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Tucson ( ) is a city in and the county seat of Pima Countymarker, Arizonamarker, United Statesmarker, located 118 miles (188 km) southeast of Phoenixmarker and 60 miles (98 km) north of the U.S.-Mexico border. As of July 1, 2006, a Census Bureau estimate puts the city's population at 541,811, with a metropolitan area population at 1,023,320 as of July 1, 2008. In 2005, Tucson ranked as the 32nd largest city and 52nd largest metropolitan area in the United States. It is the largest city in southern Arizonamarker and the second largest in the state. Tucson is home to the University of Arizonamarker.

Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valleymarker and Maranamarker northwest of the city, Sahuaritamarker south of the city, and South Tucsonmarker in an enclave south of downtown. Communities in the vicinity of Tucson (some within or overlapping the city limits) include Casas Adobesmarker, Catalinamarker, Catalina Foothillsmarker, Flowing Wellsmarker, Green Valleymarker, Tanque Verdemarker, New Pascua, Vailmarker and Bensonmarker.

The English name Tucson derives from the Spanish name of the city, Tucsón , which was borrowed from the O'odham name , meaning "(at the) base of the black [hill]", a reference to an adjacent volcanic mountain. Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo".


Tucson's Stone Avenue in 1880

Ancient Period

Tucson was probably first visited by Paleo-Indians, known to have been in southern Arizona by about 12,000 years ago. Recent archaeological excavations near the Santa Cruz Rivermarker have located a village site dating from 4,000 years ago. The floodplain of the Santa Cruz River was extensively farmed during the Early Agricultural period, circa 1200 BC to AD 150. These people constructed irrigation canals and grew corn, beans, and other crops while gathering wild plants and hunting animals. The Early Ceramic period occupation of Tucson saw the first extensive use of pottery vessels for cooking and storage. The groups designated by archaeologists as the Hohokam lived in the area from AD 600 to 1450 and are known for their red-on-brown pottery.

Spanish Period

Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino visited the Santa Cruz River valley in 1692, and founded the Mission San Xavier del Bacmarker about 7 miles (12 km) upstream (south) from the site of the settlement of Tucson in 1700. The Spanish established a walled fortress, Presidio San Agustín de Tucson, on August 20, 1775 (near the present downtown Pima County Courthousemarker). At least three known battles occurred in Tucson between Apache warriors, Spanishmarker colonists and Spanish soldiers. The first known battle, only remembered due to the discovery of archival evidence, occurred in 1779 at the beginning of Spain's involvement in the American Revolutionary War. The Second Battle of Tucson in 1782 and a third battle in 1784.

Mexican Period

Eventually the town came to be called "Tucson" and became a part of the Mexican state of Occidentemarker (Sonora after 1830) after Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. The time there after in Sonora was relatively. Until the Mexican-American War of 1846, of this year the Mormon Battalion marched across southern Arizona. Along the San Pedro River, north of Tucson, the Mormon soldiers fought the "Battle of the Bulls", a skirmish between infantry and wild cattle.Resulting in two men injured and several pounds of fresh meat.On December 16, 1846, they attacked Tucson. The smaller Mexican garrison of Fort Tucson, quickly fled without conflict. A brief occupation ensued and then the Mormons continued their march to the Pacificmarker.

Early United States Period

Following the Gadsden purchase in 1853, Tucson became part of the New Mexico Territory, an organized territory of the United States of Americamarker, although the American military did not formally take control of the community until March 1856. In July 1860, a convention of settlers from the southern part of the territory was held in Tucson. The convention drafted a constitution for a "Territory of Arizona" to be organized out of the New Mexico Territory, south of the 34th parallel. The convention elected Lewis Owings as the territorial governor, and elected a delegate to Congress. The proposal, however, did not succeed because of opposition from anti-slavery Congressmen who feared the new territory might eventually become a slave state.

Confederate States Period

Raising the Confederate flag in Tucson.
In July 1861, after the civil war began, a force of Texans under Lt. Colonel John Baylor conquered the southern New Mexico territory, including Mesillamarker and Tucson. On August 1, 1861, the victorious Baylor proclaimed the existence of a Confederate Arizona Territory, which comprised the area defined in the Tucson convention the previous year, with Tucson as its capital. He appointed himself permanent governor.
The proposal to organize the territory was passed by the Confederate Congress in early 1862 and proclaimed by President Jefferson Davis on February 14, 1862. Efforts by the Confederacy to secure control of the region led to the New Mexico Campaign. Later in 1862, Baylor was ousted as governor of the territory by Davis, and the Confederate loss at the Battle of Glorieta Passmarker forced their retreat. The following month, a small Confederate picket force defeated a Union cavalry patrol north of Tucson at the Battle of Picacho Pass. The next year the rebels won a victory at the Battle of Canada Alamosa. The rebels also won several other battlesmarker involving Apaches. By July 1862, Union forces had taken Tucson and the territorial government had vacated to Texas.

Later United States Period

Tucson, and all of Arizona, remained part of the New Mexico Territory until February 24, 1863, when the Arizona Organic Act passed the Senate forming the Arizona Territory. In 1867, the territorial capital was moved to Tucson from Prescottmarker, where it remained until 1877. In 1885, the University of Arizonamarker was founded in Tucson – it was situated in the countryside, outside the city limits of the time.

During the territorial and early statehood periods, Tucson was Arizona's largest city and commercial center, while Phoenixmarker was the seat of state government (beginning in 1889) and agriculture. The establishment of Tucson Municipal Airportmarker increased its prominence. Between 1910 and 1920, Phoenix surpassed Tucson in population and has continued to outpace Tucson in growth. However, both Tucson and Phoenix have experienced among the highest growth rates in the United States.

Modern Period

By 1900, 7,531 people lived in the city. The population increased gradually to 13,913 in 1910, 20,292 in 1920, and 36,818 in 1940. In 2006 the population of Pima Countymarker, in which Tucson is located, passed one million while the City of Tucson's population was 535,000.


In late January 1934, five members of the Dillinger gang, including John Dillinger, himself, were arrested in Tucson. They were five of the top six names on the FBImarker's first Public Enemy list. A fire allowed firemen to discover their identity and the police promptly arrested Harry Pierpont, Charles Makley, Russell Clark, Ed Shouse, and Dillinger. The police found the gang in possession of over $25,000 in cash, three sub-machine guns, and five machine guns. Tucson celebrates the historic arrest with an annual "Dillinger Days" festival, the highlight of which is a reenactment.


