Nogales, city (1990 pop. 19,489), Santa Cruz co., S Ariz. on the Mexican border with its adjacent city, Nogales (1990 pop. 105,873), Sonora, NW Mexico. There are copper, silver, and lead mines. Skirmishes occurred in Nogales against Pancho Villa in 1916. Industrial development, primarily between 1980 and 2000, in the Mexican area of Nogales resulted in a growth of maquiladoras, Mexican manufacturing plants employing low-cost labor to produce goods for the U.S. market.
Nogales is a city in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States. The population was 20,878 at the 2000 census. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 20,833. The city is the county seat of Santa Cruz County.

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 origin of the city's name is obscure: the Spanish name of the place means "walnuts", and walnut trees can still be found around the town. The city is known in O'odham as Nowa:l.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.8 square miles (53.9 km²), all of it land.

Elevation: 3,865 ft.


Nogales was also known as Isaacson. 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.

In 1917, Nogales was the site of the last engagement in the Indian Wars.

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.


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. Although recent census estimates in Mexico are commonly inaccurate, most observers guess the population of Nogales, Sonora, at roughly 300,000. International commerce is a big part of Nogales’ economy. More than 60 percent of Nogales’ sales tax comes from Mexican shoppers crossing the border daily. 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.

Community Facilities

The city of Nogales has a wide range of community facilities. These include nine parks, a museum, an art gallery, a movie theater, four recreation centers, four swimming pools, eight athletic fields, a library, six tennis courts and four 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 three regional health care facilities.

Nogales is one of the few (if not the only) communities in the United States to operate school buses in city bus service. These buses are privately owned and operated, and are not subject to any oversight. Because of this, in 2008, the city of Nogales will provide new vehicles that have air conditioning and are compliant with all regulations.

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 visited by Father 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. Lady Justice is supposed to have a blindfold on holding the scales of justice. This symbolizes that justice is blind. The Nogales version of Lady Justice is not wearing a blindfold.


As of the census 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/sq mi (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. 93.59% 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

  • Mayor: Octavio Garcia Von-Borstel

On November 21, 2007, Mayor Ignacio Barraza died at the age of 38. He was the second mayor to die in office. Having not appointed a vice-mayor, Nogales lacked a clear line of succession for the office. In April 2008 Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel, 28, was named Mayor of the City of Nogales.

  • City Council:
    • John Jackson
    • Armando Lopez
    • Jose Padilla
    • Nubar Hanessian
    • Arturo Garino
    • Ramon Felix
  • City Manager: Jaime Fontes
  • Assistant City Manager: John Kissinger
  • City Attorney: Joe Machado
  • City Clerk/City Treasurer: Leticia Robinson

Depiction in media

Nogales, Arizona, was the filming location for the motion picture version of the musical, Oklahoma! (1955). Nogales was chosen because it looked more like turn-of-the-century Oklahoma (when the musical is set) more than anywhere in Oklahoma did at that time. Oklahoma itself had apparently become far too developed by 1955. 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. A small part of William Gibson's The Gernsback Continuum short story refers to the city of Nogales. Also, the 1951 biblical motion picture David and Bathsheba was filmed here.

Notable natives

  • Thomas Aranda, Jr. - US Ambassador to Uruguay 1981-85, b. 4/9/1934.
  • Bob Baffert - Champion horse breeder and trainer, b. 1/13/1953.
  • Andrew Leo Bettwy - Arizona State Land Commissioner 1970-78, b. 5/31/1920, d. 12/1/2004.
  • Cesar Canez - Rear Admiral, Mexican Naval Reserve.
  • Travis Edmonson - of 1960's influential folk duo "Bud & Travis," b. 9/23/1932.
  • Christine McIntyre - Hollywood support actress. Starred in 22 feature films. Most notably as a steady supporting character for Three Stooges motion pictures from 1944 through 1950, b. 4/16/1911, d. 7/4/1984.
  • Charles Mingus - Jazz bass player, composer, and bandleader, b. 4/22/1922 in Nogales, d. 1/5/1979.
  • Roger Smith - Husband to Movie star Ann Margret
  • José Canchola - First Hispanic McDonald's franchise owner, philanthropist.
  • Movita Castaneda - Mexican-American actress best known for being the second wife of actor Marlon Brando. Movita had two children through that union: Miko and Rebecca.
  • Alberto Alvaro Ríos - Author of several collections of poetry and a number of books. Ríos won the 1981 Walt Whitman award for "Whispering to Fool the Wind" and is the author of "Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir."
  • Elena Mix Johnson - (b.1889, d.1939) Still life and landscape artist. Her paintings of western American subjects are rare.
  • John Frederick (Jack) Hannah - (b.1903, d.1994) Disney Studios artist from 1933 to 1959. Directed more than 100 Donald Duck cartoons. Won an Academy Award for his film "The Old Mill" and was nominated for eight others.
  • Verita Bouvaire-Thompson - (b.1918, d.2008) Hollywood "actress" and "hairdresser". Was Humphrey Bogart's mistress from 1942 to 1955. In 1982 she wrote her memoir: "Bogie and Me".


External links

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