History of Tucson
The first missionary in Santa Cruz River valley was Eusebio Francisco Kino who arrived in 1692 and eight years later founded Mission San Xavier del Bac. The mission was located several miles upstream from the settlement of Tucson and there was also another settlement, called Convent, located downstream. In 1775 the Spanish established a fort called Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, which was frequently attacked by the Apaches. Tucson became part of Mexico when it gained independence from Spain in 1821 and captured by the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican-American War. However, Tucson soon returned under Mexican control and it was not included in the Mexican Cession. It was only after the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 that Tucson actually became part of the United States.
In 1857 Tucson became a station of the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line for stage coaches. In August 1861 Tucson became one of the two capitals of the Confederate Arizona Territory (the other one was Mesilla). However, in 1862 the Confederates were driven out of Arizona and in 1863 Tucson became part of the Arizona Territory. It was the territorial capital between 1867 and 1877. During that period and in the following years, Tucson was suffered from frequent Apache attacks and by a spree of stagecoach robberies.
The University of Arizona was established in 1885. At the time, the city had a considerable Asian population. The population in Tucson grew steadily during the first decades of the 20th century. After the World War I, the U.S. Veterans Administration established the Veterans Hospital in Tucson. The air in the city was clean and dry and very beneficial for the veterans who had respiratory problems after being gassed during the war.
Geography and Climate
Tucson occupies an area of 226.71 square miles. It lies on an alluvial plain in the Sonoran Desert, at 2,643 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by mountain ranges, which include Santa Catalina, Tortolita, Santa Rita, Rincon and Tucson mountains. The city was founded on the Santa Cruz River, which today is mostly just dry river bed, except during large seasonal rains.
The city has a desert climate with two major seasons (summer and winter) and three minor seasons (spring, autumn and monsoon). Summer in Tucson is hot and dry and winter is mild, with rare and light snowfall. The monsoon season begins in June or July and brings higher humidity, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms and rainfall. It usually continues until late August or early September.
Population of Tucson
In 2010, Tucson had a population of 520,116 and the estimated population in 2011 was 525,796. In 2010, the racial makeup was 47.2% non-Hispanic White, 41.6% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 5% Black or African American, 2.9% Asian, 2.7% Native American, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 17.8% some other race and 3.4% two or more races.
The median household income in 2010 was $30,981 and the per capita income for the city was $16,322.
Economy and Industry
The University of Arizona is among the top private employers in Tucson and much of the city’s economic development is centered on it. The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is also a major employer. This base, along with the U.S. Army Intelligence Service Fort Huachuca in the nearby Sierra Vista, attracted a number of hi-tech companies to the area, many of which are the government contractors. Some of these companies include Raytheon Missile Systems, Texas Instruments, IBM, Universal Avionics and others. In addition, there are more than 150 optics and optoelectronic companies in the city, which is how Tucson got its nickname “Optics Valley.”
Tourism and Attractions
Another significant industry in Tucson is tourism. The city gets 3.5 million visitors annually, including the “snowbirds” or winter vacationers who are attracted by the city’s mild weather during winter. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show also attracts many visitors, being the world’s largest show of its kind.
Other large annual events in the city include Tucson Folk Festival, Fourth Avenue Street Fair, TAWN Fall Festival, the Tucson Rodeo Festival and All Souls Procession Weekend.
Some of the most visited attractions and sites of interest include Mission San Xavier del Bac, Fort Lowell Museum, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Titan Missile Museum, Old Tucson Studios and Pima County Fair.
Tucson is home to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Arizona Opera. Mariachi music and culture is very popular in the city, with a number of prominent mariachi musicians, singers and groups. The city also has a small but strong independent music scene and has been home to musicians and groups such as Giant Sand, Calexico, Linda Ronstadt, Ted Ramirez and Bob Log III.
Education in Tucson
In addition to the University of Arizona, Tucson is home to the ten-campus Pima Community College, Arizona State University, Tucson College, Prescott College, Northern Arizona University, Brown Mackie College, The Art Institute of Tucson, and The Art Center Design College.
The primary airport for the city is Tucson International Airport. Intercity passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak with Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle trains. The city has two interstate highways: I-10 and I-19.