In 1919, Lieutenant Neill MacArtan of the Army Medical Corps arrived in Tucson, Arizona, looking for a sanatorium site. He found nearly 700 veterans scattered in squalid conditions throughout the area and commenced a decade's struggle to build a southwestern veterans hospital. Tucson's success is the story of city officials and citizens volunteering, organizing, battling other contenders like Livermore, California, and lobbying Congress. Despite MacArtan's death from tuberculosis in 1922, Veterans Administration Hospital Number 51 opened at Pastime Park in 1928. Many TB sufferers and veterans who had been gassed in World War I and were in need of respiratory therapy came to Tucson after the war because of the clean, dry air.


Chinese and Mexican merchants and farmers transcended racial differences to form 'guanxi,' kith relations of friendship and trust. Chinese leased land from Mexicans, operated grocery stores, and aided compatriots attempting to enter the United States from Mexico after the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Chinese merchants supplied General John Pershing's army in its expedition against Pancho Villa. Successful Chinese in Tucson led a viable community based on social integration, friendship, and kinship.

World War II

During World War II (1941-45) Mexican-American community organizations were very active in patriotic efforts to support American troops abroad, and made efforts to support the war effort materially and to provide moral support for the young American men fighting the war, especially the young Mexican-American men from local communities. Some of the community projects were cooperative ventures in which members of both the Mexican-American and Anglo communities participated. Most efforts made in the Mexican-American community, however, represented localized American home front activities that were separate from the activities of the Anglo community.

Mexican-American women in Tucson organized to assist their servicemen and the war effort during World War II. An underlying goal of the Spanish-American Mothers and Wives Association was the reinforcement of the woman's role in Spanish-Mexican culture. The organization raised thousands of dollars, wrote letters, and joined in numerous celebrations of their culture and their support for Mexican-American servicemen. Membership reached over 300 during the war and eventually ended its existence in 1976.


Titan II Missile Complex 571-7, now the Titan Missile Museum was in service from 1963 through 1987. The Titan II's were the largest, most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles developed by the United States. When they were phased out, the base located 25 miles south of Tucson was leased out to serve as a nonprofit museum; 53 other bases were dismantled.


Jacome's, a family-run department store in downtown Tucson survived for eighty years before succumbing to competition from the suburbs in 1980. Carlos Jacome opened the store as La Bonanza in 1897, and he and his sons and grandsons continued to run it in a way that reflected their Mexican-American heritage. In its last few years, Jacome's tried several times to open branch stores, but could not borrow the necessary capital. The Jacome family resolutely turned down all offers by national chains to buy the store, and closed down the business in 1980.

Geography and climate


Tucson, as seen from space.
The four major malls are indicated by blue arrows.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Tucson has a total area of 195.1 square miles (505.3 km²), of which 194.7 square miles (504.2 km²) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²) (0.22%) is water.

The city's elevation is 2,389 ft (728 m) above sea level. Tucson is situated on an alluvial plain in the Sonoran desertmarker, surrounded by five minor ranges of mountains: the Santa Catalina Mountainsmarker and the Tortolita Mountains to the north, the Santa Rita Mountainsmarker to the south, the Rincon Mountainsmarker to the east, and the Tucson Mountainsmarker to the west. The high point of the Santa Catalina Mountains is Mount Lemmonmarker, the southernmost ski destination in the continental U.S., while the Tucson Mountains include Wasson Peak.

The city is located on the Santa Cruz River, formerly a perennial river but now a dry river bed for much of the year (called a "wash" locally) that floods during significant seasonal rains. The Santa Cruz becomes a subterranean stream for part of the year.

Tucson is located along Interstate 10, which runs through Phoenixmarker toward Santa Monica, Californiamarker in the northwest, and through El Paso, Texasmarker, and New Orleans, Louisianamarker, toward Jacksonville, Floridamarker in the east. I-19 runs south from Tucson toward Nogalesmarker 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.

Environmental sustainability

Tucson is considered to be in a natural location for the development of a solar energy community, but the city has not yet adopted solar power in any significant way. Perhaps the biggest sustainability problem is potable water supply. Household water use is the principal drain on the water supply, with agriculture a close second. In 1997, the 35 golf courses in the area consumed about 10 percent of the municipal water supply, and since then, 16 of the remaining 25 or so courses use reclaimed water.

As a result, residences consume the vast majority of municipal water. Like golf courses, agricultural lands are turning toward reclaimed water. Mining and other industrial water uses combined accounted for about a 15 percent of water use in 1997. Although Tucsonans find lawns less acceptable than their neighbors in Phoenix, massive drawing down of groundwater resources over the last 100 years has occurred, visible as ground subsidence in some residential areas.

Tucson's reliance on the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct, which passes more than 300 miles (480 km) across the desert from the Colorado Rivermarker, casts doubt over "sustainability" claims even at current population levels. This points to the need for further efforts at re-use, recycling, and storage and use of rainfall, prompted by Pima County and the city in numerous outreach campaigns.


More than 100 years ago, the Santa Cruz River flowed nearly year-round through Tucson. This supply of water has slowly disappeared, causing Tucson to seek alternative sources.

From 1803 until 1887, Tucson residents purchased water for a penny a gallon from vendors who transported it in bags draped over burros' backs. After that, water was sold by the bucket or barrel and delivered door-to-door in wagons.

In 1881, water was pumped from a well on the banks of the Santa Cruz River and flowed by gravity through pipes into the distribution system.

Tucson currently draws water from two main sources: Central Arizona Project (CAP) water and groundwater. In 1992, Tucson Water delivered CAP water to some customers that was referred to as being unacceptable due to discoloration, bad odor and flavor, as well as problems it caused some customers' plumbing and appliances. Tucson's city water currently consists of CAP water mixed with groundwater.

In an effort to conserve water, Tucson is recharging groundwater supplies by running part of its share of CAP water into various open portions of local rivers to seep into their aquifer. Additional study is scheduled to determine the amount of water that is lost through evaporation from the open areas, especially during the summer.


Similar to many other cities in the Western U.S., Tucson was developed on a grid plan starting in the late 1800s, 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.

A 19th century adobe house in the Armory Park neighborhood

Early neighborhoods

Tucson's earliest neighborhoods, some of which are now covered by the Tucson Convention Centermarker, or TCC, include:
  • El Presidio, Tucson's oldest neighborhood
  • Barrio Histórico, also known as Barrio Libre
  • Armory Parkmarker, directly south of downtown
  • Barrio Anita, named for an early settler and located between Granada Avenue and Interstate 10
  • Barrio Tiburón, now known as the Fourth Avenue arts district – designated in territorial times as a red-light district
  • Barrio El Jardín, named for an early recreational site, Levin's Gardens
  • Barrio El Hoyo, named for a lake that was part of the gardens. Before the TCC was built, El Hoyo (Spanish for pit or hole) referred to this part of the city, which was inhabited mainly by Mexican-American citizens and Mexican immigrants.

