The Valley of the Sun
The Valley of the Sun
Introduction (City Snapshot)
The Valley of the Sun, which is what the people call Phoenix these days, was not always the large, modern metropolitan area we see today. Today cars line the streets and people dash about for business and recreation as Sky Harbor sees a steady stream of passengers coming to, or going through, Phoenix from all over the world! Yes, the Phoenix of today is an emerging city, growing into the promise of a bright future for those who live, work and play here.
The natural landscape provides the nature-lover with rare chances to enjoy countryside like no other they will ever find anywhere else in the world! Camelback Mountain and Squaw Peak are both not only landmarks, they are famous hiking spots as well And if you ever have the chance to hike these popular mountains’ ways you will likely meet other friendly hikers, like yourself, who could not resist the natural wonder of the area.
Less hiked, but no less beautiful are Estrella Mountain and South Mountain, which is a 12-mile wide chain of mountains divides the valley from the Sonora desert to the south. Mc Dowell Mountain is a mountain preserve at the north of the valley and the Superstition Mountains in the east. All of these mountains provide a spectacular scenic beauty for the valley.
Located in Maricopa County and the capital of Arizona, Phoenix is the center of almost everything in Arizona- population, government, industry, finance, business, agriculture, fine arts, sports and much, much more.
Now this sparkling image of modern city life is not how things always were and there is a long and exciting history steeped in the lore of the legends of the legendary Old West. What you think of when you think of the western way of life with its rough-and-tumble way of life and hardy individualism is how western life was when Phoenix was young.
Phoenix, during the early days, as a small farming town. In fact, the images that come to mind from those oh-so-long-ago days are probably images of places, real or not, patterned after real-live cities and towns in the vast Arizona desert.
Phoenix is the state capitol of Arizona, and was incorporated as a city in, 1881. Phoenix is located in central Arizona in the southwestern United States, 118 miles northwest of Tucson. It is Arizona’s largest city and largest metropolitan area by population. It is also the county seat of Maricopa County and the principal city of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Phoenix is appropriately called Hoozdo, or “the place is hot”, in the Navajo language.
The City of Phoenix’s population is over 1.3 million and this makes Phoenix the largest capital city by population in the United States. Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the United States and it is also the third largest capital city by area in the U.S.
The 2000 U.S. Census reported the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as the fourteenth largest in the U.S., with a population of 3,251,876. The city’s MSA grew in population to an estimated 3,790,000 in 2004. From 1990 and 2000, the city area grew by 34 percent. This makes it the eighth fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S.
Just as the mountains surround the valley, so there are a number of cities that surround Central Phoenix. In every direction there are a variety of cities and towns, and each has it’s own unique history and character. The City of Scottsdale is to the east, the towns of Cave Creek and Carefree to the north, City of Glendale to the west. Then there is “Arizona’s Golden Corridor”. This is an area that is made up of several cities and towns that winds gradually southward down toward the direction of Tucson.
The closeness to so many other interesting of interest give Phoenix residents a special advantage Central Phoenix dwellers are literally within minutes of most cities and towns located in the Valley of Sun.
So how did this glittering city by the lake get started? And what could life have been like in those early days?
The native people who it is believed first settled in this area, The Hohokam Indians, are believed to have settled in this area over 2,000 years ago. The Hohokams are a people shrouded in mystery and they got their name from the Piman Indian word for “the people who have gone”. These settlers came, stayed then disappeared from the valley a long time ago. We know something about them because they left behind some amazing proof of their civilization.
From the blistering plain they used their engineering skills and imagination to make it possible to grow some crops in the desert. They did this by digging a series of ditches that allowed them to bring sufficient amounts of water to some areas about the valley so that they could plant their corn and other crops there.
These ditches were built along the Salt River so that those waters could be diverted to agricultural use. The skill and ability of the Indians as planners, builders and farmers is proven to us today by scholars and archeologists who have studied the area and the people who lived there long ago. Relics tell us today that these communities along the Salt River flourished for nearly 1,500 years.
