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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: Phoenix, Arizona

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City of Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix

Flag of City of Phoenix
Official seal of City of Phoenix
Nickname: Valley of the Sun.
Location in Maricopa County and the state of Arizona

Location in Maricopa County and the state of Arizona

Coordinates: 33°26′54″N 112°04′26″W / 33.44833, -112.07389
Country United States
State Arizona
County Maricopa
Incorporated February 25, 1881
– Type Council-Manager
– Mayor Phil Gordon (D)
– City 517.17 sq mi (1,334.1 km²)
– Land 517.126 sq mi (1,334.1 km²)
– Water 0.2 sq mi (0.6 km²)
Elevation 1,117 ft (340 m)
Population (2007)[1][2]
– City 1,512,986 (5th)
– Density 2,937.8/sq mi (1,188.4/km²)
– Urban 3,393,000
– Metro 4,179,427
– Demonym Phoenician
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
– Summer (DST) no DST (UTC-7)
Area code(s) 602, 480, 623
FIPS code 04-55000
GNIS feature ID 0044784
Major Airport Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport- PHX (Major/International)
Arizona Portal

Phoenix (pronounced /ˈfiːˌnɪks/, O’odham Skikik, Yavapai Wasinka, Western Apache Fiinigis, Navajo Hoozdo, Mojave Hachpa ‘Anya Nyava[3]) is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Arizona and the county seat of Maricopa County,[4] as well as being the largest state capital in the United States by population. It is the largest city in the American Southwest and the Mountain Time Zone as well as the second largest city in the West after Los Angeles, and is the region’s primary political, cultural, economic, and transportation center. Phoenix is located along the banks of the now normally dry Salt River, and was incorporated as a city on February 25, 1881. Residents of Phoenix are known as Phoenicians.

The city’s estimated population as of 2006 was 1,512,986 making it the fifth largest city in the United States.[2] At 515 square miles (1,330 km²), its city proper is the 10th largest land area for a city in the United States, resulting in a lower population density. As of 2007, the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was the 13th largest in the United States, with an estimated population of 4,179,427.[5]



Native American and Hispanic periods

For more than 1,000 years, the Hohokam peoples occupied the land that would become Phoenix.[6] The Hohokam created roughly 135 miles (217 km) of irrigation canals, making the desert land arable. Paths of these canals would later become used for the modern Arizona Canal, Central Arizona Project Canal, and the Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct. The Hohokam also carried out extensive trade with nearby Anasazi, Mogollon, and other Mesoamerican tribes.

It is believed that, between 1300 and 1450, periods of drought and severe floods led to the Hohokam’s abandonment of the area.[6] Local Akimel O’odham settlements, thought to be the descendants of the formerly urbanized Hohokam, concentrated on the Gila River alongside those of the Tohono O’odham and Maricopa peoples. Some family groups did continue to live near the Salt River, but no large villages existed.

Father Eusebio Kino, an Italian Jesuit in the service of the Spanish Empire, was among the first Europeans to travel here in the 1600s and 1700s. By this time, the valley was within the territory of New Spain, which was controlled by Spain and later independent Mexico. Father Kino named the river “Rio Salado” (Salt River) due to the water’s high mineral content. He interacted with the few native peoples who remained in the valley but focused mostly on the Pima missions established in southern Arizona as well as exploring other parts of the Southwest and California. Only southern Arizona experienced the full influence of Hispanic cultures – the Salt River Valley itself remained almost depopulated for several centuries.

See also: European colonization of Arizona

Early United States period

American and European “Mountain Men” likely came through the area while exploring what is now central Arizona during the early 19th century. They obtained valuable beaver and otter pelts; these animals, as well as deer and wolves, often lived in the Salt River Valley when water supplies and temperatures allowed.

When the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, most of Mexico’s northern zone passed to US control and a portion of it was made the New Mexico Territory (this included what is now Phoenix) shortly afterward. The Gadsden Purchase was completed in 1853. The land was contested ground during the American Civil War. Both the Confederate Arizona Territory, organized by Southern sympathizers in 1861 and with its capital in Tucson, and the United States Arizona Territory, formed by the US Congress in 1863, with its capital at Fort Whipple (now Prescott, Arizona) included the Salt River Valley within their borders. The valley was not militarily important, however, and did not witness conflict.

In 1863, the mining town of Wickenburg was the first to be established in what is now Maricopa County. At the time this county did not exist, as the land was within Yavapai County along with the other major town of Prescott.

The US Army created Fort McDowell on the Verde River in 1865 to quell Native American uprisings. Hispanic workers serving the fort established a camp on the south side of the Salt River by 1866 that was the first permanent settlement in the valley after the decline of the Hohokam. In later years, other nearby settlements would form and merge to become the city of Tempe,[7] but this community was incorporated after Phoenix.

