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The University of Arizona has an interesting story to tell. It was the first university in Arizona, founded in 1885. The 13th Territorial Legislature appropriated $25,000 for the institution. Tucsonians were less than thrilled about its inception. Phoenix was awarded $100,000 for an insane asylum and Prescott kept the state capital.
Pima County was forced to donate 40 acres of land for the U of A. The site picked originally belonged to two professional gamblers and a saloon keeper. Ground was broken on October 27, 1887. The first class was held in 1891 in the oldest building on campus, Old Main. It was comprised of a mere 32 students and 6 teachers.
(Based on information from A Photographic History of the University of Arizona 1885-1985 by Phyllis Ball. © 1986. Available through the UA Foundation)