Introduction to Phoenix
Phoenix, AZ, is the fifth largest city in the United
States. According to U.S. Census data, Phoenix is
the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United
States. Phoenix is also the capital of Arizona, as
well as the largest city and largest metropolitan
area in Arizona. Phoenix is the largest capital city
by population, and the third largest capital city by
area in the United States.
Phoenix is located in central Arizona, in the
southeastern United States. It is 20 minutes west of
Tempe, and 20 minutes southwest of Scottsdale.
Phoenix is home to more than five Fortune 1000
company headquarters, including well-recognized
names such as Avnet, Phelps Dodge, and Pet Smart.
Nearby Tempe is home to US Airways. Other companies
with major operations in Phoenix include: Intel,
Motorola, AlliedSignal, Honeywell, Boeing, American
Express, Prudential, Charles Schwab and more.
Phoenix has received the National Civic League's
prestigious "All-America City" Award four times. In
1993, Phoenix was selected as the "Best Run City in
the World" by the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany.
Phoenix has an arid climate that is characterized by
some of the hottest seasonal temperatures anywhere.
Phoenix averages 325 sunny days and less than eight
inches of rain a year. The hottest recorded summer
temperature was 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow is very
rare in Phoenix, though it still can occur
Phoenix is the capitol of Arizona state, and was
incorporated as a city on February 5, 1881. Phoenix
is located in central Arizona in the southwestern
United States, 118 miles (188 kilometers) northwest
of Tucson. Phoenix 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 and Fiinigis in the Western
In 2006 Phoenix was the sixth largest city in the
United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The 2000 U.S. Census reported the
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as the
fourteenth largest in the U.S., with a population of
3,251,876. The city's MSA grew to an estimated
3,790,000 by 2004. Between 1990 and 2000, the
metropolitan area grew by 34 percent, making it the
eighth fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S.
Phoenix is the largest capital city by population in
the U.S., and the third largest capital city by area
in the U.S. Phoenix has been selected four times
since 1950 as an All-America City, rare among larger
cities. The hallmark of an All-America City is the
extent to which its private citizens get involved in
the workings of their government. Thousands of
citizens have served on various city committees,
boards and commissions to assure that major
decisions are in the best interest of the people.
The original settlers of what was to become Phoenix
were the Hohokam Indian people, who lived there as
early as 300 BC. The first non-native American
settlers founded a farming community near what was
to become Phoenix. The Town of Phoenix was
officially recognized in May of 1868. Phoenix was
incorporated as a city in 1881. At that time it had
a population of approximately 2,500 people.
Phoenix Valley History
After the first efforts to create an Arizona
Territory from what was then the New Mexico Territory
failed, the Civil War and concern for control of
potential railroad routes to the riches of California
brought approval for an Arizona Territory.
Representative James H. Ashley of Ohio
introduced the Arizona Organic Act in the House of
Representatives in 1862. The act, approved in both
houses of Congress, was signed by President Abraham
Lincoln in 1863.
The vacant adobe
homes had been silent for 400 years.
The Valley waited patiently for a person with vision
to arrive. In 1867, such a man appeared. In 1867, Jack
Swilling of Wickenburg stopped to rest his horse at the
foot of the north slopes of the White Tank Mountains. He
looked down and across the expansive Salt River Valley
and his eyes caught the rich gleam of the brown, dry
soil turned up by the horse's hooves. He saw farm land,
predominately free of rocks, and in a place beyond the
reach of heavy frost or snow. All it needed was water.
Returning to Wickenburg, he organized the Swilling
Irrigation Canal Company, and moved into the Valley. The
same year, the company began digging a canal to divert
some of the water of the Salt River onto the lands of
the Valley. By March 1868, water flowed through the
canal, and a few members of the company raised meager
crops that summer.