Then the trail suddenly vanishes! What, if anything, happened is still not clear to us today. Theories are many as to what could have happened.
Some guess that a prolonged drought may have led to crop failures that finally forced the tribe to move away from the area, or even may have killed them. Some disease that we know nothing about today could also have caused this civilization to die off and disappear. Or perhaps the Hohokam Indians are simply the ancestors of the modern Pima Indians who now live on the Salt River and Gila River reservations and the Tohono O’odham who live in southern Arizona.
Any one of these theories, or a combination of these ideas, could explain the mystery. But all that is known to those who are experts in this area is that the trail of evidence grows cold at about 1459 A.D. and that the hot, dust-swept plains are still and silent as to exactly what happened to the ancient civilization that once thrived there,
Probably the first western man to venture into what is now Arizona was Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado to in 1540. The Spanish were drawn to the New World in their zeal to spread Christianity and in their search for glory and riches. Their adventures saw them travel to what are now South America, Mexico, and the United States, and all along their way these conquistadores kept hearing tales of never-to-be found riches. Later Coronado led a legion of explorers further northward as far as Kansas but they found nothing that remotely resembled a mystical city of gold either.
It is widely believed that John Y.T. Smith was the first white settler to arrive n the area. Strong and sturdy, he chose the site to start cutting hay because of the remains of the canal ditches left behind by the Hohokam Indians.
After Smith had gotten used to life in the valley and found that the valley had ample bounty for anyone willing to put in the hard work and time to reap its rewards he invited his friends to come out west and see if they didn’t feel the way he did about the area
Now I invite you to join me in turning the clock back a little bit. In fact, let’s turn it all the way back to, let’s say, 1867. Here we are standing alone on a vast and unsettled desert plain. Don’t waste your time looking for any of the landmarks and places of interest that we take for granted today: Bank One Ballpark, America West Arena, Herberger Theater, Phoenix Symphony Hall, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Science Center, or the Convention Center, Arizona State University, The Biltmore- they’re not here yet!
Look around you and you will see little, outside some historic places that have remained with us to this very day, which you will be able to recognize! No busy city streets swelling with traffic, no sounds of powerful jet engines from the jet aircraft overhead – in fact, no paved roads at all!
The Phoenix area in 1867 may strike you as a little confusing! Just where is the Sheriff? Are there any outlaws on the loose and roaming the countryside? And just how does a six-shooter work, anyway?
Then you happen to see a man headed in your general direction, and, needing some quick information you hurry over to talk to him. In a rush you introduce your self and then begin with a flood of questions.
The man straightens up, looks you square in the eye, and then, with a good-natured smile says “You’re new to these parts, aren’t you?” The man’s easy manner and friendliness are disarming and you follow along as he strolls toward the local feed store. He introduces himself, “My name is Jack Swilling, how do you do?”
You have just befriended one of the important figures in the founding of Phoenix. You see, Mr. Swilling was an engineer of sorts, and he founded a digging and building firm that began bringing water to the Phoenix from the Salt River.
Jack Swilling was from Wickenburg, Virginia. He was a friend of Smith’s and decided to take the invitation and go out west and see if he might not want to “set up stakes” here in what was later to become Phoenix. .
Mr. Swilling made the long and dangerous trek across the country, finally arriving here safe and sound. When Jack Swilling got to the foot of the north slopes of the White Tank Mountains he may have taken a moment to rest and look around. He would have seen the vast Salt River Valley stretching out before him.
As he bent down to sample the dusty earth that he stood on his farming knowledge would tell him that there was a chance for life here. He would see farmland that didn’t have a lot of rocks and that had a long and warm growing season. He was very impressed with the area and, like so many who would follow in his adventurous footsteps; he fell in love with the valley and decided to settle here.
