by Rochester Ford
Tucson lays claim to being one of the oldest settlements in the United States, ranking as to age next after San Augustine, Florida, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Its history can be traced back to 1649, when a military station was established by the Spaniards to protect the Mission of San Xavier.
The merits of this claim of long descent have been called in question, but the fact [remains that it was settled at a very earlier day, and its natural advantages are such that it was always an important trading point.
Before the advent of the railroad, Tucson was almost as unknown and as remote from civilization as the interior of Africa. It was indeed a frontier town in all that those words import.
But Tucson now is as different from Tucson in its frontier stage as the day is from night, or the gorgeous and bespangled butterfly from the chrysalis or grub. That period of her history which might be termed the dark ages has passed.
Warfare with the Apaches, and cruelties surpassing any tales of fiction, are among the experiences of the pioneers who are still living, but to the new-comers and the younger generation all this seems as far back in the past as the myths that are preserved only in folk-lore. The wild west is to be seen now only on the stage and in the comic papers.
The frontier has disappeared with the buffalo, and Tucson is one of the most modern, progressive, prosperous and law-abiding cities to be found in the length and breadth of the land one which offers as many inducements as could be expected or desired, both to those who wish to engage in active business for the profit there is in it, and to those who may wish to rest and regain strength in a climate which is, without any exception, unequalled.
When it is known that Tucson not only possesses its matchless climate, but is also one of the best business points in the southwest, it is no wonder that it has gone ahead by leaps and bounds.
Just as sometimes in the large cities a tract of ground, barren, repelling, covered with hovels and surrounded by squalor, is taken for public use, and in an incredibly short time the houses are removed, the streets broadened, graded and paved, and, as though by a magician's wand, the land itself turned into a park or boulevard of entrancing beauty "a wilderness of harmony," delighting the eye and quickening the soul, so Tucson in the last few years has been physically re-created and beautified. Adobe houses have been pulled down to give place to substantial brick buildings.
Crooked streets have been made straight and narrow ones no matter what the expense widened. Elegant residences have been built ; trees have been planted and have grown in countless numbers, and private lawns and public parks refresh the eye. It is worthy of note that the improvements seem due to the natural and permanent advantages which Tucson has as a business point.
The city has not been boomed by outsiders, nor is its progress due wholly to what is termed new blood. Local capital has been sufficient for increased demands, and the men who have lived in Tucson from the early day are fully imbued with the spirit of progress and have been the most important factors in the march of improvement. It is the citizens who have lived here for years who have built the most beautiful and costly residences, who conduct the largest business enterprises and who have been most prominent in the radical changes which have come over the city.
A TUCSON STREET SCENE.
This seems to be strong- evidence in support of the belief that Tucson is an excellent commercial point.
A sudden spurt due to the investment of outside capital or the methods of those who make it a business to boom one place after another would be temporary and deceptive, but a steady and constant growth from within gives assurance of permanent prosperity.
Tucson is not dependent on any one cause for her stability, and therefore is not in danger of seasons of depression.
Where business rests mainly on mining operations, for instance, or on the success of one product, or on the water supply for irrigation purposes, the shutting down of the mines or the failure of the crop or the shortage of water in the canals will result immediately in curtailed business and hard times; but Tucson has so many resources to draw from that its volume of trade cannot in any reasonable probability be seriously affected for any great length of time.
Among other causes of advancement is the fact that it is the headquarters of the important division of the Southern Pacific Company from El Paso to Yuma.
The company now employs 600 men at Tucson, and these figures will be increased as soon as the extensive enlargements and improvements already decided on are completed. The geographical position of the city is such as to make it the headquarters for the mining and cattle industry of Southern Arizona. It is the great distributing point not only for a large part of the Territory, but for much of northern Sonora as well, and the tides of business will keep it what it has always been, the metropolis of Arizona.
The population according to the best estimates, one of which is based on the fact that there are 2,400 school children in the district, is between 11,000 and 12,000. Of this number, perhaps one half are Mexicans. It should be borne in mind, however, that Tucson is strictly an American city. By this is meant that our Mexican friends do not hold themselves aloof, but are as wide awake in the march of progress as any citizens we have.
THE NEW CARNEGIE LIBRARY AT TUCSON.
Where 12,000 intelligent, active and well-to-do people are assembled, as a matter of course there will be the agencies necessary for supplying their needs and desires.
It is believed that Tucson is not only fully abreast commercially of any city of her size, but even in the lead in modern methods and instrumentalities.
The first wealth is health, and a pure water supply is of paramount importance.
This demand is met in the waterworks system owned and operated by the municipality. It is new and complete, comprising all necessary features of pumps, water-tower or stand-pipe, mains, etc.
Hardly second in practical importance to the well-being of a city is its drainage and sewerage. In this, also,Tucson meets all requirements. An improved sewer system, planned by eastern experts who came to Tucson and thoroughly examined local conditions, has been installed.
It, like the waterworks, is owned and operated by the municipality, so that the people have nothing to fear either from the neglect or extortion of a private corporation. From a mention of the most prominent business enterprises of Tucson.
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