The Phoenix-Tucson Rivalry, A Deep-Rooted Tradition

Phoenix-Tucson rivalry, Territorial Insane Asylum, Arizona State Hospital, 1885, Thieving Thirteenth

Excerpt from an August 31st, 1889 Arizona Sentinel article regarding the asylum and its location.

As we are now just a few weeks out from the annual ASU vs. U of A Territorial Cup game, I thought it might be appropriate to share this as-yet-unposted August 28th, 2014 KJZZ piece covering one of the many points of contention in the Phoenix / Tucson rivalry – the Thieving Thirteenth territorial legislature and the $100,000 insane asylum its members awarded to Phoenix.

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Phoenix-Tucson rivalry, Territorial Insane Asylum, Arizona State Hospital, 1885, Thieving Thirteenth

An early twentieth-century hand-colored postcard depicting a seemingly idyllic scene on the grounds of the Phoenix asylum.
Image credit: John Larsen Southard collection –

Who was Dr. Grady Gammage?

Grady Gammage, Gammage Auditorium, John Larsen Southard, John Southard, Southard, Arizona history, Arizona historian, AZHistorian, Tempe, ASU, Arizona State University, Frank Lloyd Wright

Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium
Credit: Wikipedia

ASU’s Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium was dedicated on September 16th, 1964. Though many now associate the name Gammage with only the performing arts venue or attorney Grady Gammage, Jr., the auditorium stands as a monument to a man who greatly impacted Arizona’s development – Dr. Grady Gammage, Sr. Here are a handful of Dr.Gammage’s many notable accomplishments:

– Arrived in Arizona just months after statehood. Though nearly broke when he set foot on Arizona soil, he managed to earn a degree from the University of Arizona in 1916.

– Led a successful 1916 initiative campaign expanding Arizona’s 1914 Prohibition law.

– Served as a high school principal in Winslow, AZ.

– Assumed the presidency of the Flagstaff teachers college, now Northern Arizona University, in 1926. Led the institution through the early years of the Great Depression.

– Named president of the Tempe teachers college, now Arizona State University, in 1933. Briefly served as president of both the Flagstaff and Tempe colleges.

Grady Gammage, Gammage Auditorium, John Larsen Southard, John Southard, Southard, Arizona history, Arizona historian, AZHistorian, Tempe, ASU, Arizona State University, Frank Lloyd Wright

A bust of Frank Lloyd Wright on display at Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium

– Enlarged the Tempe campus, substantially grew enrollment figures, and presided over the creation of many academic programs critical to the Valley’s incredible post-World War II growth.

– Oversaw the effort to pass Proposition 200, a 1958 ballot initiative that elevated Arizona State to full university status.

– Championed the idea of building the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed auditorium that bears his name.

Should you wish to learn more about the auditorium or take part in its anniversary celebration, please consider attending an open house scheduled for September 28th, 2014. For more information, see:

Phoenix’s Insane Asylum Drove Tucsonans Crazy

Insane asylum, Thieving Thirteenth, 1885, Phoenix, Tucson, Arizona State Hospital, Arizona history, Arizona historian, AZHistorian, John Larsen Southard, John Southard, Southard

An early-twentieth century hand colored postcard depicting a seemingly idyllic scene on the grounds of the Phoenix asylum.
Image credit: Author’s collection.

Tucsonans Go Crazy Over Phoenix’s Insane Asylum

March of 1885 was a momentous month for Arizona’s Thirteenth Territorial Legislature, a group known to history as the “Thieving Thirteenth.” The legislative body described in a March 28th, 1885 Arizona Weekly Citizen article as “not excelled in its provisions for a first-class steal from the Territory” passed bills authorizing the establishment of a teachers college in the then small town of Tempe and a university in Tucson, the most populous city in Arizona at the time. The teachers college, initially named Tempe Normal School but now known as Arizona State University, received an appropriation of $5,000 while Tucson’s university brought that city $25,000 in funding. Nonetheless, Tucsonans were both disappointed with and outraged by the gift the territory’s solons bestowed upon them. In place of showing gratitude for his town’s new institution of higher education, the editor of a Tucson paper decried the Phoenix area’s capture of “the plum of the legislature pie” with “emoluments [amounting] to almost half a million” and presciently predicted that C. C. Stephens, one of Tucson’s legislators, “will be insulted when he returns.”

Why were Tucsonans so upset with their haul from the Thieving Thirteenth? Because their prize proved to be a university that the city was said to “not care a fig about.” Instead, residents of the Old Pueblo coveted Phoenix’s big score – the territorial insane asylum now known as the Arizona State Hospital and the $100,000 appropriation associated with that facility. Angry about losing this well-funded institution to the relatively new and still rather small city of Phoenix, Tucson newspaper editors wrote scathing pieces belittling the future capital city and cursing its good fortune. Southern Arizona journalists continued to attack Phoenix’s victory for several years after the 1885 legislative session adjourned sine die, as demonstrated by an August 3rd, 1889 Arizona Sentinel article expressing concern that “the Great Salt River [V]alley” was “no place for the insane” due to its stifling heat. While calling attention to “the poor suffering humanity that [sweltered] within” the asylum, the piece altogether disregarded the well-being of sane Phoenicians and conveniently overlooked Tucson’s high summer temperatures.

In the end, however, Tucsonans came to love their university, which now boasts enrollment of more than 40,000 students and an annual budget exceeding $450,000,000. With approximately 60,000 students attending courses in Tempe alone, the once-modest Normal School now lays claim to the title of largest public university campus in the United States. Phoenix’s asylum, the so-called plum of the 1885 legislative session, is now largely unknown to most Arizonans and operates on a budget of just $30,000,000 – far smaller than that of the University of Arizona. So, it seems that the much maligned C. C. Stephens has been vindicated – something likely to be deemed crazy by a Tucsonan of 1885.


