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Tucson Arizona Overview

       

Surrounded by scenic mountain ranges just waiting to be hiked, located in the Sonoran Desert the Tucson and surrounding Pima County areas contain the two units of the federal governments Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest. Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona offering both tourists and residents about everything that Metropolitan Phoenix has to offer, and a lot more. There are well rated golf resorts, varied cuisine at the many local restaurants, art museums, galleries, cultural activities, and lots of sunny weather year round. Tucson has a very long history that mixes its American Indian, Spanish Colonial, Occidente State of Mexico, Territory of the United States of America, Mormon Batallion, Chinese, Territory of the Confederate States of America, and again later United States of America roots.

 At the Saguaro National Park, you can explore the massive Saguaro Cactus that have come to symbolize the Sonoran Desert. At the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum-Zoo enjoy the variety of desert flora and fauna of the area. Hike or take a horseback ride up one of hundreds of  trails that spread out into the wilderness from the edge of Pima County. Beyond the cactus and sand you might find Tucson is still a desert oasis with nearby waterfalls, swimming holes, and even a pine forest just minutes from downtown.


The Tucson area has been occupied for many thousands of years. Officially, founded by the Spanish Army in 1775, the military practice of that era saw it built on top of the existing Pima Indian Village to establish who was in charge. The name "Tucson" came about from the Spanish Soldiers themselves mispronouncing the Pima Indian word "Chukeson"  meaning 'The Spring At The Base Of Black Mountain.' Chukeson referred to the hill once called 'Sentential Peak' where lookouts watched twenty four (24) hours a day for approaching Apache Indian Raiding Party's searching for supplies. The hill in modern times became known as 'A Mountain' after a group of University Of Arizona students in 1919 boldly painted a huge 'A' on the hills eastern side, and have continued the practice yearly ever since. Between the years 1867 to 1877  Tucson served the capital of the then Territory of Arizona. However, that changed due to some smoke filled room decisions by wealthy powerful politicians and businessmen in 1877, and the capital was moved very late one night under the cover of darkness to Phoenix. The result left Tucson not developing as nearly as fast as its fledgling northern neighbor Phoenix. Tucson still manages to hold onto some of its Spanish, Mexican, American Indian, and Wild West heritage.

 

For a while in the more modern times Tucson had a history of valuing quality of life over development, which differed substantially from Phoenix up to the north. The 1960's-70's heady days of often forced urban renewal, occasionally its citizens were able to turn back the rampant bulldozers and were able to preserve at least some of Tucson's old Mexican architecture and character but not always as in the case of the heart of one Bario which was leveled to make way for the city owned convention center. Now days, experiencing some of the kinds of urban sprawl that gives Phoenix and its now surrounding suburbs the feel of a landlocked Los Angeles, the advocates for controlled growth have many times lost ground in the effort to preserve both Tucson's desert environment and the city's unique character, but it remains none the less. The seemingly inevitable development sprawl has now ringed much of Tucson with vast suburbs, yet it is far from becoming another Phoenix for the time being. Tucson's off and on struggle (and often its failure) to retain an identity distinct from other Southwestern cities is still going on. This despite various bond issues, state and federal money, wasted and unaccounted funds, and many years of attempts to breathe more life into the city's downtown. However, the city's downtown areas do have their own charms awaiting for the urban explorer to find.


 Tucson offers a wide variety of cultural activities for the casual visitors with its art and historical museums, parks, events, shopping, convention center, historic neighborhoods, many parades and a variety of  good restaurants from A to Z. Looking deeper past those to the many hundreds of special local places that Tucson natives and some transplants have enjoyed for many years. Some current plans started years ago for a major downtown renaissance project known as Rio Nuevo which held some hope but despite the collected millions in taxpayers dollars put aside for it that seems to have evaporated into vague studies, consultants, architectural plans, and $10,000.00 bronze plaques for politicians. Still, what is today Tucson remains one of Arizona's more beautiful, historical, culturally rich, mystery filled, and most livable city. The Santa Catalina, Santa Rita, Rincon, and other Mountains provide a awesome view from everywhere in the city.  Tucson is proud to share one of the most dramatic scenery in the Southwest. No matter if you are taking in beautiful mountain views from the golf course, up in the saddle of a trail horse, at a roadside taco stand, food truck, at a cozy table for two in a 100 year old Mexican family owned restaurant, or skinny dipping at Reddington Pass, your sure to find that Tucson can be a very unique vacation destination, convention venue, or place to live.