Other historical neighborhoods near downtown include:
  • Menlo Park, situated west of downtown, adjacent to Sentinel Peakmarker
  • Iron Horse, east of Fourth Avenue and north of the railroad tracks, named for its proximity
  • West University, located between the University of Arizona and downtown
  • Pie Allen, located west and south of the university near Tucson High Schoolmarker and named for a local entrepreneur and early mayor of Tucson
  • Sam Hughes, located east of the University of Arizona and named after an instigator/hero of the Camp Grant Massacre
  • Winterhaven, known for their elaborate annual Christmas decorations.

Historic Neighborhood of Winterhaven

Established in 1949, Winterhaven is a unique neighborhood located in the center of Tucson, Arizona. Winterhaven is know for its ranch-style homes, beautiful landscaping, and majestic trees.

Winterhaven is far more than a neighborhood. It is also a cooperative water company, delivering outstanding water to Winterhaven's residents. Additionally, Winterhaven hosts the Festival of Lights each year in December. The Festival attracts over 60,000 visitors. The Festival provides entertainment and holiday cheer to the community and also generates significant cash and food donations for the Community Food Bank.


As of the late 2000s, downtown Tucson is undergoing a revitalization effort by city planners and the business community. The primary project is Rio Nuevo, a large retail and community center that has been stalled in planning for more than ten years. Downtown is generally classified as north of 22nd Street, east of I-10, and southwest of 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, Convention District, and the Congress Street Arts and Entertainment District.

Tucson's tallest building, the 23-story UniSource Energy Tower is situated downtown and was completed in 1986. The planned Sheraton Convention Center Hotel would surpass the Bank Building at 25-28 stories. The downtown Sheraton will sit next to the Tucson Convention Center on the east edge of Granada Avenue. The hotel will be built in conjunction with an expansion of the TCC. Other high-rise buildings downtown include Bank of America Plaza, and the Pioneer (completed in 1914).
Attractions downtown include the Hotel Congress designed in 1919, the Art Deco Fox Theater designed in 1929, the Rialto Theatremarker opened in 1920, and St. Augustine Cathedral completed in 1896. Included on the National Register of Historic Places is the old Pima County Courthouse, designed by Roy W. Place in 1928. The El Charro Café, Tucson's oldest restaurant, also operates its main location downtown.

Central or Midtown

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 Mallmarker is also located in the eastern part of midtown.

The University of Arizonamarker, chartered in 1885, is located in midtown and includes Arizona Stadiummarker and McKale Centermarker. Historic Tucson High School (designed in 1924) featured in the 1987 film Can't Buy Me Love, the Arizona Inn (built in 1930), and the Tucson Botanic Gardens are also located in Central Tucson.

4th Avenue street scene

Tucson's largest park, Reid Park is located in midtown and includes Reid Park Zoomarker and Hi Corbett Fieldmarker. 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" by Arizona Highways in the late 1990s.

Central Tucson is bicycle-friendly. To the east of the University of Arizona, E. 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 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 side and South Tucson

The South side contains the city of South Tucsonmarker, with an area of approximately 1¼ square miles (3¼ square kilometers), which is completely surrounded by the city of Tucson. The South side is generally considered to be the area of approximately 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) 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. Much of Tucson's Mexican-American population live on the south side and South 6th Avenue is considered as the cultural locus of the working class Mexican-American population. The Tucson International Airportmarker and Tucson Electric Parkmarker are also located here.

South Tucson has been struggling heavily with high crime rates. According to adjusted Morgan Quitno statistics, South Tucson (as a standalone city) has more than four times the United States average in larceny, theft and assault.

West Tucson

West Tucson is a combination of urban and suburban development. Generally defined as the area west of I-10, West Tucson encompasses the banks of the Santa Cruz River and the foothills of the Tucson Mountainsmarker. Attractions in West Tucson include Saguaro National Park Westmarker, Sentinel Peakmarker, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museummarker, Old Tucson Studiosmarker, and the Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa.

On Sentinel Peak (also known as "'A' Mountain"), just west of downtown, there is a giant "A" in honor of the University of Arizonamarker. Starting in about 1910, 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, view the city lights at night, or engage in necking. This is no longer possible as a recent ordinance has forced the closing of Sentinel Peak at 8 p.m. Every evening, Tucson police set up a barricade blocking the entrance while they enforce the evacuation of all visitors off the mountain.

North Tucson

North Tucson includes the urban neighborhoods of Amphitheater and Flowing Wellsmarker. Usually considered the area north of Fort Lowell Road, north Tucson includes some of Tucson's primary commercial zones (Tucson Mallmarker 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 Foothillsmarker, located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountainsmarker 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 of Sabino Creekmarker. 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 foothills area is home to Tohono Chul Park (a botanical garden) near the intersection of Oracle Road and Ina. Also the DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun near the intersection of Swan Road and Skyline Drive. Built by artist Ted DeGrazia starting in 1951, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features an eclectic chapel, an art gallery and a free museum.

East Tucson

East Tucson is relatively new compared to other parts of the city, developed between the 1950s and the 1970s, 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 Mountainsmarker. East Tucson includes Saguaro National Park Eastmarker. Tucson's "Restaurant Row" is also located on the east side, along with a significant corporate and financial presence. Tucson's largest office building is 5151 East Broadway in east Tucson, completed in 1975. Park Placemarker, a recently renovated shopping center, is also located there.

Near the intersection of Craycroft and Ft. Lowell Road are the remnants of the Historic Fort Lowell. This area has become one of Tucson's iconic neighborhoods. The Fort abandoned at the end of the 1800s was rediscovered by a trio of artists in the 1930s. 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, and Ruth Brown, renovated adobes, built homes and lived in the area. 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 Mountainsmarker and the Rincon Mountainsmarker near Redington Passmarker northeast of the city limits is the community of Tanque Verdemarker. The Arizona National Golf Club, Forty-Niners Country Club, and the historic Tanque Verde Guest Ranch are also in northeast Tucson.

Southeast Tucson

Southeast Tucson continues to experience rapid residential development. The area includes Davis-Monthan Air Force Basemarker. The area is considered to be south of Golf Links Road. The suburban community of Rita Ranch houses many of the military families from Davis-Monthan. It is the home of Santa Rita High School, Lakeside Park, Charles Ford 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.

