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Phoenix ( , O'odham Skikik, Yavapai Wasinka, Western Apache Fiinigis, Navajo Hoozdoh, Mojave Hachpa 'Anya Nyava) is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Arizonamarker, as well as the fifth most populous city in the United Statesmarker. Phoenix is home to 1,567,924 residents, and is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area (also known as The Valley of the Sun), the 12th largest metro area by population in the United States with 4,281,899 residents. In addition, Phoenix is the county seat of Maricopa Countymarker, and is one of the largest cities in the United States by land area.

Phoenix was incorporated as a city in 1881 after being founded in 1868 near the Salt River, near its confluence with the Gila River. The city eventually became a major transportation hub in North America and a main transportation, financial, industrial, cultural and economic center of the Southwestern United States. The city has a notable and famous political culture and has been home to numerous influential American politicians and other dignitaries, including Barry Goldwater, William Rehnquist, John McCain, Janet Napolitano, Carl Hayden, and Sandra Day O'Connor. Residents of the city are known as Phoenicians.

Located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desertmarker, Phoenix has the hottest climate of any major city in the United States. The average high temperatures are over 100°F (40°C) for three months out of the year, and have spiked over 120°F (50°C) on occasion.


Native American period

For more than 1,000 years, the Hohokam peoples occupied the land that would become Phoenix. 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 tribe's abandonment of the area. 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.

Hispanic period

Father Eusebio Kino, an Italianmarker 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 Mexicomarker. Father Kino named the river "Río Salado" (Salted 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 Mexican 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 United Statesmarker control and a portion of it was made the New Mexico Territory (including 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 with its capital in Tucsonmarker, and the United States Arizona Territory, formed by the United States Congress in 1863 with its capital at Fort Whipple (now Prescottmarker) 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 Wickenburgmarker was the first to be established in what is now Maricopa County.marker At the time this county did not exist, as the land was within Yavapai Countymarker 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 Tempemarker, 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 Wickenburgmarker. On an outing in 1867, he stopped to rest at the foot of the White Tank Mountainsmarker. Swilling observed the abandoned river valley and considered its potential for farming, much like that already cultivated 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. Later it was called 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.

The Board of Supervisors in Yavapai Countymarker, 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 U.S. census reported about a total Salt River Valley population of 240), a town site 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.

On February 12, 1871, the territorial legislature created Maricopa Countymarker, 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.

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). Land entry was recorded by the Florence Land Office on November 19, 1873, and a declaratory statement filed in the Prescottmarker 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 opened.

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. In early 1888, the city offices were moved into the new City Hall, at Washington and Central (later the site of the city bus terminal, until Central Station was built in the 1990s). This building also provided temporary offices for the territorial government when it moved to Phoenix by the 15th Territorial Legislature in 1889.

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. Phoenix also inaugurated an electric streetcar system, built off earlier stagecoach lines, in 1891.

Modern Phoenix (1900–present)

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. 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 is now often dry due to large irrigation diversions, 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. Phoenix was considered preferable as both territorial and state capital due to its more central location, 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 city.

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.

Phoenix in the early 20th century
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 Fieldmarker, Williams Fieldmarker, and Falcon Fieldmarker, coupled with the giant ground-training center at Hydermarker, west of Phoenix, brought thousands of new people into Phoenix.

On Thanksgiving night 1942, a large number of U.S. troops stationed in 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 where the troops had escaped to in order to hide. They then dispersed armored personnel carriers and opened fire on civilian homes, resulting in several fatalities. 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, making Phoenix one of the largest cities in the country to not use the strong mayor structure for municipal government.

Another wartime incident took place at a Prisoner of War Camp that was established at the site of what is now Papago Parkmarker and Phoenix Zoomarker, for the internment of German soldiers captured in Europe. In 1944, dozens of prisoners had devised a plan to escape from the camp and use boats to go down the nearby Salt River to reach Mexico. However, they were unaware that the river was mostly dry and had not been navigable for decades, and were thus easily apprehended near the camp.

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.

