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Tucson, Arizona

City in and county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States

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Tucson, Arizona
City of Tucson
Flag
Etymology: O'odham Cuk Ṣon [tʃʊk ʂɔːn], "(at the) base of the black [hill]"
Nicknames: 
"The Old Pueblo", "Optics Valley", "America's biggest small town"
Interactive map outlining Tucson
Location within Pima County
Tucson
Location within Arizona
Tucson
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 32°13′18″N 110°55′35″W / 32.22167°N 110.92639°W / 32.22167; -110.92639Coordinates: 32°13′18″N 110°55′35″W / 32.22167°N 110.92639°W / 32.22167; -110.92639
CountryUnited States
StateArizona
CountyPima
FoundedAugust 20, 1775
IncorporatedFebruary 7, 1877[1]
Founded byHugo O'Conor
Ward
Government
 • TypeCouncil-manager government
 • BodyTucson City Council
 • MayorRegina Romero (D)
 • Vice MayorPaul Cunningham
 • City ManagerMichael Ortega
 • City Council
List
Area
 • City240.79 sq mi (623.65 km2)
 • Land240.48 sq mi (622.83 km2)
 • Water0.32 sq mi (0.82 km2)
Elevation
2,389 ft (728 m)
Population
 • City520,116
 • Estimate 
(2019)[4]
548,073
 • RankUS: 33rd
 • Density2,279.12/sq mi (879.97/km2)
 • Urban
843,168 (52nd)
 • Metro
1,010,025 (58th)
 • Demonym
Tucsonian; Tucsonan
Time zoneUTC-07:00 (MST (no DST))
ZIP Codes
85701-85775
Area code520
FIPS code04-77000
GNIS feature ID43534[5]
Websitetucsonaz.gov
1 Urban = 2010 Census

Tucson (/ˈtsɑːn, tˈsɑːn/; Spanish: Tucsón; O'odham: Cuk-Ṣon; Navajo: Tó Oostsʼąʼ) is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States,[6] and is home to the University of Arizona. It is the second largest city in Arizona, with a population of 520,116 in the 2010 United States Census,[3] while the 2015 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 980,263.[7] The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 1,010,025 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second most-populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.–Mexico border.[6] Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 58th largest metropolitan area in the United States (2014).

Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita[8] 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) include Casas 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.

Tucson was founded as a military fort by the Spanish when Hugo O'Conor authorized the construction of Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón in 1775. It was included in the state of Sonora after Mexico gained independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821. In 1853, the United States acquired a 29,670 square miles (76,840 km2) region of present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico from Mexico under the Gadsden Purchase.[9] Tucson served as the capital of the Arizona Territory from 1867 to 1877.[10] Tucson was Arizona's largest city by population during the territorial period and early statehood, until it was surpassed by Phoenix by 1920. Nevertheless, population growth remained strong during the late 20th century. In 2017, Tucson was the first American city to be designated a "City of Gastronomy" by UNESCO.[11]

The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón [tukˈson], is 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 Sentinel Peak. Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo".

Tucson, Arizona Intro articles: 30

History

Tucson's Stone Avenue, 1880
Courthouse in Tucson, 1898

The Tucson area was probably first visited by Paleo-Indians, who were known to have been in southern Arizona about 12,000 years ago. Recent archaeological excavations near the Santa Cruz River found a village site dating from 2100 BC.[12] The floodplain of the Santa Cruz River was extensively farmed during the Early Agricultural Period, c. 1200 BC to AD 150. These people constructed irrigation canals and grew corn, beans, and other crops, while also gathering wild plants and nuts, and hunting.[12]

The Early Ceramic period occupation of Tucson saw the first extensive use of pottery vessels for cooking and storage. The groups designated as the Hohokam lived in the area from AD 600 to 1450 and are known for their vast irrigation canal systems and their red-on-brown pottery.[13][14]

The Spanish Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino first visited the Santa Cruz River valley in 1692. He founded the Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1700, about 7 mi (11 km) upstream from the site of the settlement of Tucson. A separate Convento settlement was founded downstream along the Santa Cruz River, near the base of what is now known as "A" mountain. Hugo O'Conor, the founding father of the city of Tucson, Arizona, authorized the construction of a military fort in that location, Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón, on August 20, 1775 (the present downtown Pima County Courthouse was built near this site). During the Spanish period of the presidio, attacks such as the Second Battle of Tucson were repeatedly mounted by the Apache. Eventually the town came to be called Tucsón, a Spanish version of the O'odham word for the area. It was included in the state of Sonora after Mexico gained independence from the Kingdom of Spain and its Spanish Empire in 1821.