By 1868, he had convinced some friends from Wickenburg to join him out west. He told them of what he had seen and of the great promise that the area held for those brave enough to meet the tough physical challenges of the untamed west. Mr. Swilling must have been convincing because a band of brave settles did leave from the east to join Mr. Swilling in Arizona. When these folks arrived they began to carry out their plan to make the vast stretches of land they saw before them good for farming. So this band of settlers made a canal from the Salt River and settled in a small farming community approximately four miles east of the present city. And it worked. And they stayed.
It is hard to imagine now because when you look around you, you can see plants, trees, and even flowers all around you. But before there was a way to bring water into the valley there was no life here except for native desert life.
You can still get a pretty good idea of what the area looked like in the days before the large amount of settlers brought prosperity to the region by traveling just a short way beyond the valley. You will note that before too long the trappings of big-city life will quickly disappear, vanishing into an expanse of rolling desert sparsely populated by cactus and stark in its natural straight-forwardness
How Phoenix Got Its Name
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 Hellinwg 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 because, 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.
Forward toward the future
Arrival of the railroad in 1887 was the first of several important events that revolutionized the economy of Phoenix. The coming of the railroad in the 1880s caused more growth as travel to, and through, Phoenix was made easier. Merchandise now flowed into the city by rail instead of wagon.
Phoenix became a trade center with its products reaching eastern and western markets Commercial traffic from east to west also saw the growth of the hospitality industry and of other businesses that catered to the needs caused by increased traffic.. In recognition of the increased tempo of economic life, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce was organized.
Two years later Phoenix became the territorial capital. When the construction of the Roosevelt Dam was completed the town’s growth increased. This is because the dam guaranteed a reliable supply of fresh water to support the additional demand caused by the increase in population and farm irrigation.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the National Reclamation Act making it possible to build dams on western streams for reclamation purposes. Valley of the Sun residents were quick to supplement this federal action by organizing the Salt River Valley Waters Users’ Association to assure proper management of the precious water supply and to this day it serves as the major agency for controlling the use of irrigation water in the Valley.
In 1911, the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, was built to create the Roosevelt Lake. At the time this dam was the largest masonry dam project in the world and it created expanded irrigation of land in the Valley for farming, and increased the water supply for the steadily growing population.
Statehood and beyond
President William Howard Taft approved Arizona’s statehood in 1912. This made Phoenix the official state capital.
Shortly after statehood Phoenix changed its form of government from mayor-council variety to a council-manager system. This form of administration was revolutionary at the time and has been duplicated by many cities in the United States since then.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge sold 13,000 acres of South Mountain to the city of Phoenix for $17,000 so that the city reached its present size of 16,500 acres. In fact, South Mountain Park, which hosts over 3 million visitors each year, is the largest metropolitan park in the world today.
However, gradually the city and state became known for more than just climate. The “Five C’s” (climate, citrus, copper, cotton and cattle) soon became the mainstays of the city and state. But it wasn’t until the outbreak of World War II that Phoenix really began to grow. Arizona ‘s ideal weather was perfect for air flight. Soon military airfields and the defense industry headed to Phoenix to set up shop.
The war caused Phoenix from a farming focus to manufacturing and distribution center. Phoenix had the work force and the land needed to set up plants for creating a military buildup and that is what happened. The 1940’s saw Phoenix rapidly turn into an industrial city with mass production of military supplies.
Luke Field, Williams Field and Falcon Field, coupled with the giant ground-training center at Hyder, west of Phoenix, brought thousands of new recruits into Phoenix.
In 1950, 105,000 people lived within the city limits and thousands more lived in adjacent communities and depended upon Phoenix for their livelihoods. The city had 148 miles of paved streets and 163 miles of unpaved streets for a total of 311 miles of streets within the city limits.
After the war, families headed west to start a new beginning. Then air-conditioning became standard, which made the desert summers bearable. Today tourism has become a leading industry.
Phoenix has been selected four times since 1950 as an All-America City. This is a privileged distinction among big cities. To be an All-America City judging criteria includes the extent to which a city’s private citizens are involved in city government.