Over the next several decades, the city and metropolitan area attracted more growth and became a favored tourist destination for its exotic desert setting and recreational opportunities. Nightlife and civic events concentrated along now skyscraper-flanked Central Avenue. In 1968, the city was surprisingly awarded the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise, and the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseummarker was built. 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. Bolles' last words referred to Phoenix land and cattle magnate Kemper Marley, who was widely regarded to have ordered Bolles' murder, as well as John Harvey Adamson, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1977 in return for testimony against contractors Max Dunlap and James Robison. Dunlap was convicted of first degree murder in the case in 1990 and remains in prison, while Robison was acquitted, but pleaded guilty to charges of soliciting violence against Adamson. Street gangs, violent crime, and the drug trade had turned into public safety issues by the 1980s, with the transplanted, uncohesive nature of many neighborhoods making crime unpredictable and difficult to monitor. Van Buren Street, East of downtown (near 24th St), became associated with prostitution, and many sections of the city's south and west sides were ravaged by the crack epidemic. The city's crime rates in many categories have improved since that time, but still exceed state and national averages.

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.

The famous "Phoenix Lights" UFO 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 helicoptersmarker in July 2007. In 2008, Squaw Peak, the second tallest mountain in the city, was officially renamed Piestewa Peakmarker after Army Specialist Lori Ann Piestewa, an Arizona native who was the first Native American woman to die in combat with the U.S. military, and the first American female casualty in the 2003 Iraq War.

Phoenix has maintained a 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. In 2008, Phoenix was one of the hardest hit by the Subprime mortgage crisis. In early 2009, the median home price was $150,000, down from its $262,000 peak in recent years. Crime rates in Phoenix have gone down in recent years and once troubled, decaying neighborhoods such as South Mountain, Alhambra, and Maryvale have recovered and stabilized.


Phoenix is located at 33°26'54" North, 112°4'26" West (33.448457°, -112.073844°) 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 Desertmarker.

Other than the mountains in and around the city, the topography of Phoenix is generally flat, allowing the city's main streets to run on a precise grid with wide, open-spaced roadways.

The Salt River runs westward through the city of Phoenix; the riverbed is often dry or a trickle due to large irrigation diversions, except after the area's infrequent rainstorms or when more water is released from upstream dams. The city of Tempe has built two inflatable dams in the Salt River bed to create a year-round recreational lake, called Tempe Town Lakemarker. The dams are deflated to allow the river to flow unimpeded during releases. Lake Pleasant Regional Parkmarker is located in Northwest Phoenix within the suburb of Peoria, Arizonamarker

The Phoenix area is surrounded by the McDowell Mountains to the northeast, the White Tank Mountains to the west, the Superstition Mountainsmarker far to the east, and the Sierra Estrella to the southwest. Within the city are the Phoenix Mountainsmarker and South Mountainsmarker. 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-Mesamarker-Scottsdalemarker MSA), is the 12th largest in the United States, with a total population of 4,281,899 as of the July 2008 update of the 2000 U.S. Census. It includes the Arizona counties of Maricopamarker and Pinalmarker. Other cities in the MSA include Mesamarker, Scottsdalemarker, Glendalemarker, Tempemarker, Chandlermarker, Gilbertmarker, and Peoriamarker. Several smaller communities are also included, such as Cave Creekmarker, Queen Creekmarker, Buckeyemarker, Goodyearmarker, Fountain Hillsmarker, Litchfield Parkmarker, Anthemmarker,Sun Lakesmarker, Sun Citymarker, Sun City Westmarker, Avondalemarker, Surprisemarker, El Miragemarker, Paradise Valleymarker, and Tollesonmarker. The communities of Ahwatukeemarker, Arcadia, Deer Valley, Laveenmarker, 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 saving 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. 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.


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 Riyadhmarker and Baghdadmarker. The temperature reaches or exceeds 100°F (38°C) on an average of 110 days during the year, including most days from late May through early September, and highs top 110 °F (43 °C) an average of 18 days during the year. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 122 °F (50 °C).

Overnight lows greater than occur frequently each summer, with the average July low being and the average August low being . On average, 67 days throughout the year will see the nighttime low at or above . The all time highest low temperature ever recorded in Phoenix was , 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 (18-22°C), and low temperatures rarely dipping below .
Phoenix from North Mt Preserve.
Phoenix averages 85% of possible sunshine and receives scant rainfall, the average annual total at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airportmarker 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 Californiamarker. These can bring strong winds, large hail, or rarely, tornadoes. Winter storms moving inland from the Pacific Oceanmarker 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. 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 or greater have occurred only seven times. The heaviest snowstorm on record dates to January 20, 1937 – January 21, 1937, when fell in parts of the city and did not melt entirely for four days. Before that, had fallen on January 20, 1933. On February 2, 1939, fell. Most recently, fell on December 21, 1990 – December 22, 1990. Snow also fell on March 12, 1917, November 28, 1919, and December 11, 1985.