During the Mexican–American War in 1846–1848, Tucsón was captured by Philip St. George Cooke with the Mormon Battalion, but it soon returned to Mexican control as Cooke proceeded to the west, establishing Cooke's Wagon Road to California. Tucsón was not included in the Mexican Cession to the United States following the war. Cooke's road through Tucsón became one of the important routes into California during the California Gold Rush of 1849.

The US acquired those portions of (modern day) Arizona that lay south of the Gila River via treaty from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase on June 8, 1854. Under this treaty and purchase, Tucsón became a part of the United States of America. The American military did not formally take over control until March 1856. In time, the name of the town became standardized in English in its current form, where the stress is on the first syllable, the "u" is long, and the "c" is silent.

In 1857, Tucson was established as a stage station on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line. In 1858 it became 3rd division headquarters of the Butterfield Overland Mail and operated until the line was shut down in March 1861. The Overland Mail Corporation attempted to continue running; however, following the Bascom Affair, devastating Apache attacks on the stations and coaches ended operations in August 1861.

Tucson was incorporated in 1877, making it the oldest incorporated city in Arizona.

From 1877 to 1878, the area suffered a rash of stagecoach robberies. Most notable were the two holdups committed by masked road-agent William Whitney Brazelton.[15] Brazelton held up two stages in the summer of 1878 near Point of Mountain Station, approximately 17 mi (27 km) northwest of Tucson. John Clum, of Tombstone, Arizona fame, was one of the passengers. Pima County Sheriff Charles A. Shibell and his citizen posse killed Brazelton on August 19, 1878, in a mesquite bosque along the Santa Cruz River 3 miles (5 km) south of Tucson. Brazelton had been suspected of highway robbery in the Tucson area, the Prescott region, and the Silver City, New Mexico area. Because of the crimes and threats to his business, John J. Valentine, Sr. of Wells, Fargo & Co. had sent Bob Paul, a special agent and a future Pima County sheriff, to investigate.[15] The US Army established Fort Lowell, then east of Tucson, to help protect settlers and travelers from Apache attacks.

In 1882, Morgan Earp was fatally shot, in what was later referred to in the press as "the Earp-Clanton Tragedy".[16] Marietta Spence, wife of Pete Spence, one of the Cochise County Cowboys, testified at the coroner's inquest on Earp's killing and implicated Frank Stilwell in the murder. The coroner's jury concluded Pete Spence, Stilwell, Frederick Bode, and Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz were the prime suspects in the assassination of Morgan Earp.[17] :250

Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp gathered a few trusted friends and accompanied Virgil Earp and his family as they traveled to Benson to take a train to California. They found Stilwell apparently lying in wait for Virgil Earp at the Tucson station and killed him on the tracks.[18][16] After killing Stilwell, Wyatt deputized others and conducted a vendetta, killing three more cowboys over the next few days before leaving the Territory.

Jim Leavy ambushed

Jim Leavy had built a reputation of having fought in at least 16 gunfights. On June 5, 1882, Leavy had an argument with faro dealer John Murphy in Tucson. The two agreed to have a duel on the Mexican border, but after hearing of Leavy's exploits as a gunfighter, Murphy decided to ambush Leavy instead. Together with two of his friends, Murphy ambushed Leavy as he was leaving the Palace Hotel, killing him. According to Wright, the three co-defendants in Leavy's murder later escaped from the Pima County Jail, but were later recaptured. Murphy and Gibson were found in Fenner, California living under assumed names and retried for the murder before being found not guilty. Moyer was captured in Denver and sentenced to life in Yuma Territorial Prison, but was pardoned in 1888.[19][20]

As other settlers tried to overcome violent frontier society, in 1885 the territorial legislature founded the University of Arizona as a land-grant college on what was over-grazed ranch land between Tucson and Fort Lowell.

In 1890, Asians made up 4.2% of the city's population.[21] They were predominately Chinese men who had been recruited as workers on the railroads.

By 1900, 7,531 people lived in Tucson. By 1910, the population increased to 13,913. At about this time, the U.S. Veterans Administration had begun construction of the present Veterans Hospital. The city's clean, dry air made it a destination for the many veterans who had been gassed in World War I and needed respiratory therapy. In addition, these dry and high altitude conditions were thought to be ideal for the treatment of tuberculosis, for which there were no known cures before antibiotics were developed against it.[22]

The city continued to grow, with the population increasing to 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.