Founding of Phoenix

The history of Phoenix as a city begins with Jack Swilling, an American Civil War veteran who had come west to seek wealth in the 1850s and worked primarily in Wickenburg. On an outing in 1867, he stopped to rest at the foot of the White Tank Mountains. Swilling observed the abandoned river valley and considered its potential for farming, much like that already cultivation by the military further east near Fort McDowell. The terrain and climate were optimal; only a regular source of water was necessary. The existence of the old Hohokam ruins, showing clear paths for canals, made Swilling imagine new possibilities.

Swilling had a series of canals built which followed those of the ancient ]]Native American]] system. A small community formed that same year about 4 miles (6 km) east of the present city. It was first called Pumpkinville due to the large pumpkins that flourished in fields along the canals, then Swilling’s Mill in his honor, though later renamed to Helling Mill, Mill City, and finally, East Phoenix. Swilling, a former Confederate soldier, wanted to name the city “Stonewall,” after General Stonewall Jackson. Others suggested the name of “Salina.” However, neither name was supported by the community.

Finally, Lord Darrell Duppa suggested the name “Phoenix,” as it described a city born from the ruins of a former civilization.[8]

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, which at the time encompassed Phoenix, officially recognized the new town on May 4, 1868, and formed an election precinct. The first post office was established on June 15, 1868, with Jack Swilling serving as the postmaster. With the number of residents growing (the 1870 US census reported about a total Salt River Valley population of 240), a townsite needed to be selected. On October 20, 1870, the residents held a meeting to decide where to locate it. A 320-acre (1.3 km²) plot of land was purchased in what is now the downtown business section.[9]

On February 12, 1871, the territorial legislature created Maricopa County, the sixth one formed, by dividing Yavapai County. The first election for county office was held in 1871, when Tom Barnum was elected the first sheriff. Barnum ran unopposed as the other two candidates, John A. Chenowth and Jim Favorite, had a shootout that ended in Favorite’s death and Chenowth withdrawing from the race.[10]

Several lots of land were sold in 1870 at an average price of $48. The first church opened in 1871, as did the first store. Public school had its first class on September 5, 1872, in the courtroom of the county building. By October 1873, a small school was completed on Center Street (now Central Avenue).[10] Land entry was recorded by the Florence Land Office on November 19, 1873, and a declaratory statement filed in the Prescott Land Office on February 15, 1872. President Ulysses S. Grant issued a land patent for the present site of Phoenix on April 10, 1874. The total value of the Phoenix Townsite was $550, with downtown lots selling for between $7 and $11 each. A short time later, a telegraph office, 16 saloons, four dance halls and two banks were open.[11]

Aerial lithograph of Phoenix from 1885

Aerial lithograph of Phoenix from 1885


By 1881, Phoenix had outgrown its original townsite-commissioner form of government. The 11th Territorial Legislature passed “The Phoenix Charter Bill”, incorporating Phoenix and providing for a mayor-council government. The bill was signed by Governor John C. Fremont on February 25, 1881. Phoenix was incorporated with a population of approximately 2,500, and on May 3, 1881, Phoenix held its first city election. Judge John T. Alsap defeated James D. Monihon, 127 to 107, to become the city’s first mayor.[12] In early 1888, 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 it moved to Phoenix in 1889.[13]

The coming of the railroad in the 1880s was the first of several important events that revolutionized the economy of Phoenix. Merchandise now flowed into the city by rail instead of wagon. Phoenix became a trade center with its products reaching eastern and western markets. In response, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce was organized on November 4, 1888.[13]

Phoenix also inaugurated an electric streetcar system, built off earlier stagecoach lines, in 1893.

Modern Phoenix (1900-Present)

Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, 1908

Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, 1908

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the National Reclamation Act allowing for dams to be built on western streams for reclamation purposes. Residents were quick to enhance this by organizing the Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association on February 7, 1903, to manage the water and power supply. The agency still exists as part of the Salt River Project.[14] The Roosevelt Dam east of the valley was completed in 1911. Several new lakes were formed in the surrounding mountain ranges. In the Phoenix area, the river dried out, taking with it the large populations of migrating birds, beaver dams, and cottonwood trees that had lived on its waters.

On February 14, 1912, under President William Howard Taft, Phoenix became the capital of the newly formed state of Arizona.[15]

Phoenix was considered preferable as both territorial and state capital due to its more central location as compared to Tucson or Prescott. It was smaller than Tucson but outgrew that city within the next few decades to become the state’s largest.

In 1913, Phoenix adopted a new form of government from mayor-council to council-manager, making it one of the first cities in the United States with this form of city government.[16]

During World War II, Phoenix’s economy shifted to that of a distribution center, rapidly turning into an embryonic 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 people into Phoenix.[17]

The Papago Park Prisoner of War Camp was established for captured Axis troops located just east of the city. Only a few of its former buildings remain today. In 1944, dozens of POWs had devised a plan to escape from the camp and use boats to go down the Salt and Gila Rivers to reach Mexico. They were apparently unaware that the Salt River had been dry for decades and were thus easily apprehended near the camp.

