About Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is the seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. As of July 1, 2006, a Census Bureau estimate puts the city's population at 518,956, with a metropolitan area population at 946,362. In 2005, Tucson ranked as the 32nd largest city and 52nd largest metropolitan area in the U.S. It is the largest city in southern Arizona and the second largest in the state. Tucson is also the site of the University of Arizona.
Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, South Tucson (surrounded by Tucson), and Sahuarita south of the city. Communities in the vicinity of Tucson (some within or overlapping the city limits) include Casas Adobes, Catalina, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Green Valley, Tanque Verde, New Pascua, and Vail.
The English name Tucson originates from the Spanish name of the city, Tucson [tuk'son], which is itself borrowed from the O'odham name for the city, pronounced roughly "chuk shon", 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 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 River 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 600-1450 and are known for their red-on-brown pottery.
Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino visited the Santa Cruz River valley in 1692, and founded the Mission San Xavier del Bac about 7 miles upstream from the site of the settlement of Tucson in 1700. The Spanish established a presidio (fort) on August 20, 1775 and the town came to be called "Tucson." Tucson became a part of Mexico after Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Following the Gadsden purchase in 1853, Tucson became a part of the United States of America, although the American military did not formally take over control of the community until March 1856. From August 1861, until mid-1862, Tucson was the capital of the Confederate Arizona Territory. Until 1863, Tucson and all of Arizona was part of New Mexico Territory. From 1867 to 1879, Tucson was the capital of Arizona Territory. The University of Arizona, located in Tucson, was founded in 1885.
By 1900, 7,531 people lived in the city. At about this time, the US Veterans Administration had begun construction on the present Veterans Hospital. Many veterans who had been gassed in World War I and were in need of respiratory therapy began coming to Tucson after the war, due to the clean dry air. The population increased gradually to 13,913 in 1910, 20,292 in 1920, and 36,818 in 1940. In 2006 the population of Pima County, in which Tucson is located, passed one million while the City of Tucson's population was 535,000.
During the territorial and early statehood periods, Tucson was Arizona's largest city and commercial area, whereas Phoenix was the seat of state government and agriculture. The establishment of Tucson Municipal Airport increased its prominence. By the 1920s-30s, Phoenix outgrew Tucson and has continued to expand. Tucson has still been growing but at a slower pace.
Tucson is located at 32°12'52"N, 110°55'5"W (32.214476, -110.918192).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 195.1 square miles, of which, 194.7 square miles of it is land and 0.4 square miles of it (0.22%) is water.
The city's elevation is 2,389 ft above sea level. 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-foot Mount Lemmon, the southernmost ski destination in the continental U.S., while the Tucson Mountains include 4,687-foot Wasson Peak.
The city is located on the Santa Cruz River, a dry river bed much of the year that floods during significant seasonal rains. The Santa Cruz becomes a subterranean stream part of the year although it may appear dry.
Tucson is located along Interstate 10, which runs through Phoenix toward Santa Monica, California in the northwest, and through El Paso, Texas, and New Orleans, Louisiana, toward Jacksonville, Florida in the east. 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.
Annual Cultural Events
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 Institution and the Sorbonne, 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 KXCI 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 also 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 VaquerosAnother 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. Go to websites tucsonrodeo.com tucsonrodeoparade.com
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
One of the largest festivals celebrated is the All Souls Procession (www.AllSoulsProcession.org), held since 1990 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 (www.ManyMouths.org) 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 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 Arizona 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 UA 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 Bac is a historic Spanish 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 Historic 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 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.
- Old Tucson Studios, 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 Museum is a non-traditional zoo devoted to animals and plants of the Sonoran Desert. It is located west of the Tucson Mountains.
- The Pima Air & Space Museum, featuring over 250 modern and historical aircraft, is located to the southeast of the city near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
- The Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) is a facility where the federal government stores out-of-service aircraft. Bus tours are conducted regularly from the Pima Air & Space Museum.
- Titan Missile Museum 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 Soldier includes artifacts and ephemera detailing Western cavalry and dragoon military units.
- 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 Arizona, 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 Tiradito 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 Town 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.
Tucson, Arizona. (2008, February 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:50, February 8, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tucson%2C_Arizona&oldid=189879575