With a population of just over half a million people, Tucson has had a long journey to its current rank as second largest city in Arizona. The city has been continuously populated for 12,000 years, making it one of the oldest in the United States. Today, Tucson is known for its thriving industry and rich cultural history. Tucson has a desert climate with hot summers and milder winters. The temperate climate is perfect for enjoying Tucson as a pedestrian, aided by the city’s award-winning public transit system. However, the city is spread out enough that a car would be beneficial if not strictly necessary. The city has many diverse neighborhoods, ranging from historical to upscale and trendy. Whether you are looking to move to the area, or are looking for a new Tucson apartment to fit your style, the city has a great mix of shops, restaurants, sport venues, outdoor activities and cultural attractions for everyone!
Tucson was originally an Indian village, first settled by the Paleo-Indians roughly 12,000 years ago. The Arizona Territory became part of the United States in 1854 as part of the Gadsden Purchase, and Tucson served as capital of the territory from 1867-1877. In 1880 the railroad reached Tucson, paving the way for expansive population growth. The University of Arizona, today the city’s second largest employer, was founded in 1885 and helped balloon the population to over 8,000. By 1910 construction had begun on the Veteran’s Hospital, and after WWI many soldiers injured by gas attacks made their way to Tucson, seeking medical services and the dry climate for their respiratory illnesses. By 1990 Tucson had become the 33rd largest city in the country, with a population of just over 400,000.
Although Tucson is considered a desert, it has a wetter climate than much of Arizona. It receives approximately 11.8 inches of rain annually, although the hot temperatures mean the water doesn’t stick around for long. The two main seasons are summer and winter, with secondary fall and spring seasons.
Getting Around Tucson
It’s best to have a car for getting around Tucson since the city is large and spread out. However, you may want to consider an apartment convenient to the great public transportation system. The Sun Tran bus system serves the greater Tucson area, and was recognized as a Best Transit System in 2005. There is also a short, 3.9 mile streetcar system that connects the University of Arizona to various other neighborhoods. Cycling is also popular due to Tucson’s flat terrain and extensive bike path system.
Commuting in Tucson
Although it’s a large metropolis, Tucson does not have a beltway system. The city does have two interstate highways - Interstate 10 runs southeast from Phoenix toward El Paso and Interstate 19 leaves the I-10 south of downtown and heads to the Mexican border. State Highway 210 connects the downtown area with Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Tucson's southeast side.
Tucson has a wide variety of radio stations, some of the more popular are 93.7 KRQQ (Top 40), 97.5 KSZR (70s, 80s and Today), 107.5 KHYT (Classic Rock) and 104.1 KZPT (News and Talk Radio). The Tucson metro area is served by many local television stations and is the 68th market in the country. The major television networks serving Tucson are: KVOA 4 (NBC), KGUN 9 (ABC), KMSB-TV 11 (Fox), and KOLD-TV 13 (CBS). Tucson has one daily newspaper, The Arizona Daily Star, along with many smaller, independent publications dedicated to various hobbies and activities.
There are many reasons to look at apartments in Tucson. The attractive climate, the rich sense of cultural pride and the myriad of activities and job opportunities all blend to create a vibrant community. There is a sense of pride in Tucson, there may be half a million people but it retains a small-town feel where the people really care about each other and the city itself. Regardless of the neighborhood you choose for your apartment, you will find a welcoming community in Tucson!
Raytheon Missile Systems and the University of Arizona are the largest employers in Tucson, and two of the well-recognized landmarks in the area. Other popular landmarks include Saint Augustine Cathedral, renowned for its artwork and Spanish-style architecture, and Sentinel Peak, which offers amazing views of Tucson and the surrounding area.
Things to do in Tucson
Tucson packs a lot in relative to its size! The city boasts an impressive showcase for the arts, including its own professional ballet company, Ballet Tucson. There is also a professional theater, as well as an opera and symphony. Ranked among the Top 25 Art Destinations 2009 by American Style Magazine, Tucson has more than 35 art galleries just in the downtown area. If history is more your style, the city also boasts a myriad of museums dedicated to the culture and history of the area. There are also over 800 miles of maintained bike paths, and over a dozen golf courses.
There are many, many festivals in Tucson annually. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is the largest gem and mineral show in the US. It is held during the second full weekend of February every year. Fiesta de los Vaqueros, or the Tucson Rodeo, is held every year in mid-February. Participants dress up in the regalia of the Old West for a week of parades, food and activities. The first Sunday in November kicks off the All Souls Procession, a week-long festival that celebrates the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos.
Tucson Vacation spots
Just over an hour away from Tucson, Sierra Vista has beautiful scenery and ample space for outdoor activities like hiking and bird watching. Thirty minutes east of Tucson is the famous Saguaro National Park. Enjoy the iconic cacti with a hike or car ride. Just over an hour south is the famous city of tombstone. This historic city is the site of the famous OK Corral shootout.
Where to move in Tucson
With all that the city has to offer, it might be tough to choose an apartment in Tucson! It’s a large city and has many great neighborhoods. One of the best is Sam Hughes in central Tucson. Located to the east of Arizona State University, Sam Hughes boasts historic, turn of-the-century architecture and a diverse population. Dove Mountain is a newer, high-end development on the northwest side of the city. Housing is fairly spread out and there is a good mix of families, working commuters and retirees. You might also look at Tucson apartments on the north side of the city, in the Catalina Foothills. Located at the feet of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the neighborhood is only about 15 minutes from downtown, but lacks the clustered feeling. This area is home to the best school district in Tucson.