Downtown is the center of Tucson's arts community. Browse through dozens
of galleries, explore the museum, catch a show or indie film and see the
public art scattered throughout the area. For example, the Tucson Museum
of Art & Historic Block has a notable permanent collection including
pre-Columbian, Hispanic, Western, Asian and contemporary art, as well
as 10-12 changing exhibitions annually. The neighboring Historic Block
features five restored homes of Historic El Presidio District.
Good news travels fast! Several of the city's longtime annual events draw
international audiences. La Fiesta de los Vaqueros is recognized as the
largest outdoor mid-winter rodeo in America, and the Gem, Mineral &
Fossil Showcase of Tucson is eagerly anticipated by thousands of rock hounds,
jewelers and others who buy, sell and exhibit at the largest event of its
kind in the world. Another local favorite, the Tucson International Mariachi
Conference, attracts devoted students and fans of this lively musical genre.
Congress Street is the hub of Downtown's nightlife, with clubs, galleries,
eclectic shops, and historic theatres. Congress has been the retail and
entertainment center since the late 1800s. So named because Arizona's
early territorial legislature, or "congress" located
in Tucson from 1864-1877 did its real business in the saloons on
the street, which was then known as "Calle de la Alegria", or
"Street of Mirth".
The El Presidio neighborhood encompasses the area around the original
walled presidio. Downtown Tucson was founded in 1775, when Hugo O'Conor,
an Irish mercenary working for the Spanish army, declared that the area
including Tucson's present City Hall was suitable for establishing a permanent
military presence. Within the next few years an adobe fortress was constructed,
600 feet long on each side, and for the next several years Tucson was
truly a walled city, with citizens living inside the walls, under the
protection of the army of New Spain.
Finding a memento of your trip to Tucson can be just as much fun as
being here. Serious shoppers will delight in the broad inventory of practical
and whimsical gift items to be found at many homegrown specialty shops
and major national retailers. Numerous smaller shopping opportunities
are scattered in and around townoffering an inventory of things
Southwestern, from museum-quality Native American textiles and jewelry
to Mexican folk crafts and cowboy memorabilia. On a larger scale, explore
four enclosed major malls , featuring hundreds of well-known stores and
restaurants at convenient in-town locations.