City-Owned Historic Destinations

Children's Museum Tucson
200 S 6th Avenue
(520) 792-9985

The Children’s Museum Tucson occupies the 1901 Carnegie Library designed in the Neoclassical style by Henry C. Trost (1860-1933). Influenced by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, Trost was one of Tucson’s first professional architects, and was based here from 1899 to 1902. His later firm, Trost & Trost Architects of El Paso, designed prominent residential, institutional, and civic buildings in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. In 1938 the library was expanded with a grant from the federal Public Works Administration. The design by architect Richard A. Morse replaced the Scott Avenue-facing radial apse containing the bookstacks with a three-level rectangular stack-room. A fire in 1941 destroyed the rotunda and caused the domed roof to collapse. In 1961, Arthur T. Brown’s design for extensive remodeling added a garden wall and removed many of the remaining decorative elements from 1901. Fronting the library is the massive Freeman Memorial Bench, designed in 1920 by Bernard Maybeck, and sculpted by Bejamino Bufano. In 1991 the Children’s Museum Tucson moved from Fort Lowell Park to the historic Carnegie Library building.

Children’s Museum Tucson

El Paso & Southwestern Greenway
St. Mary’s Road to Kino Sports Complex

When completed, the El Paso & Southwestern Greenway will be a 6-mile long multi-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians extending from north of downtown Tucson, through the City of South Tucson, to the Kino Sports Complex. The pathway will follow a historic corridor once used by the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad, Tucson’s second railroad connection completed in 1912.  The new path will feature historic track and other preserved railroad buildings and structures, will be car-free, and will connect to other regional bikeways and many neighborhoods that it travels through. The first segment of the greenway between Granada Avenue and Simpson Street has been completed and includes a multi-use path, benches, historic track, and signage telling the story of the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad.

El Paso & Southwestern Greenway Project

El Tiradito Shrine and La Pilita Museum
420 S Main Avenue
(520) 882-7454

Spanish for "The Little Castaway," El Tiradito is the name of this shrine to a murdered man, which became a traditional place in Barrio Viejo for Mexican-Americans to say a prayer and make a wish.  The original site of the shrine in the late 1870s was one block east of its current location. The current site was deeded to the city in 1927—the same year that the Tucson City Council chose an official version of the many legends associated with the shrine. The current shrine was constructed in 1940. Also known as the Wishing Shrine, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a City Historic Landmark. Select from the links below to learn more.

La Pilita is a small history museum and gallery located in Barrio Viejo next to El Tiradito (the Wishing Shrine) at 420 S. Main Ave. This adobe building was constructed in the late 1930s, and underwent several additions and reuses. In the 1980s an iconic mural was painted on the south wall by the now-renowned Chicano artist Martin Moreno with the assistance of neighborhood youth. The non-profit La Pilita Association leases the building and operates the current museum. Special exhibits are shown throughout the year and reflect the culture and history of the area. The Tiendita (little store) is full of unique Tucson items.

El Tiradito, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

El Tiradito, Historic American Landscapes Survey Form

Folklore about El Tiradito from Big Jim’s Blog “Our Storied Desert Land

La Pilita Museum

Fort Lowell Park and Museum
2900 N Craycroft Road
(520) 885-3832

Fort Lowell was the main supply base for the United States Army during the “Apache Campaigns” between 1873 and 1891. Following abandonment of the fort in 1891, settlers moved in and used some fort buildings as residences, or stripped the buildings of useful materials. By the 1930s, much of the fort had fallen into disrepair or had been sold off. After World War II, this area became known as “El Fuerte.” Eventually, the City of Tucson acquired a large portion of the old fort, which became “Fort Lowell Park.” The 5.2 acre “Adkins” parcel of the former fort, containing several original fort buildings later reused for a tuberculosis sanatorium, was recently acquired and will be added to the park.

