The second-largest city in Arizona, Tucson is situated in the valley of the Sonoran Desert, 60 miles north of the Mexico border and 118 miles southeast of Phoenix. Often referred to as "The Old Pueblo," Tucson has a population of more than 500,000. Economic development generated by its universities, military centers, and numerous housing projects has contributed to Tucson's growth and expansion.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
- Displaying Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo cultural influences, Downtown Tucson contains high-rise buildings, including the UniSource Energy Tower and Bank of America Plaza, as well as several historic landmarks, such as Hotel Congress, Rialto Theatre, Old Pima County Courthouse, and two historic railroad stations. Also located in the area are numerous bars and dining establishments, including the El Charro Café, Tucson's oldest restaurant. Downtown revitalization efforts are improving and beautifying the district.
- Central/Midtown Tucson is dominated by numerous shopping centers, including the Main Gate Square on University Boulevard and El Con Mall, an enclosed shopping center. Tucson Botanic Gardens and Reid Park Zoo provide shopping and recreational opportunities. University of Arizona is a significant presence with nearly 200 buildings covering some 387 acres.
- West Tucson is nestled between the Tucson Mountains and the Santa Cruz River. It includes suburban areas as well as urban centers. West Tucson boasts a number of tourist attractions, including Old Tucson Studios, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park West, Sentinel Peak, and the Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa. The summit of Sentinel Peak, which can be reached by car, offers excellent views.
- North Tucson includes important commercial districts, such as the Tucson Mall and the Oracle Road Corridor. Also in North Tucson is the upscale St. Philip's Plaza, featuring high-end restaurants, shops, and galleries. North Tucson's high-end Catalina Foothills neighborhood features exclusive estates, Tohono Chul Park, a botanical garden, and a number of resorts, including Canyon Ranch Resort and Hacienda Del Sol.
- One of city's newer areas, East Tucson is characterized by its financial and corporate district, as well as the city's "Restaurant Row." This area is also home to the historic Fort Lowell, which offers an in-depth look at traditional southwestern architecture.
- The Southside is home to the majority of Tucson's Mexican-American population. It includes the Tucson International Airport, as well as the City of South Tucson, a small community one square mile in size.
- Primarily residential, Northwest Tucson includes rural and suburban communities. Northwest Tucson also boasts a number of golf courses and resorts, including Omni Tucson National Resort & Spa and Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The economic base in Tucson draws primarily from Tucson's academic institutions, military centers, and tourism.
- Classified as a Carnegie Foundation "RU/VH: Research University" (very high research activity), the University of Arizona specializes in space-related research, and its reputation has garnered countless grants from NASA. The university is one of Tucson's largest employers.
- The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, along with the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, has encouraged the development of a number of high-tech industries, employing more than 50,000 people in southern Arizona.
- Tucson's numerous hotels, resorts, and historic sites have contributed to a thriving tourist industry, which accounts for $2 billion annually.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Notable museums include the Fort Lowell Museum, Museum of the Horse Soldier, Pima Air & Space Museum, and Tucson Museum of Art.
- Among the many performing arts groups based in Tucson are Ballet Tucson, Arizona Theatre Company, Arizona Opera, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and Flamenco Del Pueblo Viejo.
The University of Arizona is the most distinguished academic institution in Tucson, enrolling more than 37,000 students annually. Other institutions include Pima Community College, with six campuses in the area; University of Phoenix, which has four Tucson campuses; Northern Arizona University; and Prescott College.
Tucson has a number of radio stations that appeal to a variety of interests:
- KAIC 0088.9 FM (contemporary Christian)
- KCUB 1290 AM (sports)
- KFFN 1490 AM ((sports)
- KFLT 0830 AM (contemporary Christian)
- KFLT-FM 0088.5 FM (contemporary Christian)
- KGMS 0940 AM (religious)
- KHYT 0107.5 FM (classic rock)
- KIIM-FM 0099.5 FM (country)
Numerous television stations serve the city of Tucson:
- KOLD-TV 13 (CBS)
- KVOA 4 (NBC)
- KMSB-TV 11 (FOX)
- KUAT-TV 6
- KUVE-TV (UNI)
- KGUN 9 (ABC)
- KTTU 18 (My Network TV)
- KWBA 58 (The CW)
Tucson has two local newspapers:
- The Tucson Citizen (afternoon)
- The Arizona Daily Star (morning)
- Sprawled across dozens of locations throughout the city, the annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is one of the largest of its kind in the world, attracting amateur collectors, experts, dealers, and researchers.
- One of the most popular events of the year is the Tucson Rodeo (Fiesta de los Vaqueros), which kicks off U.S. rodeo season.
- The Tucson Folk Festival features more than 100 musicians and is one of the country's largest free festivals, with food, crafts, and local microbrews.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The history of life in the Tucson Valley began around 10,000 B.C. with the migration of Paleo-Indian and Archaic hunters and gatherers.
- Tucson was part of Mexico until the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, when it fell under the jurisdiction of the United States.
- Tucson has been continuously settled for more than 12,000 years.
- Arizona became an official territory in 1863. Between 1867 and 1877, Tucson held the title of territorial capital.
- Tucson was originally an Indian village called Stook-zone, meaning "water at the foot of black mountain."
- Arizona has official state neckwear: the bola tie.
- The cactus wren is the official state bird. It grows seven to eight inches long and likes to build nests in thorny desert plants.
- At one time, camels were used to transport goods across Arizona.
- Old Tucson Studios has been the site for more than 300 film and television projects since 1939.
- Wads of Black Jack chewing gum once enjoyed by outlaw John Dillinger are on display in a jar at the University of Arizona's College of Pharmacy.
- Tucson has its origins in a small Spanish fortress built in 1775 to protect the community from Apache attacks. It was called El Presidio de Tucson.
- Mission San Xavier is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. Construction on the Baroque building began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.
- Mission San Xavier has weathered an earthquake and being struck by lightning.
- As early as the 1880s, Arizona was a popular destination for Easterners suffering from pulmonary and respiratory diseases.
- Tucson was a prime destination for tuberculosis sufferers in the 1920s. The disease affected town planning and influenced the architecture so that it met the needs of the sick.
- El Tiradito, or "The Wishing Shrine," was created in the late 1800s and is the only shrine in the U.S. dedicated to the soul of a sinner.
- In operation since 1922, El Charro is the oldest continuously family owned Mexican restaurant in the U.S.
- Hotel Congress was built in 1919 and is still operating. Infamous bank robber John Dillinger stayed at the hotel in 1934.
- Locally, Tucson is called the Old Pueblo for the adobe fortress, or presidio, that marked its early borders.
- The nearby Murray Springs Clovis Site features evidence of the Clovis culture - the earliest known people to have inhabited North America, dating back to the Ice Age.