A city where the desert is everywhere, where sprawl into magnificent desolation is the main industry, whose oldest building is still its most beautiful, whose surrounding mountains are its soul: Lawrence W. Cheek explains why American Heritage’s Great American Place Award for the year 2000 goes to…

How, exactly, does one dispose of an owl in the living room—a live, wild great horned owl two feet long, armed with talons that look as if they could rip open an artery, staring defiantly from a perch on your ceiling fan? My friend Don, who had moved to Tucson from the gentler wilds of West Virginia, didn’t know, but he at least was smart enough not to try it himself.

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