Throughout the park, ruins of adobe buildings from the fort period are preserved and interpreted with signage. A prehistoric Hohokam archaeological site is also interpreted. The Fort Lowell Museum is a branch museum of the Arizona Historical Society, and is located in the reconstructed Commanding Officer's quarters. Exhibits focus on military life on the Arizona frontier. Pima County is following a new park Master Plan in restoring one of the other Officers Quarters located on the newly acquired parcel, and building new protective shelters for two adjacent ruins of Officers Quarters. The Adkins family residence and water tower, built in 1934, were recently stabilized and restored on the exteriors by the City. West of the park is the restored San Pedro Chapel constructed of adobe in 1931 by residents of the village of El Fuerte. It is a City Historic Landmark, and may be rented from Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association for special events.

Fort Lowell Multiple Resource Area, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

Fort Lowell Museum

Historic Fort Lowell Park Master Plan and Restoration Plan

San Pedro Chapel, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

San Pedro Chapel rental information, Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association

Julian Wash Cultural Resources Park
Northwest corner of 12th Avenue and 39th Street
(520) 620-5429

The park features a multi-use trail and interpretive signage about the prehistoric Native American archaeological site named after the adjacent Julian Wash, and the former St. Luke’s Orphanage formerly at this location.


Mission Garden
946 W Mission Lane
(520) 591-0478

The Mission Garden is a re-creation of the Spanish Colonial walled garden that was part of Tucson’s historic San Agustín Mission. Rebuilt on its original site west of downtown at the southeast corner of Mission Road and Mission Lane, the garden features a re-creation of a Spanish Colonial period orchard, a variety of other heirloom plants, and a timeline garden interpreting 4,100 years of Tucson’s agricultural history. The Mission Garden is jointly owned by Pima County and the City of Tucson, and is operated by the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace.

Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace

El Presidio San Agustín del Tucson
133 W Washington Street
(520) 791-4873

Located downtown at Washington and Church Streets, the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson is a re-creation of the northeast corner of the Spanish presidio (fort) established in 1775. After the arrival of American troops in 1856, the original walls were dismantled by Tucson’s residents, with the last section torn down in 1918. A reconstruction of the northeast corner of the fort was completed in 2007 following an archaeological excavation that located the foundation of fort's northeast tower.

This City park is operated by the Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation. A self-guided tour explains features including a munitions room, torreón (tower), commissary, and living space for soldiers and their families. A prehistoric pit house is preserved and displayed. A large mural depicts early residents of the Presidio. A Territorial-era plaza, zaguán (breezeway), and Sonoran-style streetscape are also featured. Natural landscaping reflecting the period surrounds the outside walls, as well as a remnant of a boarding house that was located on the site. The alignment of the presidio wall can also be traced through downtown by following adobe markers set along the former wall path. In a restored 1883 triplex is a small museum with exhibits of artifacts recovered by archaeologists, and a gift shop featuring books and other items related to Tucson’s Spanish and Mexican periods.

History of El Presidio San Agustín del Tucson

Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation

La Placita
119 W. Broadway Blvd.
520-791-4873, Ext. 0

Located near the site of the first San Augustín Cathedral, La Placita ("The Square") is now a small city park centered on the former 1880s-era Cathedral Park. In 1955, a Victorian inspired gazebo was designed by prominent Tucson architect and former Mayor, Henry O. Jaastad and architect Fred O. Knipe. The gazebo has an adjacent grassy area and it serves as a popular downtown location for weddings, reunions, receptions and other small gatherings.

Scott Avenue
Between E Broadway Boulevard and 16th Street

The stretch of Scott Avenue south of Broadway Boulevard was the center of arts and culture in Tucson during the early 20th century. Recent improvements have made Scott Avenue a pedestrian-friendly and inviting “strolling street” that links the modern streetcar route to the Temple of Music and Art, Scottish Rite Cathedral, Children’s Museum (former Carnegie Library), and other downtown historic landmarks. Gateway panels at the Broadway intersection interpret the history and architecture of the Scott Avenue cultural district with historical photographs.

Sentinel Peak Park
1000 S Sentinel Peak Road
(520) 791-5909

Sentinel Peak is a prominent ridge in the Tucson Mountains west of Tucson, Arizona. This landmark provides access to a panoramic view of Tucson. The peak has been known by many names over the years: Picacho de Metates, Picacho del Sentinela, Square Peak, Signal Peak, and “A” Mountain. Oral tradition suggests that sentries were stationed on the peak to warn the settlers below of impending attacks. Prehistoric Native American bedrock mortars and cupules are still visible in several locations, and historical oral accounts suggest that prehistoric petroglyphs and one or more circular rock structures were once visible at the top of Sentinel Peak, but were no longer present by the early twentieth century. A historic trail to the peak is preserved on the northwest slope.

