Tucson is the county seat of Pima County, Arizona and is situated one hundred and eighteen miles south of Phoenix. It covers an area of one hundred and ninety-five square miles and has a population of over five hundred and forty thousand residents. A lot of the city’s economic development can be attributed to the development of the University of Arizona. The University of Arizona is at the moment, the largest employer in Tucson. Another major employer in the city is Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The existence of the Air Force base, as well as the United States Army Intelligence Center as created a large number of high tech industries in the city. High tech companies that are located in the city include Texas Instruments, Ventana Medical Systems, Universal Avionics, Sanofi-Aventis, Raytheon Missile Systems, IBM, Bombardier Aerospace and Sunquest Information.
Tourism is also another key component of Tucson’s economy. Tourism brings in over three and a half million visitors to the city and adds over two billion dollars to the local economy. Another factor that drives the local economy is the hordes of Sonorans, who travel the sixty miles from Mexico to the city to purchase good that can’t be found in their country. Tucson is a city that attracts visitors due to the large number of festivals that are held throughout the year. A prominent festival in the city is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. This annual festival is held for two weeks in February. It is one of the biggest gem shows in the world and features a large selection of mineral specimens. It is estimated that the show attracts over fifty thousand people from over twenty-five countries. Another prominent festival in the city is the Tucson Folk Festival.
This festival is held the first weekend of May and is set up at El Presidio Park. The event is known for its national headline acts and over one hundred regional musicians who perform on five stages. The festival also has craft booths, food vendors, micro-breweries and children’s events. The Fourth Avenue Street Fairs is another event that takes place in Tucson during the months of March and December. This event is held between Ninth Street and University Boulevard and has craft booths, street performers and food vendors. The last event in the city is the Tucson Rodeo (also known as the Fiesta de los Vaqueros). This is the annual rodeo week, which occurs during the month of February.
A popular tourist attraction in the city of Tucson is Fort Lowell. Fort Lowell was originally an American Army post that was active from 1873 to 1891 and is situated on the outer fringes of the city. The fort provided protection to the city during the Apache campaigns. It also provided rations and personnel for outlying military installations. During its tour of duty, the fort had over two hundred and thirty-nine enlisted soldiers and one hundred and thirty officers. Prominent army units that were stationed here include the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, eight and twelfth Infantry Regiments. The fort featured a large parade ground, enlisted quarters, NCO quarters, storehouses and officers quarters. Today, Fort Lowell has been converted into park and contains tennis courts, baseball fields and a public swimming pool. The former officer quarters have been converted into a branch museum of the Arizona Historical Society.
Another prominent attraction in the city is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This museum was founded in 1952 and has a zoo, museum and a botanical garden. This is one of the most visited attractions in the city and receives over half a million people every year. Its located on one hundred acres of Sonoran Desert and contains a collection of mostly living exhibits. The zoo contains over one hundred mammals, two hundred and forty-one birds, three hundred and sixty-one reptiles, one hundred and twenty-two amphibians, ten thousand fish, and over eight hundred and forty arthropods. Their botanical gardens has over forty thousand plants and their museum has over six thousand books, eighty-three periodicals and fourteen thousand specimens.
The Pima Air & Space Museum is another prominent attraction in Tucson. This museum is the world’s largest aerospace museum that’s not affiliated or funded by a government agency. It was founded in 1976 and originally had seventy-five aircraft. Today, it contains over two hundred and fifty aircraft situated on eighty acres. The entire property of the museum covers an area of one hundred and fifty acres. Aircraft that are located here include a B-36J Peacemaker, B-29 Superfortress, A-10A Thunderbolt II, Avro Shackleton, A-26 Invader, 377-SG Super Guppy, VC-118A Liftmaster, NB-52A Stratofortress, B-58 Hustler, B-23 Dragon and a P-47 Thunderbolt.
An attraction that everyone should see while in the city of Tucson is the Titan Missile Museum. This museum was originally a Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Site that is located fifteen miles south of the city. It contains the original launch facilities and a dummy Titan II missile in the silo. The underground silo features eight foot thick concrete walls and three ton blast doors. The eight level contains propellant pumps, the seventh level provides access to the lower launch duct, and the third level contains a diesal generator. The Titan II missile was the largest nuclear missile to be used by the United States and had a blast force of over nine megatons. Tours are available at this silo and feature a six story view of the silo and a one hour tour of the control rooms. This silo also contains a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs.