Tucson History & Culture

Trying to sum up Tucson's deep-rooted history in a few paragraphs just isn't possible. One would need to read through thousands of pages from the countless books that have been written about this area by obsessed writers and historians. Equally as impossible would be to try and decouple this history from the region's unique blend of cultures. They are inextricably linked.

Any way you look at it, the narrative begins thousands of years ago with ancient Indigenous peoples who first settled this land, most notably the Hohokam. In fact, after studying numerous sites along the Santa Cruz River, adjacent to what is today Downtown Tucson, archeologists have determined that humans have been here for over 12,000 years. This estimate means that the Tucson region is likely the oldest continuously inhabited area in the United States. This legacy continues today through the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and Tohono O'odham Nation, forming the foundation of the vibrant cultural landscape for which Tucson is known. 

As we take pride in Tucson's history and culture, we must acknowledge and respect the fact that this area that we love so much and that attracts visitors from across the globe is on the land of indigenous peoples.

Combined with these ancestral roots are the Spanish Colonial, Mexican, and Anglo influences that have shaped the culture and aesthetic of the region. From the famous Mission San Xavier del Bac and Tucson Presidio to many historic ranches that still operate today, visitors can travel through time and experience what life might have been like in the 18th and 19th centuries. And of course, Arizona was part of Mexico for longer than it has been part of the U.S. meaning that the influences of Mexican culture are distinctly felt in every corner of the city. From the art and music to the delicious food, Mexico's spirit is Tucson's soul.

Taste the history & culture of Tucson: Tucson was the first city in the U.S. to be designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy thanks to the aforementioned ancient agricultural history and lasting cultural influences from Europe and Mexico. Find out more about why Tucson is a City of Gastronomy and taste the authentic flavors of Mexico with America's Best Mexican Food.

Learn More About Tucson's History


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Native American Culture

Tumacacori Night

Spanish Colonial History

Mariachi Musicians Onstage

Mexican Culture

Exterior of Mission San Xavier del Bac

Missions & Churches

5_flags_over_tucson Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum

Military History


Western Culture




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