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Nogales, Arizona

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Nogales, Arizona

Nogales, Arizona
Location in Santa Cruz County and the state of Arizona
Location in Santa Cruz County and the state of Arizona
Country United States
State Arizona
County Santa Cruz
 • Mayor Arturo Garino
 • City 20.8 sq mi (53.9 km2)
 • Land 20.8 sq mi (54.0 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 3,832 ft (1,168 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 • City 20,837
 • Estimate (2013)[2] 20,456
 • Density 1,001.6/sq mi (386.5/km2)
 • Metro 1,043,322 (US: 53rd)
Time zone MST (no DST) (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 85600-85699
Area code(s) 520
FIPS code 04-49640
Website City of Nogales

Nogales is a city in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States. The population was 20,837 at the 2010 census and estimated 20,456 in 2013. 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.[3]

Nogales, Arizona, borders the city of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, and is Arizona's largest international border town. 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 comprise a major intersection in the CANAMEX Highway, connecting Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Nogales also is the beginning of the Sun Corridor, an economically important trade region stretching from Nogales to Prescott, AZ, including the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas.

Nogales is home to 4 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 with up to 20 inspection lanes when the $200 million upgrade is finished. The new Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry will have 12 passenger vehicle inspection lanes and 8 commercial inspection lanes.

Due to its ideal location on the border and its major ports of entry, Nogales funnels $26 billion worth of international trade into Arizona and the United States a 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.[4]

Known in O'odham as Nowa:l, (which translates as "prickly pear cactus" or the Spanish "nopal") the name Nogales means "black walnuts" in Spanish, and the 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.


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

Elevation: 3,865 ft (1.178 mts)

Nogales is 5 miles long and 4.15 miles wide.


Climate chart ()
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: / NWS

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 both January and February averaging daily highs of 64 °F (18 °C). Lows typically settle just below the freezing mark (32 °F/0 °C) on a majority of nights, but it is not uncommon to see temperatures tumble below 25 °F (-4 °C) on some winter nights.

On the other hand, in the summer months, highs average between 90 °F (32 °C) and 100 °F (38 °C), with the month of June being the hottest with an average daytime high of 96 °F (36 °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 19 in (483 mm). 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 (44 °C), which was reached on June 26, 1990. The lowest recorded temperature was -4 °F (-20 °C) on December 8, 1978.


Nogales, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA. 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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

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.


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. International commerce is a big part of Nogales’ economy.[8] More than 60 percent of Nogales’ sales tax comes from the estimated 30,000 Mexican shoppers crossing the border daily.[9] Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, are home to one of the largest maquiladora clusters. 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.

The Consulate-General of Mexico in Nogales is located on 135 W. Cardwell St.[10]

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:[11]

  • Alpha Pro-Tech Apparel
  • City of Nogales
  • County of Santa Cruz
  • Dependable Home Health
  • E.D.S. Manufacturing
  • Holy Cross Hospital
  • Home Depot
  • Mariposa Community Health Center
  • Nogales Unified School District
  • Otis Elevator
  • Prestolite Wire
  • UPS Supply Chain Solutions
  • Wal-Mart

Community facilities

The city of Nogales has a wide range of community facilities. These include nine parks, the Pimeria 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:

  • Kino Springs Golf Course
  • Esplendor Resort at Rio Rico
  • Tubac Golf Resort and Spa

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. Given City Hall's attractive location and park atmosphere, weddings are regularly performed on the lawn. 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 part, baseball stadium, and little league baseball field are located at 100 E Madison St. The Boys and Girls Club is close by at 590 N Tyler Ave.

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 Patgonia-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 to 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.[12] 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, Pena Blanca Lake, Parker Canyon Lake, and Coronado National Forest. The Wine Country of Sonoita-Elgin is also conveniently located 20 miles east of Nogales where numerous vineyards offer wine tasting.


Modern picture of the border between Arizona, on the left, and Sonora, on the right.

As of the census[14] of 2000, 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 77.83% White, 0.37% Black or African American, 0.57% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 17.97% from other races, and 2.86% from two or more races. 93.61% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,985 households out of which 47.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.3% were married couples living together, 21.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.5% were non-families. 15.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.45 and the average family size was 3.86.

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 $22,306, 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 $10,178. About 30.8% of families and 33.9% 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.

City management

The City of Nogales operates under a Council-Manager form of government where 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.[15]

  • Mayor: Arturo Garino
Mayor Arturo Garino was elected in November, 2010, and took office in January 2011.
  • City Council:
    • Nubar Hanessian (Vice-Mayor)
    • Esther Melendez-Lopez
    • Cesar Parrada[16]
    • Jose "Joe" Diaz
    • Joe Acosta
    • Vacancy to be filled by May 21, 2013 special election
  • City Manager: Shane D. Dille
  • Deputy City Manager: John Kissinger
  • City Attorney: Joe Machado
  • City Clerk/City Treasurer: Leticia Robinson
  • City Magistrate: Mayra Galindo
  • Police Chief: Derek Arnson

Depiction in media

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.

The 1951 biblical motion picture David and Bathsheba was filmed there.

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.

Notable people


On February 14, 2014 one of the largest underground drug tunnels was discovered in Nogales. The tunel spanned 481 feet (147 m), or longer than 1 1/2 football fields. The tunnel was being used to smuggle marijuana and other drugs into the U.S. Another 590 pounds (268 kg) of marijuana was seized after federal agents stopped a vehicle they saw driving away from the residence. 46 pounds (21 kg) of marijuana and half a pound (110 g) of heroin was found inside the tunnel. Three people have been arrested in connection with the bust.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  2. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "$26 Billion in Cross-Border Trade". 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to Nogales, AZ". City of Nogales. Retrieved 2009-02-01. A view of the center of town from hillside, looking west along International Street, ca. 1898-99
  6. ^ "Anza Related Sites - Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (U.S. National Park Service)". 2014-02-09. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  7. ^ "Nogales History". Pimeria Alta Museum. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  8. ^ "Kyl, McCain to DHS: Speed up Nogales border crossings".  
  9. ^ "Sales tax hike met with mixed response". Nogales International. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Información sobre el consulado" (in Spanish).  
  11. ^ "Leadership that puts business first". Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  12. ^ "A day in Nogales Sonora". Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  13. ^  
  14. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  15. ^ "City Government, City Council". Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  16. ^ Coppola, Manuel C. (2012-01-20). "Fourth NHS freshmen class trained in CPR - Nogales International: Community". Nogales International. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  17. ^

External links

  • Everything you want to know about Nogales - Bilingual
  • Official government website
  • Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce
  • Nogales Unified School District
  • Nogales International Newspaper
  • Border Echo Magazine
  • websiteJuan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trailofficial U.S. National Park Service - Anza Trailhead Room at the 1904 Nogales Courthouse.
  • Photo gallery of past mayors of Nogales, Arizona
  • Nogales Community Profile
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