Tucson, Arizona

Introduction to Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, located in southeast Arizona on the Santa Cruz River, is the second-largest city in the state. Originally settled by the Hohokam Indians around 300 BC, Tucson passed through Spanish and Mexican rule before being sold to the US in 1853 as part of the Gadsden Purchase. The arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880 sped the city’s growth. In the period before the turn of the century, Tucson was a typical Wild West city, with gunslingers patrolling the area. The installation of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base during World War II brought more growth; many of the men trained there fell in love with Tucson and settled there permanently.

Today, Tucson is a growing city of over a half million residents and the heart of a booming high-technology region with more than 1,200 companies employing more than 50,000 people. Among its industries are aerospace and missile production, computer hardware and software, optics, biotechnology and electronics. The city is committed to further growth, with technology at the core. Tucson’s superb climate and delightful blend of American, Hispanic and Native American cultures make it one of America’s favorite tourist destinations.

Tucson Culture

The arts are well represented in Tucson, with numerous art galleries and nationally-recognized museums such as the Tucson Museum of Art. The Tucson Convention Center is home to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera. Tucson’s importance as a military base during the Cold War is showcased at the Titan Missile Museum and at the Pima Air & Space Museum, which has more than 200 historical aircraft. Additional museums pay tribute to the area’s Hispanic and Native American cultures.

Tucson Sports and Leisure

The Tucson Sidewinders, a Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, play minor league baseball at Tucson Electric Park. The University of Arizona has competitive programs in several sports. For big league action, Phoenix is just a 2-hour drive away, with major league baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, the NFL’s Phoenix Cardinals, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes. During baseball’s spring training season, Tucson hosts the facilities of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago White Sox and the Colorado Rockies. The city also hosts major golf events, including the PGA’s Tucson Open and the LPGA Welch’s/Fry’s Championship.

Tucson Outdoors

Clean air, warm temperatures, perennial sunshine and great views make Tucson a great place for outdoor recreation. In fact, Prevention Magazine recognized Tucson as one of the best cities in America for fitness and walking. The city is surrounded by mountains, with hiking and camping available in the Tucson Mountains to the west and the Catalina Mountains to the north. Mt. Lemmon in the Catalinas is a 9,157-foot peak perfect for climbing uphill in the summer and skiing downhill in the winter. For golf, Tucson has 19 courses within the city, including nationally-recognized Ventana Canyon. More great courses are available throughout southern Arizona. Even birdwatchers love Tucson– the area is famous for its many species of bird life, with at least 14 varieties of hummingbirds alone.

Tucson at Night

One of the youngest big cities in the nation, Tucson has a median age of just 32. A huge student population and a recent influx of young professionals to fill the booming high-tech job market have made Tucson one of the hippest cities in the nation, with upscale nightlife options more typical of larger cities, but without the big city hassles.

Recognizing Tucson

With a higher elevation than much of the rest of the state, Tucson is cooler in the summer than Phoenix, while still enjoying temperatures above 70 in the winter. This great climate, along with its strong economy and low cost of living, are making Tucson recognized as one of America’s best cities. MSN ranked it #5 on its 2003 list of “America’s Best Places to Live” as well as #5 on its list of “Best Places for Outdoor Activities.” Men’s Journal ranked it #9 among smaller cities in its 2004 “50 Best Places To Live” list.

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