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Tucson (/ˈtuːsɒn/ or occasionally locally /tuːˈsɒn/) is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and home to the University of Arizona. The 2010 United States Census put the population at 520,116, while the 2013 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 996,544. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 980,263 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second-largest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, which both anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is located 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 59th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Roughly 150 Tucson companies are involved in the design and manufacture of optics and optoelectronics systems, earning Tucson the nickname Optics Valley.
Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita south of the city, and South Tucson in an enclave south of downtown. Communities in the vicinity of Tucson (some within or overlapping the city limits) includeCasas Adobes, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Midvale Park, Tanque Verde, Tortolita, and Vail. Towns outside the Tucson metro area include Benson to the southeast, Catalina and Oracle to the north, and Green Valley to the south.
The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón [tukˈson], derived from the O'odham Cuk Ṣon [tʃʊk ʂɔːn], meaning "(at the) base of the black [hill]", a reference to a basalt-covered hill now known as "A" Mountain. Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo".
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2010, the City of Tucson has a land area of 226.71 square miles (587.2 km2).
The city's elevation is 2,643 ft (806 m) above sea level (as measured at the Tucson International Airport). Tucson is situated on an alluvial plain in the Sonoran desert, surrounded by five minor ranges of mountains: the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Tortolita Mountains to the north, the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, the Rincon Mountains to the east, and the Tucson Mountains to the west. The high point of the Santa Catalina Mountains is 9,157 ft (2,791 m) Mount Lemmon, the southernmost ski destination in the continental U.S., while the Tucson Mountains include 4,687 ft (1,429 m) Wasson Peak. The highest point in the area is Mount Wrightson, found in the Santa Rita Mountains at 9,453 ft (2,881 m) above sea level.
Tucson is located 118 mi (190 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the United States - Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 980,263. In 2009, Tucson ranked as the 32nd largest city and 52nd largest metropolitan area in the United States. A major city in the Arizona Sun Corridor, Tucson is the largest city in southern Arizona, the second largest in the state after Phoenix. It is also the largest city in the area of the Gadsden Purchase. As of 2015, The Greater Tucson Metro area has exceeded a population of 1 million.
The city is located on the Santa Cruz River, formerly a perennial river but now a dry river bed for much of the year that floods during significant seasonal rains.
Interstate 10, which runs southeast to northwest through town, connects Tucson to Phoenix to the northwest on the way to its western terminus in Santa Monica, California, and to Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas toward its eastern terminus in Jacksonville, Florida. I-19 runs south from Tucson toward Nogales and the U.S.-Mexico border. I-19 is the only Interstate highway that uses "kilometer posts" instead of "mileposts", although the speed limits are marked in miles per hour instead of kilometers per hour.
Similar to many other cities in the Western U.S., Tucson was developed on a grid plan starting in the late 19th century, with the city center at Stone Avenue and Broadway Boulevard. While this intersection was initially near the geographic center of Tucson, that center has shifted as the city has expanded far to the east, development to the west being effectively blocked by the Tucson Mountains. An expansive city covering substantial area, Tucson has many distinct neighborhoods.
Tucson's earliest neighborhoods, some of which are now covered by the Tucson Convention Center, or TCC, include:
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, downtown Tucson underwent a revitalization effort by city planners and the business community. The primary project was Rio Nuevo, a large retail and community center that has been stalled in planning for more than ten years. Downtown is generally regarded as the area bordered by 17th Street to the south, I-10 to the west, and 6th Street to the north, and Toole Avenue and the Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) railroad tracks, site of the historic train depot and "Locomotive #1673", built in 1900. Downtown is divided into the Presidio District, the Barrio Viejo, and the Congress Street Arts and Entertainment District. Some authorities include the 4th Avenue shopping district, which is set just northeast of the rest of downtown and connected by an underpass beneath the UPRR tracks.
Attractions downtown include the Hotel Congress designed in 1919, the Art Deco Fox Theater designed in 1929, the Rialto Theatre opened in 1920, and St. Augustine Cathedral completed in 1896. Included on the National Register of Historic Placesis the old Pima County Courthouse, designed by Roy Place in 1928. The El Charro Café, Tucson's oldest restaurant, also operates its main location downtown.
As one of the oldest parts of town, Central Tucson is anchored by the Broadway Village shopping center designed by local architect Josias Joesler at the intersection of Broadway Boulevard and Country Club Road. The 4th Avenue Shopping District between downtown and the University and the Lost Barrio just East of downtown, also have many unique and popular stores. Local retail business in Central Tucson is densely concentrated along Fourth Avenue and the Main Gate Square on University Boulevard near the UA campus. The El Con Mall is also located in the eastern part of midtown.
The University of Arizona, chartered in 1885, is located in midtown and includesArizona Stadium and McKale Center (named for J.F. "Pop" McKale). HistoricTucson High School (designed by Roy Place in 1924) featured in the 1987 film Can't Buy Me Love, the Arizona Inn (built in 1930), and the Tucson Botanical Gardens are also located in Central Tucson.