Since 1986, the city of Phoenix has been divided into urban villages, many of which are based upon historically significant neighborhoods and communities that have since been annexed into Phoenix. Each village has a planning committee that is appointed directly by the city council. According to the village planning handbook issued by the city, the purpose of the village planning committees is to work with the city's planning commission to ensure a balance of housing and employment in each village, concentrate development at identified village cores, and to promote the unique character and identity of the villages.

Currently, there are 15 urban villages in the city: Ahwatukee Foothillsmarker, Alhambra, Camelback East, Central City, Deer Valley, Desert View, Encanto, Estrella, Laveenmarker, Maryvale, North Gateway, North Mountain, Paradise Valley (not to be confused with the town of Paradise Valleymarker), South Mountain and Rio Vista. Rio Vista was created as New Village in 2004 and is currently very sparsely populated, with no large amount ofdevelopment expected in the near future.

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


As of the 2005–2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 75.1% of Phoenix's population; of which 48.1% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 5.4% of Phoenix's population; of which 5.2% were non-Hispanic blacks. Native Americans made up 1.9% of the city's population; of which 1.7% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 2.3% of the city's population; of which 2.2% were non-Hispanic. Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.1% of the city's population. Individuals from some other race made up 13.3% of the city's population; of which 0.2% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 1.9% of the city's population; of which 1.0% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 41.5% of Phoenix's population.

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 married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-traditional 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 population was 71.1% White, 5.1% African American, 2.0% Native American, 2.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 16.4% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 34.1% of the population. Since the 2000 census, the non-Hispanic white population in Phoenix dropped below 50.0%, according to William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.

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


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 swiftly as the population has grown. As the state capital of Arizonamarker, many residents in the area are employed by the government. Arizona State Universitymarker 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 the golf industry.

Phoenix is currently home to seven Fortune 1000 companies: waste management company Allied Waste, electronics corporation Avnetmarker, Apollo Group (which operates the University of Phoenix), mining company Freeport-McMoRan (recently merged with Phoenix based Phelps Dodge), retailer PetSmart, energy supplier Pinnacle West and retailer CSK Auto. Honeywell's Aerospace division is headquartered in Phoenix, and the valley hosts many of their avionics and mechanical facilities. Intelmarker has one of their largest sites here, employing about 10,000 employees and 3 chip manufacturing fabs, including the $3 billion state-of-the-art 300 mm and 45 nm Fab 32. American Express hosts their financial transactions, customer information, and their entire website in Phoenix. The city is also home to the headquarters of U-HAUL International, a rental company and moving supply store, as well Best Western, a hotel chain. Mesa Air Group, a regional airline group, is headquartered in Phoenix.

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

See also: List of major corporations in Phoenix


Phoenix and the surrounding area has several cultural activities, including the performing arts, museums, and events.

Performing arts

Several music venues take place around Arizona, but primarily in and around downtown Phoenix and in Scottsdalemarker. One such venue is the Phoenix Symphony Hallmarker, where performances from groups such as Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona often occur. Another venue is the Orpheum Theatre marker which is home to the Phoenix Metropolitan Opera. Concerts also regularly make stops in the area. Venues for concerts include the US Airways Centermarker and the Dodge Theatermarker in downtown Phoenix, Arenamarker in Glendalemarker.Since 2002, Phoenix has also seen a rapid growth in local arts through The Artlink Program. Several Smaller theatres including Trunk Spacemarker, Space 55 and Modified Arts support regular independent musical and theatre performances.

Phoenix has been home to numerous popular musicians, mostly of the country and rock genres. Solo artists originally from the area include Duane Eddy, Stevie Nicks, Buck Owens, Wayne Newton, Jordin Sparks, Marty Robbins, CeCe Peniston, Dierks Bentley, and Alice Cooper. Several prominent rock groups have come from the Valley, including Meat Puppets, The Refreshments, Jimmy Eat World, Mr. Mister, Gin Blossoms, and The Tubes.

Several television series were set in Phoenix, including the current top-rated Medium, the 1960–1961 syndicated crime drama, The Brothers Brannagan, Alice and the CBS sitcom, The New Dick Van Dyke Show from 1971–1974.


