Snuset over Tucson, Tucson, Arizona
South Tucson is actually the name of an independent, incorporated town of one square mile, completely surrounded by the city of Tucson, sitting just south of downtown. South Tucson has a colorful, dynamic history. It was first incorporated in 1936, and later reincorporated in 1940. The population consists of about 83% Mexican-American and 10% Native American residents. South Tucson is widely known for its many Mexican restaurants and the architectural styles which include bright outdoor murals, many of which have been painted over due to city policy.
The South side of the city of Tucson is generally considered to be the area of approximately 25 sq mi (65 km2) north of Los Reales Road, south of 22nd Street, east of I-19, west of Davis Monthan Air Force Base and southwest of Aviation Parkway. The Tucson International Airport and Tucson Electric Park are located here.
A combination of urban and suburban development, the West Side is generally defined as the area west of I-10. Western Tucson encompasses the banks of the Santa Cruz River and the foothills of the Tucson Mountains, and includes the International Wildlife Museum, Sentinel Peak, and the Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, located in the wealthy enclave known as Starr Pass. Moving past the Tucson Mountains, travelers find themselves in the area commonly referred to as "west of" Tucson or "Old West Tucson". A large undulating plain extending south into the Altar Valley, rural residential development predominates, but here you will also find major attractions including Saguaro National Park West, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and the Old Tucson Studios movie set/theme park.
On Sentinel Peak (also known as "'A' Mountain"), just west of downtown, there is a giant "A" in honor of the University of Arizona. Starting in about 1916, a yearly tradition developed for freshmen to whitewash the "A", which was visible for miles. However, at the beginning of the Iraq War, anti-war activists painted it black. This was followed by a paint scuffle where the "A" was painted various colors until the city council intervened. It is now red, white and blue except when it is white or another color decided by a biennial election. Because of the three-color paint scheme often used, the shape of the A can be vague and indistinguishable from the rest of the peak. The top of Sentinel Peak, which is accessible by road, offers an outstanding scenic view of the city looking eastward. A parking lot located near the summit of Sentinel Peak was formerly a popular place to watch sunsets or view the city lights at night.
North Tucson includes the urban neighborhoods of Amphitheater and Flowing Wells. Usually considered the area north of Fort Lowell Road, North Tucson includes some of Tucson's primary commercial zones (Tucson Mall and the Oracle Road Corridor). Many of the city's most upscale boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries are also located on the north side, including St. Philip's Plaza. The Plaza is directly adjacent to the historic St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church (built in 1936).
Also on the north side is the suburban community of Catalina Foothills, located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains just north of the city limits. This community includes among the area's most expensive homes, sometimes multi-million dollar estates. The Foothills area is generally defined as north of River Road, east of Oracle Road, and west of Sabino Creek. Some of the Tucson area's major resorts are located in the Catalina Foothills, including the Hacienda Del Sol, Westin La Paloma Resort, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and Canyon Ranch Resort. La Encantada, an upscale outdoor shopping mall, is also in the Foothills.
The DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun is located near the intersection of Swan Road and Skyline Drive. Built by artist Ted DeGrazia starting in 1951, the 10-acre (40,000 m2) property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features an eclectic chapel, an art gallery, and a free museum.
The expansive area northwest of the city limits is diverse, ranging from the rural communities of Catalina and parts of the town of Marana, the small suburb of Picture Rocks, the affluent town of Oro Valley in the western foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, and residential areas in the northeastern foothills of the Tucson Mountains. Continental Ranch (Marana), Dove Mountain (Marana), and Rancho Vistoso (Oro Valley) are all masterplanned communities located in the Northwest, where thousands of residents live.
The community of Casas Adobes is also on the Northwest Side, with the distinction of being Tucson's first suburb, established in the late 1940s. Casas Adobes is centered on the historic Casas Adobes Plaza (built in 1948). Casas Adobes is also home to Tohono Chul Park (a nature preserve) near the intersection of North Oracle Road and West Ina Road. The attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and the murders of chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona, John Roll and five other people on January 8, 2011, occurred at the La Toscana Village in Casas Adobes. The Foothills Mall is also located on the northwest side in Casas Adobes.
Many of the Tucson area's golf courses and resorts are located in this area, including the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort in Oro Valley, the Omni Tucson National Resort & Spa, and Westward Look Resort. The Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain, the second Ritz Carlton Resort in Arizona, which also includes a golf course, opened in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains in northeast Marana in 2009. Catalina State Park and Tortolita Mountain Park are also located in the Northwest area.
East Tucson is relatively new compared to other parts of the city, developed between the 1950s and the 1970s, with developments such as Desert Palms Park. It is generally classified as the area of the city east of Swan Road, with above-average real estate values relative to the rest of the city. The area includes urban and suburban development near the Rincon Mountains. East Tucson includes Saguaro National Park East. Tucson's "Restaurant Row" is also located on the east side, along with a significant corporate and financial presence. Restaurant Row is sandwiched by three of Tucson's storied Neighborhoods: Harold Bell Wright Estates, named after the famous author's ranch which occupied some of that area prior to the depression; the Tucson Country Club (the third to bear the name Tucson Country Club), and the Dorado Country Club. Tucson's largest office building is 5151 East Broadway in east Tucson, completed in 1975. The first phases of Williams Centre, a mixed-use, master-planned development on Broadway near Craycroft Road, were opened in 1987. Park Place, a recently renovated shopping center, is also located along Broadway (west of Wilmot Road).
Near the intersection of Craycroft and Ft. Lowell Roads are the remnants of the Historic Fort Lowell. This area has become one of Tucson's iconic neighborhoods. In 1891, the Fort was abandoned and much of the interior was stripped of their useful components and it quickly fell into ruin. In 1900, three of the officer buildings were purchased for use as a sanitarium. The sanitarium was then sold to Harvey Adkins in 1928. The Bolsius family Pete, Nan and Charles Bolsius purchased and renovated surviving adobe buildings of the Fort – transforming them into spectacular artistic southwestern architectural examples. Their woodwork, plaster treatment and sense of proportion drew on their Dutch heritage and New Mexican experience. Other artists and academics throughout the middle of the 20th century, including: Win Ellis, Jack Maul, Madame Cheruy, Giorgio Belloli, Charels Bode, Veronica Hughart, Edward and Rosamond Spicer, Hazel Larson Archer and Ruth Brown, renovated adobes, built homes and lived in the area. The artist colony attracted writers and poets including beat generation Alan Harrington and Jack Kerouac whose visit is documented in his iconic book On the Road. This rural pocket in the middle of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each year in February the neighborhood celebrates its history in the City Landmark it owns and restored the San Pedro Chapel.
Situated between the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Rincon Mountains near Redington Pass northeast of the city limits is the affluent community of Tanque Verde. The Arizona National Golf Club, Forty-Niners Country Club, and the historic Tanque Verde Guest Ranch are also in northeast Tucson.
Southeast Tucson continues to experience rapid residential development. The area includes Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The area is considered to be south of Golf Links Road. It is the home of Santa Rita High School, Chuck Ford Park (Lakeside Park), Lakeside Lake, Lincoln Park (upper and lower), The Lakecrest Neighborhoods, and Pima Community College East Campus. The Atterbury Wash with its access to excellent bird watching is also located in the Southeast Tucson area. The suburban community of Rita Ranch houses many of the military families from Davis-Monthan, and is near the southeastern-most expansion of the current city limits. Close by Rita Ranch and also within the city limits lies Civano, a planned development meant to showcase ecologically sound building practices and lifestyles.