Another notorious incident took place on Thanksgiving night of 1942, when a large number of US troops stationed near Phoenix rioted while resisting arrest by military police due to engaging in a fight. The military police surrounded and blocked off a predominantly African American part of the city that the troops had escaped to in order to hide. They then dispersed armored personnel carriers[citation needed] and used 50-caliber machine guns on civilian homes. Several fatalities resulted. The Colonel of Luke Field soon declared Army personnel banned from Phoenix, which pressured civic leaders to reform local government by firing a number of corrupt officials, in turn getting the ban lifted. This same bipartisan effort also successfully convinced the city council to give more power to the city manager to run the government and spend public funds.

Phoenix in the early 20th century

Phoenix in the early 20th century

A fire in October 1947 destroyed most of the streetcar fleet, making the city choose between implementing a new street railway system or using buses. The latter were selected, and automobiles remained the city’s preferred method of transportation.

By 1950, over 100,000 people lived within the city and thousands more in surrounding communities. There were 148 miles (238 km) of paved streets and 163 miles (262 km) of unpaved streets.[17]

Over the next several decades, the city and metropolitan area attracted more growth. Nightlife and civic events concentrated along Central Avenue. By the 1970s, however, there was rising crime and a decline in business within the downtown core.

Arizona Republic writer Don Bolles was murdered by a car bomb in the city in 1976. It was believed that his investigative reporting on organized crime in Phoenix made him a target. The case remains unsolved. Street gangs and the drug trade had turned into public safety issues by the 1980s. Van Buren Street, East of downtown (near 24th St), became associated with prostitution. The city’s crime rates in many categories have improved since that time, but still exceed state and national averages. The illegal immigrant population is of undetermined size but estimated to be large and growing.[18]

After the Salt River flooded in 1980 and damaged many bridges, the Arizona Department of Transportation and Amtrak worked together and temporarily operated a train service, the “Hattie B.” line, between central Phoenix and the southeast suburbs. It was discontinued because of high operating costs and a lack of interest from local authorities in maintaining funding.[19]

The “Phoenix Lights” sightings took place in March 1997. The Baseline Killer and Serial Shooter crime sprees occurred in Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. Steele Indian School Park was the site of a mid-air collision between two news helicopters in July 2007.

Phoenix has maintained a massive growth streak in recent years, growing by 24.2% since 2000. This makes it the second-fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States following only Las Vegas, whose population has grown by 29.2% since 2000.[20]


Landsat 7 Satellite image ofthe Phoenix Metro Area in 2002

Landsat 7 Satellite image of
the Phoenix Metro Area in 2002

Phoenix is located at 33°26’54” North, 112°4’26” West (33.448457°, -112.073844°)[21] in the Salt River Valley, or “Valley of the Sun”, in central Arizona. It lies at a mean elevation of 1,117 feet (340 m), in the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.

The Salt River course runs westward through the city of Phoenix; the riverbed is normally dry except when excess runoff forces the release of water from the six dams upriver. The city of Tempe has built two inflatable dams in the Salt River bed to create a year-round recreational lake, called Tempe Town Lake. The dams are deflated to allow the river to flow unimpeded during releases.

The Phoenix area is surrounded by the McDowell Mountains to the northeast, the White Tank Mountains to the west, the Superstition Mountains far to the east, and the Sierra Estrella to the southwest. Within the city are the Phoenix Mountains and South Mountains. Current development (as of 2005) is pushing beyond the geographic boundaries to the north and west, and south through Pinal County. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 475.1 square miles (1,230.5 km²); 474.9 square miles (1,229.9 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km², or 0.05%) of it is water.

The Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (officially known as the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale MSA), is the 13th largest in the United States, with a total population of 4,039,182 as of the June 2006 update of the 2000 U.S. Census. It includes the Arizona counties of Maricopa and Pinal. Other cities in the MSA include Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and Peoria. Several smaller communities are also included, such as Cave Creek, Queen Creek, Buckeye, Goodyear, Fountain Hills, Litchfield Park, Anthem, Sun Lakes, Sun City, Sun City West, Avondale, Surprise, El Mirage, Paradise Valley, and Tolleson. The communities of Ahwatukee, Arcadia, Deer Valley, Laveen, Maryvale and others are part of the city of Phoenix, Ahwatukee being separated from the rest of the city by South Mountain.

As with most of Arizona, Phoenix does not observe daylight savings time. In 1973, Gov. Jack Williams argued to Congress that energy use would increase in the evening, as refrigeration units were not used as often in the morning on standard time. He went on to say that energy use would rise “because there would be more lights on in the early morning.” He was also concerned about children going to school in the dark, which indeed they were.[22] The exception to this are lands of the Navajo Nation in Northeastern Arizona, which observe daylight saving time in conjunction with the rest of their tribal lands in other states.