Northwest Tucson

The expansive area northwest of the city limits is diverse, ranging from the rural communities of Catalinamarker and parts of the town of Maranamarker, to the affluent town of Oro Valleymarker in the western foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountainsmarker, and residential areas in the northeastern foothills of the Tucson Mountainsmarker. The community of Casas Adobesmarker 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). The Foothills Mall is also located on the northwest side. Continental Ranch (Marana), Dove Mountain (Marana), and Rancho Vistoso (Oro Valley) are all masterplanned communities located in the Northwest, where thousands of residents live.

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.


Snow on Wasson Peak
Monsoon clouds blanket the Catalina Mountains in August 2005

Tucson has a desert climate (Koppen Bwh), with two major seasons, summer and winter; plus three minor seasons: fall, spring, and the monsoon. Though desert climates are defined as reigions that receive less than of precipitation per year, Tucson still qualifies due to its high evapotranspiration in spite of receiving of precipitation per year; in other words, it experiences a high net loss of water.. A similar scenario is seen in Alice Springsmarker, Australia which averages a year, but has a desert climate.

The most obvious difference of climate from most other inhabited regions is the extremely hot and sunny climate. This difference is a major contributing factor to a rate of skin cancer that is at least 3 times higher than in more northerly regions.

Summer is characterized by low humidity, clear skies, and daytime high temperatures that exceed 100 °F (37 °C). The average overnight temperature ranges between 66 °F (19 °C) and 85 °F (29 °C).

The monsoon can begin any time from mid-June to late July, with an average start date around July 3. It typically continues through August and sometimes into September. During the monsoon, the humidity is much higher than the rest of the year. It begins with clouds building up from the south in the early afternoon followed by intense thunderstorms and rainfall, which can cause flash floods. The evening sky at this time of year is often pierced with dramatic lightning strikes. Large areas of the city do not have storm sewers, so monsoon rains flood the main thoroughfares, usually for no longer than a few hours. A few underpasses in Tucson have "feet of water" scales painted on their supports to discourage fording by automobiles during a rainstorm. Arizona traffic code Title 28-910, the so-called "Stupid Motorist Law", was instituted in 1995 to discourage people from entering flooded roadways. If the road is flooded and a barricade is in place, motorists who drive around the barricade can be charged up to $2000 for costs involved in rescuing them.

The weather in the fall is much like that during spring: dry, with cool nights and warm to hot days. Temperatures above 100 degrees occur into early October. Average daytime highs of 84 °F (28 °C), with overnight lows of 55 °F (13 °C), are typical in the fall, with mean daily temperatures falling more rapidly from October to December.

Winters in Tucson are mild relative to other parts of the United States. Daytime highs in the winter range between and , with overnight lows between and . Although rare, snow has been known to fall in Tucson, usually a light dusting that melts within a day.

Early spring is characterized by gradually rising temperatures and several weeks of vivid wildflower blooms beginning in late February and into March. Daytime average highs range from 72 °F (23 °C) in March to 88 °F (31 °C) in May with average overnight lows in March of 45 °F (7 °C) and in May of 59 °F (15 °C).

At the University of Arizonamarker, where records have been kept since 1894, the record maximum temperature was 115°F on June 19, 1960, and July 28, 1995, and the record minimum temperature was 6°F on January 7, 1913. There are an average of 150.1 days annually with highs of 90°F (32°C) or higher and an average of 26.4 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or lower. Average annual precipitation is 11.15 inches. There is an average of 49 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1905 with 24.17 inches and the driest year was 1924 with 5.07 inches. The most precipitation in one month was 7.56 inches in July 1984. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 4.16 inches on October 1, 1983. Annual snowfall averages 0.7 inches. The most snow in one year was 7.2 inches in 1987. The most snow in one month was 6.0 inches in January 1898 and March 1922.

At the airport, where records have been kept since 1930, the record maximum temperature was 117°F on June 26, 1990, and the record minimum temperature was 16°F on January 4, 1949. There is an average of 145.0 days annually with highs of 90°F (32°C) or higher and an average of 16.9 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or lower. Average annual precipitation is 11.59 inches. Measurable precipitation falls on an average of 53 days. The wettest year was 1983 with 21.86 inches of precipitation, and the driest year was 1953 with 5.34 inches. The most rainfall in one month was 7.93 inches in August 1955. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 3.93 inches on July 29, 1958. Snow at the airport averages only 1.1 inch annually. The most snow received in one year was 8.3 inches and the most snow in one month was 6.8 inches in December 1971.


2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 67.3% White (50.0% non-Hispanic White alone), 5.0% Black or African American, 4.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.2% Asian, 0.3% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 23.5% from some other race and 3.3% from two or more races. 39.5% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 486,699 people, 192,891 households, and 112,455 families residing in the city. The population density was 965.3/km² (2,500.1/sq mi). There were 209,609 housing units at an average density of 415.7/km² (1,076.7/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 70.15% White, 4.33% Black or African-American, 2.27% Native American, 2.46% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 16.85% from other races, and 3.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 35.72% of the population.

There were 192,891 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.7% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the inner-city, the population has 24.6% under the age of 18, 13.8% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,981, and the median income for a family was $37,344. Males had a median income of $28,548 versus $23,086 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,322. About 13.7% of families and 18.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.6% of those under age 18 and 11.0% of those age 65 or over.

Politics and government

Pima County supported John Kerry 53% to 47% in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election, and Barack Obama 54% to 46% in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election. In the latter year, Pima was the only county to vote against Arizona's gay marriage ban.

As a trend, Tucson and Pima County vote Democratic, as opposed to the GOP support in the state's largest metropolitan area, Phoenix. This led to the alleged gerrymandering of Tucson into two Federal Congressional districts, one that (at the time) contained a vast majority of Democratic voters and the other a bare majority of Republicans. Tucson is governed by a six member city council who are elected from single member wards and an elected mayor.

The United States Postal Service operates post offices in Tucson. The Tucson Main Post Office is located at 1501 South Cherrybell Stravenue.


Much of Tucson's economic development has been centered on the development of the University of Arizonamarker, which is currently the second largest employer in the city. Davis-Monthan Air Force Basemarker, located on the southeastern edge of the city, also provides many jobs for Tucson residents. Its presence, as well as the presence of the US Army Intelligence Center (Fort Huachuca, the largest employer in the region in nearby Sierra Vista), has led to the development of a significant number of high-tech industries, including government contractors, in the area. Today, there are more than 1,200 businesses employing over 50,000 people in the high-tech industries of Southern Arizona.

