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Tucson, Arizona
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Tucson (pronounced TOO-sawn) is the second-largest city in the state of Arizona, one of the United States of America.

At an elevation of 2,400 feet, it has slightly cooler temperatures than its desert cousin, Phoenix. It is situated in the biologically diverse Sonoran Desert . With a population of 486,699 (2000 Census) in Tucson and 843,746 in the greater metro area (Pima County ), Tucson was the 32nd fastest growing of 280 metropolitan areas from 1990-2000.

Understand
Tucson has always been a crossroads. Until recently, water was relatively plentiful in Tucson, in spite of its location in the middle of a desert. This made it an important travel route, an agricultural center, and a communications nexus.
Tucson's history is ancient, with evidence of human occupation stretching back 10,000 years. Between A.D. 200 and 1450, the Hohokam culture dominated the area -- the Pima and Tohono O'Odham peoples that still occupy the area are descendants of the Hohokam. In 1699, Father Eusebio Kino, S.J., established the Mission San Xavier del Bac, southwest of present-day Tucson. Over the next 100 years, other missions were established in the area, but European presence was minimal.
It wasn't until 1775 that the Presidio of Tucson was created by Don Hugo O'Connor. At that time, it was the northernmost Spanish outpost in the New World. In 1821, Tucson became part of the new country of Mexico, and in 1853 it became part of the United States as a result of the Gadsden Purchase. In 1863, Arizona became a US territory, and by 1880, its population was around 8,000. In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state to enter the union.

Today, Tucson is still a crossroads, with European, Native American, Mexican, and Asian cultures bumping into one another, in sometimes conflicting and sometimes compatible -- but always interesting -- ways.

Get in
By plane
Tucson International Airport (IATA: TUS), 7250 S. Tucson Blvd., Tel. (520) 573-8000, . Served by a number of airlines. Some people fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor and then take a shuttle to Tucson. In recent years the cost savings and the cost of shuttle service going up because of gas prices has made this less and less of an attractive option unless you don't care about time and really want to save money.


By train
The local Amtrak +1 520 623-4442, station is at 400 N. Toole Avenue, and is served by the Los Angeles - New Orleans Sunset Limited line.


By car
I-10 from the north and southeast, and I-19 from the south.
I-10 from West Prince Road on the north side of Tucson to the I-10/I-19 interchange has been reduced to two lanes of traffic each direction and drivers aren't allowed to enter or exit the freeway between these points due to construction that is expected to be completed sometime in 2010. You need to exit the freeway and take the frontage road if you want to take any streets into downtown. You need to be aware that closures underneath the freeway happen at night, usually 9pm-6am, often all weekend, making getting to one side of the freeway to the other a surprising problem. The west side of the freeway is south bound traffic and the east side is north bound. This appears to have not created any major traffic problems in these areas, as locals appear to be avoiding the area altogether during commute times. (expected construction all of 2008-2009, as of Christmas 2008 it is 1/2 done)

By bus
Greyhound Lines, Station: 471 W. Congress St., Tel. (520) 792-3475, .


Get around
By Bus. Extensive metropolitan bus system, Sun Tran .
By Car. I-10 and I-19 are the only freeways in Tucson. East-west travel on surface streets above I-10 can be slow during the work day. Tucson has far fewer miles of freeway than other U.S. cities of its size. All east-west travel and all travel on the east side is done via surface streets.
By Bike. Tucson is a bike-friendly community, and has an extensive system of bike routes and paths (but something you don't want to do in the summer unless you are experienced riding in very hot dry weather).


[add listing] See
Sabino Canyon near Tucson, Arizon.
Sabino Canyon, . Spectacular desert canyon cut into the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains, now on Tucson's northern urban fringe. A tram (for a fee) will take visitors up to stop 4 (stops 5 through 9 are now closed to the tram because of extensive damage to the canyon caused by landslides in 2006). To park you will need a National Park Pass ($5 day, $20 annual) which is also good to use on Mt. Lemmon.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tel. (520) 883-2702, . More like Biosphere II than a walled institution, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is part zoo, part natural history museum and part botanical garden all in one Tucson attraction. From tarantulas to black bears, coyotes to scorpions, the museum-zoo is an entrancing and full-contact tribute to the Sonoran desert's wildlife (the wire fences are nearly invisible and the hummingbirds in the buzzing, walk-in aviary seem to think you are the attraction). Give yourself time to soak in the Southwest splendor and if time is all you have, the Museum is also on the fringes of Saguaro National Park, home to the world's largest forests of Saguaro cacti.

Saguaro National Park, 3693 South Old Spanish Trail, Tel. (520) 733-5153, . The most dense forest of the iconic cactus of the American West. The park has two unconnected units to the east and west of Tucson.


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