Nogales, Arizona

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City of Nogales
Santa Cruz County Arizona Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Nogales Highlighted 0449640.svg
Location of Nogales in Santa Cruz County, Arizona
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Location in Arizona
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Location in the United States
Coordinates: 31°20′25″N110°56′03″W / 31.34028°N 110.93417°W / 31.34028; -110.93417 Coordinates: 31°20′25″N110°56′03″W / 31.34028°N 110.93417°W / 31.34028; -110.93417 [1]
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Arizona.svg  Arizona
County Santa Cruz
Incorporated1893 [2]
   Mayor Arturo Garino
   City 20.84 sq mi (53.97 km2)
  Land20.82 sq mi (53.92 km2)
  Water0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
3,829 ft (1,167 m)
 (2010) [4]
   City 20,837
(2018) [5]
  Density969.78/sq mi (374.44/km2)
1,043,322 (US: 53rd)
Time zone UTC-7 (MST (no DST))
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 520
FIPS code04-49640
GNIS feature ID32336 [1]

Nogales is a city in Santa Cruz County, Arizona. The population was 20,837 at the 2010 census and estimated 20,188 in 2018. [5] Nogales forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area, with a total population of 1,027,683 as of the 2010 Census. The city is the county seat of Santa Cruz County. [6]


Nogales, Arizona borders the city of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, and is Arizona's largest international border community. The southern terminus of Interstate 19 is located in Nogales at the U.S.-Mexico border; the highway continues south into Mexico as Mexico Federal Highway 15. The highways meeting in Nogales are a major road intersection in the CANAMEX Corridor, connecting Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Nogales also is the beginning of the Arizona Sun Corridor, an economically important trade region stretching from Nogales to Prescott, including the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas.

Nogales is home to four international ports of entry, including the Morley Pedestrian Port of Entry, Dennis Deconcini Pedestrian and Passenger Vehicle Port of Entry, Nogales International Airport, and the Mariposa Port of Entry. The Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry has twelve passenger vehicle inspection lanes and eight commercial inspection lanes.

Due to its location on the border and its major ports of entry, Nogales funnels an estimated $30 billion worth of international trade into Arizona and the United States, per year, in fresh produce and manufactured goods from Mexico and the world through the deep sea port in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. This trade helps to support tens of thousands of jobs and the overall economies in Ambos Nogales and throughout the American state of Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora. [7]

The name Nogales means "walnut trees" in Spanish, and the black walnut trees which once grew abundantly in the mountain pass between the cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, can still be found around the town.


Nogales, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, US, circa 1899. Showing boundary line between Arizona, (right); and Sonora, Mexico, (left). Nogales 1899.jpg
Nogales, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, US, circa 1899. Showing boundary line between Arizona, (right); and Sonora, México, (left).

The name "Nogales" is derived from the Spanish word for "walnut" or "walnut tree." It refers to the large stands of walnut trees that once stood in the mountain pass where Nogales is located. [8]

Nogales was at the beginning of the 1775–1776 Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition as it entered the present day U.S. from New Spain, and the town is now on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. On the second floor of the 1904 Nogales Courthouse is a small room dedicated to the 1775–1776 Anza Expedition. [9]

In 1841, a land grant from the Mexican government to the Elías family established Los Nogales de Elías. Following the Gadsden purchase in 1853, Nogales became a part of the United States of America. In 1880, Russian immigrant Jacob Isaacson built a trading post at present-day Nogales. The U.S. Postal Service opened the Isaacson post office but renamed it as Nogales in 1883. [10]

In 1915, according to historian David Leighton, Sonora Gov. Jose M. Maytorena ordered construction of an 11-wire fence, separating Nogales, Sonora from Nogales, Arizona, but it was taken down four months later. [11]

On August 27, 1918, a battle between United States Army forces and Mexican militia - mostly civilian in composition - took place. Culminating as the result of a decade's worth of tensions originating from the Mexican Revolution and earlier battles in Nogales along the border in 1913 and 1915, the main consequence of the 1918 violence saw the building of the first permanent border wall between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, along the previously unobstructed boundary line on International Street.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.8 square miles (54 km2), all of it land.[ citation needed ]

The city is at an elevation of 3,829 feet (1,167 m). [1]


Nogales has a semi-arid steppe climate, which is less hot and more rainy than a typical arid climate classification such as Phoenix. In the winter months, Nogales averages in the mid to upper 60s, with January averaging daily highs of around 63 °F or 17.2 °C. Lows typically settle just below the freezing mark (32 °F or 0 °C) on a majority of nights, but it is not uncommon to see temperatures tumble below 25 °F or −3.9 °C on some winter nights.

On the other hand, in the summer months, highs average between 90 and 100 °F (32.2 and 37.8 °C), with the month of June being the hottest with an average daytime high of 96 °F or 35.6 °C. Nighttime lows for the summer months remain in the upper 50s and lower 60s for the duration of the season. The Arizona Monsoon generally runs through July and August, and these months typically see eight inches or more of combined rainfall, which brings the average annual precipitation for Nogales to about 16 inches or 410 millimetres. Some monsoon season storms are capable of producing several inches of rain in a short amount of time, creating flash flood hazards.

Nogales’ all-time highest recorded temperature is 112 °F or 44.4 °C, which was reached on June 26, 1990. The lowest recorded temperature was −4 °F or −20 °C on December 8, 1978.

Climate data for Nogales, Arizona
Record high °F (°C)88
Average high °F (°C)63.3
Average low °F (°C)28.8
Record low °F (°C)6
Average precipitation inches (mm)1.02
Average snowfall inches (cm)0.6
Source 1: [12]
Source 2: [13] (for extremes)


Modern picture of the border between Arizona, on the left, and Sonora, on the right. Mexican-American border at Nogales.jpg
Modern picture of the border between Arizona, on the left, and Sonora, on the right.
Historical population
1890 1,194
1900 1,76147.5%
1910 3,51499.5%
1920 5,19948.0%
1930 6,00615.5%
1940 5,135−14.5%
1950 6,15319.8%
1960 7,28618.4%
1970 8,94622.8%
1980 15,68375.3%
1990 19,48924.3%
2000 20,8787.1%
2010 20,837−0.2%
Est. 201820,188 [5] −3.1%
U.S. Decennial Census [14]

As of the census [15] of 2010, there were 20,878 people, 5,985 households, and 4,937 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,002.1 people per square mile (387.0/km²). There were 6,501 housing units at an average density of 312.0 per square mile (120.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.7% White, 0.37% Black or African American, 0.57% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 24.3% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. 95% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,362 households out of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 24.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.5% were non-families. 15.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.12 and the average family size was 3.62.

In the city, the population was spread out with 34.6% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,044, and the median income for a family was $24,637. Males had a median income of $24,636 versus $18,403 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,440. About 30.8% of families and 32.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.2% of those under age 18 and 32.9% of those age 65 or over.


The economy of Nogales is heavily dependent on the cross-border trade through its Ports of Entry by produce distributors and American-based manufacturing plants in Nogales, Sonora and throughout the rest of the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa. Most of Nogales' economy is based on agribusiness and produce distributors, which comes from large farms in the Mexican agri-belt. Despite its small population, Nogales actually receives much patronage from its bordering sister-city, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Most observers guess the population of Nogales, Sonora, at roughly 300,000.[ citation needed ] International commerce is a big part of Nogales’ economy. [16] More than 60 percent of Nogales’ sales tax comes from the estimated 30,000 Mexican shoppers crossing the border daily. [17] [ citation needed ] Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, are home to one of the largest maquiladora clusters.[ citation needed ] This enables American manufacturing plants on both sides of the border to take advantage of favorable wage and operating costs and excellent transportation and distribution networks.[ citation needed ]

The Consulate-General of Mexico in Nogales is located on 135 W. Cardwell St. [18]

The United States Department of Homeland Security is a major economic driver in the Ambos Nogales region, with thousands of employees working for both the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection. Due to the large federal, state, and local police presence, Nogales has one of the highest police per-capita levels in the United States.

The largest employers in Nogales are: [19]

Community facilities

The city of Nogales has a wide range of community facilities. These include nine parks, the Pimería Alta Historical Society Museum, an art gallery, Oasis Movie Theater, four recreation centers, four swimming pools, eight athletic fields, a library, six tennis courts and three golf courses. It has public elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Its financial institutions include six banks. Its governmental agencies include a staffed city and local fire department and a city police department. It is home to Nogales International Airport, which includes a 7,200 ft. runway and a terminal with a customs facility, passenger waiting areas, and a coffee shop. It has two regional health care facilities, including Carondolet Holy Cross Hospital located at 1171 W Target Range Road, and Mariposa Health Clinic located at 1852 N Mastick Way.

Area golf courses include:

The Nogales area is served by the Nogales Unified School District for K-12 education, including 5 elementary schools, two middle schools, Nogales High School, and Pierson Vocational High School. Institutions of higher learning include Cochise College, University of Arizona Santa Cruz, and University of Phoenix.

City Hall is located at 777 North Grand Avenue. The Police Department and Fire Department are both housed here, with Fire Station 2 located at 2751 N Grand Avenue. The City Recreation Center is located at 1500 N Hohokam Drive and has a basketball court and year-round swimming pool. Softball and a soccer field are found adjacent to the Recreation Center. Public Works is located at 1450 N Hohokam Drive. A waste transfer facility is located there for public use. A skate park, baseball stadium, and little league baseball field are located at 100 E Madison St.

