1909 - ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
Jefferson Park was home to “Tent City” In 1909, Dick Hall brought his mother and older brother John to Tucson. His mother was suffering from tuberculosis. He was seeking treatment for her in the dry desert. He could not afford the private sanatoriums or the hospitals—St Mary’s or the old Whitewell on North First Avenue. So he took her to “tent city” also called ‘tentville”. Canvas dwellings for “lungers”, as the tubercular patients were known. That community was located on the desert land north of Speedway between First and Campbell avenues. John describes what it was like in the summer 1978 edition of the Journal of Arizona History. “When a sick person needed a place to live, beginning about the turn of the century, he somehow got a tent set up in this area. The streets were unpaved and consequently it was very dusty. The invalids were too sick to work. The nights were heartbreaking, and as one walked along the dark streets, he heard coughing from every tent. It was truly a place of lost souls and lingering death.” The tent the Halls rented was on Park Avenue three blocks north of Speedway. It was “one of the better sort, having a wood floor, wooden sides, a steel roof three feet above the canvas and two cottonwood trees which gave us some shade.” Thirty-five feet behind their tent was a one-hole toilet. Water came from an outside faucet and was supplied by a shallow well owned by the landlords. Kerosene lighted the lamps at night.
This information taken from: Another Tucson, by Bonny Henry, AZ Daily Star, 1992
1924 - Hoofbeats to the southeast
Polo was brought in to the Arizona territory by the US Calvary units. And, until the start of World War II it was kept alive at the U of A Calvary ROTC program. Important polo fields were located just north and east of what is now Jefferson Park. To the east Leighton Kramer build a polo field (Catalina Field) east of Campbell north of Elm. It had stands to hold 1000 people and in 1925 was the site of the first “La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros”.
To the north were located the U of A polo fields that are shown in the accompanying photographs. The U of A polo team became quite a powerhouse. It was the first sport to bring national recognition to the U of A. The 1924 team captured the Western Collegiate Championship and traveled to the east coast to present U.S. President Calvin Coolidge with a cowboy hat.
In May 1931 Will Rogers, a polo enthusiast, did a benefit performance at the Fox Theater to raise money to send the U of A team to play Yale. The university earned the nickname “the college on horseback”. The team played such important teams as Princeton, the Army, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
December 7, 1941 players were getting ready for a game when the terrible news blared from the radio—Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Boys went off to join a mechanized army no longer relying on horses. This was the end of polo at the U of A. By 1944, eighty head of the horses at the U of A had been sold off.
Photo: Courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society/Tucson, BN 207421 Note cars in background that served as seating for the game. (As described by Andrew M. Rumpkey in a 1987 interview)
Photo: Courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society/Tucson, BN 33346
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Police –Division West
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694-6533 (UMC Security)
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Dogs are not allowed in the Jefferson Park schoolyard park as per Tucson Parks and Recreation.
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