In 1912, Arizona was admitted as a state. This increased the number of flags that had been flown over Tucson to five: Spanish, Mexican, United States, Confederate, and the State of Arizona. [23]

Tucson, 1909

During the territorial and early statehood periods, Tucson was Arizona's largest city and commercial center, while Phoenix was the seat of state government (beginning in 1889) and agriculture. The development of Tucson Municipal Airport increased the city's prominence. But between 1910 and 1920, Phoenix surpassed Tucson in population, and has continued to outpace Tucson in growth. In recent years, both Tucson and Phoenix have had some of the highest growth rates of any jurisdiction in the United States.

Tucson, Arizona History articles: 50

Geography

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

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).[24] Tucson is 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.

During wintertime, snow may fall in Tucson on rare occasions.

Tucson is 116 mi (187 km) southeast of Phoenix and 69 mi (111 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, and the second largest in the state after Phoenix. It is also the largest city in the area of the historic Gadsden Purchase. As of 2015, The Greater Tucson Metro area has exceeded a population of 1 million.

The city is built along the Santa Cruz River, formerly a perennial river. Now a dry river bed for much of the year, it regularly floods during significant seasonal rains.

Interstate 10 runs northwest through town, connecting Tucson to Phoenix in the northwest (on the way to its western terminus in Santa Monica, California), and to Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas in the southeast. (Its eastern terminus is 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." Speed limits are marked in miles per hour and kilometers per hour.

Neighborhoods

Downtown and Central Tucson

Downtown Tucson viewed from the Tucson Mountains
A 19th-century adobe house in the Armory Park neighborhood

Similar to many other cities in the Western U.S., Tucson was developed by European Americans 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, the center has shifted as the city has expanded far to the east. Development to the west was effectively blocked by the Tucson Mountains. Covering a large geographic area, Tucson has many distinct neighborhoods.

Tucson's earliest neighborhoods, some of which were redeveloped and covered by the Tucson Convention Center (TCC), include:

  • El Presidio,[25] Tucson's oldest neighborhood
  • Barrio Histórico,[26] also known as Barrio Libre
  • Armory Park, directly south of downtown
  • Barrio Anita,[27] named for an early settler and located between Granada Avenue and Interstate 10
  • Barrio Tiburón, now known as the Fourth Avenue arts district, was 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 convention center was built, the term El Hoyo (Spanish for 'pit' or 'hole') referred to this part of the city. Residents were mostly Mexican-American citizens and Mexican immigrants.
  • Barrio Santa Rosa, dating from the 1890s, is now listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places

Other historical neighborhoods near downtown include:

  • Feldman's, just north and northwest of the University of Arizona. The neighborhood is named for Alther M. Feldman (1833–1906) an Eastern European immigrant who arrived in Tucson circa 1878. Neighborhood streets Helen and Mabel are named for his daughters.[28] Feldman owned a photographic studio known as the Arizona Tent Gallery.[29]
  • Menlo Park, situated west of downtown, adjacent to Sentinel Peak
  • Iron Horse, east of Fourth Avenue and north of the railroad tracks, named for its proximity to the railroad, informally known by that term
  • West University, between the University of Arizona and downtown
  • Dunbar Spring, west of West University
  • Pie Allen, west and south of the university near Tucson High School and named for John Brackett "Pie" Allen, a local entrepreneur and early mayor of Tucson
  • Sam Hughes, east of the University of Arizona, named after a European-American pioneer in Tucson
Bikes along Congress Street near Fifth Avenue

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, city planners and the business community worked to redevelop the downtown. The primary project was Rio Nuevo, a large retail and community center that had been stalled in planning for more than ten years.[30][31] 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[32] on the east side. Downtown is divided into the Presidio District, the Barrio Viejo, and the Congress Street Arts and Entertainment District.[33] Some authorities include the 4th Avenue shopping district, northeast of the rest of downtown and connected by an underpass beneath the UPRR tracks.

The recently restored Fox Theatre is in downtown Tucson.

Historic attractions downtown with rich architecture include the Hotel Congress designed in 1919, the Art Deco Fox Theatre designed in 1929, the Rialto Theatre opened in 1920, and St. Augustine Cathedral completed in 1896.[34] Included on the National Register of Historic Places is the old Pima County Courthouse, designed by Roy Place in 1928.[35] The El Charro Café, Tucson's oldest restaurant, operates its main location downtown.[36]

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, the university, and the Lost Barrio just east of downtown, also has 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 in the eastern part of midtown.