Thousands of Phoenix citizens have served on various city committees, boards and commissions to assure that major decisions are in the best interest of the people.
In 1993, Phoenix was selected as the “Best Run City in the World”, also known as the Carl Bertelsmann Prize, by the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany. Phoenix is in a very select class of city recipients of this noble honor.
During the 1950’s Phoenix reached its city size of 17 square miles. Current development is pushing rapidly beyond the geographic boundaries to the north and west, south through Pinal County towards Tucson, and beginning to surround the large Salt River and Gila River reservations.
Considered by many at one time as a small western town mostly thought of as a stop along the way to either of the coasts the city developed from a place with the unique reputation as a healthy haven for those suffering from the symptoms of chronic asthma to a world-class city.
Phoenix’s municipal motto is “Vision, and values cascading into the future.” The vision for Phoenix is of 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 the 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 sampler 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.
Phoenix adopted a commission form of government in 1913. This is long before any other city had thought about using this typ of method of city government, as most had never imagined any system other than the long-established mayor leadership system. The city of Phoenix is managed by a city council consisting of a mayor and eight city council members. The mayor is elected in an “at large (or election open to the public) election.
The winning candidate is elected to serve a four year term. City council members are elected to four-year terms by voters as well, but each councilperson is voted for by, and to represent, each of the eight separate city districts. The mayor and city council members have equal voting power to make laws and set the policies that govern the city.
In addition to eight voting districts, the city is also divided into 15 “urban villages.” The reason for this is to help in making local laws and regulations that are in tune with the needs of the local residents. Having smaller areas that can express their needs and wants is intended to let people have their say at a level closer to the neighborhood residents
These urban villages(Five of the villages: North Mountain Village, Alhambra Village, Encanto Village, Camelback East Village, and Central City Village, are included in Central Phoenix.) are: Ahwatukee Foothills, Alhambra, Camelback East, Central City, Deer Valley, Desert Ridge, Desert View, Encanto, Estrella, Laveen, Maryvale, North Gateway, North Mountain, Paradise Valley (not to be confused with the town of Paradise Valley), South Mountain, as well as a fifteenth which is as of yet unnamed (created in 2004 and currently called, “New Village.”). The fifteenth is sparsely populated and new development is not expected any time in the near future.
All of these villages are unique and have special characteristics. Visit any of these five villages and the differences in history and personality will become immediately apparent to even the most casual observer. Phoenix is in the center of Arizona and it has a little of everything. Discover Phoenix, discover a unique part of America’s heritage.
There has been lot of building, restoration and renovation to the downtown area. Examples of the vast amount of development that have been going on are the US Airways Center (formerly America West Arena) and Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark) and the very many coffeehouses, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping areas appearing with increasing frequency. The popular Arizona Center continues to attract people to the downtown area for shopping during the day as well as for the vibrant nightlife. Many new restaurants have done well by offering first-rate food, fun and service, some using the themes of Phoenix’s early history to add extra charm and uniqueness to the dining experience. Downtown attractions include a variety of events and activities supported by public and private sponsors. There are also many parks and squares to walk, the Arizona Science Center, art and history museums and the public library to visit,
West Phoenix (Growth and Oppoprtunity)
The inner neighborhoods include many reasonably priced homes. Much of the residential building here is recent and took place no later than the 1970s. Shoppers in the west are catered to by a variety of large malls and pavilions that promise not only great selection and price, but also provide free open-air entertainment like concerts and other attractions.
The west side continues to grow outward at an amazing rate. Visit charming Historic Downtown Glendale and see how life was in the area in days gone by. Antique vendors tempt visitors with their hidden treasures and the area affords a variety of shopping and diverse dining choices.
Cardinals Stadium is currently under construction in Glendale. The Fiesta Bowl is moving to the stadium in 2007 and the 2008 Superbowl (XLII) is slated to be held at Cardinal Stadium.