Throughout history, the peak has been a popular vantage point for visitors to view Tucson. John Bartlett, a member of the U.S. expedition that surveyed the boundary for the new border between the United States and Mexico under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe, sketched Tucson from Sentinel Peak in 1852. Carlton Watkins used the peak as a vantage to take a now well-known early photograph of Tucson and its agricultural fields in 1880, shortly after the railroad arrived and transformed the community.

Basalt rock quarried from Sentinel Peak was used for foundations and walls throughout early neighborhoods in Tucson and in the walls surrounding the oldest, west side of the University of Arizona campus. Before being designated as a city park, Sentinel Peak was the subject of numerous development proposals, including a City water reservoir on its slope, a tram-accessed hotel on its peak, and a residential development.

After a private company filed a claim to quarry rock from the land in 1917, the City filed a court challenge, arguing that the area should have a public use. The litigation continued for many years, resulting in the City of Tucson receiving title and officially opening it to the public in 1928. A road to the summit for automobiles was built in 1931. In 1933, the Daughters of the American Revolution commemorated the opening of the park with a historical marker which is still preserved.

In 1915, a civil engineering student at the University of Arizona decided to honor the school’s football victory over Pomona State by creating a large “A” on the side of Sentinel Peak. Raising funds from private citizens and local businesses, between 75 and 100 students worked every Saturday between November 1915 and February 1916 to construct the giant mortared and whitewashed stone “A” facing downtown just below the peak.

Today, the park remains a popular overlook of the city, and visitors can explore historic trails and new paths and viewing spots with shade structures and signage that interprets the natural and cultural history of this local landmark.

Sentinel Peak Park Information

Southern Pacific Train Depot
414 N Toole Avenue
(520) 623-2223

The Southern Pacific Railroad depot replaced the first depot, which was built of wood in 1880, and partially burned in 1903. The new depot was designed by the Southern Pacific architect Daniel J. Patterson, who also designed several other depots, including the San Antonio Station. The new brick depot was completed in 1907 in a combination of Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. A major expansion in 1941 removed many of its decorative elements.

The City acquired the building in 1998 from the Union Pacific Railroad, which had absorbed the Southern Pacific. The 1941 Spanish Colonial Revival version of the depot was restored in 2001. The former lobby, now used as a market, displays full-size prints of the original lunette murals painted by the renowned western artist Maynard Dixon for the 1907 depot. The building currently houses an Amtrak station, restaurant, market, and other businesses, as well as the non-profit Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. The museum features exhibits chronicling the impact of the railroad on Tucson’s history, and a restored steam locomotive built in 1900 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, Arizona Historic Property Inventory Form

Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

Southern Pacific Locomotive #1673, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

Maynard Dixon in Tucson

Temple of Music and Art
330 S Scott Avenue
(520) 622-2823

The 1927 Temple of Music and Art was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by Arthur W. Hawes, who also designed the Pasadena Community Playhouse in California, which has many similarities. The open side of the U-shaped plan of this Spanish Colonial Revival building faces the street, creating an inviting courtyard paved in Mexican tile, and featuring a fountain. After it was completed it became the centerpiece venue in the community for theater, music and dance performances, and fine art exhibits. It included two stages, an art gallery, a small recital hall, a green room, eight dressing rooms, several studios and practice rooms, a tea room, a hat and gift shop, a book shop, and a dance school.

The building was acquired by the City of Tucson in 1989. The City restored and rehabilitated the building in 1990 and leased it to the Arizona Theatre Company. Throughout the year, the building is a venue for local and national theater, music, and art exhibitions.

