INTRODUCTION

El Presidio Park is located in downtown Tucson, west of Church Avenue, in between Alameda Street and Pennington Street, on 160 W. Alameda St. This location has been utilized since 1539 and has been changed in its use and name multiple times. In 1775, the Spanish declared the park’s site and close surrounding areas a “presidio,” or a central fortress. Here, they would have military formations and drills. After the construction of the first Pima County House in 1870, the park was renamed Court Plaza.

PARK'S MONUMENTS & THEIR HISTORY

This Park also holds rich historic content in regards to the Mormon Battalion of 1846 and the times of it being Spanish territory. After having to leave Council Bluffs, Iowa for political reasons, the Mormons agreed to join the United States army at the beginning of the Spanish-American War in exchange for financial aid approved by President James K. Polk himself. After Brigham Young agreed to this proposition, this 500 member army, Army of the West, began their journey to San Diego in July of 1846 as they were led by Lieutenant Colonel George Cooke. Even though they lost many lives due to health issues or results from the Battle of the Bulls, most of the army made it to El Presidio mid-December of that same year. This march was over 2000 miles and is the longest march in the U.S. Army's history. Since Mexican army in Tucson anticipated a clear outnumbering by the Americans, they decided to withdraw and leave Tucson at their arrival.  Once at this Arizonian location, they were treated with respect and charity by the local O'odaham and Piman tribes who remained in their sites and were even able to openly trade with them. On December 16th of 1846, the American army flew the flag for the first time in Tucson, Arizona, and then proceeded with their journey to San Diego. 

At the time of the mid-80’s, this particular area became known as Barrio Libre, or Free Zone, for it’s peaceful civility between the sides of the war. The fort’s walls were dismantled after the Americans arrived, but they made sure to commemorate its past with markings on the gravel of where the wall of San Agustin del Presidio once stood, from 1775 to 1856 (as shown in the image below).

Artist Hardy R. Grant's bronze-cast bust of John F. Kennedy was the winner of the Pima County Democratic Committee's statue contest soon after the 35th President of America's assassination. This Committee proudly donated this sculpture to the City of Tucson, which was then placed at El Presidio Park in 1964. In late 2013, this statue was mysteriously stolen. It was not until April of the next year that it was found in a wash by two locals and brought to the Can-It Recycling center. Fortunately, the statue is back in its original location. 

Another monument in this park is the Battle of the Bulge memorial. The monument reads, "The Battle of the Bulge was fought by the U.S. Army in the heavily forested Ardennes region of eastern Belgium and northern Luxemburg..." Called the greatest American battle of World War II by Winston Churchill, this victorious war has many of its veterans representing the Southern Arizona Chapter LIII. These members are who funded this memorial representing the triumph of courage

The park contains additional memorials of different sorts. For examples, there's a veterans’ memorial, the 1987 El Soldado Cuero statue, among others pieces of art. 

EL PRESIDIO PARK TODAY

Today, El Presidio Park lies in the core of downtown sitting right in between Tucson City Hall and Old County Courthouse, making it one of the oldest parts of Tucson, AZ. The site is free of charge and opened to the general public. It is serviced frequently with rose gardens, a large fountain, trees, and other features to provide a pleasurable ambiance. Inclusively, events ranging from political gatherings, to weddings, to local ones such as Tucson Folk Festival and the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival are held here. Some of these events celebrate the multi-cultural essence that existed in the past and in the present life of El Presidio. 

RULES, REGULATIONS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION

In terms of regulations, it is a Dawn to Dusk park that is closed after the sun sets. Skateboarding and glass containers are not allowed. Pets must be on a leash. To organize events or for camping overnight, a permit is required through the City of Tucson's Parks and Recreation Department. A separate permit is required if alcohol is involved. For more information about events and permits, call (520) 791-5890.

A parking garage is available directly under the park and public transportation stops available nearby. Public wireless Internet is available in this particular area.

To contact City of Tucson’s Parks and Recreation Department, call (520) 791-4873 or access their website

For a map of the park and a visual layout of the memorials, one can go here

El Soldado Cuero (1987)Restored John F. Kennedy Statue (1964)

Former location of fort's wallMormon Battalion

Battle of the Bulge MonumentVeterans' Memorial

Sources:

http://raycomnbc.worldnow.com/story/25134318/stolen-presidio-jfk-statue-found-in-unusual-way?config=H264/

http://gallery.87thinfantrydivision.com/MonumentsMemorialsandMuseums/United-States/Tucson-Arizona-Presidio-Park/i-Mcg6Zrt

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/07/the-mormon-battalion-march-184647?lang=eng

http://www.city-data.com/articles/El-Presidio-Park-Tucson-AZ-City-park.html

https://www.visittucson.org/business/el-presidio-park

https://www.tucsonaz.gov/parks/parks