The Phoenix skyline.

The Phoenix skyline.

Phoenix has an arid climate, with very hot summers and temperate winters. The average summer high temperature is among the hottest of any populated area in the United states and approaches those of cities such as Riyadh and Baghdad. The temperature reaches or exceeds 100 °F (38 °C) on an average of 89 days during the year, including most days from early June through early September. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 122°F (50°C).[23]

Overnight lows greater than 80 °F (27 °C) occur frequently each summer, with the average July low being 83 °F (28 °C) and the average August low being 82 °F (28 °C). The all-time highest low temperature ever recorded was 96°F (36°C), which occurred on July 15, 2003.

Precipitation is sparse during a large part of the summer, but the influx of monsoonal moisture, which generally begins in early July and lasts until mid-September, raises humidity levels and can cause heavy localized precipitation and flooding. Winter months are mild to warm, with daily high temperatures ranging from the mid-60’s to low 70’s, and low temperatures rarely dipping below 40.

Phoenix averages 85% of possible sunshine[24] and receives scant rainfall, the average annual total at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport being 8.3 inches (210 mm). March is the wettest month of the year (1.07 inches or 27 mm) with June being the driest (0.09 inches or 2 mm). Although thunderstorms are possible at any time of the year, they are most common during the monsoon from July to mid-September as humid air surges in from the Gulf of California. These can bring strong winds, large hail, or rarely, tornadoes. Winter storms moving inland from the Pacific Ocean occasionally produce significant rains but occur infrequently. Fog is rare but can be observed from time to time during the winter months.

On average, Phoenix has only 5 days per year where the temperature drops to or below freezing.[25] The long-term mean date of the first frost is December 15 and the last is February 1; however, these dates do not represent the city as a whole because the frequency of freezes increases the further one moves outward from the urban heat island. Frequently, outlying areas of Phoenix see frost, but the airport does not. The earliest frost on record occurred on November 3, 1946, and the latest occurred on April 4, 1945. The all-time lowest recorded temperature in Phoenix was 16°F (-8.8°C) on January 7, 1913.

Snow is extremely rare in the area. Snowfall was first officially recorded in 1896, and since then, accumulations of 0.1 inches (0.25 cm) or greater have occurred only seven times. The heaviest snowstorm on record dates to January 20-January 21, 1937, when 1 to 4 inches (100 mm) fell (2 to 10 cm) in parts of the city and did not melt entirely for four days. Before that, 1 inch (2.5 cm) had fallen on January 20, 1933. On February 2, 1939, 0.5 inches (1 cm) fell.

Most recently, 0.4 inches (1 cm) fell on December 21-December 22, 1990. Snow also fell on March 12, 1917, November 28, 1919, and December 11, 1985.[26][27]

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec. high °F (°C) 88 (31.1) 92 (33.3) 100 (37.7) 105 (40.6) 113 (45) 122 (50) 121 (49.4) 116 (46.7) 118 (47.8) 107 (41.7) 95 (35) 88 (31.1)
Avg high °F (°C) 67 (19.4) 71 (21.7) 76 (24.4) 85 (29.4) 94 (34.4) 104 (40) 107 (41.7) 105 (40.6) 99 (37.2) 88 (31.1) 75 (23.9) 67 (19.4)
Avg low temperature °F (°C) 45 (7.2) 48 (8.9) 53 (11.7) 58 (14.4) 67 (19.4) 76 (24.4) 83 (28.3) 82 (27.8) 76 (24.4) 62 (16.7) 50 (10) 44 (6.7)
Rec. low °F (°C) 17 (-8.3) 25 (-3.9) 25 (-3.9) 37 (2.7) 40 (4.4) 51 (10.6) 66 (18.9) 61 (16.1) 47 (8.3) 34 (1.1) 27 (-2.8) 22 (-5.6)
Avg precipitation in. (mm) 0.83 (21.1) 0.77 (19.6) 1.07 (27.2) 0.25 (6.4) 0.16 (4.1) 0.09 (2.3) 0.99 (25.1) 0.94 (23.9) 0.75 (19) 0.79 (20.1) 0.73 (18.5) 0.92 (23.4)
Source: [28]


Midtown Phoenix skyline, looking north up Central Ave.

Midtown Phoenix skyline, looking north up Central Ave.
Map of the urban villages of Phoenix

Map of the urban villages of Phoenix

The city of Phoenix is divided up into 15 Urban Villages.[29] Inside some of the Villages are well-known neighborhoods, or districts, which are listed as subpoints. These urban villages are: Ahwatukee Foothills, Alhambra, Camelback East, Central City, Deer Valley, Desert View, Encanto, Estrella, Laveen, Maryvale, North Gateway, North Mountain, Paradise Valley (not to be confused with the town of Paradise Valley), South Mountain and Rio Vista. Rio Vista was created as New Village in 2004 and is currently very sparsely populated, with no large amount of development expected in the near future.[30]

Commonly referred-to Phoenix regions and districts: Downtown, Midtown, West Phoenix, North Phoenix, South Phoenix, Biltmore Area, Arcadia, Sunnyslope, Ahwatukee.