By 1868, a small colony had formed approximately four
miles east of the present city. Swilling's Mill became
the new name of the area. It was then changed to Helling
Mill, after which it became Mill City, and years later,
East Phoenix. Swilling, having been a confederate
soldier, wanted to name the new settlement Stonewall
after Stonewall Jackson. Others suggested the name
Salina, but neither name suited the inhabitants. It was
Darrell Duppa who suggested the name Phoenix, inasmuch
as the new town would spring from the ruins of a former
civilization. That is the accepted derivation of our
Phoenix officially was recognized on May 4, 1868,
when the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the county
of which we were then a part, formed an election
The City of Phoenix in the 1860's was occupied by area
farmers near the modern cross-streets of Van Buren and
Central Av. It is named after the mythical Egyptian bird
that rose from ashes by "Lord" Darrell Duppa. Phoenix
rose from the ashes of the Hohokam culture. Mesa was
already a city of about 1000 people about 22 miles east.
Hayden's Ferry (present-day Tempe) was a small farming
community just starting to take shape. Most of the area
now covered by urban and suburban neighborhoods was
formerly cultivated land of citrus, cotton, and lettuce.
A post office was established in Phoenix on June 15,
1868, with Jack Swilling as postmaster. The sharp
whistle of the first steam mill in the Valley added a
brisk note to the sound of emerging industry. It
advertised the Richard Flour Mills, built in 1869, where
the Luhrs Tower now stands.
To administer this new townsite, the Salt River
Valley Town Association was formed with its articles
carrying the following signatures:
Wm. B. Hellings &
Barnett and Block Thomas
Barnum James Murphy
John T. Dennis
William A. Holmes
John T. Alsap
Martin P. Griffin
James McC. Elliot
Charles C. McDermott
John P. Osborn
James D. Monihon
Capt. Hancock was also a surveyor, and he made the
first survey of the townsite and laid out the lots and
the town. This first town of Phoenix was one mile long,
a half-mile wide and contained 96 blocks. Washington
Street was the main street and, on the early maps,
showed to be 100 feet wide.
The east and west streets were named after our
presidents. Washington Street was placed in the middle
and Adams, who was the second president, was given the
first street to the north. Our third president,
Jefferson, had the first street south of Washington
named after him. And the pattern followed - one to the
north and one to the south - until recent years.
The north-south streets originally carried Indian
names, but these were changed in favor of the more
easily remembered numbers - with streets being to the
east of Central Avenue and avenues to the west.
The Prescott Miner carried the following
advertisement on Dec. 7, 1870:
"GREAT SALE OF LOTS AT
the 23rd and 24th of December."
The first effort resulted in
the sale of 61 lots at an average price of $48 each. The
first lot was purchased by Judge William Berry of
Prescott. It was the southwest corner of First and
Washington streets, and he paid the rather steep price
The first store building to be
erected in the new town was Hancock's Store, a general
store opened in July 1871, by William Smith. The adobe
structure was built on the northwest corner of First and
Washington streets and served as the town hall, county
offices and general meeting place of early Phoenix.
Although various religious
organizations had been formed by 1870, the first church
building erected in Phoenix was the Central Methodist
Church built in 1871 at the corner of 2nd Avenue and
The first Catholic priest came
to Phoenix in 1872, but it was not until after 1881 that
an adobe church building, the Sacred Heart of St. Louis
at Third and Monroe streets, replaced the Otero home as
a place for Catholics to worship.
Yavapai County was divided on Feb. 12, 1871, when
Maricopa County was created by the Legislature. The
sixth county in the state, Maricopa, gave up portions in
1875 and 1881 to help form Pinal and Gila counties,
The first county election was held in 1871, when Tom
Barnum was elected the first sheriff of Maricopa County.
As a matter of historical interest, a shooting between
two other candidates for the office, J. A. Chenowth and
Jim Favorite, resulted in Favorite's death and
Chenowth's withdrawal from the race.
Schooling for Phoenix's youth began on September 5,
1872. About 20 children studied under the guidance of
Jean Rudolph Derroche 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, a newcomer from Wisconsin,
was appointed as the first female schoolteacher in
Whole Town Worth $550
On April 10, 1874, President Grant issued a patent to
Judge Alsap for the present site of Phoenix. The
declaratory statement was filed at the Prescott Land
Office on Feb. 15, 1872. Official entry was made at the
Florence Land Office on Nov. 19, 1873. The total cost of
the Phoenix Townsite of 320 acres was $550, including
all expenses for services.
In 1874, downtown lots were selling for $7 to $11
each. That year also marked the entry into Phoenix of
the first telegraph line. Morris Goldwater was the first
operator of this station, located in his father's store
on the northwest corner of First and Jefferson streets.