Several museums are scattered around the valley including the Phoenix Art Museum. One of the most well-known museums in the area is the Heard Museum just north of downtown. 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 attracts about 250,000 visitors a year.

Other notable museums in the city include the Arizona Science Center, Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum, Phoenix Museum of History, the Phoenix Zoomarker, the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Parkmarker, and the Phoenix Children's Museum.

Fine arts

The downtown Phoenix art scene has developed in the past decade. The Artlink organization and the galleries downtown have successfully launched a First Friday cross-Phoenix gallery opening.

In April 2009, artist Janet Echelman inaugurated her monumental sculpture, Her secret is patience, the new civic icon suspended above the new Phoenix Civic Space, a two-city-block park in the middle of downtown. This netted sculpture makes the invisible patterns of desert wind visible to the human eye. During the day, the 100-foot-tall sculpture hovers high above heads, treetops, and buildings, the sculpture creates what the artist calls “shadow drawings”, which she says are inspired by Phoenix’s cloud shadows. At night, the illumination changes color gradually through the seasons. The large three-dimensional multi-layered form is created by a combination of hand-baiting and machine-loomed knotting, and is the result of a collaborative effort with an international team of award-winning engineers.


Phoenix has long been renowned for authentic Mexican food, thanks to both the large Hispanic population and proximity to Mexicomarker. But the recent population boom has brought people from all over the nation, and to a lesser extent from other countries, and has since influenced the local cuisine. International food, such as Korean, Brazilian, and French, has become more common throughout the valley in recent years. However, Mexican food is arguably still the most popular food, with Mexican restaurants found all over the area.


Club Sport League Venue Championships
Arizona Cardinals Football National Football LeagueNFC University of Phoenix Stadiummarker 2
Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Major League BaseballNational League Chase Fieldmarker 1
Phoenix Suns Basketball National Basketball AssociationWestern Conference US Airways Centermarker 0
Phoenix Coyotes Ice hockey National Hockey LeagueWestern Conference Arenamarker 0
Phoenix Mercury Basketball Women's National Basketball Association US Airways Centermarker 2
Arizona Rattlers Arena Football Arena Football 1 US Airways Centermarker 2
Phoenix RoadRunners Ice hockey ECHL US Airways Centermarker 0
Phoenix Flame Basketball International Basketball League Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseummarker 0
Phoenix is home to several professional sports franchises, including representatives of all four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. - although only two of these teams actually carry the city name and play within the city limits. The first major franchise was the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA), which started play in 1968 at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseummarker. In 1992 the Suns moved to the America West Arena, which is now the US Airways Centermarker. 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 U.S.marker Airways Centermarker. The U.S. Airways Center was the setting for both the 1995 and the 2009 NBA All-Star Games. The Phoenix Flame of the International Basketball League began play in the spring of 2007. They play at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseummarker.

The Arizona Cardinals moved to Phoenix from St. Louis, Missourimarker in 1988 and currently play in the Western Division of the National Football League's National Football Conference. The team, however, has never played in the city itself; they played at Sun Devil Stadiummarker on the campus of Arizona State Universitymarker in nearby Tempemarker 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 Stadiummarker in west suburban Glendalemarker. 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 Centermarker downtown. The future of the Rattlers is uncertain, however, as recent reports have indicated that the collapse of the league is imminent.

The Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League moved to the area in 1996; they were formerly the Winnipeg Jets franchise.They play at Arenamarker, adjacent to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball (National League West Division) began play as an expansion team in 1998. The team plays at Chase Fieldmarker (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 while located in Arizona, but also one of the youngest expansion franchise in U.S. professional sports to ever win a championship.

Additionally, due to the favorable climate, fourteen Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the metro area, as well as nearby Tucsonmarker. These teams are collectively known as the Cactus League.

The Phoenix International Racewaymarker 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 no longer held at Manzanita Speedway.

Phoenix has also hosted the United States Grand Prix from 1989–1991. The race was discontinued after poor crowd numbers.