Arizona Theatre Company

Tucson Museum of Art Historic Block
140 North Main Avenue

The Tucson Museum of Art Historic Block includes the J. Knox Corbett, the Cordova, the Romero, the Fish-Stevens, and the Nye Houses. The J. Knox Corbett House is an excellent example of Mission Revival style and is open to the public as part of the Tucson Museum of Art.  The Corbett House, an elegant two-story, stucco-covered brick structure built in the Mission Revival style, was completed in 1907 and lived in by members of the Corbett family for fifty-six years. J. Knox Corbett and his wife Lizzie Hughes Corbett built the house on the northwest corner of the block next to the Stevens House.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, La Casa Cordova is one of the oldest buildings in Tucson. It has been named for the Cordova family who acquired the building in 1936 and lived in it from 1944 until 1973. La Casa Cordova was built within the area enclosed by the Presidio wall. Some historians believe that the original rooms may predate the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, based on the fact that the oldest portion of the building (the two back rooms on the south side) appears on the earliest known map of Tucson, the 1862 Major D. Ferguson map.

The Fish House, an adobe Sonoran row house, was built in 1868 by Edward Nye Fish, who had made his name and fortune in California before coming to Tucson. Originally a Massachusetts native, Fish and twenty of his friends sailed a boat from New Bedford, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California, arriving in December of 1849. At the time San Francisco was suffering a tremendous housing shortage and Fish and his men came prepared with a ship full of frame houses cut and ready to assemble. By the time he came to Tucson in 1865, Fish was a wealthy man and had a wife and daughter. He built a house for them on what is now the southwest corner of the Historic Block.

The Romero House is located at the northeast corner of the Historic Block. Although it has undergone numerous alterations, part of the building is believed to date from the 19th Century. Its original resident, Leonardo Romero, was the town carpenter. He became well known for his work on the San Xavier Mission and other important Tucson landmarks. The home continued as a residence for many years but also provided space to various businesses. Today, the Romero House is home to the popular ceramics program administered by the Museum’s education department.

The Stevens House, an adobe Sonoran row house, was built in 1865 and is located next to the Fish House. Owned by Hiram Stevens, a successful businessman and politician, and he later married Petra Santa Cruz, great-granddaughter of a Spanish pioneer.  Both the Fish and Stevens houses are used by the Tucson Museum of Art as galleries.

Tucson Museum of Art

Tucson Rodeo Grounds and Rodeo Parade Museum
4823 S 6th Avenue 
(520) 741-2233

The Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum is located at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds at the corner of 6th Avenue and Irvington Road. The museum complex includes an adobe barn and the hanger of Tucson’s first airport—the first municipally owned airport in the country—and provides visitors the opportunity to learn more about Tucson’s cowboy history and culture. 

The rodeo grounds—totaling 82.63 acres—were originally owned by a Tucson Mayor, Levi Manning, who sold the vacant land to the City of Tucson in 1919. The adobe portion of the Rodeo Parade Museum was built sometime between 1927 and 1936. In 1919, a metal hangar building was constructed by the Arizona Aviation Company, and the land became the site of the first municipal airport in the United States. The field was known as New Macauley Field until 1920, when it was changed to Fishburn Field, and then to Tucson Municipal Flying Field in 1923. In 1927, Tucson’s airport relocated to Davis-Monthan Field (renamed Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 1940 when it was taken over by the military), and the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh landed to dedicate the new location in 1927. After the dedication of the new field he flew his plane "Spirit of St. Louis" to the old Tucson Municipal Flying Field. After the municipal air field was relocated to D-M Field, Charlie Mayse then leased the old field for his flying school and it became known as Mayse Field, which continued to be used until the end of 1930. In 1931 it was used as the Tucson Fair Grounds.

Tucson’s rodeo, “La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros” that started in 1925, relocated to the Tucson Fair Grounds in 1932, the location where it has been held ever since. Each February, the Rodeo Parade ends at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. More than 200 organizations participate in the parade, which is viewed by over 200,000 spectators. The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee organizes the parade and leases the museum building for exhibits on the history of the rodeo and parade, and to store historic wagons, carriages, and tack used in the parade. The rodeo ticket office is a historic bungalow-style house that was part of the site’s early aviation history.

La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo

Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum

Vista del Rio Cultural Resources Park
7575 E Desert Arbor Street
(520) 791-4873

Vista del Rio Cultural Resource Park is on a four-acre property located off of Tanque Verde and Dos Hombres Roads. The park preserves the partial remains of a large prehistoric Hohokam Village that was occupied between A.D.1000-1150. Within the park there are archeological features, a walking path, and a quiet sitting area.