Santa Cruz County administrative offices, courts, and jail are located at 2150 N Congress Drive in Nogales.

Scenic attractions

The county of Santa Cruz and the city of Nogales have 200 properties listed in the National Register of Historic Sites, including Tumacacori National Monument first visited by Father Eusebio Kino in 1691 and Tubac Presidio, established by the Spanish in 1752 on an Indian village site. Others include the Old Tubac Schoolhouse, Old Nogales City Hall, Santa Cruz County Courthouse, and Patagonia Railroad Depot. The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Sanctuary, 19 miles east, attracts worldwide visitors to see its diverse bird life. It is also host to ghost towns and mining camps, curio shops, first-class restaurants and night clubs.

The Santa Cruz County Historical Courthouse on Morley Street/Court Street has the statue of Lady Justice on top of the building. The Nogales version of Lady Justice is not wearing a blindfold.

The architecturally rich downtown area of Nogales near the Mexican–American border offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the downtown border-style shopping setting similar to those from the mid-20th century. Interesting architecture and historical homes along Crawford and Court Streets provide a glimpse of border life at its peak during that time period. [20] A day trip to old Nogales, Sonora reveals many of the same architectural uniqueness.

Several state parks and recreation areas are located close to Nogales, including Patagonia State Park, Peña Blanca Lake, Parker Canyon Lake, and Coronado National Forest. The Wine Country of Sonoita-Elgin is also located 20 miles east of Nogales.


The City of Nogales operates under a council-manager form of government in which the mayor is elected to a 4-year term and has a single vote on the city council. The council then hires a city manager to run the day-to-day operations of the city. The 6 city council members are elected at-large to 4-year terms. [21]

Mayor Arturo Garino was elected in November 2018, and took office in January 2019.


Nogales is located at the south end of Interstate 19. Arizona State Route 189 connects Interstate 19 with the Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry and Mexican Federal Highway 15. Arizona State Route 82 connects Nogales with Patagonia and Sonoita. Interstate 11 is proposed to replace I-19, terminating in Nogales.

Santa Cruz County operates the Nogales International Airport, a general use airport.

Nogales does not currently have any public transportation. [22] Private bus companies Greyhound and TUFESA, as well as several shuttle companies, connect Nogales with Tucson and points north. [23] [24] [25]

Nogales, Arizona, was the filming location for the motion picture musical, Oklahoma! . Nogales was chosen because it looked more like turn-of-the-century Oklahoma (when the musical is set) than anywhere in Oklahoma did in 1955, when the film was made. It was made an "honorary" part of the state of Oklahoma for the duration of the film shoot by order of the governor of Arizona.[ citation needed ]

Many dozens of motion pictures have been filmed around the Nogales area. [26] [27]

The 1951 biblical motion picture David and Bathsheba was filmed there.[ citation needed ]

A small part of William Gibson's short story, "The Gernsback Continuum" refers to the city of Nogales. It is also mentioned as a border crossing point in Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan series, and a gateway into the Mexican Yaqui communities of Sonora.

Nogales is a locale for filming some of the TV reality documentary, Border Wars , in particular in the second episode of that show's first season. The Animal Planet reality show Law on the Border was filmed in Nogales, highlighting the K-9 units of the Nogales Police Department.[ episode needed ]

The Hangover Part III was partially filmed in Nogales during late 2012. Parts of town were decorated to appear to be Tijuana, Mexico. [28]

Nogales is discussed at length in the popular political economics book Why Nations Fail , comparing the relative success of Nogales, AZ to the poverty of Nogales, Mexico. [29]

Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro dedicated his award to Ambos Nogales during his acceptance speech at the 73rd Annual Academy Awards in 2001. [30]

Sister cities

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

Interstate 19 (I-19) is a north–south Interstate Highway located entirely within the U.S. state of Arizona. I-19 travels from Nogales, roughly 300 feet (91 m) from the Mexican border, to Tucson, at I-10. The highway also travels through the cities of Rio Rico, Green Valley, and Sahuarita.

Santa Cruz County, Arizona county in Arizona, US

Santa Cruz is a county in southern Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population is 47,420. The county seat is Nogales. The county was established in 1899. It borders Pima County to the north and west, Cochise County to the east, and the Mexican state of Sonora to the south.

Sonoita, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Sonoita is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States. The population was 818 at the 2010 census.

Tubac, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Tubac is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States. The population was 1,191 at the 2010 census. The place name "Tubac" is an English borrowing from a Hispanicized form of the O'odham name, which translates into English as "rotten". The original O'odham name is written Cuwak. The first syllable is accented. When first taken into Spanish speech, it was spelled Tubaca. Finally over time the last "a" was dropped. Tubac is situated on the Santa Cruz River.