City of Phoenix
Population by year[31]
1890 3,152
1900 5,544
1910 11,314
1920 29,053
1930 48,118
1940 65,414
1950 106,818
1960 439,170
1970 581,562
1980 789,704
1990 983,403
2000 1,321,045
2006 1,512,986

According to the 2000 census, there were 1,321,045 people, 865,834 households, and 407,450 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,782 people per square mile (1,074/km²). There were 895,832 housing units at an average density of 1,044 per square mile (403/km²).

There were 865,834 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were heterosexual married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.39.

In the city the population age distribution was 28.9% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 103.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,207, and the median income for a family was $46,467. Males had a median income of $32,820 versus $27,466 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,833. 15.8% of the population and 11.5% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 21.0% of those under the age of 18 and 10.3% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

As of 2000, the racial makeup of the Phoenix was 71.1% White, 5.1% African American, 2.0% Native American, 2.0% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 16.4% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. 34.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[32] Since the 2000 census, the non-Hispanic White population in Phoenix dropped below 50%, according to William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.[33]

In 2000, the Phoenix metro area’s religious composition was reported as 45% Catholic, 13% LDS (concentrated heavily in the suburb of Mesa) and 5% Jewish. The remaining 37% are largely members of Protestant denominations or are unaffiliated.[34]


Downtown Phoenix south of Jefferson Street

Downtown Phoenix south of Jefferson Street

The early economy of Phoenix was primarily agricultural, dependent mainly on cotton and citrus farming. In the last two decades, the economy has diversified 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 population through education and its growing research capabilities. Numerous high-tech and telecommunications companies have also recently relocated to the area. Due to the warm climate in winter, Phoenix benefits greatly from seasonal tourism and recreation, and has a particularly vibrant golf industry.

Phoenix is currently home to seven major Fortune 1000 companies: waste management company Allied Waste, electronics corporation Avnet, Apollo Group (which operates the University of Phoenix), mining company Freeport McMoRan, retailer PetSmart, energy supplier Pinnacle West and retailer CSK Auto. Honeywell hosts many factories for the building of military grade engines, as well as their company network gateway in Phoenix. Intel has one of their largest sites in Arizona, employing about 11,000 employees and 3 chip manufacturing fabs, including the $3 billion state-of-the-art 300 mm, 45nm Fab 32[clarify]. American Express hosts their financial transactions, customer information, and their entire website in Phoenix. The area is also home to US Airways Group, a Fortune 500 company located in Tempe also home to Insight Enterprises (also listed on the Fortune 500). Phoenix is also home to the headquarters of U-HAUL International, a rental company and moving supply store, as well Best Western, a hotel chain, is also headquartered in the city.

In recent years many Internet companies have found a home in Phoenix. Internet companies like Google, eBay, AOL, IPowerWeb, and GoDaddy all have offices located in Phoenix.

The military has a significant presence in Phoenix with Luke Air Force Base located in the western suburbs. At its height, in the 1940s, the Phoenix area had 3 military bases: Luke Field (still in use), Falcon Field, and Williams Air Force Base (now Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport), with numerous auxiliary air fields located throughout the region.

See also: List of major corporations in Phoenix


Phoenix and the surrounding area is home to a broad range of cultural activities including the performing arts, museums, and events.

Performing Arts

Several performing arts venues are found throughout the Phoenix area, but primarily in and around downtown Phoenix and in Scottsdale. One such venue is the Phoenix Symphony Hall, where performances from groups such as Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona often occur. Another venue is the Orpheum Theatre (Phoenix) which is home to the Phoenix Metropolitan Opera. Concerts also regularly make stops in the area. Venues for concerts include the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix, Arena in Glendale, and the Dodge theater (also in downtown Phoenix).


Several museums are scattered around the valley. One of the most well-known museums in the area is the Heard Museum just north of downtown. From its start as a small museum, the Heard has grown in size and stature to where now it is recognized internationally[citation needed] for the quality of its collections of Native American art, its educational programming and its festivals. As of 2008, the collection of the Heard Museum consists of over 40,000 items[clarify], and it has over 130,000 square feet (12,000 m²) of gallery, classroom and performance space. Some of the signature exhibits include a full Navajo hogan, the Mareen Allen Nichols Collection containing 260 pieces of contemporary jewelry, the Barry Goldwater Collection of 437 historic Hopi kachina dolls, and an exhibit on the 19th century boarding school experiences of Native Americans. The Heard Museum now attracts about 250,000 visitors a year.

