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The Phoenix metropolitan area, often referred to as The Valley of the Sun, is a metropolitan area, centered on the city of Phoenixmarker, that includes much of the central part of the U.S. state of Arizonamarker. Also known as the "Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan Statistical Area," a designation given by the United States Census Bureau, it includes all of Maricopa and Pinal counties.

The population of the Phoenix metropolitan area increased by 45.3% from 1990 through 2000, compared to the average United States rate of 15%, helping to make Arizonamarker the second fastest growing state in the nation in the 1990s (the fastest was Nevadamarker). The 2000 Census reported the population of the metropolitan area to be 3,251,876. As of July 1, 2008 the MSA is estimated to be at 4,281,899 USMA, making it the 12th largest metro area in the United States, just behind Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Michigan and ahead of San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Californiamarker. Metro Phoenix grew by 1.03 million people, or 31.7% from April 2000 to July 2008.


As of the census of 2000, there were 3,251,876 people, 1,194,250 households, and 808,321 families residing within the MSA. The racial makeup of the MSA was 76.97 White (65.81% White Non-Hispanic), 3.68% Black, 2.22% Asian, 2.18% American Indian and 14.95% of other or mixed race. 25.12% were Hispanic of any race.

In 1999 the median income for a household in the MSA was $44,770 and the median income for a family was $51,172. The per capita income was $21,907.

Communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area

What follows is a list of places in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. The Census Bureau defines a metropolitan area as the core city plus its county and any nearby counties that are economically dependent on the core city. However, Arizona has relatively large counties and a harsh, rugged desert landscape. For these reasons, much of the land that is part of the Metropolitan Statistical Area is rural or completely uninhabited. The core part of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area is the Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona Urban Area, which is far smaller than the Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Places that fall completely or partially within the boundaries of the Phoenix-Mesa, AZ UA are in bold below.


1,000,000 or more inhabitants

100,000 or more inhabitants

10,000 or more inhabitants

Fewer than 10,000 inhabitants

Unincorporated communities

Over 10,000 inhabitants

Under 10,000 inhabitants

Freeways and expressways

The Phoenix Metropolitan Area is served by several controlled-access freeways, including Interstate 10, Interstate 17, US 60, SR 51, Loop 101, SR 143, and Loop 202.

Many new freeways are planned to be built by 2025, either through upgrades of existing roads such as SR 74, SR 85, and Loop 303; or through the construction of new freeways where no road existed before such as SR 801, SR 802, and the South Mountainmarker Freeway portion of Loop 202.

Arterial roads

In the Valley, many of the arterial roads have the same name across city and town borders. However, a common source of confusion is the fact that many roads may have either different names or numbering systems in different cities or areas.

For example, one east-west arterial is known as Glendale Avenue west of SR 51, but as Lincoln Drive to the east of the freeway.

In terms of numbering systems, some roads that continue through multiple cities will switch numbering conventions several times. A drive eastward along Broadway Road, for example, will pass through Goodyear, Avondale, Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, and Apache Junction, each with their own reference point for address numbering. Though the street does not curve, the direction changes from west to east in each city and back again when moving from one city to the next, causing considerable overlap in numbers.

Other instances of confusion come from the same physical road changing names abruptly, as is the case for Scottsdale Road becoming Rural Road in the city of Tempemarker. Some other roads are known to change names abruptly within city limits.

Bell Road is known as Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale, and this is a frequent source of confusion as there is actually a Bell Road in Scottsdale as well, located nearby, but which does not go through to the Bell Road of Phoenix.


A light rail system (dubbed the "METRO Light Rail") runs more than 20 miles from suburban Mesa, through Tempe and into Phoenix, traveling through the downtown area, offering access to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and linking two of the four metro area campuses of Arizona State University. The light rail began public operation on December 27, 2008, and it is projected to initially accommodate 26,000 boardings a day, or more than 8 million boardings in its first year.

Expansions to the METRO system are currently in the early planning stages.


In 2005, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airportmarker was the 14th busiest passenger facility in the world and the 8th busiest in the United States, with more than 41 million passengers using the facility. With three terminal buildings encompassing 120 gates, more than 20 airlines offer daily non-stop flights to destinations throughout the world.