By 1875, there were 16 saloons, four dance halls, two
monte banks and one faro table in Phoenix. The
townsite-commissioner form of government, however, was
not working well. At a mass meeting held at the
courthouse on Oct. 20, 1875, an election was held to
select three village trustees and other officials.
By the 1880s, the Arizona Territory was bustling with
fortune seekers hoping to strike it rich mining gold,
copper, and silver. The town of Prescott was founded in
1863 by New Englanders searching for gold. Nearly 7,000
people came to southeastern Arizona in the wake of Ed
Schieffelin's 1877 discovery of silver at Tombstone,
A safe location was required for the money being made
in the Valley. To solve the problem, the National Bank
was established in 1878 with capital stock of $200,000.
The first newspaper in Phoenix, the Salt River Valley
Herald, changed its name to the Phoenix Herald in 1880.
By this time, the paper had progressed from a weekly
publication to semiweekly.
In 1880 Phoenix had a population of 2,453, a school
enrollment of 379 pupils, an ice factory and a new brick
sidewalk in front of the Tiger Saloon. On Nov. 26 of
that same year, Maricopa County had its first legal
Phoenix had outgrown its original
townsite-commissioner form of government, it grew too
large for the village trustee operation. "The Phoenix
Charter Bill" was passed by the 11th Territorial
Legislature. The bill made Phoenix an incorporated city
and provided for a government consisting of a mayor and
four council members. It was signed by Governor John C.
Fremont on Feb. 25, 1881.
On May 3, 1881, the first election was held in the
newly incorporated city with a population of
In the center a bird rising, and surrounding this the
inscription Phoenix, Arizona - Incorporated February 25,
The first horse-drawn streetcar line was built along
some 2 miles of Washington Street in 1887, and the kick
off of this new mode of transportation was on Nov. 5. An
additional line was installed along Center Street, and
the first car moved over those shaky rails on Dec. 30,
1889. The streetcar system became rather extensive in
later years, with tracks covering most of Phoenix and
extending even to Glendale.
July 4, 1887, would have been just another
Independence Day had not the first Southern Pacific
train arrived that day from Maricopa Wells. This had
been a long-anticipated event.
The coming of the railroad was the first of several
important events that revolutionized the economy of this
area. Merchandise now flowed into the city by rail
instead of wagon. Our products went quickly to eastern
and western markets. In recognition of the increased
tempo of economic life, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
was organized on Nov. 4, 1888.
That same year, the city offices were moved into the
new City Hall, built where the downtown bus terminal now
stands. This building also provided temporary offices
for the territorial government when they were moved to
Phoenix from Prescott in 1889.
The location of Arizona's Capitol had been moved
several times since 1864. It was first established at
Navajo Springs, then Prescott, then Tucson after an
attempt to move it to La Paz failed, then back to
Prescott, and finally to Phoenix.
The first transcontinental railroad was, however,
constructed along a more northerly route by the "big
four" of western railroad construction--Collis P.
Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles
Crocker. A southern transcontinental route through
territory acquired by the Gadsden Purchase was not a
reality until 1881 when the tracks of the "big four's"
Southern Pacific met those of the Atchison, Topeka and
Santa Fe in the Territory of New Mexico.
Twenty years had passed since Phoenix, like its
legendary namesake, had risen from the ashes of a bygone
community. The 1890s showed further indications of the
heights to which this city would some day soar. The
Arizona Republic became a daily paper in 1890, with Ed
Gill as its editor.
In those days, none of the great reservoirs north of
the Valley had been created to control the flow of water
to the Valley. The year 1891 was marked by the greatest
flood in the Valley's history, as well as by the advent
of the first telephone system in Phoenix.
The horse-drawn streetcars were replaced in 1893 by
electric cars. The electric cars stayed on the streets
until the automobile replaced them on Feb. 17, 1948. On
March 12, 1895, the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix
Railroad ran its first train to Phoenix. It connected
Phoenix with the northern part of Arizona and gave
travelers another outlet to the east and west via the
The additional railroad speeded the capitol city's
rise to economic supremacy in the state. That same year,
1895, the Phoenix Union High School was established, and
90 young people were enrolled.