Other notable museums include the Arizona Science Center, Fleischer Museum, Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum, Arizona Historical Society Museum, Phoenix Museum of History, the Phoenix Zoo, and the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park.


Club Sport League Venue Championships
Arizona Cardinals Football National Football League – NFC University of Phoenix Stadium 0
Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Major League Baseball – National League Chase Field 1
Phoenix Suns Basketball National Basketball Association – Western Conference US Airways Center 0
Phoenix Coyotes Ice Hockey National Hockey League – Western Conference Arena 0
Phoenix Mercury Basketball Women’s National Basketball Association US Airways Center 1
Arizona Rattlers Arena Football Arena Football League US Airways Center 2
Phoenix RoadRunners Ice Hockey ECHL US Airways Center 0
Tucson Scorpions MMA International Fight League Arena 0
Phoenix Flame Basketball International Basketball League Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum 0
Arizona Sting Lacrosse National Lacrosse League Arena 0
US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

Phoenix is home to several professional sports franchises, including representatives of all four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. The first major franchise was the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA), which started play in 1968. In 1997, the Phoenix Mercury was one of the original eight teams to launch the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Both teams play at US Airways Center. The Phoenix Flame of the International Basketball League began play in the spring of 2007.

University of Phoenix Stadium on the game day of Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008.

University of Phoenix Stadium on the game day of Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008.

The Arizona Cardinals moved to Phoenix from St. Louis, Missouri in 1988 and currently play in the NFL’s National Football Conference – West Division. The team, however, has never played in the city itself; they played at Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University in nearby Tempe until 2006. Sun Devil Stadium held Super Bowl XXX in 1996 when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cardinals now play at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. University of Phoenix Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008, in which the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots. It is also the home of the annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, a college football bowl game that is part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

Phoenix also has an arena football team, the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. Games are played at US Airways Center downtown.

The Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League moved to the area in 1996, and play at Arena, adjacent to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The city also boasts a minor league hockey team, the Phoenix Roadrunners of the ECHL, who play at the US Airways Center. This makes Phoenix one of the few cities where minor and major league teams in the same sport coexist.

The Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball (National League West Division) began play as an expansion team in 1998. The team plays at Chase Field (downtown). In 2001, the Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees 4 games to 3 in the World Series, becoming not only the city’s first professional sports franchise to win a national championship, but also the youngest expansion franchise in U.S. professional sports to ever do so.

Additionally, due to the favorable climate, nine Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the metro area, as well as nearby Tucson. These teams are collectively known as the Cactus League and are generally all from the west coast.

The Phoenix International Raceway is a major venue for two NASCAR auto racing events per season. Boat racing, drag racing, and road course racing are also held at Firebird International Raceway. Sprint car racing is held at Manzanita Speedway.

Phoenix has also hosted the Insight Bowl at Chase Field until 2005, after which it moved to nearby Tempe, as well as several major professional golf events, including the LPGA’s Safeway International and The Tradition of the Champions Tour. Phoenix was originally scheduled to host the 2006 NHL All-Star Game, but it was canceled due to the 2006 Winter Olympics (the recently adopted NHL collective bargaining agreement prohibits the All-Star Game to be held during Olympic years). Instead, Phoenix will host the 2009 All-Star Game.

Phoenix’s Ahwatukee American Little League reached the 2006 Little League World Series as the representative from the U.S. West region. Phoenix is one of the three cities that hosts the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in January.

As of 2007 Phoenix is the largest North American city not to contain a team in any of the four tiers of professional soccer. There is a plan to try and bring Major League Soccer to the city in the shape of the proposed team Phoenix Rising. Phoenix is currently one of thirteen cities across the United States and Canada that are aiming to claim one of two places scheduled to be made available through expansion before 2010. The plan currently includes a suggested $150 million 25,000-seat soccer specific stadium with a retractable roof.

See also: U.S. cities with teams from four major sports.

Parks and recreation

Phoenix is home to a large number of parks and recreation areas. Many waterparks are scattered around the valley to help residents cope with the harsh desert heat during the summer months. Some of the notable parks include Big Surf in Tempe, Waterworld Safari in Glendale, Golfland SunSplash in Mesa, and the Oasis Water Park at Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix. The area also has one amusement park in central Phoenix called Castles N’ Coasters, next to the Metrocenter Mall.

Hole-in-the-Rock, a natural geological formation in Papago Park.

Hole-in-the-Rock, a natural geological formation in Papago Park.

Many parks have been established to preserve the desert landscape in areas that would otherwise quickly be developed with commercial and residential zoning. The most noteworthy park is South Mountain Park, the world’s largest municipal park with 16,500 acres (67 km²); others include Camelback Mountain, Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park and Sunnyslope Mountain, also known as “S” Mountain. The Desert Botanical Garden displays desert plantlife from deserts all over the world. Encanto Park is the city’s largest and primary urban park, and lies just northwest of downtown Phoenix. Papago Park in east Phoenix is home to both the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo, as well as a few golf courses.