The City of Tucson, Pima County, the State of Arizona and the private sector have all made commitments to create a growing, healthy economy with advanced technology industry sectors as its foundation. Raytheon Missile Systems, Texas Instrumentsmarker, IBM, Intuit Inc.marker, Universal Avionics, Sunquest Information Systems, Sanofi-Aventis, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., and Bombardier Aerospace all have a significant presence in Tucson. Roughly 150 Tucson companies are involved in the design and manufacture of optics and optoelectronics systems, earning Tucson the nickname "Optics Valley".

Tourism is another major industry in Tucson, bringing in $2 billion-a-year and over 3.5 million visitors annually due to Tucson's numerous resorts, hotels, and attractions. A significant economic force is middle-class and upper-class Sonoransmarker, who travel from Mexico to Tucson to purchase goods that are not readily available in their country. In addition to vacationers, a significant number of winter residents, or "snowbirds", are attracted by Tucson's mild winters and contribute to the local economy. Snowbirds often purchase second homes in Tucson and nearby areas, contributing significantly to the property tax base. Other snowbirds and "perpetual travelers" can be seen in large numbers arriving in autumn in large RVs towing small cars.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events and fairs

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is held every year in February for two weeks. It is one of the largest gem and mineral shows in the world, and features many of the finest mineral specimens. There is no single location for display of minerals, but rather dozens of locations spread across town. The show has an estimated attendance of more than 50,000 people from over twenty countries. Attendees frequently include the general public, experts, beginning collectors, museum employees, dealers, retailers, and researchers. Many museums and universities, including the Smithsonian Institutionmarker and the Sorbonnemarker, have displayed materials at the show.

Tucson Folk Festival

For the past 21 years the Tucson Folk Festival has taken place the first Saturday and Sunday of May in downtown Tucson's El Presidio Park. In addition to nationally known headline acts each evening, the Festival highlights over 100 local and regional musicians on five stages in one of the largest free festivals in the country. All stages are within easy walking distance. Organized by the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association, volunteers make this festival possible. Arizona's only community radio station KXCImarker 91.3-FM, is a major partner, broadcasting from the Plaza Stage throughout the weekend. In addition, there are numerous workshops, events for children, sing-alongs, and a popular singer/songwriter contest. Musicians typically play 30-minute sets, supported by professional audio staff volunteers. A variety of food and crafts are available at the festival, as well as local micro-brews. All proceeds from sales go to fund future festivals.

Fourth Avenue Street Fair

There are two Fourth Avenue Street Fairs, in December and March, staged between 9th Street and University Boulevard, that feature arts and crafts booths, food vendors and street performers. The fairs began in 1970 when Fourth Avenue, which at the time had half a dozen thrift shops, several New Age bookshops and the Food Conspiracy Co-Op, was a gathering place for hippies, and a few merchants put tables in front of their stores to attract customers before the holidays.

These days the street fair has grown into a large corporate event, with most tables owned by outside merchants. It hosts mostly traveling craftsmen selling various arts such as pottery, paintings, wood working, metal decorations, candles, and many others.

The Tucson Rodeo (Fiesta de los Vaqueros)

Team roping competition at Tucson's Fiesta de los Vaqueros

Another popular event held in February, which is early spring in Tucson, is the Fiesta de los Vaqueros, or rodeo week. While at its heart the Fiesta is a sporting event, it includes what is billed as "the world's largest non-mechanized parade". The Rodeo Parade is a popular event as most schools give two rodeo days off instead of Presidents Day. The exception to this is Presidio High, which doesn't get either. Western wear is seen throughout the city as corporate dress codes are cast aside during the Fiesta. The Fiesta de los Vaqueros marks the beginning of the rodeo season in the United States. Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the premier event of the rodeo year, is held at the beginning of the rodeo season.

Tucson Meet Yourself

Every October for the past 30 years, Tucson Meet Yourself has presented the faces of Tucson's many ethnic groups. For one weekend, dancing, singing, artwork, and food from more than 30 different ethnicities are featured in the downtown area. All performers are from Tucson and the surrounding area, in keeping with the idea of "meeting yourself."

All Souls Procession Weekend

All Souls Procession is one of the largest festivals in Tucson. Celebrated since 1990, it is held on the first Sunday in November. Modeled on the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), it combines elements of African, Anglo, Celtic, and Latin American culture. At sundown, thousands of people garbed in myriad costumes, mostly of the deceased, gather near the corner of Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard: Epic Cafe. In 2005, the Tucson Police Department estimated that 7,500 people participated in this event. The non-profit festal culture organization Many Mouths One Stomach organizes this event to acknowledge, mourn and celebrate deceased loved ones, and the "grand mystery" of death. Starting in 2006, the All Souls Procession became a 4-day long series of events. On Thursday evening the Fine Art Photography Exhibition opens, as well as the Evolving Community Altar. Friday evening is the MMOS Fundraiser Dance of the Dead. Saturday afternoon and evening is the Procession of Little Angels, and the Personal Altars Vigil. Sunday evening is the All Souls Procession, which snakes through the historic Fourth Avenue and downtown areas, and leads to the culmination of the entire festival: The Grand Finale.

Museums, art collections, and other attractions

The Arizona Historical Society, founded as the Pioneer Historical Society by early settlers, has a collection of artifacts reflecting the city's history—many focusing on the era before statehood was attained in 1912—as well as a fine collection of original documents in its library, including many interviews with early residents.

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is held annually in Tucson, and is the largest gem and mineral show in the United States.

The Fremont House is an original adobe house in the Tucson Community Center that was saved while one of Tucson's earliest barrios was razed as urban renewal. Originally named the Fremont House after Gov. John C. Fremont, who rented it for his daughter, it is now known as the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House to more accurately reflect its Latin heritage.

Fort Lowell Museum is located on the grounds of a military fort, established in 1873 during the "Indian Wars" period and abandoned in 1891.

The Tucson Museum of Art was established as part of an art school. It contains nearly 6,000 objects concentrating on the art of the Americas and its influences. The museum also operates several historic buildings in the neighborhood, including La Casa Cordova, the J. Knox Corbett House, the Edward Nye Fish House and the Stevens/Duffield House.

The University of Arizonamarker Art Museum includes works by Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko as part of the Edward J. Gallagher Memorial Collection, a tribute to a young man who was killed in a boating accident. The museum also includes the Samuel H. Kress Collection of European works from the 14th to 19th centuries and the C. Leonard Pfeiffer Collection of American paintings.

The UAmarker campus also features the Center for Creative Photography, a leading museum with many works by major artists such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

The Mission San Xavier del Bacmarker (usually pronounced by residents ) is a historic Spanishmarker mission, located 10 miles (16 km) south of the city. It was founded by Father Kino in the 1660s as one mission in a chain of missions, many of which are located south of the border. The present building dates from the late 1700s. The mission, which still actively functions, is located in the Tohono O'odham nation reservation southwest of Tucson off of I-19.

The DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is an iconic Tucson landmark in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Built by the famous artist Ettore DeGrazia the property, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, features an expansive adobe Museum of DeGrazia's work, an adobe chapel called the Mission in the Sun that featuring stunning murals, gardens, and the artist home and grave site.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert taken looking back towards the museum entrance

Old Tucson Studiosmarker, built as a set for the movie Arizona, is a movie studio and theme park for classic Westerns. It was partly destroyed in 1995, allegedly by arson, but has since been rebuilt.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museummarker is a non-traditional zoo devoted to indigenous animals and plants of the Sonoran Desertmarker. It pioneered the use of naturalistic environments instead of simple cages for zoo animals. It is located west of the Tucson Mountainsmarker.

The Pima Air & Space Museummarker, featuring over 250 modern and historical aircraft, is located to the southeast of the city near Davis-Monthan Air Force Basemarker.

The Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Centermarker (AMARC) is a facility where the federal government stores out-of-service aircraft. Bus tours are conducted regularly from the Pima Air & Space Museummarker.

Titan Missile Museummarker is located about 25 miles (40 km) south of the city on I-19. This is a Cold War era Titan nuclear missile silo (billed as the only remaining intact post-Cold War Titan missile silo) turned tourist stop.

Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum has an inventory of 150 vehicles, ranging from small buggies to wagons, surries, and coaches. Historic artifacts from pioneer days and a re-created Western Main Street represent what early Wild West Tucson looked like, and what it offered in terms of businesses and services.

The Museum of the Horse Soldiermarker includes artifacts and ephemera detailing Western cavalry and dragoon military units.

The Jewish Heritage Center Tucson, housed in an historic synagogue, hosts a variety of exhibitions and events.

Shops in Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon offer such items as jewelry and other gifts, pizza, and delicious fresh-fruit pies. The legacy of the Aspen Fire can be seen in charred trees, rebuilt homes, and melted beads incorporated into a sidewalk.

Fourth Avenue, located near the University of Arizonamarker, is home to many shops, restaurants, and bars, and hosts the annual 4th Avenue Street Fair every December and March. University Boulevard, leading directly to the UA Main Gate, is also the center of numerous bars, retail shops, and restaurants most commonly frequented by the large student population of the UA.

El Tiraditomarker is a religious shrine in the downtown area. The Shrine dates back to the early days of Tucson. It's based on a love story of revenge and murder. People stop by the Shrine to light a candle for someone in need, a place for people to go give hope.

Trail Dust Townmarker is an outdoor shopping mall and restaurant complex that was built from the remains of a 1950 western movie set. Trail Dust Town contains a number of historical artifacts, including a restored 1920s merry-go-round and a museum dedicated to Western cavalry and dragoon military units.

Literary arts

The number of accomplished and awarded writers (poets, novelists, dramatists, nonfiction writers) in Tucson is too numerous to mention. Some are associated with the University of Arizona, but many are independent writers who have chosen to make Tucson their home. The city is also rich in literary organizations, particularly active in publishing and presenting contemporary innovative poetry in various ways. Among them are Chax Press, publisher of poetry books in trade and book arts editions. The University of Arizona Poetry Center is one of the leading academic sites for poetry in the nation, and, in addition to its sizable poetry library, it presents readings, conferences, and workshops.

Performing arts

Theater groups include the Arizona Theatre Company, which performs in the Temple of Music and Art, a mirror image of the Pasadena Playhousemarker; the Invisible Theatre; Live Theatre Workshop; the Red Barn Theater; Beowulf Alley; the Gaslight Theatre, which performs melodramas; and Arizona Onstage Productions, a not-for-profit theater company devoted to musical theater. In 2004, the NY based Nederlander Organization also opened a local operation. Broadway in Tucson presents the touring reproductions of many Broadway style events at the Tucson Music Hall. Additionally, many bands perform at the numerous local clubs.

Dance companies include Tucson Regional Ballet, Ballet Tucson, New Articulations, Zuzi Move It!, O-T-O Dance, Thom Lewis Dance Company, and Funhouse Movement Theater. UApresents is the largest performing arts presenter in Southern Arizona. The organization features a wide mix of genres including Classical, Dance, World, Jazz and Center Stage. Most performances are held at historic Centennial Hall, located on the University of Arizona campus.


Musical groups include the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1929, Arizona Opera, founded as the Tucson Opera Company in 1971, the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, founded in 1939, Tucson Girls Chorus, Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and Civic Orchestra of Tucson, The Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) Tucson Chapter Choir which was founded by gospel legend Rev.James Cleveland. Tucson Junior Strings

Mariachi music is popular and influential in Tucson, and the city is home to a large number of Mariachi musicians and singers. Mariachi is celebrated annually at the Tucson International Mariachi Conference. There is also a yearly Norteño Festival in the enclave city of South Tucsonmarker.

Tucson is also home to a small but committed independent music scene, nearly all of which is concentrated in the city's downtown area. Neko Case, The Bled, Calexico, Doo Rag, Giant Sand, North, Carmine's Spider and Flagrante Delicto are among the prominent musical artists based in Tucson. Local performers also receive some airplay (and occasionally play live) on the community radio station KXCImarker. The Tucson Area Music Awards, or TAMMIES, are an annual event.


The University of Arizona Wildcats sports teams, most notably the men's basketball and women's softball teams, are often the subject of national attention as well as strong local interest. The men's basketball team, formerly coached by Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson and currently coached by Sean Miller, has made 25 straight NCAA Tournaments and won the 1997 National Championship. Arizona's Softball team has reached the NCAA National Championship game 12 times and has won 8 times, most recently in 2007.

Tucson is home to the Tucson Electric Parkmarker, the spring training location of the Arizona Diamondbacks (NL)). The Colorado Rockies (NL) practice at nearby Hi Corbett Fieldmarker. These teams, along with the twelve that practice in nearby Phoenixmarker, make up the Cactus League.

The Tucson Sidewinders, a triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, won the Pacific Coast League championship and unofficial AAA championship in 2006. The Sidewinders played in Tucson Electric Parkmarker and were in the Pacific Conference South of the PCL. The Sidewinders were sold in 2007 and moved to Reno, Nevadamarker after the 2008 season.

The United States Handball Association Hall of Fame is located in Tucson.

The Tucson Toros are a professional baseball team that played in the PCL from 1969 to 1997 and won the PCL championship on two occasions, in 1991 and 1993. They are owned by Jay Zucker of Tucson Baseball, LLC. They were once a triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros and are now members of the independent Golden Baseball League, as of September 1, 2008 They will play their home games at Hi Corbett Fieldmarker.

