1. The Tucson Rodeo Parade is the largest non-motorized parade in the world.
Source: Flickr user Sunfrog1
2. With 350 days of sunshine a year, Tucson is literally the sunniest city in the United States.
3. Tucsonans dream of Genie: Barbara Eden was born here in 1931.
Source: Flickr user Kevin Dooley
4. Aside from the Amazon Rainforest, Tucson is home to more bird species than any other region on earth.
5. American Quarter Horse Racing as we know it in the United States began at Rillito Downs in the 1940s.
6. A 1970 article in “Life Magazine” referred to Speedway Blvd. as the ugliest street in America due to the prevalence of large signage there.
7. Since the “Life Magazine” article led to the loss of a great many classic local neon signs, the Tucson Sign Code was amended in 2011 to incentivize the preservation of the same signs Tucson sought to be rid of four decades earlier.
Source: Flickr user Bandelier National Monument
8. The University of Arizona allowed female students to study medicine in the 1890s, long before it was common practice to do so.
9. Though you won’t see him wandering Fourth Ave., Justin Beiber is said to own several acres of land near Marana, AZ.
10. The Arizona State Museum on the University of Arizona Campus is home to the world’s largest and most well-documented collection of Southwest Indian pottery.
Source: Flickr user steev hise
11. According to the American Lung Association, Tucson has the third cleanest air of all cities nationwide.
12. Tucson is the northernmost point on the globe where you can find a jaguar. The U of A has photographed a male prowling the Santa Rita Mountains as recently as October 2012.
13. Tucson is smack in the middle of the world’s largest concentration of saguaro cacti (which is why locals don’t pose for photos with them).
14. One of Tucson’s favorite day hikes, Tumamoc Hill, is actually home to one of the earliest examples of native agricultural known to man and still functions as an active archaeological dig site today.
Source: Flickr user Boston Public Library
15. Tucson was recognized as a “Top-Ten Digital City” by the magazine “Government Technology” in 2010.
16. When the dude ranch was the king of vacations circa the 1930s, Rancho Linda Vista hosted movie stars likes Rita Hayworth and Gary Cooper. Today it survives as communal living for working artists.
Source: Flickr user midwinter
17. The namesake for the popular residential area immediately east of the U of A campus, Sam Hughes, was a founding member of the 1864 Society of Arizona Pioneers and even designed their first logo. The group later became the Arizona Historical Society and is today a highly-respected academic institution.
18. The location of the El Con Mall, which has seen a number of renovations and rebuilds over the years, was initially the site of the El Conquistador Hotel—hence the mall’s name and conquistador helmet logo. The hotel opened in 1929 and was finally demolished in 1968, never having managed to turn a profit.
19. The Mountain View Black Officers’ Club at Fort Huachuca is the only service club left standing in the U.S. built specifically for black service people. It played host to performers like Duke Ellington and Lena Horn and was named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Buildings by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2013.
20. The name “Tucson” comes from the name given to Sentinel Peak (“A” Mountain) by the O’odham Tribe, Ts-iuk-shan, which basically meant that it had a base darker than its top.
21. “A” Mountain was said by Spanish settlers and O’odham people to be used as a lookout point by Apache raiders, hence the modern name “Sentinel Peak.”
Source: Flickr user rharkness
22. AARP named Tucson one of ten great places for nature-lovers to retire in 2011.
23. In the 1930s, the Mickey Mouse Club was arguably the Fox Theater’s most popular event, attracting 1500 little Mouseketeers a week at its peak.
Source: Flickr user marsmet471
24. The Sunday Evening Forum, another popular Fox event which ran from 1942 to 1984, attracted such big-name speakers as Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy before shutting down. And there may yet be more to come—the Forum was revived in March 2014 with a talk by Sandra Day O’Connor, though successive speakers have yet to appear.
25. The bus station downtown doesn’t just share a name with Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Linda Ronstadt—it was actually named after her family. The singer was born here in 1946 but moved away in the 1960s to start her musical career.
Source: Flickr user Kevin Dooley
26. For just under a year between 1861 and 1862, Tucson was the capital city of the Arizona Territory. Knew that one already? Well did you know that the original Spanish pronunciation of the native word had the city labeled “Tuquison” on some maps?