Phoenix has also hosted the Insight Bowl at Chase Fieldmarker until 2005, after which it moved to nearby Tempemarker, 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 2011 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 to 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 2011. 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 Tempemarker, Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix in Glendalemarker, Golfland SunSplash in Mesamarker, and the Oasis Water Park at the Arizona Grand Resort - formerly known as Pointe South Mountain Resort - in Phoenix. The area also has one amusement park in north Phoenix called Castles N' Coastersmarker, next to the Metrocenter Mall. There is another amusement park called Enchanted Island located at Encanto 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 Parkmarker, the world's largest municipal park with ; others include Camelback Mountainmarker, Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Parkmarker and Sunnyslope Mountain, also known as "S" Mountain. The Desert Botanical Gardenmarker displays desert plant life 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 Parkmarker in east Phoenix is home to both the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoomarker, 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'smarker 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.). The major network television affiliates are KPNXmarker 12 (NBC), KNXVmarker 15 (ABC), KPHOmarker 5 (CBS), KSAZmarker 10 (Fox), KUTPmarker 45 (MNTV), KASWmarker 61 (CW) and KAETmarker 8 (PBS, operated by ASUmarker). Other network television affiliates operating in the area include KPAZmarker 21 (TBN),KTVWmarker 33 (Univision), KTAZmarker 39 (Telemundo), KDPH 48 (Daystar), and KPPXmarker 51 (ION). KTVKmarker 3 (3TV) and KAZTmarker 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 Carsmarker, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (used as a stand-in for San Dimas, Californiamarker), U Turn, Eight Legged Freaks, Private Lessons, Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie, Never Been Thawed, Just One of the Guys, Terminal Velocity, Taxi, Twilight, and The Banger Sisters.


As 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 in a citywide vote 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.

The United States Postal Service operates post offices throughout Phoenix. The main Phoenix Post Office is located at 4949 East Van Buren Street.

As of February 9, 2009, Phoenix offers a domestic partnership registry open to opposite- and same-sex couples with no resident requirements for registrants.


By the 1970s 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. Bolles' last words referred to Phoenix land and cattle magnate Kemper Marley, who was widely regarded to have ordered Bolles' murder, as well as John Harvey Adamson, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1977 in return for testimony against contractors Max Dunlap and James Robison. Dunlap was convicted of first degree murder in the case in 1990 and remained in prison, until his death on July 21, 2009, while Robison was acquitted, but pleaded guilty to charges of soliciting violence against Adamson. 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. Phoenix's crime has gone down through the years, although recent kidnappings and human trafficking due to the Mexican drug trade have brought negative attention to the city.

Car theft has been a problem in Phoenix. The city consistently ranks high for both total thefts and rate per 100,000. In 2001, Phoenix was number one for theft rate with 35,161 total thefts, giving a rate of 1,081.25 per 100,000. However, in 2003, Phoenix dropped to second place with 1,253.71 per 100,000 (behind Modesto, CA), although total car thefts rose to 40,769.


Public education in the Phoenix area is provided by over 30 school districts. 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.