The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airportmarker started commercial passenger flights in 2004. The airport currently provides service to over 10 destinations.

There are several municipal and regional airports in the metropolitan area, however none of them are currently used by commercial airlines for passenger flights.

Street numbering systems

Most communities in Maricopa County use the Phoenix-County numbering system, with the point of origin at Central Avenue and Washington Street. In the Phoenix-County system, north-south numbered roads labeled "avenue", "drive", and "lane" are located West of Central Avenue, while those labeled "street", "place" and "way" are located east of Central Avenue. Starting with N. 579th Avenue in the west near Tonopah the avenues count down with approximately 8 numbers per mile to Central Avenue and count up again to S. 228th Street near Queen Creek in the east. They go, in order from west to east (although not all necessarily exist):

2nd Avenue - 1st Dale - 1st Glen - 1st Lane - 1st Drive - 1st Avenue - Central Avenue - 1st Street - 1st Place - 1st Way - 1st Terrace - 1st Run - 2nd Street

This has been a source of major confusion for some newcomers, who might end up, for example, at 91st Avenue and Thunderbird Road, when in fact they intended to go to 91st Street and Thunderbird Road, between 30 minutes and an hour away from one another depending on traffic.

One beneficial quality of this arrangement for unfamiliar travelers is that the major north-south arterial roads are rarely similarly named; the "avenue" arterials in the West Valley are all odd-numbered and the "street" arterials in the East Valley are even-numbered, with the exception of 7th Ave. & 7th St., both being major roadways running parallel one mile apart.

Communities in Maricopa County that have their own street numbering systems include:

Community Point of Origin
Apache Junction Idaho Road & Junction Drive
Avondale Central Avenue & Western Avenue
Buckeye (historic downtown only) Monroe Avenue & 1st Street
Chandler Commonwealth Place & Arizona Avenue
Gilbert Gilbert Road & Elliot Road
Litchfield Park Old Litchfield Road & Wigwam Boulevard
Mesa Center Street & Main Street
Goodyear (historic district only) Western Avenue & Litchfield Road
Tempe Mill Avenue & the Salt River
Wickenburg Center Street & Frontier Street
Wittmann (core area only) Center Street & Grand Avenue

Mesa further confuses the numbered streets by having in its urban core east-west numbered avenues and drives (counting down from 11th Avenue north towards Main Street) and numbered streets and places (counting down from 11th Place south towards Main Street) then in the eastern part of the city perpendicular north-south streets and places counting up from 22nd St east of Gilbert Rd to 112th Street on the Apache Junction border with numerous trailer parks inside the city limits running their own contradictory variations of a numbered street system.

Since some streets are shared between several cities, the different numbering systems have sometimes caused confusion, including occasional mishaps with emergency services. For example, "620 E. Southern Avenue" is the address of multiple locations in different parts of the metro area: one between Central Avenue and 7th Street in Phoenix, one between Mill and Rural Roads in Tempe, one in Mesa between Mesa Drive and Stapley Drive, and one in Apache Junction between Idaho Road and Tomahawk Road.

Most communities in Pinal County use the Pinal County street numbering system, whose point of origin is at SR 287 and 11 Mile Corner Road (the intersection of which is known as "11 Mile Corner"). Exceptions include:

Community Point of origin
Apache Junction Idaho Road & Junction Drive
Casa Grande Ash Avenue & Center Street
Coolidge Central Avenue & railroad tracks
Eloy Alsdorf Road & Main Street
Florence Butte Avenue & Main Street
Queen Creek (follows Phoenix-County)
Stanfield SR 84 & Stanfield Road

Note that Apache Junction continues Mesa's mess of numbered street by having the north-south sequence continue up from 112th St while simultaneously having east-west numbered avenue south of Apache Trail and east-west numbered streets north of Apache Trail.


  1. " Ranking Tables for Metropolitan Areas: 1990 and 2000." United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved on July 8, 2006.
  3. Phoenix Metropolitan Street Atlas - Wide World of Maps, 2006 Edition
  4. Google Maps

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