Tucson was given a gold rating for bicycle friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) in late April, 2007. Tucson hosts the largest perimeter cycling event in the United States. The ride called "El Tour de Tucson" happens in November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. El Tour de Tucson produced and promoted by Perimeter Bicycling has as many as 10,000 participants from all over the world, annually.

Tucson Raceway Parkmarker hosts NASCAR-sanctioned auto racing events and is one of only two asphalt short tracks in Arizona.

The first organized quarter horse races were run in Tucson in the 1930s at the Rillito Downs, where they are still run today.

Parks and recreation

The city is home to more than 120 parks, including Reid Park Zoomarker. There are five public golf courses located throughout the area. Several scenic parks and points of interest are also located nearby, including the Tucson Botanical Gardens, Saguaro National Parkmarker, Sabino Canyonmarker, and Biosphere 2marker (just north of the city, in the town of Oraclemarker).
Mt.marker Lemmonmarker, north (by road) and over above Tucson, is located in the Coronado National Forestmarker. Outdoor activities in the summer include hiking, birding, rock climbing, picnicking, camping, sky rides at Ski Valley, fishing and touring. In the winter, skiing and/or sledding is sometimes available at the southernmost ski resort in the continental United States. Summerhavenmarker, a community near the top of Mt. Lemmon, is also a popular destination.

Tucson is a popular winter haven for cyclists, and is one of only nine cities in the U.S. to receive a gold rating or higher for cycling friendliness from the League of American Bicyclists. Both road and mountain biking are popular in and around Tucson with popular trail areas including Starr Pass and Fantasy Island. Maps can be found online for both road and mountain bikers. Tucson is the home to the Tour de Tucson, a famous cycling event held annually in November.

The University of Arizona Wildcat's swim teams, both men and women, recently won the NCAA national championships. The University of Arizona has an internationally recognized swim team, with swimmers coming from places like Japan and Africa to swim.


There is one major daily newspaper in Tucson, the morning Arizona Daily Star. There are also several weekly newspapers, including the Tucson Weekly (an "alternative" publication), Inside Tucson Business, and the Explorer. The Downtown Tucsonan, Tucson Lifestyle Magazine, "Lovin' Life News", and the DesertLeaf are monthly publications covering arts, architecture, decor, fashion, entertainment, business, history, and other events. The Arizona Daily Wildcat is the University of Arizonamarker's student newspaper, and the Aztec News is the Pima Community College student newspaper.

The Tucson metro area is served by many local television stations and is the 68th largest designated market area (DMA) in the U.S. with 433,310 homes (0.39% of the total U.S.). The major television networks serving Tucson are: KVOAmarker 4 (NBC), KGUNmarker 9 (ABC), KOLD-TVmarker 13 (CBS), KMSB-TVmarker 11 (Fox), KTTUmarker 18 (My Network TV), and KWBAmarker 58 (The CW). KUAT-TVmarker 6 is a PBS affiliate run by the University of Arizona (as is sister station KUAS 27).

See also: List of Radio Stations in Arizona


Tucson follows the "weak mayor" model of the council-manager form of local government. The 6-member city council holds exclusive legislative authority, and shares executive authority with the mayor, who is elected by the voters independently of the council. An appointed city manager, meanwhile, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city.

Both the council members and the mayor serve 4-year terms, and none face term limits. Council members are nominated by their wards via a ward-level primary held in September. The top vote-earners from each party then compete at-large for their ward's seat on the November ballot. In other words, come election day, the whole city votes on all the council races up for that year. Council elections are severed: Wards 1, 2, and 4 (as well as the mayor) are up for election in the same year (most recently 2007), while Wards 3, 5, and 6 share another year (most recently 2005).

Tucson is known for being a trailblazer in voluntary partial publicly-financed campaigns. Since 1985, both mayoral and council candidates have been eligible to receive matching public funds from the city. To become eligible, council candidates must receive 200 donations of $10 or more (300 for a mayoral candidate). Candidates must then agree to spending limits equal to 33¢ for every registered Tucson voter, or $79,222 in 2005 (the corresponding figures for mayor are 64¢ per registered voter, or $142,271 in 2003). In return, candidates receive matching funds from the city at a 1:1 ratio of public money to private donations. The only other limitation is that candidates may not exceed 75% of the limit by the date of the primary. Many cities, such as San Francisco and New York City, have copied this system, albeit with more complex spending and matching formulas.

Robert E. Walkup (R) was elected mayor on November 2, 1999, re-elected for a second term on November 4, 2003 and again for a third term on November 6, 2007. He was preceded by George Miller (D), 1991–1999; Tom Volgy (D), 1987–1991; Lew(is) Murphy (R), 1971–1987; and Jim Corbett (D), ?-1971.

Tucson is divided between the 7th and 8th congressional districts of Arizona. The city center is in the 7th District, represented by Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, since 2003, while the more affluent residential areas to the north and east are in the 8th District, represented by Gabrielle Giffords, also a Democrat, since 2007.


Post-secondary education

Private education

Tucson several private schools:

Charter schools

Primary and secondary public education

Primarily, students of the Tucson area attend public schools in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). TUSD has the second highest enrollment of any school district in Arizona, behind Mesa Unified School District in the Phoenix metropolitan area. There are many publicly funded charter schools with a specialized curriculum.

Public Schools
District Area(s) served
Altar Valley School District Located southwest of the city, primarily serving Three Pointsmarker.
Amphitheater Public Schools Serves segments of the North Side, Casas Adobesmarker, Catalina Foothillsmarker, and the communities of Oro Valleymarker, eastern Tortolitamarker and Catalinamarker northwest of the city.
Catalina Foothills Unified School District Serves segments of the upper Catalina Foothillsmarker north of the city.
Continental School District Serves the rural area south of Sahuaritamarker.
Flowing Wells Unified School District Serves segments of the North Side and the Northwest Side along I-10.
Marana Unified School District Serves the town of Maranamarker, Picture Rocksmarker, Avra Valleymarker and western Tortolitamarker northwest of the city.
Sahuarita Unified School District Located south of the city and serves Sahuaritamarker and Arivaca.
Sunnyside Unified School District Serves the far South Side and segments of the Southwest Side.
Tanque Verde Unified School District Serves the far Northeast Side, including the community of Tanque Verdemarker.
Tucson Unified School District Encompasses the central Tucson valley, including the lower Catalina Foothillsmarker and segments of the Tanque Verde Valleymarker. As the largest school district in Tucson in terms of enrollment, TUSD has 115 schools serving grades K–12.
Vail School District Serves the far Southeast Side, including the community of Vailmarker.