Arizona’s Papago Saguaro National Monument

Arizona is Home to the First-Ever Delisted National Monument

Arizona is home to numerous famous and well-visited National Parks and National Monuments, including the majestic Grand Canyon National Park, the historic Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, and the other-worldly landscapes of Petrified Forest National Park. Notably, the state is also home to what once was Papago Saguaro National Monument, the first ever National Monument to be abolished.

President Woodrow Wilson signed Papago Saguaro NM into existence via a proclamation on January 31st, 1914 – one-hundred years ago last Friday – setting aside approximately 2,050 acres of federally-owned desert land significant for its “splendid examples of the giant and many other species of cacti” and “numerous prehistoric pictographs.” The presence of several Native American petroglyphs and the natural beauty of the area’s Sonoran Desert flora and red rock buttes made the site an obvious choice for designation and the protection such status affords. However, neglect and conflicting ideas regarding proper land usage combined to ensure that Papago Saguaro National Monument did not last.

The area now known as Papago Park has long proved tempting to would-be homesteaders and profiteers alike. Late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Valley residents filed numerous homestead and mining claims within the boundaries of the present-day park. While, in theory, declaring the site a National Monument protected it from such usage, many still aimed to use the land in an entirely different manner than envisioned by President Wilson. Prior to the area being designated a National Monument, the Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association constructed the New Crosscut Canal and a hydropower plant in close proximity to the soon-to-be-declared park. Following Wilson’s 1914 proclamation creating Papago Saguaro NM, requests were made to sink exploratory oil wells on the land, clear an airstrip to provide access by plane, extract shale deposits for use in cement to be manufactured on-site, and to use the park in several other ways contrary to its intended purpose. While most such proposals were denied, the cement plant did come to fruition.

Use – or misuse, rather – of the land further compromised its appeal. The KKK staged a 1922 rally in the monument, numerous Phoenix businesses saw fit to paint advertisements on the walls of the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock, one group built a picnic table inside the opening of another butte, and many are thought to have pilfered cacti from the park for their own use. Limited conservation funds, misuse by local park-goers, and the monument’s relative remoteness and low out-of-state visitorship figures compounded the many other challenges federal officials faced in overseeing Papago Saguaro, making its status as a National Monument untenable.

Ironically, while Ralph Cameron, Carl Hayden, and others had fought in Congress to set aside the land surrounding the red rock buttes of today’s Papago Park less than two decades earlier, 1929 saw Arizona Congressman Lewis W. Douglas introduce legislation to abolish the National Monument and transfer ownership, for a small fee, to the state of Arizona. Papago Saguaro National Monument was abolished on April 7th, 1930, with the land turned over to the state government. No longer a federal property, the land was available for a greater number of uses. In the years following its delisting, a bass hatchery, Governor Hunt’s white pyramidal tomb, a Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and a World War II prisoner of war camp were added to the grounds of the former National Monument. After the state sold the bulk of the park to the city of Phoenix in 1959, the land gained a golf course and a zoo, adding to the Desert Botanical Garden established by Gertrude Webster in 1939. Although classified as parkland governed by federal, state, or local authorities for decades, some continue to suggest differing uses for the land, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s idea for a new state capitol to be called Pro Bono Publico and constructed in the middle of the park, a developer’s scheme to erect a 600-foot-tall saguaro cactus-shaped, neon-lined observation tower in the park, or other, more recent proposals.

ASU vs. U of A: The Territorial Cup

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Excerpt from a December 2nd, 1899 Arizona Republican article recapping the first Territorial Cup game.

The fabled Territorial Cup game between Arizona State and the University of Arizona is now well underway, marking the 87th such contest between these fierce in-state rivals. When the Territorial Cup was first awarded to the Tempe Normals (predecessors to the present-day Sun Devils) in 1899, the relationship between the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas differed dramatically from that of today – as did the size and stature of their respective colleges.

Phoenix proper was home to just 5,500 people in 1899, making its population smaller than the Old Pueblo’s tally of approximately 7,500 residents. Tucson would continue to boast a larger population than the capital city for nearly two more decades, finally surrendering the title of Arizona’s most populous city when eclipsed by Phoenix in the 1920 census. By 1920, the University of Arizona had enjoyed its status as the state’s only university for 35 years, having been awarded to Tucson in 1885 as a consolation prize given in place of the real legislative plum available that year – the state mental hospital, which was placed in Phoenix.

Although 1920s Valley residents could proudly tout their state-funded mental facility, the growing community could not lay claim to a university, although their neighbor to the south could do so. What is now Arizona State University was then known as Tempe Normal School, a teacher’s college still decades away from winning university status. With time, Arizonans passed Proposition 200, a 1958 ballot measure granting Arizona State a designation similar to its rival south of the Gila. Notably, the already strong rivalry between the institutions grew more serious when many Tucsonans opposed the effort to elevate the Tempe institution from college to university. Today, the University of Arizona is the academic home of 40,000 students and Arizona State University’s all-campus enrollment has exceeded the 70,000 mark. Phoenix still reigns as the most populous city in the state, claiming a metro population of more than 4.3 million residents while the greater Tucson area is nearing one million inhabitants. Not unlike years past, the two cities and their respective college teams continue to engage in battles both on and off the gridiron. As is often said, as much as things change, they stay the same.

As we watch the game tonight, let’s hope that, in words borrowed from a December 2nd, 1899 Arizona Republican article recapping that year’s game, it will be “a clean game from start to finish” with the Wildcats winning praise as a “gentlemanly team” and the Sun Devils engage their rivals with “courtesy and kindness.” While we’re at it, let’s hope that the Tempe team replicates their 1899 victory and keeps the Territorial Cup where it belongs.