Sign up for our Email Newsletter

Heritage Tourism: Uniquely Tucson

2013 UNIQUELY TUCSON DESTINATION DOWNTOWNUniquely Tucson Destination Downtown
The Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance has partnered with Visit Tucson to create the 2013 Uniquely Tucson Destination Downtown.  With support from the City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office, Downtown Tucson Partnership, Parkwise, and the Pima-Tucson Historical Commission, this one-of-a-kind guide connects visitors to downtown Tucson's historic buildings, heritage destinations, and locally-owned businesses.  

Visit on your computer or smartphone to explore downtown Tucson's historic character. We are proud to be the 2013 recipient of the Governor's Tourism Award for Innovative Promotions for Uniquely Tucson!

The Uniquely Tucson mobile website and guide promotes exploring Tucson’s locally owned businesses, heritage destinations, and historic buildings along the future Modern Streetcar route.  The Modern Streetcar route will offer a sustainable transportation option, helping to preserve the historic fabric of the city center and improve air quality. 

* Locally-owned businesses are privately owned by Arizona residents, are unique to Arizona, and do the majority of their business in Arizona. 

* Heritage businesses provide place-based food, arts and crafts, consulting, or other Native American, Spanish, Mexican, or Western heritage products that are unique to the greater Tucson region.     
* Historic buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or eligible for listing, and are commercial properties open for business during regular business hours. 
Historic University Boulevard
This street passes through the heart of the West University Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The opening of the University of Arizona in 1891, and the construction of a streetcar line along University Boulevard in 1896 (mule-powered initially, then converted to electric streetcars in 1906), spurred residential development for middle- and upper-class families between the 1890s and the 1930s.
Historic Fourth Avenue
After the construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad underpass at Fourth Avenue in 1916, north Fourth Avenue became the most direct route between downtown and the University of Arizona, and it fully transformed from a residential area into a commercial corridor by 1930. The architecture reflects the variety of styles popular in Tucson between the 1910s and 1940s, and a number of buildings were designed by prominent local architects such as Josias Joesler, Roy Place, and Arthur Brown.  
Historic Downtown
The layout of streets in this area was initially influenced by the walls of the presidio and military plazas built during the late 1700s. Juxtaposed are adobe houses and Mexican streetscapes dating to the middle and late 1800s, turn-of-the-19th century commercial buildings, ornate mansions in a variety of early 20th-century styles, restored vintage theaters, 1920s high-rises, a train depot restored to its 1941 appearance, and post-World War II buildings reflecting the Modern movement.  Today, much of the uniqueness of Tucson’s downtown is due to its concentration of historic buildings and districts, museums, historical re-creations, and businesses located in adapted older buildings. 

The Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance has partnered with the City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office, Desert Archaeology, Inc., Downtown Tucson Partnership, Local First Arizona, and WestWordVision, Inc. to create this one-of-a-kind walking map connecting the University area to downtown Tucson.  

NOTE: This map was originally created for use at the 2011 Arizona Historic Preservation Conference, which is why it is limited to UA, 4th Ave., and downtown.  As of April 2012, we are in the process of getting bids and raising funds to update the map to reflect the full route of the modern streetcar.  If you'd like to sponsor the updated map or simply make a donation towards printing costs, please contact us at 

Available at the Heritage Alliance office, 40 W. Broadway, Tucson.  Click the image below for a downloadable pdf of the Uniquely Tucson map.