Arizona is home to a unique pair of vibrant twin border cities, collectively known as Ambos Nogales. Nogales, Arizona, situated approximately 70 miles south of Tucson and 180 miles south of Phoenix, shares a border with its sister city, Heroica Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico. These cities, brimming with rich history, have a lot to offer.
The twin cities, often referred to as Ambos Nogales (meaning “both Nogales”), derive their name from the Spanish word for walnut. This term is linked to the once-abundant black walnut trees that used to adorn the hills surrounding the area.
The separation between the two cities by a barrier dates back to the early 20th century. The first fence was erected in 1915 during the Mexican Revolution. Though initially torn down, it was soon replaced by a 6-foot fence consisting of six wires along the international boundary in 1918. This move aimed to regulate the flow of customs agents and soldiers passing between the two cities.
The Mexican Revolution and World War I brought stricter border control measures, leading to the “Battle of Ambos Nogales” in August 1918. The confrontation resulted in the construction of permanent border fences. One of these fences stretched for two miles, topped with barbed wire.
Despite these barriers, the communities of Ambos Nogales have thrived, maintaining a significant volume of cross-border interactions. Over the years, numerous pedestrians have crossed the border, with nearly 2.9 million crossing through the Nogales ports of entry in fiscal year 2023. This statistic represents a substantial increase, with roughly 1 million more pedestrians crossing since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Similarly, almost 3.8 million passenger vehicles passed through the border city in the same year.
While Nogales, Arizona, is home to a population of around 20,000 people, its counterpart, Nogales, Sonora, boasts a larger population of 264,782. The latter has experienced substantial growth, with a population increase of over 20% from 2010 to 2020. This growth, attributed to the presence of maquiladora factories, has attracted residents from central and southern Mexico who seek employment opportunities.
On the other hand, Nogales, Arizona, has seen a decline in population as many residents have sought opportunities elsewhere within the state. The city has faced economic challenges, evident in the closure of businesses along the historic Morley Avenue, as it continues to rely on international commerce as a lifeline.
The story of Ambos Nogales is one of resilience, cultural exchange, and economic interdependence. These twin border cities serve as a testament to the enduring connections that can transcend physical barriers, fostering a sense of unity and shared history.
Q: Why are the twin border cities known as Ambos Nogales?
A: The term “Ambos Nogales” translates to “both Nogales” in Spanish, referring to the two cities, Nogales, Arizona, and Heroica Nogales, Sonora, that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border.
Q: When did the twin cities first become separated by a barrier?
A: The first fence separating the twin cities was erected in 1915 during the Mexican Revolution. However, it was torn down after four months. A 6-foot fence was later built in 1918, which marked the beginning of the physical barrier between the cities.
Q: How many pedestrians and vehicles cross the border every year?
A: In fiscal year 2023, nearly 2.9 million pedestrians crossed the Nogales ports of entry, and approximately 3.8 million passenger vehicles passed through the border city of Ambos Nogales.
Q: What is the population difference between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora?
A: Nogales, Arizona, has a population of around 20,000 people, while Nogales, Sonora, boasts a larger population of 264,782.
Q: Why has Nogales, Sonora, experienced significant population growth?
A: The population of Nogales, Sonora, has increased by more than 20% from 2010 to 2020. This growth is attributed to the presence of maquiladora factories, which have attracted residents from central and southern Mexico in search of employment opportunities.
Q: Why has Nogales, Arizona, witnessed residents moving out of the city?
A: Many residents of Nogales, Arizona, have sought employment and other opportunities elsewhere within the state, resulting in a decline in the city’s population. This shift has posed economic challenges, leading to the closure of businesses along the historic Morley Avenue.
For more information or inquiries regarding the border and its communities, feel free to contact the reporter at [email protected] or connect through X, formerly known as Twitter, @joseicastaneda.