27. The first known photograph from Tucson is of more than 100 defendants in front of the first Pima courthouse with the judge that acquitted them of the 1871 murders of more than 100 peaceful Apache people living near Camp Grant. The episode came to be known as the Camp Grant Massacre. Talk about the wild west.
28. Ancient ovens used to fire the bricks that went into the San Xavier del Bac Mission still stand today as ruins within the city limits.
29. The Pima Air and Space Museum is the largest privately funded, non-governmental aerospace museum on earth. What does that mean? More than 300 planes—from retired bombers to the smallest biplane in the world, the Starr Bumble Bee.
Source: Flickr user Paul Schwartz
30. “Outside Magazine Online” called Tucson the Best City for Road Biking in 2010, citing “800 miles of roll-around bike paths” and “300 miles of well-maintained loops”. A cyclist’s dream.
Source: Flickr user Julie Jordan Scott
31. Award-winning writer Luis Alberto Urrea lived here while researching the Saint of Cabora, a distant relative of his, for his novel “The Hummingbird’s Daughter.” He met another relative here who was the granddaughter of a medicine woman on whom the teacher character in the book, Huila, was based.
32. Fort Lowell Park is actually on the site of the old army fort from which Tucson settlers fought the Apache. Today, the park itself acts as a sort of archaeological preservation layer over an ancient Hohokom residential site.
33. The underpass that links Fourth Avenue to Congress Street features the portraits of more than 7000 Tucsonans (and even a few of their canine companions) in black-and-white. As photographed in 2009, they are now preserved forever—or at least for a really long time—in tile.
Source: Flickr user Daquella manera
34. Though the roads saw a seven-mile-per-hour speed limit in 1903, Tucson did not begin issuing driver’s licenses until 1905. Speedway—now a main drag—was in those days a dirt track that was actually used for racing.
35. Los Morteros, a large boulder that is covered with Native American matates
for grinding mesquite beans, and Picture Rocks pictographs can be found within a fifteen-minute drive of the city center.
36. El Charro Café was called one of the America’s 21 Most Legendary Restaurants by “Gourmet Magazine” in 2008 and founder Tia Monica Flin is said to have accidentally invented the chimichanga during the restaurants 90-plus year tenure.
Source: Flickr user Re Carlson
37. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is the largest show of its kind in the United States, and one of the largest gem and mineral shows in the world. The many tents that pop up around town during the month of February, though, are all independently organized and operated (so buyer beware!).
38. There is a small cavern in Tucson called Peppersauce Cave that is open for free to amateur spelunkers. If you can make it to the end, there’s a guest book there you can read and sign, but the path you’ll have to take is not for the claustrophobic.
39. The space-aged facility north of Tucson referred to in shorthand as “Biosphere” is actually called the “Biosphere 2.” “Biosphere 1” being the earth itself, of course.
Source: Flickr user aelita
40. Tucson research companies and the University of Arizona were heavily involved in the Human Genome Project, which was successfully completed in 2003.
41. Tucson so loves its dark skies for stargazing that the lamps all along Mountain Blvd feature a low-emission sodium light, which accounts for their creepy yellow glow.
42. The Daily Beast listed Tucson as one of the nation’s 20 Most Creative Cities in 2012.
Source: Flickr user Scott Kraft
43. Popular Congress Street was once called “Maiden Lane,” and not because it was a safe place for young ladies to venture, if you catch my drift.
44. Lucky Lindy landed here in the Spirit of St. Louis in September of 1927 to commemorate the opening of the new municipal airport on South 6th Avenue, near the site of today’s rodeo grounds.
Source: Flickr user aelita
45. Arizona may be fifty-first in the nation for education (seriously), but Basis Tucson North and University High School are both regularly featured in US New’s Top Ten High Schools in the country.
46. The largest and most precise telescope mirrors in the world are made at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, right underneath Arizona Stadium.
47. Tucson streets were not paved, nor was the fire department given access to a vehicle that wasn’t horse powered, until 1910. New York, by contrast, saw its first street paved with asphalt in 1872.
48. In 2011, Tucson was called the “Most Awesome City for Climbers” by Climbing magazine.
Source: Flickr user flat-outcrazy
49. Forbes online also called Tucson the Best City for Renters in 2011.
50. The nation’s favorite traveling hippy, Grandpa Woodstock, made his winter home in Tucson for many years. That is, of course, before he found himself a nice bearded lady and settled down.
Source: Flickr user flat-outcrazy