Rincon mountain view from the east side of Tucson, Arizona

All About Living in East Tucson, Arizona

A helpful East Tucson guide for newcomers and native Tucsonans, alike. The Tucson Metro area consists of a whopping 9,189 square miles. This guide is to help you narrow down what area of Tucson you’d like to live in based on your lifestyle. Learn about the history of the area, about some of the popular neighborhoods, what amenities and services are located here, and search homes for sale in East Tucson. Your questions are welcome! Hello@RealTucson.com

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Top 5 Reasons to Live in East Tucson:

  • Rincon Mountain views.
  • Easy access to Saguaro National Park East.
  • Plenty of affordable townhomes are located on the East side.
  • Wide variety of housing style – 1950s ranch homes to 1970s slump block to newer stucco homes. Some with or without HOAs.
  • Less traffic than other areas of town.

General Location:

The Tucson Multiple Listing Service (MLS) defines East Tucson as being east of Wilmot Road, West of the Rincon Mountains, south of Speedway Boulevard, and North of Irvington Road. Zip codes for the east side of town are 85710, 85730, and 85748.


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East Tucson History and Development

As Tucson developed, growth moved eastward from the downtown area. One of the most prominent Tucson residents in the 1920s, Harold Bell Wright, built a ranch at Speedway and Wilmot. At the time, this was considered far out of town. By the building boom in post-war era, developers were building hundreds of masonry production homes for the returning GIs and their growing families. Building has continued to current times.

Eastern Growth Limitations

A couple things had an impact on where building could and couldn’t happen: The establishment of an Air Force Base and the designated National Monument.

Establishment of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and “The boneyard:” had an impact on the east side of Tucson. Davis Monthan Field was established in 1927 and it transitioned to a base in 1941. The boneyard was established in 1946 to house unused military planes in a low-corrosion environment. Many soldiers stationed in Tucson during WWII found Tucson to be an ideal home and returned here with their families post-war. For decades, military families that wanted to live close but not on base often chose to live on the affordable east side of town.

The airplane boneyard is located at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson Arizona
The airplane boneyard is located at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson Arizona

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Establishment of Saguaro National Monument

In 1933, President Hubert Humphrey established Saguaro National Monument 15 miles east of Tucson. This protected the stately saguaro studded desert along the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. In 1994, the monument was upgraded to Saguaro National Park by Congress.

Saguaro with a dusting of snow in the Rincon Mountains on the east side of Tucson
Saguaro with a dusting of snow in the Rincon Mountains on the east side of Tucson

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Description of East Tucson

As one travels east, one can see the buildings getting newer and newer the farther east you are. The homes on the western edge of the east side tend to be built in the 1950s – 1960s. 1970s slump block ranch homes are located further east. Stucco homes from the 1990s to 2000s are common on the eastern edge of the east side.

Single family homes are common in the area, but townhomes were also very popular developments on the east side in the 1970s and 1980s. There are only a couple condo or co-op communities on the east side of Tucson. Multifamily housing such as duplexes are rare, but can be occasionally found.

Older homes tend to be single level, when land costs were cheap. Building lots got more expensive which had the affect of reducing lot sizes over time and resulted in more 2-level homes being built in the 1990s to present times.

Architecture of East Tucson

East Tucson is home to a couple historic districts: Harold Bell Wright Estates (located upon the ranch land Harold Bell Wright established in the 1920s) and San Rafael Estates. Tucson was in the midst of a building boom post-WWII and much of the building happened on the east side. Developers such as Lusk Corp, and PAT (short for Perfect Arizona Type) Homes, among many others, developed hundreds of production masonry ranch style homes with 2 to 4 bedrooms and 1-2 bathrooms and a carport to show off the shiny new set of wheels.

The high interest rates of the 1970s and 80s spurred more interest in affordable townhomes. By the 1990s homebuyers wanted enclosed garages for their two car family, so the developers complied with the ubiquitous stucco homes with an attached 2-car garage.


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Popular East Tucson Neighborhoods

  • Palo Verde Park
  • El GHEKO
  • Centennial Park
  • Tierra Del Sol
  • Sherwood Village
  • Silverado Hills


East Tucson Attractions and Amenities

Public Parks and Recreation

Saguaro National Park is the crown jewel of the east side, with hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. As for city parks there are many to choose from: Lincoln Park (lower and upper), Lakeside Park, Michael Perry Park, Jesse Owens Park, and Case Natural Resources Park.

Fantasy Island is a popular spot for mountain bikers to test their mettle. And don’t forget Skate Country, this blast from the past is still alive and well!

Mountain biking at Fantasy Island, with trails that lead into the desert on Tucson's east side
Mountain biking at Fantasy Island, with trails that lead into the desert on Tucson’s east side

The Loop Multi-Use Path and Parks

On the east side of Tucson, The Loop is located on the banks of the Pantano Wash. Loop tip: Ride your bicycle from Michael Perry Park and heading north west, you’ll find many art pieces along the car-less paved path.

Golfing

Fred Enke Golf Course and driving range are both located on the east side.

Shopping

Strip malls are located on most major street corners, offering a blend of big-box stores and local shops. Restaurants range from locally owned favorites to the tried and true chains.

Theaters

The only theaters you’ll come across on the east side are located in the area high schools or are movie theaters. Other theaters will be located downtown or at University of Arizona. Check out the Galaxy Theater and Century Gateway 12 for east side movie theaters.

Area Healthcare and Hospitals

St Joseph’s Hospital is located on the east side of Tucson, along with many doctors and other medical offices nearby. The new Northwest Medical Center recently opened at Houghton and Old Spanish Trail.

East Tucson Schools

The public schools available on the east side of town is within the Tucson Unified School District. Charter schools such as Leman Academy and private schools are also available.


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