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Nestled in the valley of four mountain ranges, Tucson is a city of many cultures and great diversity. An expanding business center, a growing hub for culture and art and a picture of modern lifestyle are just a few ways to describe Tucson.
It maintains a "casual" atmosphere while continuing to grow into a vibrant city. At approximately 500 square miles, Tucson is hugged by four majestic mountain ranges, The Santa Catalinas to the north, The Santa Ritas to the south, The Rincons to the east and The Tucson Mountains to the west. The days of roaming cowboys and lively tumbleweeds bustling over dusty city streets are gone, but the feeling of the Old West remains.
A Brief History Of Tucson
Some historians believe Tucson to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States. Evidence has been found dating back to at least 900 A.D. of Native American civilizations. Recorded history of our lovely desert city dates back to 1539 when Mendoza, the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico dispatched Fray Marcos de Niza in search of the Seven Cities of Coloba. His journey led to Don Francisco Basquez Coronado's famous expedition and discovery of the area in 1540.
The early 1600's gave way to a religious movement of Spanish Jesuits from Mexico establishing Christian missions. In 1692 a Spanish missionary, Father Kino, visited a Papago Indian community and named it St. Jukson. Variously translated to mean "Dark Spring" or "At the Foot of Black Hill". Father Kino also founded Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1692. The Papago called it "La Paloma del Desierto", which means "The White Dove of the Desert".
Mines and ranches started being established and in 1776 the Presidio of Tucson became a walled city. "The Old Pueblo", Tucson's present nickname, originated from the one time existence of a wall completely surrounding the community.
Considered part of a newly created Mexico in 1782, Tucson served as a military outpost. This ended with the Gadsden Purchase in December of 1853, which finally made it part of the United States. In 1861, a territorial delegate was elected to the Confederate Congress by a total of sixty American voters. By 1862, confederates from Texas marched unopposed into Tucson, but were routed three months later by the California volunteers who raised the US flag over Tucson. Arizona was organized as a territory in 1863. John Goodwin, the first Governor, declared Tucson a municipality in 1864.
When the Transcontinental Railroad arrived in 1881, Tucson seemed to be a sleepy Mexican village, with a population of just a few hundred. Shortly after, The University of Arizona was established in 1885. At the turn of the century, Tucson had become a booming business and supply center of a large territory. It was even considered a renown health resort, where Easterners came to relax and soak up the desert sunshine.
By 1909, Tucson was the largest city in Arizona with a population of over 7,000. Throughout the balance of the 20th Century, Tucson grew steadily as more and more people took advantage of the opportunities and attractive climate found in our picturesque city. With a population of almost 900,000, all signs point to continued growth. In spite of Tucson's rapid growth, it has been able to retain its southwestern ambiance and lifestyle.
Interesting Facts About Tucson
Tucson gets 350 days of sunshine annually - more than any other US city.
Tucson is surrounded by the world's largest concentration of Saguaro cactus.
The Wall Street Journal dubbed Tucson "a mini mecca for the arts".
The Arizona-Sonora Museum was rated one of America's top zoos in the country by Parade Magazine.
Pima Air & Space Museum is the largest privately funded air museum in the world.
Original Ansel Adams prints hang in the museum he founded, the UA's Center for Creative Photography.
Quarter horse racing began at Tucson's historic Rillito Downs.
Tucson is consistently rated one of the best golfing destinations in the west.
Colossal Cave is one of the largest dry caverns in the world. Explorers have yet to find its end.
Tucson is the only city in the U.S. that hosts three Major League Baseball Spring Training teams - The Arizona Diamondbacks, The Colorado Rockies and The Chicago White Sox.
Saguaro National Park is one of the Unites States' newest national parks. It is second only to the Grand Canyon in the number of visitors it receives annually.
Tucson, offering so much contrast, is located in a desert valley, surrounded by mountain ranges. At an elevation of 2,584 feet, Tucson is cradled by the Santa Catalina Mountains rising 9,100 feet on the north, the Rincon Mountains to the east, the Tucson Mountains to the west, and the Santa Rita and Sierrita Mountains to the south.
The desert contains much natural growth, unlike a Sahara-like desert. Green trees such as Palo Verde, Mesquite and Cottonwood grow in abundance. There are also many varieties of cacti in colorful bloom from April until late May. In Tucson's residential areas native desert landscaping and many other types of shrubs and flowers grow easily.
The city limits of Tucson cover an area of 156.04 square miles, while the entire metropolitan area spreads over 495 square miles.