South Phoenix (Economy and Scenerey)
This area features a lot of inexpensive housing. There is also a lot of commercial activity going on here. But for older adults and urban professionals there is the gated community of Ahwatukee that provides upscale apartments.
Visitors are advised to take the South Mountain Park Scenic Drive while in this area. The beautiful sunsets that are the pride of Arizona and best enjoyed from a desert wilderness vantage point are seen so clearly from these mountains. An impressive shopping mall is located just across the freeway so that area residents can choose from an assortment of goods located very near to where they live.
Northwest (History and Recreation)
Out beyond Peoria and Glendale are the communities of Sun City, Sun City West, Youngtown, and Surprise. The Sun Cities and Youngtown are largely retirement communities and provide full-service to take care of the needs of resident retirees.
But while development is springing up all over the area is also remarkable for its natural beauty. Hikers will enjoy the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. These areas provide some of the best hiking and sight-seeing to be found anywhere.
East Side (Expansion and Diversity)
Nestled again Phoenix on the east is the town of Paradise Valley. Found to the Northeast of Phoenix, this area is popular with middleclass and wealthy residents. South of Paradise Valley is the neighborhood of Arcadia. Unlike most of Phoenix, Arcadia is filled with more mature landscape and citrus trees.
Just to the east of Paradise Valley is the well-known City of Scottsdale.. The people who live there like to call it “The West’s Most Western Town.” Scottsdale housing and living is expensive as the area is made to serve those who are the wealthiest Phoenix residents.
Tempe, located south of Scottsdale, is primarily a college town. It is the home of Arizona State University and the Sun Devils. Local festivals, gatherings and a long list of other special events are extremely popular in this area. Arizona State University is at the hub of this area.
Continuing further to the east is Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert. The City of Chandler remained largely an agricultural community until the 1970’s, when there was a big increase in settlement. Much of this area houses young families and middle-class professionals in traditional styled housing developments.
Education (Schools and Learning)
Public education in the city of Phoenix is provided by 30 school districts.
The principal institution of higher education in the area is nationally renowned Arizona State University (ASU). ASU’s main campus is located in Tempe, but ASU is a large university with large satellite campuses in Phoenix and Mesa aw well. ASU is currently one of the largest public universities in the U.S., with a 2004 enrollment of 57,543.
The University of Phoenix is also headquartered in, you guessed it, Phoenix! This is the nation’s largest private, for-profit university. It reports an enrollment of well over 130,000 students in campuses throughout the United States and the world. (Foreign campus locations include Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and the Netherlands.)
There is also an extensive network of community colleges throughout the valley. These ten community colleges and two skills centers are sprinkled across Maricopa County in order to provide adult education and job training to the widest possible cross-section of scholars.
Geography and Climate
The heart of the City of Phoenix, and what many would say might be at the very heart of the state, is called Phoenix Arizona Home Central Phoenix. Phoenix is surrounded by a ring of mountains, and therefore finds itself located in a valley. As this valley, blessed by almost year-round constant sunshine, is called The Valley of the Sun, so is Phoenix, the jewel that sits at the center of this valley, often referred to as The Valley of the Sun.
The exact location of Phoenix, in latitude and longitude, is 33 degrees 31’42” north and 112 degrees 4’35” west. This puts it at about the same latitude that would be on an east-west line going from west to east through Long Beach, CA, Shreveport, LA, and Savanna, GA. Phoenix sits in the center of Phoenix Valley, also frequently referred to as the “Valley of the Sun”.
It is easy to imagine the in-state location of Phoenix by just thinking of a place right in the middle of the state of Arizona. The elevation of Phoenix is 1,117 feet above sea level and it is in the heart of the beautiful Sonora Desert.
A major feature of Phoenix is the Salt River. The Salt River is important in the history and development of the city, and of the state. But the Salt River is also an important part of the landscape. The Salt River flows westward through the city of Phoenix; the riverbed is normally dry except when excess runoff forces the release of water from the dams upriver.
