"Greek Row" at The University of Arizona
Greek Row at The University of Arizona sits on the outskirts of campus, taking up much of 1st and 2nd street with fraternity and sorority houses. The Greek community at the U of A is a long standing tradition, dating back to 1900, making Greek Row a staple in the campus, and Tucson in general. Most of the houses on Greek Row are large and modern-looking homes, shying away from the idea of 'traditional' fraternity or sorority houses, and taking on newer, fancier looks. Although the physical structure of the houses on Greek Row seem to look lavish and brand new, the tradition and history behind those houses, and Greek Row in general, began over a century ago.
The Roots of the Greek Community
In 1885, The University of Arizona was founded in the Territory of Arizona, making it the oldest university in the state. Not too long after the university was established, the first social group was formed in 1900, Delta Phi, which would eventually be nationally recognized as Kappa Sigma. Following that, in 1905, Delta Sigma and Gamma Phi Sigma (now known as Kappa Alpha Theta) were formed. From 1900 to 1915, 11 groups were formed, but it wasn't until 1915 that some of these groups officially obtained national recognition. Kappa Sigma and Sigma Alpha Epsilon began as the first two fraternities, while Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta began as the first two sororities. 14 other greek organizations were nationally recognized from 1915 to 1929, most of them still around today with houses on Greek Row. The average membership began at 40 members, but as the popularity of the greek community grew, the average was raised to 60 by 1950. By the end of of the 1950's, chapter membership reached a high, with sororities averaging 98 members, and fraternities averaging 104 members. With this increasing rise of membership, fraternity and sorority houses had to change and grow accordingly.
The Beginning of Greek Row
In the 1960's, an organization called The University Small Group Housing Project was created at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. The reason for this organization was to help build and provide housing for fraternities and sororities. Ten houses were built on the old Polo field north of campus, and two house were built on 1st street, making those two houses the first ones on, what is now referred to as, Greek Row. Eventually, more and more fraternity houses were built sporadically throughout and around the campus, but there wasn't truly a centralized location. Houses were built on Cherry Ave, Vine Ave, University Blvd. etc. But the whole idea of Greek Life is to create a sense of community amongst one another, so by the 1990's, 1st street and 2nd street were filled with strictly fraternity and sorority houses. With fraternities and sororities being neighbors with other Greek organizations, Greek Row has created a 'neighborhood' and sense of community, bringing all members together in one location.
Greek Row Today
Today, being in a fraternity or sorority that has a house on Greek Row is considered a privilege and honor because of their close proximity to campus and other greek organizations, as well as off campus apartments and student living. But, most importantly, Greek Row brings together all members, regardless what organization your in, and has created an overwhelming sense of community around campus. Like Old Main, the Greek community and Greek Row will always be a tradition that has made the University of Arizona the outstanding school it is today. To emphasize the importance and impact Greek life has had on the U of A and the community of Tucson, Greek Heritage Park was built in 2015 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Greek life at the school. The park has each fraternity and sorority organization's name on pillars to honor what each organization has done for their own brotherhood and sisterhood, but for the community of Tucson as well. Greek Heritage Park is located on 1st Street, in the heart of Greek Row, symbolizing the overall purpose for Greek Row: a place for people to bond as a community, regardless what organization they belong to.