University of Arizona Main Library

The University of Arizona, chartered in 1885, is in midtown and includes Arizona Stadium and McKale Center (named for J.F. "Pop" McKale).[37]

The historic Tucson High School (designed by Roy Place in 1924) was featured in the 1987 film Can't Buy Me Love. The Arizona Inn (built in 1930) and the Tucson Botanical Gardens are also in Central Tucson.

Tucson's largest park, Reid Park, is in midtown and includes Reid Park Zoo and 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.

In the late 1990s, Speedway Boulevard was awarded "Street of the Year" by Arizona Highways. According to David Leighton, historical writer for the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, Speedway Boulevard was named after an historic horse racetrack, known as "The Harlem River Speedway", and more commonly called "The Speedway," in New York City. The Tucson street was called "The Speedway," from 1904 to about 1906, when "The" was removed from the title.[38]

In the early 21st century, Central Tucson is considered bicycle-friendly. To the east of the University of Arizona, Third Street is bike-only except for local traffic; it 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.[39]

Southern Tucson

Tucson International Airport when it was under renovation

South Tucson is the name of an independent, incorporated town of 1 sq mi (2.6 km2) south of downtown, and which is surrounded by the city of Tucson. South Tucson has a colorful, dynamic history. It was incorporated in 1936 and reincorporated in 1940.

The population is about 83% Mexican-American and 10% Native American, as residents self-identify in the census. South Tucson is widely known for its many Mexican restaurants and architectural styles. Bright murals have been painted on some walls, but city policy discourages this and many have been painted over.[40][41][42]

The South side of the city of Tucson is generally considered to be the area of approximately 25 sq mi (65 km2) south of 22nd Street, east of I-19, west of Davis Monthan Air Force Base and southwest of Aviation Parkway, and north of Los Reales Road.[43] The Tucson International Airport and Tucson Electric Park are here.[43]

Western Tucson

Panorama of western suburbs

The West Side has areas of both urban and suburban development. It 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. Area attractions include the International Wildlife Museum and Sentinel Peak. The Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa serves travelers and residents.[44] As travelers pass the Tucson Mountains, they enter the area commonly referred to as "west of" Tucson or "Old West Tucson".[45] In this large, undulating plain extending south into the Altar Valley, rural residential development predominates. Attractions include Saguaro National Park West, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and movie set/theme park developed at the Old Tucson Studios.

Mountain lion at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

On Sentinel Peak, just west of downtown, a giant "A" was installed in honor of the University of Arizona, resulting in the nickname "A" Mountain.[46] Starting in about 1916, an annual tradition developed for freshmen to whitewash the "A", which was visible for miles. The top of Sentinel Peak, which is accessible by road, offers an outstanding view of the city looking eastward. A parking lot near the summit of Sentinel Peak has been a popular place to watch sunsets or view the city lights at night.

At the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, anti-war activists painted the "A" black. Competition ensued, with various sides repainting the "A" in different colors until the city council intervened. It is now painted red, white and blue, after the US flag. Another color may be decided by a biennial election. With the tri-color scheme, some observers complain the shape of the A is hard to distinguish from the background of the peak.

Northern Tucson

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 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).

The north side also is home to the suburban community of Catalina Foothills, in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains just north of the city limits. This community includes many of the area's most expensive homes, sometimes multimillion-dollar estates. The Foothills area is generally defined as north of River Road, east of Oracle Road[47] and west of Sabino Creek. Some of the Tucson area's major resorts are 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 near the intersection of Swan Road and Skyline Drive. Built by artist Ted DeGrazia starting in 1951, the 10-acre (4.0 ha) property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features an eclectic chapel, an art gallery, and a free museum.

Northwestern suburbs viewed from the Santa Catalina Mountains

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), and Saddlebrooke (N. Oro Valley) are all masterplanned communities in the Northwest that have thousands of residents.

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, which is now within the town of Oro Valley, (a nature preserve) near the intersection of North Oracle Road and West Ina Road. The attempted assassination of Representative Gabby Giffords, which resulted in 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 on the northwest side in Casas Adobes.

This area is home to many of the Tucson area's golf courses and resorts, including the Preserve and Mountainview Golf Clubs at Saddlebrooke, 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 in the Northwest area.