The city of Tempe has built two inflatable dams in the Salt River bed to create a year-round recreational lake. The Tempe Town Lake is surrounded by lavish living accommodations and a number of recreation and nightspots to meet the plan of creating a luxurious resort location.
But aside from this man-made lake the city and surrounding places are mostly made up of land. The city officially has an area of 475.1 square miles. You can see how important water is to the area when you consider that of all this space only 0.05 percent of it is made up of water.
The majestic mountain ranges that enclose, ring and protect the city include Camelback Mountain to the east, Piestewa Peak (Formerly known as Squaw Peak and renamed to commemorate a brave Native American member of our military who fell in the line of duty with U.S. Armed Forces fighting for freedom in Iraq) in the northeast, and South Mountain, appropriately enough, in the south. Completing the enclosure and a bit further away, are the White Tank Mountains.
These mountains, rising spectacularly above the mostly level desert plains, form a breathtaking background for this jewel of a city amidst the desert.
But the Phoenix area itself is not simply a flat plain with no character to its terrain. Within the city are the Phoenix Mountains and South Mountains. These mountains not only add to the scenic beauty of the valley, they are also ideal locations to participate in local recreation.
Phoenix has a very dry and hot climate, with little change during the year. Clear blue skies are typical on most days, and Phoenix boasts nearly 300 sunny days per year on average. The temperature reaches or exceeds 100 degrees on about 89 days during the year.
The hottest times are the days from early June through early September. To get an idea of how hot it can get there record temperature was set on June 26, 1990, when it reached an all-time high of 122 degrees! (The lowest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix was 16 degrees on January 7, 1913.)
The dry Arizona air makes the hot temperatures easier to withstand early in the season. But the resident must be aware of the August monsoon season. At this time Phoenix can get nearly as humid as it gets in the Southeastern United States.
The normal annual rainfall is 8.29 inches and rain is particularly scarce from April through June. Although thunderstorms occur on occasion during every month of the year, they are most common during the monsoon season from July to mid-September.
Snow is extremely rare in the area. Most of the snowfall occurs north at the higher elevations around Flagstaff with snowfall in Phoenix noted. When it snows in Phoenix it goes in the record books!
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.
Phoenix Trivia (Facts or Fiction?)
Here are some interesting “facts” about the Phoenix area. The following list, though intended to be authentic, has not been updated to insure currency and those interested in verifying the items on the list are invited to do so!
Phoenix is not only a city in Arizona, it is also a city in New York, Maryland and Oregon.
- It is illegal to hunt camels in the State of Arizona.
- Arizona once had a navy consisting of two boats on the Colorado River. They were used to prevent California from encroaching on Arizona territory.
- The name Arizona comes from the Indian “Arizonac” which means “little spring”.
- Phoenix averages 211 days of sunshine per year.
- South Mountain Park covers more than 20,000 acres, making it the largest city park in the world.
- A saguaro cactus will take between 50 and 100 years to grow an arm. The saguaro cactus flower is the official state flower of Arizona.
- There are 11.2 million acres of National Forest in Arizona and one fourth of the state is forested. The largest forest is comprised of Ponderosa Pine.
- The largest freshwater striped bass caught in Arizona was at Bullhead City. It weighed 59 lbs. 12 oz.
- In the City of Glendale it is illegal for a car to back up.
- Someone who lives in Arizona is referred to as either an “Arizonan” or an “Arizonian”.
Brief Economy Profile (Local Economy)
At first the Phoenix economy was agricultural. The cash crops in those early days were cotton and citrus products. In the last two decades, the economy has changed as rapidly as the population has grown. As the state capital of Arizona, many residents in the area are employed by the government. Arizona State University has also enhanced the area’s profile and prestige through education and its growing research capabilities. A number of high-tech and telecommunications companies have also chosen to move to the area.