Post-secondary education

There are also small satellite offices for the University of Arizonamarker (based in Tucsonmarker) and Northern Arizona Universitymarker (based in Flagstaffmarker) located in Phoenix.
  • Grand Canyon Universitymarker is the nation’s only private, for-profit, Christian university. Initially a non-profit 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.
  • Midwestern University-Glendale is located in Glendalemarker, northwest of Phoenix proper. Founded as a sister school to the original campus in Downers Grove, Illinoismarker, it is home to a number of professional health care education programs at the doctorate and master's level. The degrees offered include the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Master of Medical Science (MMS) in Physician Assistant Studies, Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD), Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) and Doctor of Optometry (OD).
  • Thunderbird School of Global Managementmarker is regarded as a leading institution in the education of global managers and has operations in the United States (Glendalemarker), Switzerland, the Czech Republicmarker, Russiamarker, Mexicomarker, Central and South America and Chinamarker, and was ranked number 1 in international business by The Wall Street Journal’s poll of corporate recruiters, U.S. News & World Report, and the Financial Times.
  • American Indian College is a private, Christian college located in the northwestern section of Phoenix.
  • The Art Institute of Phoenix is a small, private undergraduate college which offers various majors in the areas of design, fashion, media, and culinary arts. It admitted its first class in 1996.
  • Western Governors University opened a business office in Phoenix in 2006. WGU is an online non-profit university. Governor Janet Napolitano was on the WGU board until 2008. Former NAU President Clara Lovett was very active in the creation of WGU during its early days. WGU has employees and students in Phoenix and throughout Arizona. In early June 2008, WGU passed current enrollment of 10,000 students spread throughout the U.S.
  • The University of Phoenix is also headquartered in Phoenix. This is the nation’s largest for-profit university with over 130,000 students at campuses throughout the United Statesmarker (including Puerto Rico), Canadamarker, Mexicomarker, and the Netherlandsmarker, as well as online.
  • University of Advancing Technologymarker is a small, for-profit university, notable for being a technology-oriented school. Their newly expanded campus is located in Tempe, bordering Phoenix. The university is composed of four colleges, along with an online program for continuing adult education. As of 2009, about 1200 undergraduates and 50 postgraduates enroll at UAT.
  • Collins College is a for-profit career college focusing on visual arts. It has two campuses, one in Tempe and one in Phoenix. Both campuses are very small and do not include student housing; instead, Collins students must rent apartments in the area. In 2007, the Phoenix Business Journal ranked Collins as Arizona’s top computer training school. Like many for-profit institutions, Collins is nationally accredited and its credits are not accepted by most regionally accredited institutions. In the past, Collins has drawn controversy for abuse of the federal financial aid program.
  • DeVry Universitymarker and Argosy University are for-profit institutions with small campuses across the country and a large online presence. Both operate post-secondary schools on the west side of Phoenix.
  • The Maricopa County Community College District includes ten community colleges and two skills centers throughout Maricopa Countymarker, providing adult education and job training. The first community college in the district as well as the state is Phoenix Collegemarker.
  • The Phoenix School of Law is a private law school located in downtown Phoenix. The Phoenix School of Law is the only private law school in Arizona and the only one with both a part-time evening program and full-time program. The school is not affiliated with the similarly named University of Phoenix.[citation needed] The school is the only private accredited law school in Arizona. Phoenix Law received provisional approval for accreditation by the American Bar Association in June 2007. Within just a few years of opening, Phoenix Law has gained a notable reputation—ninety-seven (97) percent of Phoenix Law's first graduating class passed the Arizona State Bar examination in July 2008. Out of 184 accredited law schools assessed in US News and World Report's rankings for schools of law, only nine schools had a higher bar passage rate, all nine were among the top 100 law schools, and five were among the top 30 law schools in the nation.



Phoenix is served by Sky Harbor International Airportmarker , 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 17th in the world for passenger traffic, handling more than 42 million travelers in 2007. The airport serves more than 100 cities with non-stop flights. Aeromexico, Air Canada, British Airways, and WestJet are among several international carriers as well as American carrier US Airways(which maintains a hub at the airport) providing flights to destinations such as Canadamarker, Costa Ricamarker, and Mexicomarker.

The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airportmarker in neighboring Mesamarker also serves the area’s commercial air traffic. It was converted from Williams Air Force Basemarker, 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 Airportmarker , located in the Deer Valley district of northwest Phoenix, as well as municipal airports including Glendale Municipal Airportmarker and Phoenix Goodyear Airportmarker.

Rail and coach

Amtrak has not served Phoenix Union Station since 1996; Phoenix is the largest city proper in the United States without intercity passenger rail service, although service is offered to the metropolitan area. The Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle stop three times a week at Maricopamarker, thirty miles south of downtown Phoenix (for shuttle and other travel information, see the Texas Eagle site). Amtrak Thruway buses connect Sky Harbor to Flagstaffmarker for connection with the daily Southwest Chief service to Los Angelesmarker and Chicagomarker. Phoenix is served by Greyhound bus service, with the station at 24th Street located near the airport.

Public transportation

Opening day of the light rail, December 27, 2008.
Public transportation throughout the metropolitan area is provided by Valley Metro, which operates a system of buses and a rideshare program. 3.38% of work commutes are made by public transit. Valley Metro has completed work on a $1.4 billion, segment of the light rail project, called the METRO Light Rail, through north-central Phoenix through downtown and then east through Tempe and Mesa. On December 27, 2008, it opened to the public; future segments of more than are planned to open by 2025.

For additional information, see: METRO Light Rail .

Bicycle transportation

Bicycle transportation is a mode that 0.89% of Phoenix commuters utilize, down from 1.12% a decade ago.

The Maricopa Association of Governments has a bicycle advisory committee working to improve conditions for bicycling on city streets and off-road paths.

Major streets

Midtown Phoenix skyline, looking north up Central Avenue.
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 1000 house numbers north and south, and 800 house numbers east and west, although this varies. Scottsdale Road, being 7200 East, is approximately 7200 / 800 = 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

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.

Major Highways

Sister cities

Sign showing Phoenix's sister cities
Phoenix, Arizona, has ten sister cities, as designated by the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission:

See also


External links

Related information

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