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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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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