The warm winter climate drives a great deal of seasonal tourism and recreation and the area is prepared to meet the wants and needs of area visitors. The Heard Museum does a tremendous job of preserving and presenting the Native American past with its displays and outstanding artwork collections. The Biltmore has upscale shops and wonderful restaurants. Golfing is big in Phoenix, with the area hosting many Professional Golf Association (PGA) events.
Phoenix is the home for major Fortune 500 companies Avnet, Inc. Electronics Corporation, Phelps Dodge Corporation mineral development specialists and America West Airlines. Allied Waste Industries, Inc., the second largest non-hazardous solid waste management company in the country, also calls the area its home.
Luke Air Force Base, located to the west, is a large military installation. This Air Force Base that provides jobs and spending that insure the economic stability to that area
Phoenix is also a popular location for all sorts of filming. Filming for TV and for the movie industry has been popular here for a long time. The city government operates a film office to assist those in motion picture and advertising companies who are interested in using city-owned sites or other locations throughout the metropolitan area in their productions.
Transportation (Getting around, Getting About)
Sky Harbor International Airport is located in the metro area near the intersections of I-10, I-17, US 60, and State Routes 51 and Loop 202. It is a southwestern hub for traffic by air and a center for all air travelers continuing further west or going to the east. It is the fifth largest airport in America. The airport serves more than 100 cities and carries more than 36 million people a year. The airport serves domestic and international customers with a number of major carriers.
The Williams Gateway Airport, an Air Force Base in Mesa recently converted to civilian use, also serves the area’s commercial air traffic. The conversion is an attempt to relieve Sky Harbor of some of the airport’s traffic and to carry passengers to local destinations.
Smaller airports that primarily handle private and corporate jets include the Scottsdale Municipal Airport in Scottsdale and the Falcon Field Airport in Mesa.
Public transportation throughout the metropolitan area is served by Valley Metro bus service that operates a series of buses and ride-share options. Valley Metro is currently building Valley Metro Rail, a light rail project. Several cities have expressed interest in commuter rail on existing railway lines and there are a series of proposals under consideration.
The road system in Phoenix is relatively new. This means that it has been laid out in a grid system so that most roads travel either north to south or east to west. I-10, called the Maricopa and Papago Freeways, starts all the way in Los Angeles and comes east through downtown Phoenix where it continues southeast towards Tucson.
I-17, known as the Black Canyon Freeway, begins in downtown Phoenix and travels north to Flagstaff. US 60, the Superstition Freeway, also travels through the center of the city, going to the northwest through the suburbs of Glendale, Peoria, and Surprise. It also exits to the east of downtown and continuing through Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and Apache Junction. State Route Loop 101, named the Agua Fria, Price, and Pima Freeways along parts of its route, is also a major highway that forms a semicircle around the northern suburbs of the city. This ring starts from I-10 in the west and goes around to I-10, by way of State Route Loop 202, in the southeast.
But the rapid growth of the city has seen the need for even more access to, and about, the city. Phoenix continues to add to its highway system to better serve the public with Loop 202 and Loop 303 nearing completion.
Recreation (malls, zoos, pavilions and parks)
The Phoenix area, or the “Valley of the Sun”, continues to be a favorite winter haven for visitors from all over the United States, and the world. The commerce and enterprise that tourism and the tourism industry bring to Phoenix is a large part of what makes Phoenix such a great place to live. There are numerous restaurants, shopping areas and recreational spots for everybody to enjoy.
The relaxed and casual southwestern style of life make Phoenix an especially desirable place to live or visit for those seeking a break form the hurried pace of like that is so common these days. Phoenix has grown in size to over 430 fun and action-packed square miles and continues to be a town of new opportunities and sensational growth.
The fine weather and availability of much land for commercial development has meant that there are many outdoor malls throughout the valley. These malls, with their pleasant atmosphere and vendors of all types have become an ideal place to spend an afternoon. Whether it be a weekend visit for window-shopping, a shopping trip or merely a lazy afternoon of strolling about the malls are always a popular destination.
