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Located next to the Old Pima County Courthouse, El Presidio Park has been in continual use since 1539, when the Spanish first arrived. Today it features historical markers, monuments and statues, a water fountain, modern art, memorials, and a rose garden dedicated to John F. Kennedy. There are memorials to the Vietnam War and World War II's Battle of the Bulge; and a monument to the Mormon Battalion who, in December 1846, briefly raised the first American flag over Tucson. The park, which is located over an underground garage, is also used for festivals, weddings, and political gatherings.


  • The Mormon Battalion Monument
  • The Plaza de las Armas historical marker

The Spanish used the park, which they called Plaza de las Armas, as a place to drill its garrison of 300 soldiers beginning in the late 18th century. When the Mormon Battalion arrived, no fighting took place. The Battalion was marching to San Diego from Council Bluffs, Iowa to reinforce the American army fighting in the West during the Mexican-American War. In Tucson they exchanged clothing and other goods for grain and salt. During this brief stay and occupation (December 16-17, 1846), the battalion raised the American flag for the first time in Tucson. The battalion then proceeded to San Diego. The tradition of holding festivals and other events here began in the late 18th century.

"Exchange at the Presidio: The Mormon Battalion Enters Tucson, 16 December 1846." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed March 8, 2017. http://www.hmdb.org/Marker.asp?Marker=73983.

"El Presidio Park." Visit Tucson. Accessed March 8, 2017. https://www.visittucson.org/business/el-presidio-park?clientid=23118.

"Plaza de Armas." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed March 8, 2017. http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?MarkerID=83209. 

Photos: Bill Kirchner, via The Historical Marker Database