Tucson's largest park, Reid Park, is located in midtown and includes Reid Park Zooand Hi Corbett Field. Speedway Boulevard, a major east-west arterial road in central Tucson, was named the "ugliest street in America" by Life magazine in the early 1970s, quoting Tucson Mayor James Corbett. Despite this, Speedway Boulevard was awarded "Street of the Year" byArizona Highways in the late 1990s. According to David Leighton, historical writer for the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, Speedway Boulevard derives its name from an old horse racetrack, known as "The Harlem River Speedway," more commonly called "The Speedway," in New York City. The street was called "The Speedway," from 1904 to about 1906 before the word "The" was taken out.
Central Tucson is bicycle-friendly. To the east of the University of Arizona, Third Street is bike-only except for local traffic and passes by the historic homes of the Sam Hughes neighborhood. To the west, E. University Boulevard leads to the Fourth Avenue Shopping District. To the North, N. Mountain Avenue has a full bike-only lane for half of the 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the Rillito River Park bike and walk multi-use path. To the south, N. Highland Avenue leads to the Barraza-Aviation Parkway bicycle path.
South Tucson is actually the name of an independent, incorporated town of one square mile, completely surrounded by the city of Tucson, sitting just south of downtown. South Tucson has a colorful, dynamic history. It was first incorporated in 1936, and later reincorporated in 1940. The population consists of about 83% Mexican-American and 10% Native American residents. South Tucson is widely known for its many Mexican restaurants and the architectural styles which include bright outdoor murals, many of which have been painted over due to city policy.
The South side of the city of Tucson is generally considered to be the area of approximately 25 sq mi (65 km2) north of Los Reales Road, south of 22nd Street, east of I-19, west of Davis Monthan Air Force Base and southwest of Aviation Parkway. The Tucson International Airport and Tucson Electric Park are located here.
A combination of urban and suburban development, the West Side is generally defined as the area west of I-10. Western Tucson encompasses the banks of the Santa Cruz River and the foothills of the Tucson Mountains, and includes the International Wildlife Museum, Sentinel Peak, and the Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, located in the wealthy enclave known as Starr Pass. Moving past the Tucson Mountains, travelers find themselves in the area commonly referred to as "west of" Tucson or "Old West Tucson". A large undulating plain extending south into the Altar Valley, rural residential development predominates, but here you will also find major attractions including Saguaro National Park West, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and the Old Tucson Studios movie set/theme park.
On Sentinel Peak (also known as "'A' Mountain"), just west of downtown, there is a giant "A" in honor of the University of Arizona. Starting in about 1916, a yearly tradition developed for freshmen to whitewash the "A", which was visible for miles. However, at the beginning of the Iraq War, anti-war activists painted it black. This was followed by a paint scuffle where the "A" was painted various colors until the city council intervened. It is now red, white and blue except when it is white or another color decided by a biennial election. Because of the three-color paint scheme often used, the shape of the A can be vague and indistinguishable from the rest of the peak. The top of Sentinel Peak, which is accessible by road, offers an outstanding scenic view of the city looking eastward. A parking lot located near the summit of Sentinel Peak was formerly a popular place to watch sunsets or view the city lights at night.
North Tucson includes the urban neighborhoods of Amphitheater and Flowing Wells. Usually considered the area north of Fort Lowell Road, North Tucson includes some of Tucson's primary commercial zones (Tucson Mall and the Oracle Road Corridor). Many of the city's most upscale boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries are also located on the north side, including St. Philip's Plaza. The Plaza is directly adjacent to the historic St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church (built in 1936).
Also on the north side is the suburban community of Catalina Foothills, located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains just north of the city limits. This community includes among the area's most expensive homes, sometimes multi-million dollar estates. The Foothills area is generally defined as north of River Road, east of Oracle Road, and west ofSabino Creek. Some of the Tucson area's major resorts are located in the Catalina Foothills, including the Hacienda Del Sol, Westin La Paloma Resort, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and Canyon Ranch Resort. La Encantada, an upscale outdoor shopping mall, is also in the Foothills.
The DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun is located near the intersection of Swan Road and Skyline Drive. Built by artist Ted DeGrazia starting in 1951, the 10-acre (40,000 m2) property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features an eclectic chapel, an art gallery, and a free museum.
The expansive area northwest of the city limits is diverse, ranging from the rural communities of Catalina and parts of the town of Marana, the small suburb of Picture Rocks, the affluent town of Oro Valley in the western foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, and residential areas in the northeastern foothills of the Tucson Mountains. Continental Ranch (Marana), Dove Mountain (Marana), and Rancho Vistoso (Oro Valley) are all masterplanned communities located in the Northwest, where thousands of residents live.