A great place for shopping is the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix. This mall features great restaurants and nightlife is another popular location for those focused on fun and shopping.
The Phoenix Zoo is the place to go if you want to learn about animal life from this, and from other, areas. The habitats are well kept and the decoration authentic to the areas in which the species are actually found. There are enough mammals, bird, and reptiles to satisfy the curiosity of even the most avid animal-lover and will provide satisfaction for many, many visits.
The Arizona Science Museum is the place to go to learn about science. The center has a large assortment of displays and features many interactive exhibits. Visitors are often able to see the operation of a scientific idea by models that let the visitor actually operate the exhibit and bringing the display to life!
The Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion is a spectacular outdoor entertainment complex that attracts top acts and music lovers from all over. There is seating for 18,000 and at least 50 major shows make there stop at the pavilion each year. Entertainers like Moody Blues, Kenney Chesney, Dave Matthews, Erykah Badu, Scorpions, Hank Williams Jr., Prince, Harry Connick Jr., Brittany Spears, Snatana and the B-52’s are just a few of the big-name acts that have been attracted to this venue. New or old, rock or pop, the talent is diverse and first-rate at Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion.
You will find many outdoor activities in the Valley of the Sun. The Phoenix Mountain Preserve, at over 24,000 acres, is the largest municipal park in the United States. The Phoenix Mountain Preserve is made up of many mountain parks that are a part of the preserve. South Mountain Park stretches 16,500 acres and is a part of the chain of desert mountain parks that go around Phoenix. Squaw Peak Park and North Mountain Park are both very popular hiking areas. Many people use these trails on a daily basis. Papago Park is a wonderful place to see remarkable red rock formations.
The views that the peaks overlooking Phoenix give of the city are breathtaking. Encanto Park is located in the center of Phoenix. The park has rich, forest-like foliage, plentiful water ways and even children’s amusement park making it an ideal place to spend a family outing.
Calgary (Alberta, Canada)
Grenoble (Rhone-Alpes, France)
Hermosillo (Sonora, Mexico)
Prague (Czech Republic)
Arizona Historical SocietyMuseum
Arizona Science Center, designed by Antoine Predock
Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds
BankOneCenter the tallest building in the state of Arizona
Burton Barr Central Library, designed by Will Bruder
Castles N’ Coasters amusement park
Hall of Flame
Hotel San Carlos
Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation Area
Phoenix Museum of History
Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
St. Mary’s Basilica:TovreaCastle
South Mountain Park.
Symphony Hall for the Phoenix Symphony at the Phoenix Civic Plaza
Taliesin West and Gammage Auditorium
Major Sports Clubs
Club and Sport
Arizona Cardinals Football
Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball
Phoenix Suns Basketball
Phoenix Mercury Basketball Women’s National Basketball Association
Phoenix Coyotes Ice Hockey
Helpful Contact Information to Know (Getting Started)
Whether you are coming to Phoenix for a brief visit, to stay for a while or to settle down there are things that you will be interested in knowing about the area. Following are some links to sites that might be of interest to you; things to do, places to go and things you might need to get. Take a moment to look at the list of sites and see if any are useful to you as you get started on your Arizona adventure.
- For more detailed information about what’s happening right now in Phoenix. see http://copwww.ci.phoenix.az.us/
- Phoenix is located in Maricopa County, to find out more information about the local headlines and events see http://www.maricopa.gov
- Cox is one of the local cable and telephone providers in the Phoenix Metro area, click here to learn more about their services at http://www.cox.com
- Southwest Gas is the local natural gas provider, click here to learn more about their services and rates go to http://www.swgas.com
- Qwest is another local provider of telephone and internet access providers click here for more information about their services, including long distance visit http://www.qwest.com
- APS is one of the local electricity providers in and around the Valley, click here to see if they service your area! http://www.aps.com
- SRP is another local electricity provider, click here to see if they service your area. Go to http://www.srpnet.com