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Poised on the northwestern edge of the thriving Valley of the Sun, Surprise is one of Arizona’s fastest growing cities, Surprise Arizona – and for good reason. Against the backdrop of pristine desert and stately Saguaros, Surprise is building a City beyond expectations – a well-rounded community where residents love to live, work and play.
Arts. The well-respected West Valley Art Museum delivers a wide variety of art to Surprise’s doorstep, while a satellite location of the world-renowned Heard Museum celebrates the culture of Arizona’s Native people.
Activities: From a par-three chip and putt to championship courses designed by golf legends, test your skills on one or all eight of Surprise’s public/private courses. Cool your heels in the Surprise Aquatic Center, tour Luke Air Force Base or head up the road to historic Wickenburg.
Baseball: Surprise’s award-winning stadium is the Spring Training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, and host to a charter Golden Baseball League team: the Surprise Fightin’ Falcons
Community: The Surprise Recreation Campus, home of big-league baseball, a dynamic recreation program and special events roster, is at the center of the activity. Buoyed by a regional library, aquatic center, recreation center, community park featuring a five-acre fishing lake, giant playground and doggie park – and soon – a 25-court championship tennis complex with center court seating for 5,000.
City-sponsored events such as Surprise Party, Fourth of July, Movies in the Stadium, Performances in the Park foster fun and family, while clubs and churches provide a place to belong.
Renowned retirement communities and award-winning master-planned family neighborhoods are filled with parks, walking paths and plenty of front-porch attitudes. Commerce. New stores and restaurants are opening almost daily and more than a million-square-feet of retail and office space is master-planned. An upscale regional mall, auto mall and two power centers are scheduled to break ground in 2007.
The city was founded in 1937 by real estate developer and state legislator Homer C. Ludden, who named it after his hometown of Surprise, Nebraska. Although there were only a few houses and a gas station on the one-mile-square parcel of land when Ludden subdivided it to build inexpensive houses for agricultural workers, Surprise has experienced tremendous growth in the years since.
Tens of thousands of retirees moved to the city in the 1990s and early 2000s to live in Sun City Grand, an age-restricted resort-like community, with homes built by the property development firm Del Webb. (Surprise is about five miles northwest of Del Webb’s original Sun City development.)
Since it opened in 1996, Sun City Grand has become a large contributor to the city’s population, which more than septupled from 10,187 to about 75,000 in 2004. The city’s population is now considerably larger than Ludden’s hometown, which had a population of 44 in the 2000 United States Census.
Rapid growth has led city officials to estimate the population at over 103,000 as of 2007, a figure the city maintains in spite of more conservative population estimates by the Census Bureau. Thirty-two of the state’s top 50 homebuilders cater to new homebuyers, who are attracted by the city’s modestly-priced homes, its relative proximity to Phoenix, and by the property taxes, which the city claims are among the lowest in the state.
There were 12,484 households out of which 21.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.5% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.1% were non-families. 17.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.75 people.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.9% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 22.4% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 25.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was US$44,156, and the median income for a family was US$47,899. Males had a median income of US$33,079 versus US$26,347 for females. The per capita income for the city was US$21,451. About 5.6% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.