The Bird (Legend of the Phoenix)
In fact, this is the story of how Phoenix got the name. But the story of the Phoenix, rising from the desert plain, is not a new story, and the idea behind the Phoenix, which suits the city so well, has a varied cultural history.
Ancient Egyptian legend from 5,000 years ago tells us of a magnificent and wonderful bird called the Phoenix. This heron-like bird stood for the beginning of life and of the Egyptian civilization.
The Arabian Phoenix was believed to build itself a funeral pyre before death then set itself ablaze to rise again 3 days later. Other cultures have similar stories. Many travelers get their first look of Phoenix at Sky Harbor. Arrivals to Phoenix will see a huge mural that spans a major section of the terminal wall and depicts the legendary bird emerging, triumphant, from among the ashes!
And this is how the city got the name; it is a major city rising from the heated desert plain- just like that mythical bird from ancient times rose from the ashes to give new life to where there had been none. Congratulations, then, to all those from then up now who have worked so hard to turn what was once a barren desert area into a gleaming city devoted to offering its residents the best of modern life.
The place where this little settlement was located was first named Swilling’s Mill after Jack Swilling, the founder. Later, the name would change to Helling Mill, Mill City, and then East Phoenix. Swilling wanted to name it Stonewall, after the famous Civil War General Stonewall Jackson. Others wanted to call this area, close to where Arizona State University now sits, Salina.
It is widely believed that Darrell Duppa, an educated Englishman recommended the name Phoenix. It is accepted that the reason he chose this name was that, just as the mythical Phoenix rose from its ashes to spread its mighty wings and fly again, so had the place where the mysterious Hohokams built their marvelous canal system, get a new lease-on-life. The name stuck.
At first, Phoenix was part of Yavapai County. But in 1868 it was officially recognized as its own town. What’s more, later that year Phoenix got its own post office with Jack Swilling acting as postmaster.
The area was surveyed in 1870 to select a suitable piece of unimproved public land for a town site and in 1871 the territorial legislature created Maricopa County, the county in which Phoenix is located. The first county election in Maricopa County was held in 1871 when Tom Barnum was elected the first sheriff of Maricopa County.
The first public school in Phoenix opened on September 5, 1872, in the courtroom of the county building. By October 1873, a small adobe school building was completed on Center Street (now Central Avenue) a short distance north of where the San Carlos Hotel now stands. Miss Nellie Shaver, of Wisconsin, was appointed as the first female schoolteacher in Phoenix.
In 1874 none other than President Grant issued a land patent for the present site of Phoenix. The total cost of the Phoenix Town site of 320 acres was $550, including all expenses for legal fees, surveying, and other services.
At this time cotton became a main crop in the valley. This brought in labor, both migrant and permanent, and the township brew as its cash crop spurred a need for labor.
Phoenix’s municipal motto is “Vision, and values cascading into the future.” The vision for Phoenix is a city on the rise. The numbers suggest a city that is growing in every important area and the trends do not give any hint of a change in direction. Phoenix has much to offer for anyone, and whatever you are looking for you can be sure that you will be able to find it here.
Phoenix has a personality that is as varied and complex as those of its residents. There is a vibrant and exciting nightlife, but this is in contrast to a large number of quiet residential neighborhoods where those who prefer a more steady-paced lifestyle live. Finally, this is a good saying for a city whose growth is cascading by leaps and bounds so that the rate is among the fastest of any large city in America.
But in spite of all this sprawling growth, Phoenix has been nationally recognized as “One of the Best Managed Cities” in the United States. This has been accomplished by hard work and attention to details. This recognition is the reward for a responsive and caring city administration; one that has had to adapt constantly to new and different demands that appear quickly and that impact many people at once.
Like most large cities, Phoenix is not just a large, faceless mass, but is subdivided into a series of smaller units. Similar to the way New York is broken down into boroughs Phoenix can be separated into 15 distinct neighborhoods or villages. Every major city has to be divided into simpler units for the sake of effective management. Service providers have to be able to respond knowledgeably and quickly and only by knowing an area when the city is as large as Phoenix, can this be done effectively.