Surprise, Arizona

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Surprise is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA. The population was 30,848 at the 2000 census; however, rapid growth has boosted the city's population to 90,717 by 2007, according to Census Bureau estimates.[1] As such, it is the second fastest-growing municipality in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area (after Gilbert) and, between 1990 and 2000, it was the sixth fastest-growing place among all cities and towns in Arizona. An estimate released by the city's Demographic and Permit Statistics department showed a population of 109,672 in December 2008.[3]

The city has a 10,562-square-foot (981.2 m2) Aquatics Center, Maricopa County's northwest regional library, a $5.5 million, 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) library, and a 100.3 cost of living index.

Contents

History

The city was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, who named it Surprise as she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much".[4] Surprise officials previously thought the city was founded by Statler's husband, real estate developer and state legislator Homer C. Ludden, but in 2010 property records were discovered which listed Statler owning the land before she met Ludden.[5] Although there were only a few houses and a gas station on the one-mile (1.6 km)-square parcel of land when it was subdivided to build inexpensive houses for agricultural workers, Surprise has experienced tremendous growth in the years since.[6] It incorporated into a city in 1960.[7]

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 (8 km) northwest of Del Webb's original Sun City development and adjacent to Sun City West.

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.

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