Tucson is a vibrant and diverse city situated in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. With over 1 million residents, it is the second-largest city in the state after Phoenix. Tucson has a rich cultural heritage with a unique southwest feel that can be experienced through its art, food, music, and attractions. From historic sites to outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this sunny desert oasis! The downtown area features lively restaurants and boutiques while out-of-towners can explore scenic parks and trails or take part in exciting sporting events like golfing and hiking. Whether you’re looking for a friendly community experience or an exciting getaway, Tucson is sure to provide plenty of entertainment and activities throughout your stay.
Tucson (/ˈtuːsɒn, tuːˈsɒn/; Spanish: Tucson, O’odham: Cuk-Ṣon) is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and is home to the University of Arizona. It is the second-largest city in Arizona behind Phoenix, with a population of 542,629 in the 2020 United States census, while the population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is 1,043,433. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA). Both Tucson and Phoenix 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. Tucson is the 34th-largest city and the 53rd-largest metropolitan area in the United States (2014).
Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita 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 metropolitan 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. 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 in 1853. Tucson served as the capital of the Arizona Territory from 1867 to 1877. Tucson was Arizona’s largest city by population during the territorial period and early statehood, until it was surpassed by Phoenix by 1920. Nevertheless, its population growth remained strong during the late 20th century. Tucson was the first American city to be designated a “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO in 2015.
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 and Optics Valley, the latter referring to its optical science and telescopes known worldwide.
Casas Adobes, Arizona
Casas Adobes (Spanish: “Adobe Houses”) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located in the northern metropolitan area of Tucson, Arizona (in Pima County). The population was 66,795 at the 2010 census. Casas Adobes is situated south and southwest of the town of Oro Valley, and west of the community of Catalina Foothills.
The attempted assassination of Representative Gabby Giffords, and the murders of chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona, John Roll, and five other people on January 8, 2011, took place at a Safeway supermarket in Casas Adobes.
Though Casas Adobes is an unincorporated community, it is older than both the towns of Oro Valley and Marana.
The area bordering the Cañada del Oro in the north, and the Rillito River in the south was primarily inhabited and utilized by cattle ranchers. Cattle ranches dominated the Casas Adobes area until the 1920s, when Tucson had grown far enough north and the advent of the automobile made the area more easily accessible.
One of the first individuals to build a home in the area was Maurice L. Reid, who came to Tucson in 1923 seeking a “walking cure” for tuberculosis. In the late 1920s Reid bought a 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) former ranch, bounded by North Oracle Road to the east, Orange Grove Road to the south, Ina Road to the north, and North La Cholla Boulevard to the west. Reid planted more than 200 acres (0.81 km2) of citrus trees and date palms, that would become the heart of Tucson’s citrus industry. Over the years, Reid sold parcels of land for home sites, and in 1950 he sold the last of his land. Some larger residential estates continue to maintain the remaining citrus groves and orchards nearly a century later.
Catalina Foothills is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located north of Tucson in Pima County, Arizona, United States. Situated in the southern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Catalina Foothills had a population of 50,796 at the 2010 census. Catalina Foothills is one of the most affluent communities in Arizona and in the U.S., with the 6th highest per capita income in Arizona, and the 14th highest per capita income in the U.S. of communities with a population of at least 50,000. The Catalina Foothills community includes some of Arizona’s most expensive homes and land, and has the highest median property value. It also includes resorts, golf courses, and spas.
Modern development of the Catalina Foothills dates back to the early 1920s. Prior to that time, the Catalina Foothills area was primarily federal trust land and open range for cattle grazing. Beginning in the 1920s, John Murphey began purchasing property north of River Road in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Murphey originally planned to develop 10 housing subdivisions with large lots. Murphey’s vision for the Catalina Foothills community was low-density residential development, on lots designed for maximum privacy, preserving existing desert vegetation, the natural terrain, and mountain views. In 1928 Murphey bought a 7,000 acres (28 km2) tract of land north of River Road between North Oracle Road and Sabino Canyon in a federal land auction.
Flowing Wells is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. It is a suburb of Tucson. The population was 16,419 at the 2010 census. The Flowing Wells community was given an All-American City Award by the National Civic League in 2007. Flowing Wells is located at 32°17′29″N 111°0′32″W (32.291305, -111.008859).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2), all land. Flowing Wells is roughly bound by Interstate 10 to the West, the Rillito River to the North, and the City of Tucson to the South and East. It is entirely within Arizona’s 2nd congressional district, on the western side of the district. Additionally, it is within Arizona’s 9th legislative district and primarily within Pima County’s 3rd supervisor district, though the northern portion of the CDP is within the 1st supervisor district.
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,050 people, 6,250 households, and 3,849 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 4,413.2 inhabitants per square mile (1,703.9/km2). There were 7,210 housing units at an average density of 2,114.2 per square mile (816.3/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 84.2% White, 0.9% Black or African American, 1.5% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 9.1% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. 21.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 6,250 households, out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.3% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.4 and the average family size was 3.0.