See also: List of radio stations in Arizona, List of films shot in Phoenix.

The first newspaper in Phoenix was the weekly Salt River Valley Herald, which later changed its name to the Phoenix Herald in 1880.

Today, the city is served by two major daily newspapers: The Arizona Republic (serving the greater metropolitan area) and the East Valley Tribune (serving primarily the cities of the East Valley). In addition, the city is also served by numerous free neighborhood papers and weeklies such as the Phoenix New Times, Arizona State University’s The State Press, and the College Times. For 40 years, The Bachelor’s Beat, a paid weekly newspaper, has covered local politics while selling ads for area strip clubs and escort services.

The Phoenix metro area is served by many local television stations and is the 12th largest designated market area (DMA) in the U.S. with 1,802,550 homes (1.6% of the total U.S.).[35] The major network television affiliates are KPNX 12 (NBC), KNXV 15 (ABC), KPHO 5 (CBS), KSAZ 10 (FOX), KUTP 45 (MNTV), KASW 61 (CW) and KAET 8 (PBS, operated by ASU). Other network television affiliates operating in the area include KPAZ 21 (TBN), KTVW 33 (Univision), KTAZ 39 (Telemundo), KDPH 48 (Daystar), and KPPX 51 (ION). KTVK 3 (3TV) and KAZT 7 (AZ-TV) are independent television stations operating in the metro area. KAZT broadcasts in digital format only.

The radio airwaves in Phoenix cater to a wide variety of musical and talk radio interests.

Several major feature films have been filmed in the city, including Waiting to Exhale, Song of the South, The Gauntlet, Psycho, Raising Arizona, Jerry Maguire, The Prophecy, Used Cars, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (used as a stand-in for San Dimas, California), U Turn, Eight Legged Freaks, Private Lessons, Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie, Never Been Thawed, Just One of the Guys, Terminal Velocity, Taxi, and The Banger Sisters.[36]


The Arizona State Capitol, which used to house the state legislature, is now a museum

The Arizona State Capitol, which used to house the state legislature, is now a museum

Being the capital of Arizona, Phoenix houses the state legislature. In 1913, the commission form of government was adopted. The city of Phoenix is served by a city council consisting of a mayor and eight city council members. The mayor is elected At Large, to a four-year term. Phoenix City Council members are elected to four-year terms by voters in each of the eight separate districts that they represent. The current mayor of Phoenix is Phil Gordon, who was elected to a four-year term in 2003 and re-elected to an additional four-year term in 2007. The mayor and city council members have equal voting power to adopt ordinances and set the policies that govern the city.

Phoenix operates under a council-manager form of government, with a strong City Manager supervising all City departments and executing policies adopted by the Council.

See also: List of mayors of Phoenix, Arizona


In February 2007 the city of Phoenix voted to give Klutznick Co., the developer of the CityNorth mall, a $97.4 million sales tax subsidy.[37] The subsidy was the largest, at the time, in the history of Arizona. The CityNorth subsidy created enough public outrage that the Arizona State Legislature voted to ban sales tax subsidies in Pinal and Maricopa county (although there is an unenforced constitutional ban already) [38] Currently the City of Phoenix is being sued by the Goldwater Institute which is trying to eliminate corporate subsidies statewide by enforcing the constitutional ban on corporate subsidies.


Public education in the Phoenix area is provided by over 30 school districts.[39] The Phoenix Union High School District operates most of the public high schools in the city of Phoenix. Charter schools such as North Pointe Preparatory School also exist.

The main institution of higher education in the area is Arizona State University, with its main campus located in Tempe, and satellite campuses, ASU West, ASU Downtown both in Phoenix (and ASU Polytechnic in Mesa. ASU is currently one of the largest public universities in the U.S., with a 2007 student enrollment of 64,394. There are also small satellite offices for The University of Arizona (based in Tucson) and Northern Arizona University (based in Flagstaff) located in Phoenix.

Grand Canyon University is the nations only private, for profit, Christian University. Initially a public school started in 1949, it was purchased by three investors who brought it out of bankruptcy. Since the takeover in 2004, enrollment has increased each year. It currently has over 10,000 students, almost 85% attend the school online.

Thunderbird School of Global Management, is regarded as a leading institution in the education of global managers and has operations in the United States (Glendale), Switzerland, Czech Republic, Russia, Mexico, Central and South America and China, and was ranked No. 1 in international business by The Wall Street Journal’s poll of corporate recruiters, U.S. News and World Report, and the Financial Times.[40]

The fast growing Western Governors University opened a business office in Phoenix in 2006. WGU is an online non-profit university. Governor Napolitano is on the WGU board.

The University of Phoenix is also headquartered in Phoenix. This is the nation’s largest private, for-profit university with over 130,000 students at campuses throughout the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Mexico, and the Netherlands.