Eastern Tucson

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 on the east side, along with a significant corporate and financial presence. Restaurant Row is sandwiched by three of Tucson's storied Vicinages: Harold Bell Wright Estates,[48] named after the famous author's ranch which occupied some of that area before the depression; the Tucson Country Club (the third to bear the name Tucson Country Club),[49] 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,[50] were opened in 1987. Park Place, a recently renovated shopping center, is also 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 Germaine Cheruy and René Cheruy, Giorgio Belloli, Charles Bode, Veronica Hughart, Edward H. Spicer 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 vicinage celebrates its history in the City Landmark it owns and restored the San Pedro Chapel.

Retired B-52s are stored in the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

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 Vicinagess, and Pima Community College East Campus. The Atterbury Wash with its access to excellent bird watching is also in the Southeast Tucson area. The suburban community of Rita Ranch houses many of the military families from Davis-Monthan, and is near the southeasternmost expansion of the current city limits. Close by Rita Ranch and also within the city limits lies Civano,[51] a planned development meant to showcase ecologically sound building practices and lifestyles.

Mount Lemmon

A view of Tucson from Windy Point, at an elevation of 6,580 feet (2,010 m), along the road up Mt. Lemmon

Mount Lemmon, the highest peak of the Santa Catalina Mountains, reaches an elevation of 9,157 feet (2,791 m) above sea level. It is one of the Southwestern United States's 27 unique sky islands. 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.[52][53][54] 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 of Summerhaven. 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 gift shop, and nearby restaurant.

A variety of astronomical research telescopes are at Mount Lemmon's 9,152 feet (2,790 m) summit, including the Mount Lemmon Sky Center.[55] The center is open for public visitation and operated by the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory.[56]

A major destination for cyclists, Mount Lemmon is ranked the second most difficult climb in the world by Bicycling Magazine.[57]

Climate

Tucson has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen BSh), with two major seasons, a hot summer and mild winter. Tucson averages 11.8 inches (299.7 mm) of precipitation per year, concentrated between the Pacific storms of winter and the North American Monsoon of summer. Fall and spring months tend to be sunny and dry.[58] Despite being at a more southerly latitude than Phoenix, Tucson is slightly cooler and wetter due to a variety of factors including elevation and orographic lift in surrounding mountains—though Tucson does occasionally see warmer daytime temperatures in the winter.[59]

Snow on Wasson Peak
Monsoon clouds blanket the Catalina Mountains in August 2005.
Saguaro at sunset from Saguaro National Park Rincon District

Summer is characterized by daytime temperatures of over 100 °F (38 °C) and overnight temperatures between 66 and 85 °F (19 and 29 °C). Early summer is characterized by low humidity and clear skies; mid-summer and late summer are characterized by higher humidity, cloudy skies and frequent rain. The sun is intense in Tucson during part of the year, and those who spend time outdoors need protection. Recent studies show the rate of skin cancer in Arizona is at least three times higher than in more northerly regions. Additionally, heat stroke is a concern for hikers, mountain bikers, and adventurers who explore canyons, open desert lands, and other exposed areas.[60]

While monsoon season officially begins on June 15, the arrival of the North American Monsoon is unpredictable, and it varies from year to year. On average, Tucson receives it first monsoon storms around July 3. Monsoon activity generally persists through August and often into September.[61] 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.[62] 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.[63] Despite all warnings and precautions, however, three Tucson drivers have drowned between 2004 and 2010.

The weather in the fall is much like spring: dry, with warm/cool nights and warm/hot days. Temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) are possible into early October. Temperatures decline at the quickest rate in October and November, and are normally the coolest in late December and early January.

Winters in Tucson are mild relative to other parts of the United States. Daytime highs range between 64 and 75 °F (18 and 24 °C), with overnight lows between 30 and 44 °F (−1 and 7 °C). Tucson typically averages one hard freeze per winter season, with temperatures dipping to the mid or low-20s (−7 to −4 °C), but this is typically limited to only a very few nights. Although rare, snow occasionally falls in lower elevations in Tucson and is common in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The most recent snowfall was on January 26, 2021 when a winter storm caused snow to fall throughout most of the southwest. Tucson airport recorded 1 inch of snow, while Summerhaven in the mountains received 25 inches.[64]

Early spring is characterized by gradually rising temperatures and several weeks of vivid wildflower blooms beginning in late February and into March. During this time of year the diurnal temperature variation normally attains its maximum, often surpassing 30 °F (17 °C).