Midvale Park is a master planned community in the southwest part of Tucson, Arizona. Originally developed in 1982, Midvale Park officially comprises 3550 homes, two parks, and a public elementary school. The development is bordered by Interstate 19 on the east, Mission Road to the west, Irvington Road to the north, and Valencia Road to the south.
Midvale Park has an elementary school, Raul Grijalva Elementary School, which is part of the Tucson Unified School District. It is named after U.S. Congressman Raul M. Grijalva, who represents the 3rd Congressional District of Arizona. Midvale Park has two parks; Oaktree Park and Grijalva Park.
Tanque Verde is a suburban unincorporated community in Pima County, Arizona, United States, northeast of Tucson. The population was 16,195 at the 2000 census. For statistical purposes, the United States Census Bureau has defined Tanque Verde as a census-designated place (CDP).
Tanque Verde began as a small community, remote from Tucson, and settled by ranchers arriving to the American West around the 1860s. The name of the area, which means “green tank,” is a reference to the algae in a large and prominent stock water tank in the area in the late 19th century.
The Tanque Verde Valley was used by the Apache, a Native American tribe throughout the 19th century. Soldiers from Fort Lowell operated by the U.S. Army in the late 19th century also frequented the Tanque Verde Valley.
In 1886, the residents of the Tanque Verde valley established the Tanque Verde School District as the first significant political entity of the community.
The army closed Fort Lowell in 1891, and when some Hispanic immigrants from Baja California and Sonora saw the fort’s buildings standing empty, they moved into the abandoned adobes. Soon they began farming the rich floodplain northeast of the fort, where Pantano Wash feeds into Tanque Verde Creek to form the Rillito (Little River), and by the turn of the century the community they came to call El Fuerte was thriving. Upstream from El Fuerte, in the canyons and nooks (rincons) of the front range of the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Rincon range—the area they came to call Tanque Verde—Hispanic families with names like Escalante, Estrada, Andrade, Vindiola, Lopez, Riesgo, Benitez, Telles, Martinez, and Gallegos began establishing homes and ranches. Initially the largely self-sufficient community of homesteads thrived, but over time many of the smaller ranches were swallowed up by larger ones or sold to speculators. According to Frank Escalante, a descendant of Tanque Verde homesteaders, some non-Hispanic Americans robbed some of these families of their land titles and ranches by fraud or force. Some Hispanics who became Mexican Americans after the Gadsden Purchase had limited understanding of English and a naivete regarding American property law even four decades after the transition, and made easy marks for the unscrupulous. The infamous Arizona Rangers sometimes enforced interlopers’ property claims. The First World War brought a rise in the market for cotton and the value of farmland, and still more of the original homesteaders felt pressured to sell. Ultimately the growth of Tucson and the demand for land for housing priced most of the remaining pioneers off their ranches.
Tortolita was a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. The population was 3,740 at the 2000 census. Tortolita was situated between the growing incorporated towns of Oro Valley and Marana with most of the area previously part of the CDP having been annexed by the two towns during the 2000s. The remaining parts of the CDP that have not been annexed continue to be unincorporated portions of Pima County.
In 1997, the residents of Tortolita voted to incorporate as the Town of Tortolita. However, the 1997 law passed by the Arizona legislature that allowed cities and towns within six miles of other incorporated areas to incorporate without those neighboring cities’ consent was overturned on constitutional grounds, and the incorporation was deemed invalid.
Tortolita was located at 32°24′16″N 111°2′56″W (32.404322, -111.049006). According to the 2000 census taken by the United States Census Bureau, the CDP had a total area of 11.9 square miles (31 km2), of which 11.9 square miles (31 km2) was land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.34%) was water.
Vail is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. It is 24 miles (39 km) southeast of Tucson. The population was 10,208 at the 2010 census, up from 2484 in the 2000 census. The area is known for the nearby Colossal Cave, a large cave system, and the Rincon Mountains District of Saguaro National Park, a top tourism spot within Arizona.
Vail was originally a siding and water stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was located on the last section of flat land before the train tracks followed the old wagon road into the Cienega Creek bed. Vail was named after pioneer ranchers Edward and Walter Vail, who established ranches in the area in the late 19th century. Vail deeded a right of way across his ranch to the railroad. Vail owned the Vail Ranch, his brother Walter Vail owned the nearby Empire Ranch, now part of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. An attempt to incorporate the town was defeated in 2013.
As of the census of 2010, there were 10,208 people residing in Vail, Arizona (a 248% increase from 2000). The population density was 561.2 people per square mile. According to the census, Vail is 69.8% non-Hispanic white, 3.3% Black or African American, 0.9% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 5.0% from other races, and 4.1% were mixed race. People of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 19.4% of the population. People from 0–4 years old were 7.5% of the population, children from ages 5–17 were 23.2% of the population, adults 18–64 were 62.0% of the total, and people 65 and over were 7.3% of the population.