University of Advancing Technology is a small private technology oriented school. Their newly expanded campus is located on Baseline Road in Tempe, bordering Phoenix. Collins College (a private, for-profit career college focusing on design and technology) does not have a campus, and instead rent apartments from apartment complexes, in which students can live. The school is located in Tempe, with a branch campus in Phoenix.

DeVry University and Argosy University operate post-secondary schools on the west side of Phoenix.

There are also ten community colleges and two skills centers throughout Maricopa County, providing adult education and job training.

See also: List of school districts in Phoenix, Arizona



Phoenix is served by Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX, ICAO: KPHX), which is centrally located in the metro area near several major freeway interchanges east of downtown Phoenix. Sky Harbor is the ninth-busiest airport in the U.S. and 18th in the world[41] for passenger traffic, handling more than 41 million travelers in 2006. The airport serves more than 100 cities with non-stop flights.[42] Aeromexico, Air Canada, British Airways, and WestJet are among several international carriers as well as American carrier US Airways providing flights to destinations such as Canada, Costa Rica, London, and Mexico.[43]

The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IATA: AZA, ICAO: KIWA) in neighboring Mesa also serves the area’s commercial air traffic. It was converted from Williams Air Force Base, which closed in 1993. The airport has recently received substantial commercial service with Allegiant Air opening a focus city operation at the airport with non-stop service to over a dozen destinations.

Smaller airports that primarily handle private and corporate jets include Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (IATA: DVT, ICAO: KDVT), located in the Deer Valley district of northwest Phoenix, as well as municipal airports in several area suburbs.

Public transportation

Public transportation throughout the metropolitan area is provided by Valley Metro, which operates a system of buses and a rideshare program. Valley Metro is currently building METRO Rail, a light rail project, which is scheduled for completion in 2008. As of 2004 (when Houston, Texas started running its METRO light rail), Phoenix has been the largest US city devoid of a rail transit system. Interest has also been expressed in Phoenix and several neighboring cities for the creation of a commuter rail system operating on existing railroad lines.[44]

Amtrak no longer serves Phoenix Union Station; Phoenix is the largest city in the United States (and, besides a few cities in Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, the largest in the world) without intercity passenger rail service. The Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle stop three times a week at Maricopa, thirty miles south of downtown Phoenix. (For shuttle and other travel information, see the Texas Eagle site). Amtrak Thruway buses connect Sky Harbor to Flagstaff for connection with the daily Southwest Chief service to Los Angeles and Chicago. Phoenix is served by Greyhound bus service, with the station at 24th Street located near the airport.

Bicycle transportation

Bicycle transportation is also an option, and the Maricopa Association of Governments has a bicycle advisory committee working to improve conditions for bicycling on city streets as well as off-road paths.[45]

Major streets

The street system in Phoenix is laid out in a traditional grid system, with most roads oriented either North-South or East-West. The zero point is the intersection of Central Avenue and Washington Street. Numbered Avenues run north–south west of Central; numbered Streets run north–south east of Central. Major arterial streets are spaced one mile (1.6 km) apart. The one-mile (1.6 km) blocks are divided into approximately 800 house numbers, although this varies. Scottsdale Road, being 7200 East, is approximately 7200 / 800 = 9 miles (14 km) east of Central. The Valley Metro bus numbers are also based on this numbering system, with the Central Avenue bus being Route Zero, and Scottsdale Road being Route 72.

Freeways and expressways

Main article: Phoenix freeways

Phoenix is served by a growing network of freeways, many of which were initiated by a ½ cent general sales tax measure approved by voters in 1985. Before this network, Interstate 10 and Interstate 17 handled almost all freeway traffic in Phoenix, placing a large burden on surface arterial streets, leading to increased traffic congestion as the area grew in size.

The current freeway system comprises two interstate routes (I-10 and I-17), the nearly transcontinental US 60, and several state highways as well – including SR 51, SR 85, Loop 101, SR 143, and Loop 202.

Eventually, several other state highways (Loop 303, SR 801, and SR 802) will make their way into the system as they are needed.

Sister cities

Sign showing Phoenix's sister cities

Sign showing Phoenix’s sister cities

Phoenix, Arizona has ten sister cities, as designated by the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission:[46]

  • Flag of Canada – Calgary (Alberta, Canada)
  • Flag of Italy – Catania (Italy)
  • Flag of the People's Republic of China – Chengdu (China)
  • Flag of Ireland – Ennis (Ireland)
  • Flag of France – Grenoble (Rhone-Alpes, France)
  • Flag of Mexico – Hermosillo (Sonora, Mexico)
  • Flag of Japan – Himeji (Hyōgo, Japan)
  • Flag of the Czech Republic – Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Flag of Israel – Ramat-Gan (Israel)
  • Flag of the Republic of China – Taipei (Taiwan)

See also

  • List of famous people from the Phoenix metropolitan area
  • Phoenix Lights
  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City
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