At the University of Arizona, where records have been kept since 1894, the record maximum temperature was 115 °F (46 °C) on June 19, 1960, and July 28, 1995, and the record minimum temperature was 6 °F (−14 °C) 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 reaching or below the freezing mark. Average annual precipitation is 11.15 in (283 mm). There is an average of 49 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1905 with 24.17 in (614 mm) and the driest year was 1924 with 5.07 in (129 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 7.56 in (192 mm) in July 1984. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 4.16 in (106 mm) on October 1, 1983. Annual snowfall averages 0.7 in (1.8 cm). The most snow in one year was 7.2 in (18 cm) in 1987. The most snow in one month was 6.0 in (15 cm) in January 1898 and March 1922.[65]

At the airport, where records have been kept since 1930, the record maximum temperature was 117 °F (47 °C) on June 26, 1990, and the record minimum temperature was 16 °F (−9 °C) 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 reaching or below the freezing mark. Measurable precipitation falls on an average of 53 days. The wettest year was 1983 with 21.86 in (555 mm) of precipitation, and the driest year was 1953 with 5.34 in (136 mm). The most rainfall in one month was 7.93 in (201 mm) in August 1955. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 3.93 in (100 mm) on July 29, 1958. Snow at the airport averages only 1.1 in (2.8 cm) annually. The most snow received in one year was 8.3 in (21 cm) and the most snow in one month was 6.8 in (17 cm) in December 1971.[66]

Climate data for Tucson, Arizona (Tucson Int'l), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1894−present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 88
(31)
92
(33)
99
(37)
104
(40)
111
(44)
117
(47)
114
(46)
112
(44)
107
(42)
102
(39)
94
(34)
85
(29)
117
(47)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 78.8
(26.0)
82.7
(28.2)
88.1
(31.2)
94.7
(34.8)
102.4
(39.1)
108.7
(42.6)
109.1
(42.8)
106.1
(41.2)
103.1
(39.5)
96.6
(35.9)
86.7
(30.4)
78.3
(25.7)
110.3
(43.5)
Average high °F (°C) 65.5
(18.6)
68.5
(20.3)
74.1
(23.4)
82.1
(27.8)
91.6
(33.1)
100.3
(37.9)
99.7
(37.6)
97.4
(36.3)
94.5
(34.7)
84.8
(29.3)
73.5
(23.1)
64.8
(18.2)
83.1
(28.4)
Average low °F (°C) 39.8
(4.3)
42.2
(5.7)
46.2
(7.9)
52.0
(11.1)
60.5
(15.8)
69.3
(20.7)
74.4
(23.6)
73.3
(22.9)
68.6
(20.3)
57.3
(14.1)
46.1
(7.8)
39.1
(3.9)
55.8
(13.2)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 28.7
(−1.8)
31.3
(−0.4)
34.3
(1.3)
40.4
(4.7)
49.2
(9.6)
59.0
(15.0)
66.9
(19.4)
67.1
(19.5)
59.8
(15.4)
44.8
(7.1)
31.6
(−0.2)
26.9
(−2.8)
25.4
(−3.7)
Record low °F (°C) 6
(−14)
17
(−8)
20
(−7)
27
(−3)
32
(0)
43
(6)
49
(9)
55
(13)
43
(6)
26
(−3)
19
(−7)
10
(−12)
6
(−14)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.94
(24)
0.86
(22)
0.73
(19)
0.31
(7.9)
0.23
(5.8)
0.20
(5.1)
2.25
(57)
2.39
(61)
1.29
(33)
0.89
(23)
0.57
(14)
0.93
(24)
11.59
(294)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.3
(0.76)
0.2
(0.51)
trace 0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.1
(0.25)
0.6
(1.5)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 4.9 4.1 3.9 2.0 1.8 1.7 9.8 9.7 4.4 3.2 2.7 4.7 52.9
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.5
Average relative humidity (%) 48.4 42.7 37.0 27.0 22.0 21.1 41.6 46.6 41.7 38.4 42.7 50.0 38.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 259.9 258.2 320.7 357.2 400.8 396.9 342.7 335.6 316.4 307.4 264.4 245.8 3,806
Percent possible sunshine 81 84 86 92 94 93 79 81 85 87 84 79 86
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[67][68][69] The Weather Channel[70]

Tucson, Arizona Geography articles: 127