Tumacacori, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Tumacacori is an unincorporated community in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States, which abuts the community of Carmen. Together, the communities constitute the Tumacacori-Carmen census-designated place (CDP). The population of the CDP was 393 at the 2010 census.

Nogales, Sonora City in Sonora, Mexico

Heroica Nogales, more commonly known as Nogales, is a city and the county seat of the Municipality of Nogales. It is located on the northern border of the Mexican state of Sonora. The city is abutted on its north by the city of Nogales, Arizona, across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is a 1,210-mile (1,950 km) National Park Service unit in the United States National Historic Trail and National Millennium Trail programs. The trail route extends from Nogales on the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, through the California desert and coastal areas in Southern California and the Central Coast region to San Francisco.

Santa Cruz River (Arizona) river in the United States of America

The Santa Cruz River is a tributary river to the Gila River in Southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. It is approximately 184 miles (296 km) long.

Sonoita Creek river in the United States of America

Sonoita Creek is a tributary stream of the Santa Cruz River in Santa Cruz County, Arizona. It originates near and takes its name from the abandoned Pima mission in the high valley near Sonoita. It flows steadily for the first 15 miles (24 km) of its westward course past Patagonia, its bird sanctuary and Patagonia Lake, but sinks beneath the sand seven to eight miles before joining the Santa Cruz River a few miles north of Nogales. This confluence provides water for Tumacácori and Tubac and collects in the marsh lands around San Xavier del Bac downstream, to the north. The Santa Rita Mountains lie to the north and the Canelo Hills, Red Mountain and the Patagonia Mountains lie to the south. Harshaw Creek is a southern tributary which joins the Sonoita near Patagonia. Harshaw Creek drains the area between the Patagonia Mountains to the west and the high San Rafael Valley grasslands to the east. The ghost town of Harshaw lies within its watershed.

Area code 520 area codes in the United States

North American area code 520 is a state of Arizona telephone area code serving Tucson and most of the southeastern part of the state.

Mission San Cayetano de Calabazas historic mission ruins in Arizona, USA

Mission San Cayetano de Calabazas, also known as Calabasas, is a Spanish Mission in the Sonoran Desert, located near present-day near Tumacácori, Arizona. The Mission was named for the Italian Saint Cajetan.

State Route 189 is a highway in Santa Cruz County, Arizona that runs from its junction with Interstate 19 to the US-Mexico Border. It is a north–south route for its entirety.

Nogales International is a newspaper, based in Nogales, Arizona, United States, founded in 1925. It is published on Tuesdays and Fridays and is a division of Wick Communications. Nogales is located on the U.S. - Mexico border. It is 60 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, and 150 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona.

Battle of Ambos Nogales confrontation between U.S. and Mexican forces during the Border War

The Battle of Ambos Nogales, or as it is known in Mexico La batalla del 27 de agosto, was an engagement fought on 27 August 1918 between Mexican military and civilian militia forces and elements of U.S. Army troops of the 35th Infantry Regiment, who were reinforced by the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, and commanded by Lt. Col. Frederick J. Herman. The American soldiers and militia forces were stationed in Nogales, Arizona, and the Mexican soldiers and armed Mexican militia were in Nogales, Sonora. This battle was notable for being a significant confrontation between U.S. and Mexican forces during the Border War, which took place in the context of the Mexican Revolution and the First World War.

Harshaw, Arizona Populated Place in Arizona, United States

Harshaw is a populated place in Santa Cruz County in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Arizona. The town was settled in the 1870s, in what was then Arizona Territory. Founded as a mining community, Harshaw is named after the cattleman-turned-prospector David Tecumseh Harshaw, who first successfully located silver in the area. At the town's peak near the end of the 19th century, Harshaw's mines were among Arizona's highest producers of ore, with the largest mine, the Hermosa, yielding approximately $365,455 in bullion over a four-month period in 1880.

Patagonia Mountains mountain range in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States and Sonora. Mexico

The Patagonia Mountains are a 15-mile-long (24 km) mountain range within the Coronado National Forest, and in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States.

Pajarito Mountains (Arizona) mountain range in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States and Sonora, Mexico

The Pajarito Mountains ia a small mountain range of western Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States, that extend south into Sonora, Mexico. The range is adjacent the Atascosa Mountains at its north, with both ranges in the center of a north-south sequence of ranges called the Tumacacori Highlands. The Highlands have the Tumacacori Mountains at the north, and south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Sierra La Esmeralda range,. The Tumacacori Highlands are part of a regional conservancy study of 'travel corridors' for cats, called Cuatro Gatos, Four Cats, for mountain lions, ocelot, bobcat, and jaguar.

Calabasas is a former populated place or ghost town, located within the Census-designated place of Rio Rico, a suburb of Nogales in Santa Cruz County, Arizona.


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