Tucson, Arizona – Yesterday & Today
The largest city in southern Arizona and one of the fastest growing urban areas in the Southwest, Tucson is both a bustling center of business and a laid-back university and resort town. The days of rowdy saloons and the Butterfield Stage rolling over dusty city streets may be gone, but the independent feeling of the Old West remains. Tucsonans’ embrace the quality of life and live in a place where the American dream can still come true, where individual voices can be heard, and where people are the driving force behind making things happen.
Tucson officially became part of the United States with the Gadsden Purchase of 1854 and served as the capital of the Arizona Territory from 1867 to 1877. Early Tucson was a major outpost, a Butterfield Overland Stagecoach stop, and a rowdy frontier town tempered only by social refinements of new settlers from more civilized cities back east. The town prospered and boasted a population of more than 7,000 by the early 1800s, making it one of the largest cities in the West. The arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880 paved the way for modern growth, which was further stimulated by the founding of the University of Arizona in 1885. The University opened its doors in 1891 on land donated by a saloonkeeper and two gamblers.
After World War I, veterans with damaged lungs sought the dry air and healing power of Tucson’s climate. During World War II the opening of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the rise of local aeronautical industries attracted many military families.
The majesty and beauty of the four Mountain Ranges surrounding Tucson form an indelible memory in Tucson residents and visitors alike, creating great opportunities for outdoor living; however, Tucson’s climate may be its biggest draw.
The sun shines in Tucson up to 360 days a year and often competes with St. Petersburg, Florida for the title of “America’s Sunniest City”. The mild Winters with average daytime temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s draw thousands of part-time visitors, called “snowbirds”, from October to April.
The Tucson metropolitan area, which includes the cities of Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita & Vail, has a population of slightly over 1,000,000 full-time residents. Tucson traffic drops significantly during the summer months, when “snowbirds” and many UA students have left. Temperatures do exceed 100°, primarily in June and early July, but cool down in late July and August when the Monsoon season begins. From July through September Tucson receives over half of the annual 12” average.