TUCSON – Diverse Natural Beauty

Nestled just 60 miles north of the U.S.  /  Mexico  border, Tucson  is  a  rich  mix  of  Native  American,  Spanish and Mexican cultures. Its name comes from the Pima Indian word “schook-sun,” which means a “spring at the foot of a black mountain,” a nod to the area’s mountainous terrain and desert surroundings. Located about 118 miles southeast of Phoenix, Tucson are the second largest city in Arizona and the 32nd largest city in the United States.  Its  metropolitan  area  is  home  to  just  over  980,000  residents,  with  the  city  itself numbering over 520,000 according to the 2010 United States Census.  So what makes the Tucson area so special? Beyond its natural beauty, it’s a diverse combination of factors that offers something for everyone. With more than 630 miles of bike paths in the metropolitan area, it’s clear that its residents have embraced the state’s reputation as a place to truly experience and appreciate the great outdoors. In fact, Tucson hosts El Tour de Tucson, the largest perimeter bicycling event in the Union, with some 10,000 participants every autumn.  Besides its miles of striped bike paths, Tucson also has 72 miles of shared use paths, and more than 100 miles of residential bike routes. It’s no surprise that Tucson was named one of the “Top five best cycling towns” in the U.S. – and the “friendliest city” and one of the “Top 10 U.S. cities to visit” by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. And, the U.S.  Department  of Transportation  has  designated  General  Hitchcock  Highway –  commonly  known  to residents  as  the  Catalina  Highway –  as  one  of “America’s  Byways”  and “One  of  the  most  scenic  drives  in  the nation.”  Winding from the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains to Summerhaven, a charming mountain village on  Mount  Lemmon  that  sits  at  an  8,200-foot  elevation,  the  road  is  a  veritable  nature  drive  of  ecology,  with distinctive saguaro and cholla cacti along the way. The city’s rich cultural heritage has garnered honors as one of the Top 10 cities for Hispanics in 2009, according to Hispanic magazine, and its  thriving business community –  especially technology –  has  resulted in more than 1,200  companies  employing  in  excess  of  50,000  Southern Arizona  residents,  150  of  which  are  involved  with optics and optoelectronics systems and garnering the city with the unofficial nickname of Optics Valley. In addition, Tucson serves as the home of the University of Arizona, the first university in the state as well as an international hub of astronomical and technological research, and affiliated astronomy efforts such as Kitt Peak National   Observatory and   Steward   Observatory, a   joint   venture   between   the   University   and   the Vatican Observatory Research Group and manages multiple telescopes across Southern Arizona.



Known  as  the “Old  Pueblo”  Tucson  has  a  rich  multicultural  history  that  includes  Spanish,  Mexican and  Native American influences and centuries-old traditions. According  to  University  of  Arizona  research,  Tucson’s  first  residents  hunted  for  bison  and  wooly  mammoth between 12,500 and 6,000 B.C.E. Later, in 300 A.D., the Cochise and Hohokam Indian cultures came to farm the area’s rich valley terrain. In 1692, Spanish missionaries discovered the Indian village S-tukson (which means “black base”), and by 1804, about 1,000 people lived in traditional adobe villages.  The  1848  Gold  Rush in  California  attracted even more  residents  to  the area, and  Arizona  was  named  the  48th state in 1912. During World War II, Davis-Monthan Field served as an important training base, bringing an influx of military families to the city, many of who chose to stay, raise families and retire here. As  for  geography, Mexico  is  a  close  neighbor at  60 miles  south,  and the  city  was  actually  part  of  Mexico  when Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. But, thanks  to the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 (also known as the Treaty of La Mesilla), when the U.S. bought parts of southern  Arizona and New Mexico to make way for the construction of a transcontinental railroad, the city became part of the U.S. and was  named the capital of what was then known as the Arizona Territory. The epitome of the “Wild, Wild West” in the 1860s, Tucson was a rough-and-tumble frontier town coming into its own like many other western cities of the day. In fact, the town of Tombstone – where the famous “Shootout at the OK Corral” happened – is just 50 miles southeast of Tucson. The city is still known for its Western roots and culture.



Tucson sits atop a 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 feature the 4,687-foot Wasson Peak. The city’s mild weather and warm, dry climate coaxes both residents and visitors outside to enjoy the sunshine. The surrounding mountains offer cooler temperatures and an outdoor dichotomy that allows residents to swim, hike and ski – all in the same day! The average minimum temperature is 54F (12C), and the average maximum is 82F (28C), while the rainfall is minimal – only about 12 inches annually. Summer is the warmest time of the year, with hot, dry temperatures in the 100s during the day but comfortable nights normally in the 70s and 80s.  The  humidity  is  only  about  10  percent  in  the  spring  and  early  summer, resulting in a much drier heat – and a top reason why the state has long been known as a healing destination. Summer  also  ushers  in  a  monsoon  period  in  Southern  Arizona,  which  begins  on  June  15th,  and  ends  on September 30th. During this time, the humidity climbs with a buildup of daily cloud cover, which is then followed by afternoon and evening thunderstorms and rainfall.  Many  Tucsonans  welcome  the  monsoons—which  is considered   by   many   residents   as   its   own   annual   season—as   it   blocks   the   bright,   warm  afternoon   sun experienced in early summer and can actually drop temperatures as far as 20 degrees or more. And don’t forget cooler nights in fall and winter, when it’s not unusual to experience temperature drops in the low 30s.  It  even  snows  every  once  in  a  while,  with  skiing  and  other  snow  sports  the  activity  of  choice  for residents at nearby Mt. Lemmon.  Love parks? Tucson is home to several national parks, including Catalina State Park and Saguaro National Park, as  well  as  more  than  125  citywide  parks  for  fun  and  recreation.  And,  the  city’s  climate  means  that  it’s  also  a golfer’s paradise, with its mix of municipal, private and unique desert courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Fazio, Tom Weiskopf, Jack Nicklaus and other pros. As for spectator sports, Tucson is home to several professional sports clubs, including two minor league baseball teams,  the  Tucson  Padres,  a  triple-A  affiliate  of  the  San Diego  Padres  that  plays  at  Kino  Veterans  Memorial Stadium,  and  the  Tucson  Toros,  a  member-team  of  the  independent  Golden  Baseball  League  that  has  made Tucson and its historic Hi Corbett Field its home for much of the past 42 years.



Economically,  Tucson  thrives  on  its  vibrant  tourist  culture  and  attractions,  as  well  as  a  healthy  and  diverse business climate. Research  indicates  that  more  than  40,000  Tucson-area  jobs  are  directly  related  to  tourist  activities,  such  as resorts,  hotels  and  attractions  that account for  more than  3.5 million annual  visitors.  In  all, 10.4  percent  of all Tucson  MSA  jobs  are  tourism  oriented  resulting  in  about $2  billion  in  economic  impact.  And,  though  it’s  a relatively  small city, Tucson celebrates  the  arts  in  style  with  ballet,  symphony,  live  theater and  opera  that  also provide significant jobs and economic impact for the city. Manufacturing  and  technology  are  also  big  business  in  Tucson,  with  companies  like  IBM,   Raytheon  Missile Systems,  Honeywell,  Texas  Instruments  and  others  bolstering  the  city’s  reputation  as  a  thriving  place  to  do business  by  establishing  a  major  presence  here.  Recent city economic research estimates that the city’s technology industry employs about 50,000 and generates a whopping $4 billion in revenues. In fact, the Milken Institute ranked Tucson 77 out of 200 on its 2010 Best Performing Cities Index, which takes into  consideration  each  state’s  research  and  development,  ability  to  attract  workers,  and  the “dollar  volume entrepreneurs are willing to risk spending.” Even more significant, many businesses have either relocated to or expanded within Tucson, leading Expansion Management magazine to name the region as the “Top mid-sized county in the country for business recruitment and attraction.” And,   the   U.S.   Small   Business   Administration’s   Office   of   Advocacy   ranks   Tucson   third   among   mid-sized metropolitan  areas  for “high-impact  firms –  those  companies  that  have  at  least  doubled  their  sales  and employment in the past four years.” There’s no doubt that Tucson continues to thrive in a challenging economy, and that it’s a great place to start and grow a business.



