Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Historic Tucson

We were surprised that the oldest historic district of Tucson, El Presido, is not all that large. There is one block of artisan shops which are located in some old buildings. Markings on the sidewalks around this area indicate where the old city wall use to be. While strolling through the area we found the La Casa Cordova house, which is one of the oldest structures to be found in Tucson. Its front two rooms were built in 1854, the back rooms in 1879.
Actually the homes in this area are much more colorful than that building and very reminiscent of the buildings which we saw years ago during a trip to Mexico. Many of them are transformed adobe homes.
 From this older part of town we walked to the downtown area, and soon in the distance we saw the Pima County Courthouse and the skyline of Tucson. Palm trees and desert land make up the landscape of Tucson.
 Near the courthouse is the El Militar Plaza. During the Mexican occupation (1821-1854) it was the location where soldiers performed their drills. A memorial statue on the plaza  honors the Mormon 101st Army Battalion which stopped at the plaza in 1846 and traded with the residents of Tucson for much needed provisions. The story is an interesting one, and a piece of American history new to me. The Mormons had suffered harsh persecution in Council Bluffs Iowa so they appealed to President Polk for federal assistance to leave that town. War was just being declared then with Mexico and our government needed an army unit to go west immediately. Mormon men, a  total of 474, enlisted in Council Bluffs. Officers leading them numbered twenty-two, also 37 women and 53 children joined them. Their goal was San Diego, but the majority of the women and children only made it to Colorado where they joined another group and headed to Utah.  From that original group 350 men and 4 women made it to San Diego.

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