about objects that personify our Sonoran city.

    The 1854 Gadsden Purchase was a bit of an afterthought.


    When the U.S. signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Mexico in 1848, it cemented its claim to Texas and gained California and most of what is now the Western United States, including most of Arizona and New Mexico.

    The Gadsden Purchase smoothed those boundaries and included the parts of Arizona south of the Gila River.

    That gave the United States a good route for a southern intercontinental railroad and the tiny presidio of Tucson and its 400 Mexican inhabitants, who were now, suddenly, Americans.

    The 3-cent U.S. stamp pictured here was issued on Dec. 30, 1953, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden Purchase.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    The Sonoran hot-dog stand has become an icon of Tucson cuisine over the past couple of decades.

    It’s the kind of thing that happens along borders.

    We serve up Americanized tamales, and our southern neighbors open hot-dog stands in places like Aconchi, Sonora, along the Rio Sonora, which, along with Hermosillo and other places, claims to be the birthplace of the Sonoran dog.


    Like the “Sammy Dogs” at El Güero Canelo in Tucson, the bacon-wrapped hot dogs served street-side in Aconchi come two to a bolillo and are served with Mexican and American condiments and a hot pepper.

    You can find Sonoran hot dogs on restaurant menus across town, but the real “estillo Sonora” deal comes from the carts that dot vacant lots along our major streets.

    When the Arizona Daily Star held a taste test in 2010 to find the best in town, honors went to Noe Maciel, who owned Ruiz Hot Dogs on South Sixth Avenue at East 22nd Street, and a cart farther south on Sixth called El Sinaloense.

    Sinaloa is the Mexican state south of Sonora, but let’s not quibble. Let’s eat.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at

    Locomotive No. 1673 was put into operation by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1900 and logged 1 million miles hauling freight in Southern Arizona.

    In 1954, toward the end of its working life, it was used in the movie “Oklahoma!,” which was filmed in Southern Arizona.

    It steamed into town for the last time in 1955 to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the railroad in Tucson.


    It spent much of its retirement on display at Himmel Park before being spiffed up and moved to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum at the restored, historic depot on Toole Avenue downtown.

    The arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in Tucson on March 20, 1880, and the completion of the southern transcontinental railroad the following March were big steps in Tucson’s evolution from isolated pueblo to Sun Belt city.

    The railroad’s arrival merited a celebration on March 17-20, 1880.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began Sunday. Follow along at

    These fluted spear points, averaging about 2 inches long, are evidence of the area’s first human visitors — the Paleo-Indians known as Clovis.


    Tucson can lay claim to being continuously inhabited for 4,000 years, but humans regularly passed through some 13,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age.

    The region was a much cooler and wetter place, home to megafauna such as mammoths and bison.

    Evidence for the existence of the Clovis people comes only from the spear points they left behind, some of them embedded in the remains of mammoths.

    The first evidence of the hunts was uncovered near Naco, Ariz., in 1952, on an Arizona State Museum dig led by Emil Haury, the pre-eminent Southwestern archaeologist of the 20th century. The museum has an exhibit of the spear points and the mammoth bones, displayed as Haury found them.

  • We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began Sunday. Follow along at

    The A-10 jet, affectionately known as the “Warthog,” has been a key part of Tucson’s economy for decades, but within a few years it may become part of the city’s history.


    The A-10 has been a familiar sight over Tucson’s skies since 1977, when the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base became the base of its operations.

    The 12-ton, twin-engine jet was designed to provide support for ground troops and carries more than its weight in weapons ranging from a Gatling gun to smart bombs and missiles.

    It became known as a prodigious tank-killer during the operations in Kuwait and Iraq.

    At recent hearings on its planned phase-out by the Department of Defense, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called it “the ugliest, most beautiful aircraft on the planet.”

  • We are defining Tucson in 100 objects. The series started Sunday.

    The late Mayor Lew Murphy, who led the city from 1971 to 1987, would annually proclaim Tucson’s summer months to be “guayabera time.”

    Murphy’s fondness for the shirts was shared by longtime City Manager Joel Valdez, and their example was followed by most of the city bureaucracy.

    It’s silly, really, to wear a coat and tie in summer in Tucson.


    The guayabera, often called the “Mexican wedding shirt,” was a good alternative.

    My colleague Ernesto Portillo Jr., who seems to have one for each day of the week, described them nicely in a 2005 column.

    “The guayabera, pronounced as “why-a-BEAR-a,” is classy and comfortable.

    “A classic guayabera shirt has four front pockets, two vertical embroidered panels or two rails of pleats on either side, and a straight-bottomed hem worn outside the pants. The shirts come in an array of usually solid colors so they don’t scream P-A-R-T-Y like Hawaiian prints do.

    “The short-sleeve versions easily replace shirt and tie, and the long-sleeve guayabera is appropriate elegant evening attire.”

  • Before the widespread use of air conditioning, and for a long time afterwards, most Tucson homes were topped with evaporative coolers, commonly called “swamp coolers” because they chill the dry desert air by absorbing heat in water dripping through pads.


    An excelsior of shaved aspen was the traditional medium for the pads but various materials are now used.

    The swamp cooler makes it possible to stay cool and moist during the hot, dry days of Tucson’s “first summer” in May and June. When the monsoon comes in July, bringing moister air, they don’t work so well.

    Some Tucsonans still can’t give them up, though 99 percent of newer homes now feature air conditioning.

  • “Do you like chimichangas? I mean, do you really like chimichangas?”

    If you were around Tucson in the 1980s, you no doubt remember that commercial from Gordo’s Mexicateria, then owned by Diego Alfonso Valenzuela, aka Gordo.

    Everybody, everywhere likes chimichangas, but the deep-fried burritos didn’t exist before they were invented, right here, in the 1920s.


    Like all great food stories, this one involves an accident. Monica Flin, one of the original owners of El Charro restaurant, dropped a burrito into a pan where she was frying ground-beef tacos. She began to utter a common Spanish epithet, but children were nearby, so she changed it to “chimichanga,” which means “thingamajig” or something like that.

    There are claims from other restaurants in other cities, states and countries on the origin of the chimichanga, but Tucson has the best one. It’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Make mine “enchilada-style.”

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