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City of Sierra Vista, Arizona
—  City  —

Location in Cochise County and the state of Arizona
Coordinates: 31°32′44″N 110°16′35″W / 31.54556°N 110.27639°W / 31.54556; -110.27639Coordinates: 31°32′44″N 110°16′35″W / 31.54556°N 110.27639°W / 31.54556; -110.27639
Country United States
State Arizona
County Cochise
Incorporated 1956
 - Mayor Robert "Bob" Strain
 - Total 153.4 sq mi (397.5 km2)
 - Land 153.46 sq mi (397.4 km2)
 - Water 0.04 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 4,633 ft (1,412 m)
Population (2007)[1][2]
 - Total 43,044
 Density 273.2/sq mi (105.4/km2)
Time zone MST (no DST) (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 85600-85699
Area code(s) 520
FIPS code 04-66820

Sierra Vista is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, USA. According to 2007 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 43,044.[1] Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army post, is included in City population estimates and is located in the northwest part of the city.



Sierra Vista is located at 31°32′44″N 110°16′35″W / 31.54556°N 110.27639°W / 31.54556; -110.27639 (31.545498, -110.276500)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 153.5 square miles (397.5 km²), of which 153.5 square miles (397.5 km²) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) is water. It is located 4,623 feet (1,409 m) above sea level.


Sierra Vista is the largest of seven incorporated cities in Cochise County accounting for nearly one-third of the County's estimated population of 139,434.[4] According to the March 2009 release of the Cochise College, Center for Economic Research's (CER) 2009 Economic Outlook,[4] the July 2008 Arizona Department of Commerce (DEC) estimated population for the City of Sierra Vista, Arizona was 45,908. According to Census 2000 population counts the City's population was 37,775; representing an estimated 21.5 percent growth in population from 2000 to 2008. In addition, Sierra Vista is the 17th largest incorporated place in Arizona as of July 2008 DEC estimated population figures.

Also indicated in the CER 2009 Economic Outlook publication, the Arizona DEC estimates the Sierra Vista Area size is approximately 75,000, which includes outlying areas of Sierra Vista Southeast Census Designated Place (CDP), Huachuca City, Tombstone, Whetstone and unicorporated surrounding areas. The population of the Sierra Vista Area is estimated to reach nearly 100,000 by 2028.

According to Census 2000 figures, the Sierra Vista population consists of 14,196 households, and 9,993 families residing in the city. The population density was 246.1 people per square mile (95.0/km²). There were 15,685 housing units at an average density of 102.2/sq mi (39.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.34% White, 10.89% Black or African American, 3.57% Asian, 0.83% Native American and 0.46% Pacific Islander. 6.05% of the population is from other races, and 4.86% from two or more races. 15.8% of the population is Hispanic or Latino.

There were 14,196 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 13.0% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 100.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,427, and the median income for a family was $44,077. Males had a median income of $30,053 versus $23,805 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,436. About 8.0% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.8% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.

As of Census 2000, of the population (37,775) 25 years and older 91.5 percent had at least a high school diploma or equivalent and an estimated 25.7 percent held a bachelors degree or higher.[5] The CER indicates that there has been an increasing trend for residents to attain a bachelor's degree or higher making the local area competitive in today's technological working environment. The estimated population of resident's educated at a post-secondary level (some college credit or more) in Sierra Vista is estimated to be higher than county, state, and national averages[4].

Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army post, an active and historical military installation and a communications and information technology hub, was annexed into the City in 1971. In addition, the City has been actively working to annex Cochise County enclaves within City limits as outlined in the City Council's strategic plan "Our Future Vistas." [6]

Historical figures[7]
Year Population
1960 3,100
1970 6,700
1980 26,000
1990 33,000
2000 37,775

Sports teams and events

The Cochise County Cavaliers are an Arizona Football League (semi-pro/minor league football) team that plays at Apache Middle School in Sierra Vista. The team was established in 2005.

History of Sierra Vista

At the end of the Apache Wars, the protection of Fort Huachuca and the completion of the Southern Pacific and the El Paso & Southwestern railroads, the San Pedro Valley began to populate. Oliver Fry and his two oldest sons traveled from Texas on the railroad and settled on 320 acres just outside of Fort Huachuca around 1901.