In 1897, an organization of 14 women called the
Friday Club, started the public library movement in
Phoenix. Their efforts led to formation of the Phoenix
Library Association in 1899. The members subscribed at
an annual rate of $3 for the maintenance of the small
library housed in two upstairs rooms in the Fleming
Building at First Avenue and Washington Street. The
Phoenix City Council, however, levied a 5-mill tax for
its public library a few months after the 1901
Legislature passed a bill allowing a tax to be applied
to the support of free libraries. This action satisfied
the conditions set by Mr. Andrew Carnegie in his
proposal to donate a library building to the city. The
Carnegie Free Library was opened on Feb.18, 1908.
Some key dates in Phoenix's history include:
In 1911, the Theodore Roosevelt Dam near Phoenix,
then the largest masonry dam in the world, began
In 1912, Phoenix became a state capital with Arizona
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge sold 13,000 acres
of South Mountain to Phoenix. This was to become
South Mountain Park, which, at its present size of
16,500 acres, is the largest metropolitan park in
the world. Every year South Mountain Park sees three
Phoenix Arts and Culture
Phoenix is a center of arts and culture. Phoenix
offers museums, the performing arts, and much more.
Some of Phoenix's more notable museums include:
The Arizona Science Center
The Desert Botanical Garden in nearby Papago Salado
The Heard Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Museum of History
The Phoenix Zoo in nearby Papago Salado
The Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park in nearby
For patrons of the performing arts, Phoenix has a
lot to offer. Some of the more notable attractions
The Actor's Theatre of Phoenix
The Arizona Opera
The Herberger Theater Center
The Orpheum Theatre
The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra
The Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix Sports and Leisure
Phoenix has plenty to offer to keep sports fans
happy. Phoenix is home to the following major sports
Baseball - The Major League Baseball (MLB), Arizona
Diamondbacks. In addition, in the spring of every
year, nine major league baseball teams come to the
Phoenix area for spring training.
Basketball - The National Basketball Association
(NBA) Phoenix Suns, and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury.
Football - The National Football League (NFL)
Hockey - The National Hockey League (NHL) Phoenix
Lacrosse - The National Lacrosse League (NLL)
Arizona Sting play in nearby Glendale.
Nearby Tempe is also home to the NCAA College
Football Fiesta Bowl and Insight Bowl. Phoenix is
also often referred to as the "golf capital of the
world" with more than 200 golf courses in the
greater Phoenix area.
Phoenix's dry and sunny climate make it an ideal
location for a wide variety of outdoor activities.
In addition to "normal" outdoor activities such as
roller blading, biking, horseback riding, hiking,
boating and more, Phoenix is an ideal location for
more exotic outdoor activities such as hot-air
ballooning, or soaring in a glider.
Phoenix "Must See" Attractions
Phoenix has attractions too numerous to do justice
in a simple list. Some of Phoenix's more unique
The Desert Botanical Garden
The Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum
The Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park
South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in
Phoenix at Night
As one would expect of a city in the southwest,
Phoenix restaurants offer wonderful southwestern,
Latino, and Mexican cuisine. But Phoenix also offers
a good selection of other cuisine, including eastern
cuisine such as Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese, as
well as the cuisine of many other cultures. If
interests turn more to the evening nightclub scene,
Phoenix offers everything from brew pubs, to sports
bars, dance clubs, and country. Good places to look
for the latest venues and happenings include "The
Rep Entertainment Guide" section of the Arizona
Republic, the weekly New Times, and Where
The downtown area of Phoenix has been undergoing a
major facelift since the building of the US Airways
Center (formerly America West Arena) and Chase Field
(formerly Bank One Ballpark). Coffeehouses,
restaurants, nightclubs and shopping in the Arizona
Center continue to draw people downtown for the
hopping nightlife. Many new restaurants have
blossomed, including A League Of Our Own.
Incorporating the themes of Phoenix's early history
with culture and local events, Copper Square is a
full square-mile hotspot for activities and action.
Downtown attractions include a walk in the park at
Patriots Square or delve into the new Arizona
Science Center, Phoenix Museum of History or the
Phoenix Art Museum.
read "What You Can Expect From Laura B."