Every day for 142 years

The New York Times called it, “The Daily Miracle.” It truly is just that. Since 1877, the Arizona Daily Star has been printed in Tucson. (The Tucson Citizen was printed in Tucson each day from 1870 until it closed in 2009.) No longer.

On May 20, the Star’s presses go silent. Henceforth, the newspaper will be printed by the Arizona Republic in Phoenix and trucked to Tucson for delivery each day.

The Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Daily Citizen entered into a Joint Operating Agreement in 1940. Tucson Newspapers Inc. was created as a separate business entity to print and distribute the two newspapers. In 1940, a new 20,000-square-feet building at 208 N. Stone Ave. originally constructed for the Star became the home for the combined operation.

The entities quickly pumped money into the operation. In 1951, two new Goss Headliner letterpress units were added, as well as new typesetters and a conveyor system. The newspapers were so successful that by 1953, plans were set in motion for a building expansion.

In 1954, expansion was complete. Four Goss Headliner units were added, doubling the daily paper from 48 pages to 96 pages. The composing room was moved to its own floor in the new building. New press technology was installed, including an automatic newsprint tensioner and a pneumatic system to lift 1,800-pound newsprint rolls into place.

By 1961, there was yet another press expansion. The newspaper added another press unit and a color half-deck unit to expand the newspaper to a maximum 112-page edition with two or more pages of color. Electrical capacity was expanded to provide the 360-horsepower needed to get the presses rolling.

The newspaper and printing operation moved to its current location at 4850 S. Park Ave., beginning in 1973. The expansive campus was built to produce and print two newspapers on a large scale.

The current press that has run reliably since 1974 is a Goss Metroliner offset, a marvel of American engineering. On the outside, it’s a battleship of steel. It’s 175-feet long, three stories high and weighs 2 million pounds. On the inside, it’s a delicate symphony of color and folding paper that flies at a cruising speed of 55,000 newspapers per hour. The original installation cost $4 million and vastly expanded the print quality and color options for both newspapers.

It has run everyday since 1974, save for a horrible explosion and fire in the electrical transformers in 1982. Frank Delehanty, the Star’s business manager, eventually died from the burns to his body. The next day’s edition was printed by the Phoenix Gazette.

Roger Rinehart eases a new roll of news print into place getting ready for a night’s worth of operations t the Arizona Daily Star’s press rom, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

With the units humming around him, pressman Hector Alegria looks over a fresh print of the paper, looking for problems or adjustments in the press settings during a run of the Arizona Daily Star presses, Thursday, October 19, 2017, Tucson, Ariz.

Ben Taylor slows down the presses as the run comes to an end at the Arizona Daily Star, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Marco Fierro changes out the cam on the folder while getting the Arizona Daily Star’s press ready for a run, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Supervisor Ben Taylor looks over a few samples from a run as some of the units roar behind him at the Arizona Daily Star, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Mario Smith grabs a handful of the new plates to be installed on the presses prior to a run during the last days of the press operation at the Arizona Daily Star, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Interior of the Arizona Daily Star printing office, Tucson, in 1926.

The Tucson Citizen composing room and offices in 1899.

George Chambers, business manager for the Arizona Daily Star, holds a stack of special edition papers printed for a fundraiser for Big Brothers in Tucson on Dec. 18, 1937. Community leaders sold the newspapers on the street to raise $1,900 for Big Brothers.

Installation of two new press units at Tucson Newspapers Inc., 208 N. Stone Ave. in January, 1951.

A press worker handles a plate for a letterpress unit at Tucson Newspapers, 208 N. Stone Ave., in the 1950s. The old plate weighed in excess of 40 pounds. New aluminum plates for offset presses when less than a pound.

Shown this 1959 photo, Albert Tully punches keys of a linesetting machine that revolutionized printing when introduced in the late 1890s. It used hot lead blocks to create lines of text and paragraphs. It was replaced by photo compositing machines in the 1950s, but some linesetting (or Linotype) machines remained in use into the 1970s-80s.

Giblert Tully, an Arizona Daily Star shop foreman, operates one of three larger Interype mixers added to the Tucson Newspapers’ legions of typesetting machines in 1951. This machine sets headline type exclusively and automatically saws it to measure. The new machines were part of a $100,000 modernization program, which inlcuded two press units and a conveyor system.

A diecast model of the new Goss Headline Press units for Tucson Newspapers inc., in June, 1953.

Tucson Citizen staffers watch newspapers come off new Goss Headliner press units at Tucson Newspapers Inc., 208 N. Stone Ave., in July, 1954.

William R. Mathews, editor and publisher of the Arizona Daily Star, pushes the button that starts the New Tucson Newspapers’ Goss Headliner presses in the company’s new building at 208 N. Stone Ave. on July 4, 1954. The press units have a capacity of 48,000 papers per hour. The entire Star/Citizen mechanical departments were moved from the one building to another in 17 hours.

The composing room of Tucson Newspapers inc. on the top floor of a new edition to the Star/Citizen building at 208 N. Stone Ave., on July 5, 1954.

In this 1959 photo, Ted Wallace, head of the new photo compsition department of Tucson Newspapers Inc., is shown typing at the keyboard. While punching an ordinary electric typewriter and pulling levers to his right, Wallace can set as many as 16 different families of type in a single line. After he has finished, the Photo marchine will flash through the line at the speed of eight characters per second.

Workers move two Y-beams weighing 8,000 pounds into the press room of Tucson Newspapers Inc., at 208 N. Stone Ave. in 1960. They were supports for new press units.

Units of new Goss Metroliner presses are carefully set into place in 1972 at Tucson Newspapers inc, 4850 S. Park Ave.

Goss Metroliner press units during installation in 1973 at Tucson Newspapers, Inc., 4850 S. Park Ave.

Goss Metroliner press units during installation at Tucson Newspapers Inc., 4850 S. Park Ave., in 1973.

The overhead conveyor system that takes newspapers from Goss Metroliner press units during installation at Tucson Newspapers Inc., 4850 S. Park Ave., in 1973.

Subscribe for just 23¢ per week
  • Support quality journalism
  • Get unlimited access to tucson.com and apps
  • No more surveys blocking articles

More video from this section

%d bloggers like this: