Tucson (/ˈtuːsɒn/ or occasionally locally /tuːˈsɒn/) is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and home to the University of Arizona. The 2010 United States Census put the population at 520,116, while the 2013 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 996,544. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 980,263 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second-largest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, which both anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is located 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 59th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Roughly 150 Tucson companies are involved in the design and manufacture of optics and optoelectronics systems, earning Tucson the nickname Optics Valley.
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) includeCasas Adobes, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Midvale Park, Tanque Verde, Tortolita, andVail. Towns outside the Tucson metro area include Benson to the southeast, Catalina andOracle to the north, and Green Valley to the south.
The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón [tukˈson], 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 "A" Mountain. Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo".
|City of Tucson|
|Nickname(s): "The Old Pueblo", "Optics Valley"|
Location in Pima County and the state of Arizona
The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is one of the largest gem and mineral shows in the world and has been held for over 50 years. The Show is only one part of the gem, mineral, fossil, and bead gathering held all around Tucson in over 45 different sites. The various shows run from late-January to mid-February with the official Show lasting two weeks in February.
Since 2009, the Tucson Festival of Books has been held annually over a two-day period in March at the University of Arizona. By 2010 it had become the fourth largest book festival in the United States, with 450 authors and 80,000 attendees. In addition to readings and lectures, it features a science fair, varied entertainment, food, and exhibitors ranging from local retailers and publishers to regional and national nonprofit organizations. In 2011, the Festival began presenting a Founder's Award; recipients include Elmore Leonard and R.L. Stine.
For the past 25 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 is 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. KXCI 91.3-FM, Arizona's only community radio station, 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.
There are two Fourth Avenue Street Fairs, in December and late March/early April, 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.
Another popular event held in February, which is early spring in Tucson, is the Fiesta de los Vaqueros, or rodeo week, founded by winter visitor, Leighton Kramer. 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 (a non-public charter school), 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.
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."
Cultural and other attractions include:
Shops in Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon offer such items as jewelry and other gifts, pizza, and 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 is 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.
The Biosphere 2 is a 3.14-acre educational facility, designed to mimic a tropical or sub-tropical climate-controlled environment.
The number of accomplished and awarded writers (poets, novelists, dramatists, nonfiction writers) in Tucson include David Foster Wallaceand Barbara Kingsolver. Some are associated with the University of Arizona, but many are independent writers who have chosen to make Tucson their home. The city is particularly active in publishing and presenting contemporary innovative poetry in various ways. Examples are the Chax Press, a publisher of poetry books in trade and book arts editions, and the University of Arizona Poetry Center, which has a sizable poetry library and presents readings, conferences, and workshops.
Tucson is considered an influential center for Mariachi music and is home to a large number of Mariachi musicians and singers. The Tucson International Mariachi Conference, hosted annually since 1982, involves several hundred mariachi bands and folklorica dance troops during a three-day festival in April. The Norteño Festival and Street Fair in the enclave city of South Tucson is held annually at the end of summer.
Prominent musical artists based in Tucson have included Linda Ronstadt, The Dusty Chaps, Howe Gelb, Bob Log III, Calexico, Giant Sand,Hipster Daddy-O and the Handgrenades, The Bled and Tucson's official troubadour Ted Ramirez. The Tucson Area Music Awards, or TAMMIES, are an annual event.
Theater groups include the Arizona Theatre Company, which performs in the Temple of Music and Art, and Arizona Onstage Productions, a not-for-profit theater company devoted to musical theater. Broadway in Tucson presents the touring reproductions of many Broadway style events. The Gaslight Theater produces musical melodrama parodies in the old Jerry Lewis Theater and has been in Tucson since 1977
The city has more than 120 parks, including Reid Park Zoo. There are five public golf courses located in Tucson. Several scenic parks and points of interest are also located nearby, including the Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tohono Chul Park, Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon, and Biosphere 2 (just north of the city, in the town of Oracle).
Mt. Lemmon, 25 miles (40 km) north (by road) and over 6,700 feet (2,000 m) above Tucson, is located in the Coronado National Forest. Outdoor activities in the summer include hiking, birding, rock climbing, picnicking, camping, sky rides at Ski Valley, fishing and touring. In the winter, skiing and/or sledding is sometimes available at the southernmost ski resort in the continental United States. Summerhaven, a community near the top of Mt. Lemmon, is also a popular destination.
The League of American Bicyclists gave Tucson a gold rating for bicycle friendliness in late April 2007. Tucson hosts the largest perimeter cycling event in the United States. The ride called "El Tour de Tucson" happens in November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. El Tour de Tucson produced and promoted by Perimeter Bicycling has as many as 10,000 participants from all over the world, annually. Tucson is one of only nine cities in the U.S. to receive a gold rating or higher for cycling friendliness from the League of American Bicyclists. The city is known for its winter cycling opportunities. Both road and mountain biking are popular in and around Tucson with trail areas including Starr Pass and Fantasy Island.