The arts thrive in Tucson, thanks to resident demand and a passion for a stimulating creative community. In fact, The Wall Street Journal has even called Tucson a “Mini-Mecca for the arts!” From chamber music to film, opera, ballet and theater, there’s something for every artistic taste and persuasion in Tucson. A vibrant  performing  arts  sector  includes  the  Arizona  Opera;  the  Arizona  Theatre  Company;  Ballet  Arizona;

Ballet Tucson; the contemporary Beowulf Alley Theatre Company; the Borderlands Theater that tells the unique stories of the southwest border and Mexican heritage; Broadway in Tucson/A Nederlander Presentations, which brings top musical productions to the city; the historical Fox Tucson Theatre; the Tucson Jazz Society; the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, which is celebrating its 82nd season; and much more. Tucson is also home to a number of public museums throughout the city and on both the University of Arizona and community college campuses, as  well as  a host of private galleries  that cover a range of interests, from the arts  and  aerospace  to  children’s  museums,  cultural  centers  and  history.  The  Tucson  Museum of  Art,  Tucson Children’s  Museum, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Arizona History Museum, and  the  Castaneda  Museum  of  Ethnic  Costume,  Flandrau  Science  Center  &  Planetarium;  Pima  Air  &  Space Museum; and the “La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum” are just a few of the city’s diverse cultural offerings. (Visit www.TucsonMuseums.org to explore an interactive map to Tucson-area museums.) Tucson  also  hosts  its  share  of  fun  festivals,  including  the  long-running  Arizona  Film  Festival,  the  largest  film festival in the state; the Tucson Folk Festival; La Fiesta de los Vaqueros – Tucson Rodeo; the Tucson Gem, Mineral and  Fossil  Showcase –  the  largest event  of  its  kind  in  the  world  that  attracts  high-end  jewelers  and  rock fans alike;  and  the  Great  Tucson  Beer  Festival,  which  benefits  Sun  Sounds –  an  organization  that  provides  audio access to information for those who can’t read print because of a disability.



While Tucson is famous for its Mexican and Southwestern cuisine – including Janos, The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol and  El  Charro  Mexican  Café –  named  one  of  the “21  Most  Legendary  Restaurants  in  America”  by  Gourmet magazine – it also has a lot to offer foodies of all palates and persuasions. Think five-star dining at the Anthony’s or classic pit barbeque at Bubb’s Grubb – and everything in between. Once you’ve satisfied your appetite, it’s time to work it off with some shopping! The city has a range of options, from artisan and craft malls to antique shopping or the latest styles at area malls and shopping centers.   Major malls include the Tucson Mall (Dillard’s, JC Penney, Macy’s and more than 200 specialty shops); Park Place (Macy’s, Dillard’s, Sears and 160 specialty shops); El Con Mall, Tucson’s first enclosed shopping center; and the Foothills  Mall,  with  outlet  stores,  specialty  boutiques  and a  15-screen  movie  theater.  There’s also the luxury outdoor La Encantada, with such brands as St. John, Louis Vuitton, Cole Haan, Tiffany & Co. and Apple. Don’t miss the charming boutiques and shops in downtown Tucson on Fourth Avenue, where a historic trolley runs each weekend; the Casas Adobes Plaza with its Old World plaza and upscale specialty shops; or Main Gate Square, an urban shopper’s paradise near the University of Arizona, positioned in the center of charming historic neighborhoods.



There’s no doubt that Tucson is a big draw for families. The August 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine named Tucson’s  Oro  Valley  as “One  of  the  Top  10  Places  in  the  Country  to  Raise  a  Family”–  a  ranking  based  on  home affordability, public safety, environmental protection and quality of schools. It’s also a very livable city.  Recent  city  statistics  found  that  the  average commute  time  is  just  over  25 minutes each way – shorter than most cities of similar size and population. Housing is also an affordable option in the Tucson area, with the median sales price hovering around $150, 000 (as of June 2013).

Area  communities  in  Pima  County  include  the  city  of  Tucson,  Catalina,  Green  Valley,  Marana,  Oro  Valley, Sahuarita,  South  Tucson,  Tucson  and  Vail.  In  Cochise  County,  just  southeast  of  the  city,  communities  include Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Wilcox And in Santa Cruz County, west of the city, communities include Elgin, Nogales, Patagonia, Rio Rico, Sonoita and Tubac. Area attractions include Pena Blanca Lake and Patagonia Lake in Patagonia State Park, which includes a beach,  picnic  area,  campground,  tables,  hiking  trail,  marina  and  market;  and  several  area  wineries,  including Callaghan and Sonoita Vineyards. Choose from charming inner city history, downtown urban living, luxury developments around the city or quiet suburban neighborhoods – there’s no shortage of diverse housing in Tucson. Welcome to a city that residents and visitors adore – and that you will, too. As you explore the Tucson Relocation Guide and the city that it represents, Tucson will surely become a favorite place to live and enjoy life!