Phoenix is known as the “Valley of the Sun,” while Tucson is referred to as “The Old Pueblo.” These nicknames epitomize the difference in the public’s perception of each city. Phoenix continues to sprawl as one of America’s largest and fastest-growing cities. Tucson has witnessed a slower rate of growth, and has only one quarter of Phoenix’s population. This was not always the case. Prior to 1920, Tucson had a larger population. How did two cities, with such close physical proximity and similar natural environments develop so differently?
Desert Cities examines the environmental circumstances that led to the starkly divergent growth of these two cities. Michael Logan traces this significant imbalance to two main factors: water resources and cultural differences. Both cities began as agricultural communities. Phoenix had the advantage of a larger water supply, the Salt River, which has four and one half times the volume of Tucson’s Santa Cruz River. Because Phoenix had a larger river, it received federal assistance in the early twentieth century for the Salt River project, which provided water storage facilities. Tucson received no federal aid. Moreover, a significant cultural difference existed. Tucson, though it became a U.S. possession in 1853, always had a sizable Hispanic population. Phoenix was settled in the 1870s by Anglo pioneers who brought their visions of landscape development and commerce with them.
By examining the factors of watershed, culture, ethnicity, terrain, political favoritism, economic development, and history, Desert Cities offers a comprehensive evaluation that illuminates the causes of growth disparity in two major southwestern cities and provides a model for the study of bi-city resource competition.
Southwest Book of the Year Award Winner
Pubwest Book Design Award Winner
Drawing on thousands of years of foodways, Tucson cuisine blends the influences of Indigenous, Mexican, mission-era Mediterranean, and ranch-style cowboy food traditions. This book offers a food pilgrimage, where stories and recipes demonstrate why the desert city of Tucson became American’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
Both family supper tables and the city’s trendiest restaurants feature native desert plants and innovative dishes incorporating ancient agricultural staples. Award-winning writer Carolyn Niethammer deliciously shows how the Sonoran Desert’s first farmers grew tasty crops that continue to influence Tucson menus and how the arrival of Roman Catholic missionaries, Spanish soldiers, and Chinese farmers influenced what Tucsonans ate.
White Sonora wheat, tepary beans, and criollo cattle steaks make Tucson’s cuisine unique. In A Desert Feast, you’ll see pictures of kids learning to grow food at school, and you’ll meet the farmers, small-scale food entrepreneurs, and chefs who are dedicated to growing and using heritage foods. It’s fair to say, “Tucson tastes like nowhere else.”
From 1914 to 1934 the US government sent Native American girls to work as domestic servants in the homes of white families. Matrons and Maids tells this forgotten history through the eyes of the women who facilitated their placements. During those two decades, “outing matrons” oversaw and managed the employment of young Indian women. In Tucson, Arizona, the matrons acted as intermediaries between the Indian and white communities and between the local Tucson community and the national administration, the Office of Indian Affairs.
Based on federal archival records, Matrons and Maids offers an original and detailed account of government practices and efforts to regulate American Indian women. Haskins demonstrates that the outing system was clearly about regulating cross-cultural interactions, and she highlights the roles played by white women in this history. As she compellingly argues, we cannot fully engage with cross-cultural histories without examining the complex involvement of white women as active, if ambivalent, agents of colonization.
Including stories of the entwined experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women that range from the heart-warming to the heart-breaking, Matrons and Maids presents a unique perspective on the history of Indian policy and the significance of “women’s work.”
You see them as faceless shapes on the median or in city parks. You recognize them by their cardboard signs, their bags of aluminum cans, or their weathered skin. But you do not know them.
In Nomads of a Desert City Barbara Seyda meets the gazes of our homeless neighbors and, with an open heart and the eye of an accomplished photographer, uncovers their compelling stories of life on the edge.
Byrdy is a teenager from Alaska who left a violent husband and misses the young daughter her mother now cares for. Her eyes show a wisdom that belies her youth. Samuel is 95 and collects cans for cash. His face shows a lifetime of living outside while his eyes hint at the countless stories he could tell. Lamanda worked as an accountant before an act of desperation landed her in prison. Now she struggles to raise the seven children of a woman she met there. Dorothy—whose earliest memories are of physical and sexual abuse—lives in a shelter, paycheck to paycheck, reciting affirmations so she may continue “to grace the world with my presence.”
They live on the streets or in shelters. They are women and men, young and old, Native or Anglo or Black or Hispanic. Their faces reflect the forces that have shaped their lives: alcoholism, poverty, racism, mental illness, and abuse. But like desert survivors, they draw strength from some hidden reservoir.
Few recent studies on homelessness offer such a revealing collection of oral history narratives and compelling portraits. Thirteen homeless women and men open a rare window to enrich our understanding of the complex personal struggles and triumphs of their lives. Nomads of a Desert City sheds a glaring light on the shadow side of the American Dream—and takes us to the crossroads of despair and hope where the human spirit survives.
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