Benson is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, 45 miles (72 km) east-southeast of Tucson. It was founded as a rail terminal for the area, and still serves as such. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 5,105.
The city was founded in 1880 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came through. It was named after Judge William S. Benson, a friend of Charles Crocker, president of the Southern Pacific. The railroad, coming overland from California, chose the Benson site to cross the San Pedro River. Benson then served as a rail junction point to obtain ore and refined metal by wagon, in turn shipping rail freight back to the mines at Tombstone, Fairbank, Contention City and Bisbee. For example, the railhead in Benson was about 25 miles (40 km) from Tombstone, and was the closest rail connection to it until 1882, when a feeder line was laid from Benson to Contention City.
The railhead in Benson was founded about a mile from a traditional crossing of the upper San Pedro River (known also as the Middle Crossing), used by the Southern Emigrant Trail and San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line. It was the site of the San Pedro Station of the Butterfield Overland Mail and a wagon depot, the San Pedro River Station, run since 1871 by William Ohnesorgen. In 1878 he had erected a toll bridge over which mining supplies were transported to the new mining camps such as Fairbank and Tombstone. Two years later this bridge marked the location of the railroad bridge that became the terminal site of Benson.
Catalina is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. The population was 7,025 at the 2000 census. Catalina continues to experience increasing population growth, while attempting to maintain its rural character. Catalina remains an unincorporated community, with no plans for annexation into any nearby towns.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,025 people, 2,567 households, and 1,899 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 506.6 inhabitants per square mile (195.6/km2). There were 2,755 housing units at an average density of 198.7 per square mile (76.7/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 85.2% White, 0.5% Black or African American, 1.4% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 9.7% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. 23.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,567 households, out of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.2% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.0% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.05.
In the CDP, the population was spread out, with 27.5% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 25.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
Oracle is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pinal County, Arizona, United States. The population was 3,686 at the 2010 Census, falling to 3,051 at the 2020 Census.
Buffalo Bill Cody owned the High Jinks Gold Mine in Oracle briefly and, in 1911, appeared as “Santa” for a group of local children. The community is the location of the Biosphere 2 experiment. Oracle was also the postal address for environmentalist author Edward Abbey, who never lived in the town but visited often. Oracle is becoming a bedroom community for Tucson, Arizona, but large-scale development is opposed by many residents.
Oracle State Park is adjacent. The Arizona Trail passes through the Park and community. Oracle is the gateway to the road up the north face of Mount Lemmon, which starts off of American Avenue and currently offers a secondary route to the top. Prior to the construction of the Catalina Highway on the opposite side of the Santa Catalina range, the Oracle Control Road was the only road access to the mountain community of Summerhaven. The term “control road” derives from the fact that the direction of traffic was restricted to one-way only, either up or down at alternate times of day, to prevent motorists from having to pass one another on the narrow, steep road. This route is now popular mainly with off-road 4×4 drivers and with off-road or dual-purpose motorcyclists, and should not be attempted by regular passenger cars or street motorcycles. This road ends at the Catalina Highway near Loma Linda.
Green Valley, Arizona
Green Valley is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. The population was 22,616 at the 2020 census. Green Valley is located along the western side of the Santa Cruz River at 31°51′N 111°0′W (31.8556, -111.0001). Continental is to the east of Green Valley, on the other side of the river.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 26.3 square miles (68 km2), of which 26.2 square miles (68 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.08%) is water. Green Valley is twenty miles (32 km) south of Tucson and 40 miles (64 km) north of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Surrounded by copper mines, and near the cycling, hiking and birding areas of the Santa Rita Mountains, Green Valley is an unincorporated retirement community composed of 59 Homeowner Associations.
The largest of the mines are the Sierrita Mine owned by Freeport-McMoRan and the Mission Mine of ASARCO. Compared to other mines in Arizona the two mines are large; Sierrita is low-grade.
Green Valley has a borderline hot semi-arid/hot desert climate (Köppen BSh/BWh) with three seasons: a warm to mild winter with chilly nights from October through March; a hot, extremely dry summer season from April to late June; and a hot, relatively humid monsoon season from July through September. Outside monsoon season, rainfall is uniformly scarce, having exceeded 4.0 inches or 100 millimetres only in October 2000 amongst other months. The wettest month on record has been July 1990 with 10.43 inches or 264.9 millimetres, of which 3.22 inches or 81.8 millimetres fell on July 15. The wettest calendar year has been 1993 with 22.00 inches or 558.8 millimetres while the driest since 1988 has been 1997 with 9.90 inches or 251.5 millimetres.
Temperatures are uniformly hot during the summer and monsoon seasons, with 90 °F or 32.2 °C exceeded on 154 days during an average year, and 77 nights failing to fall below 70 °F or 21.1 °C, including every night during August 2011. Frosts occur 37 nights per winter on average, and daytime highs fail to top 50 °F or 10 °C on nine days.