The community of Casas Adobes is also on the Northwest Side, with the distinction of being Tucson's first suburb, established in the late 1940s. Casas Adobes is centered on the historic Casas Adobes Plaza (built in 1948). Casas Adobes is also home to Tohono Chul Park (a nature preserve) near the intersection of North Oracle Road and West Ina Road. The attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and the murders of chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona, John Roll and five other people on January 8, 2011, occurred at the La Toscana Village in Casas Adobes. The Foothills Mall is also located on the northwest side in Casas Adobes.
Many of the Tucson area's golf courses and resorts are located in this area, including the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort in Oro Valley, the Omni Tucson National Resort & Spa, and Westward Look Resort. The Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain, the second Ritz Carlton Resort in Arizona, which also includes a golf course, opened in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains in northeast Marana in 2009. Catalina State Park and Tortolita Mountain Park are also located in the Northwest area.
East Tucson is relatively new compared to other parts of the city, developed between the 1950s and the 1970s, with developments such as Desert Palms Park. It is generally classified as the area of the city east of Swan Road, with above-average real estate values relative to the rest of the city. The area includes urban and suburban development near the Rincon Mountains. East Tucson includes Saguaro National Park East. Tucson's "Restaurant Row" is also located on the east side, along with a significantcorporate and financial presence. Restaurant Row is sandwiched by three of Tucson's storied Neighborhoods: Harold Bell Wright Estates, named after the famous author's ranch which occupied some of that area prior to the depression; the Tucson Country Club (the third to bear the name Tucson Country Club), and the Dorado Country Club. Tucson's largest office building is 5151 East Broadway in east Tucson, completed in 1975. The first phases of Williams Centre, a mixed-use, master-planned development on Broadway near Craycroft Road, were opened in 1987. Park Place, a recently renovated shopping center, is also located along Broadway (west of Wilmot Road). Near the intersection of Craycroft and Ft. Lowell Roads are the remnants of the Historic Fort Lowell. This area has become one of Tucson's iconic neighborhoods. In 1891, the Fort was abandoned and much of the interior was stripped of their useful components and it quickly fell into ruin. In 1900, three of the officer buildings were purchased for use as a sanitarium. The sanitarium was then sold to Harvey Adkins in 1928. The Bolsius family Pete, Nan and Charles Bolsius purchased and renovated surviving adobe buildings of the Fort – transforming them into spectacular artistic southwestern architectural examples. Their woodwork, plaster treatment and sense of proportion drew on their Dutch heritage and New Mexican experience. Other artists and academics throughout the middle of the 20th century, including: Win Ellis, Jack Maul, Madame Cheruy, Giorgio Belloli, Charels Bode, Veronica Hughart, Edward and Rosamond Spicer, Hazel Larson Archer and Ruth Brown, renovated adobes, built homes and lived in the area. The artist colony attracted writers and poets including beat generation Alan Harrington and Jack Kerouac whose visit is documented in his iconic book On the Road. This rural pocket in the middle of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each year in February the neighborhood celebrates its history in the City Landmark it owns and restored the San Pedro Chapel.
Situated between the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Rincon Mountains near Redington Pass northeast of the city limits is the affluent community of Tanque Verde. The Arizona National Golf Club, Forty-Niners Country Club, and the historic Tanque Verde Guest Ranch are also in northeast Tucson.
Southeast Tucson continues to experience rapid residential development. The area includes Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The area is considered to be south of Golf Links Road. It is the home of Santa Rita High School, Chuck Ford Park (Lakeside Park), Lakeside Lake, Lincoln Park (upper and lower), The Lakecrest Neighborhoods, and Pima Community College East Campus. The Atterbury Wash with its access to excellent bird watching is also located in the Southeast Tucson area. The suburban community of Rita Ranch houses many of the military families from Davis-Monthan, and is near the southeastern-most expansion of the current city limits. Close by Rita Ranch and also within the city limits lies Civano, a planned development meant to showcase ecologically sound building practices and lifestyles.
Mount Lemmon, the highest peak of the Santa Catalina Mountains, reaches an elevation of 9,157 feet (2,791 m) above sea level. The mountain is named after 19th century botanist Sara Lemmon. She was the first documented European woman to ascend to the peak, accompanied by her husband and by local rancher Emmerson Oliver Stratton. The Lemmons botanized extensively along the way, including collecting the plant Tagetes lemmonii which is now called the Mount Lemmon marigold.
Catalina Highway stretches 25 miles (40 km) and the entire mountain range is one of Tucson's most popular vacation spots for cycling, hiking, rock climbing, camping, birding, and wintertime snowboarding and skiing. Near the top of Mt. Lemmon is the town ofSummerhaven. In Summerhaven, visitors will find log houses and cabins, a general store, and various shops, as well as numerous hiking trails. Near Summerhaven is the road to Ski Valley which hosts a ski lift, several runs, a giftshop, and nearby restaurant.
Mt. Lemmon Sky Center, which is located at a Steward Observatory site known as 'Sky Island', sits 9,152 feet (2,790 m) in altitude on the summit of Mt. Lemmon. As one of the Southwestern United States's 27 unique Sky Islands, this science learning facility is open to the public.
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