Public transit

Local public transit in Tucson is provided by Sun Tran, which operates a network of bus routes. It was awarded Best Transit System in 1988 and 2005 and serves the major part of the Tucson metropolitan area. Construction of a modern streetcar line is planned, as part of a Regional Transportation Authority plan approved by area voters in May 2006.

Old Pueblo Trolley operates weekend heritage streetcar service between the Fourth Avenue Business District and the University of Arizonamarker. The service extended south, into the downtown district, as part of the Fourth Avenue underpass reconstruction project.


Tucson International Airportmarker is Tucson's public airport and is located six miles (10 km) south of Tucson's central business district. TIA is the second largest commercial airport in Arizona, providing nonstop flights to 17 destinations throughout the United Statesmarker. Due to the active presence of the Arizona Air National Guard at the site, the airport is much busier than most other airports that have the same level of civilian traffic.

Interstates 10 and 19 are currently the only two freeways in the metropolitan area. Tucson does not have a large freeway system as cities with similar population do.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Tucsonmarker six times weekly in both directions, operating its Sunset Limited between Orlando, Floridamarker and Los Angeles, Californiamarker and Texas Eagle between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Cyclists are common in Tucson due to compatible climate, extensive commuter bike routes, off-road mountain biking trails, and bike facilities throughout the city. The Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee (TPCBAC) was established to serve in an advisory capacity to local governments on issues relating to bicycle recreation, transportation, and safety. Tucson was given a gold rating for bicycle friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists in late April 2006.


  • In The Beatles song Get Back, the second line goes; "Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona, for some California grass."
  • The Paul Simon song Under African Skies, contains lyrics including "...Take this child, lord, from Tucson, Arizona. Give her the wings to fly through harmony..."
  • Many major motion pictures have been filmed in the Tucson area. Many, particularly classic western films, were shot at Old Tucson Studiosmarker, including Arizona and Tombstone (1993). Andy Warhol's controversial film Lonesome Cowboys (1968) was also filmed in the area.
  • The TV show The High Chaparral (1967) was filmed in Tucson. The song "Throw the Jew Down the Well" from Da Ali G Show was filmed at the Country West bar on Ruthrauff Road.
  • Two United States Navy ships have also been named USS Tucson in honor of the city.
  • The 1987 teen romantic comedy Can't Buy Me Love was filmed and set in Tucson. One of the scenes featured the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
  • The sitcom Hey Dude, which aired on Nickelodeon, was filmed on location at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch.
  • Exterior scenes from Revenge of the Nerds were filmed in Tucson and on the University of Arizona campus. Many of the buildings are easily recognizable, as well as footage of the old Speedway exit of I-10.
  • Drexel Road, located on the south side of the city, is named after Francis Anthony Drexel, the father of Saint Katharine Drexel. Drexel owned property along the road in the 1800s. Another Drexel-related site is the Benedictine Sisters Monastery, built on the west side of town (now the middle of town) in 1940 with funds donated by St. Katharine.
  • Tucson enjoys additional fame from the reference to it, together with other significant towns in the Southwest, in the chorus of the song "Willin'" by Lowell George of Little Feat. The song appears on the albums Little Feat, Sailin' Shoes and Waiting for Columbus, and was also covered by Tucson native Linda Ronstadt on her Heart Like a Wheel album.

Sister cities

See also


Further reading

  1. Bancroft, Hubert Howe, 1888, History of Arizona and New Mexico, 1530–1888. The History Company, San Francisco.
  2. Cooper, Evelyn S., 1995, Tucson in Focus: The Buehman Studio. Arizona Historical Society, Tucson. (ISBN 0-910037-35-3).
  3. Dobyns, Henry F., 1976, Spanish Colonial Tucson. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. (ISBN 0-8165-0546-2).
  4. Drachman, Roy P., 1999, From Cowtown to Desert Metropolis: Ninety Years of Arizona Memories. Whitewing Press, San Francisco. (ISBN 1-888965-02-9.
  5. Fontana, Bernard L., 1996, Biography of a Desert Church: The Story of Mission San Xavier del Bac. Smoke Signal, Tucson Corral of the Westerners.
  6. Hand, George, 1995, Whiskey, Six-Guns and Red-Light Ladies. High Lonesome Books, Silver City, New Mexico. (ISBN 0-944383-30-0).
  7. Hand, George, 1996, The Civil War in Apacheland. High Lonesome Books, Silver City, New Mexico. (ISBN 0-944383-36-X).
  8. Harte, John Bret, 2001, Tucson: Portrait of a Desert Pueblo. American Historical Press, Sun Valley, California. (ISBN 1-892724-25-1).
  9. Henry, Bonnie, 1992, Another Tucson. Arizona Daily Star, Tucson. (ISBN 0-9607758-2-X).
  10. Kalt III, William D., 2007, Tucson Was a Railroad Town., VTD Rail Publishing, Tucson. (ISBN 978-09719915-4-5).
  11. Logan, Michael F. Desert Cities: The Environmental History of Phoenix and Tucson. (2006). 240 pp.
  12. McIntyre, Allan J. and the Arizona Historical Society, 2008, The Tohono O'odham and Pimeria Alta., Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina. (ISBN 978-0738556-33-8).
  13. Moisés, Rosalio, 2001, The Tall Candle: The Personal Chronicle of a Yaqui Indian. University of Nebraska Press. (ISBN 0-8032-0747-6).
  14. Painter, Muriel Thayer, 1971, A Yaqui Easter. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. (ISBN 0816501688). Read online.
  15. Ronstadt, Edward E. (editor), 1993, Borderman: The Memoirs of Federico Jose Maria Ronstadt. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. (ISBN 0826314627) Read online.
  16. Schellie, Don, 1968, Vast Domain of Blood: The Story of the Camp Grant Massacre. Westernlore Press, Tucson.
  17. Sheaffer, Jack and Steve Emerine, 1985, Jack Sheaffer's Tucson, 1945–1965. Arizona Daily Star, Tucson. (ISBN 0-9607758-1-1).
  18. Sheridan, Thomas E., 1983, Del Rancho al Barrio: The Mexican legacy of Tucson. Arizona Historical Society, Tucson.
  19. Sheridan, Thomas E., 1992, Los Tucsonenses: The Mexican Community in Tucson, 1854–1941. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. (ISBN 0-8165-1298-1).
  20. Sonnichsen, C. L., 1987, Tucson: The Life and Times of an American City. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. (ISBN 0-8061-2042-8).
  21. Woosley, Anne I. and the Arizona Historical Society: 2008, Early Tucson. Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina. (ISBN 0738556467).

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