The first business that opened just outside the east gate of Fort Huachuca was a saloon and house of ill repute owned by John and Ellen Reilly opened in 1892. In 1911, Margaret Carmichael bought the Reilly homestead and business. By 1913, Margaret Carmichael had leased the business back to the Reillys. Also in 1913, a group of dry land farmers settled in the local area and named their settlement Buena. Buena was located east of Garden Canyon on a railroad whistle-stop between Lewis Springs and Fort Huachuca. At this site was a post office and a school house that served children in Buena, Garden Canyon and outreaches of the local area.

By 1917, the Overton Post Office was established. This settlement's name comes from the Overton Mercantile and Investment Company, who took option on the Carmichael property with plans to develop a townsite outside of Fort Huachuca. However, it is believed that the company was unable to persuade anyone to move to the area so when the option expired, the Carmichaels took back the property and a general mercantile store.

In 1918, the Carmichaels changed the name of the store and were the proprietors of the "Garden Canyon." Garden Canyon was also the name of the post office and Carmichael was the postmaster. In addition, the Carmichaels built a home across the street from Garden Canyon store, as well as 18 rock houses, on Garden Avenue. From 1927 to 1938, the Frys rented the Carmichael store.

In 1955, the first attempt to incorporate and rename the area was rejected, as Fry opposed both incorporating and renaming the town that bore his family name. In 1956, the ballot issue failed 76 to 61. People who owned land outside of Fry's property went forward with incorporation and renaming by petition on May 26, 1956, excluding the half-square-mile owned by Fry.

Sierra Vista was incorporated in 1956, and has a population over 49,000 today. The city is the economic and commercial center of Cochise County, and northern Sonora, Mexico. Sierra Vista annexed Fort Huachuca, a U.S. military base, one of the largest employers in Arizona, and the adjacent community, in 1971. The Mall at Sierra Vista is located in Sierra Vista.

Mountains surround Sierra Vista. Miller Peak (9,440 feet or 2,877 meters) is the highest point. The Mule, Dragoon, Whetstone, and Huachuca Mountains are visible from town. The Gray Hawk Nature Center [1] offering nature education programs and housing live reptile and invertebrate exhibits is located nearby on the San Pedro River.

The first McDonald's Drive-Thru opened here in January 24, 1975. It was designed to feed the large numbers of soldiers at the fort quickly. The original restaurant was demolished in May 1999, and replaced with a new McDonald's.


Regional health concerns

Residents and health professionals became concerned after observing an elevated number of leukemia and related childhood cancer cases being reported in Sierra Vista since 1995. In 2001, with 7 reported cases since 1995, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) determined the number of cases was statistically elevated over the expected norm. In response, the ADHS launched an environmental review of air, drinking water and soil in the Sierra Vista area to determine if environmental exposure had placed residents at greater risk of childhood leukemia or other cancers. By October, 2002, the ADHS in conjunction with the Arizona Cancer Registry, determined that, "No common environmental exposure from drinking water, ambient air or waste sites were identified that might have placed residents of the Sierra Vista area at greater risk of developing leukemia." No further action was recommended at that time.[8]

In 2003, three more cases of leukemia were reported. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) was hesitant to investigate in depth, initially leaving the matter to state health departments, but became involved after the ADHS requested their assistance in the spring of 2003. The CDC concluded two formal studies, in 2004 and 2006, with mixed results. They did not discover any environmental causes for the increased incidence of leukemia, but they did note that they only tested four children with leukemia. They cautioned that with such a small number of study participants, "any attempt to measure associations between environmental exposure and disease would be inherently suspect and not statistically appropriate." Biological samples were tested for 128 chemicals, with results showing average or below average levels for all chemicals except tungsten, styrene and PCB-52, which were above average.[9][10][11]

There were no more reported cases in the several years following the CDC reports, bringing the occurrence statistics back in line with national averages. However, with a total of thirteen children diagnosed and another five potentially linked cases being investigated since 1995, some people still have concerns.[12][13] Families Against Cancer and Toxics (FACT)was formed in Southern Arizona in 2003 when parents of children with cancer gathered to encourage continued investigation into the possible causes of childhood leukemia.

Notable residents


External links


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