Phoenix, Arizona

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Phoenix, Arizona
State Capital
City of Phoenix
Images, from top, left to right: Downtown Phoenix skyline, Saint Mary's Basilica, Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Tovrea Castle, a saguaro cactus, Camelback Mountain

Flag

Seal
Nickname(s): Valley of the Sun, The Valley
Location in Maricopa County and the state of Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona is located in United States
Phoenix, Arizona
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°27′N 112°04′W / 33.450°N 112.067°W / 33.450; -112.067Coordinates: 33°27′N 112°04′W / 33.450°N 112.067°W / 33.450; -112.067
Country United States
State Arizona
County Maricopa
IncorporatedFebruary 5, 1881
Government
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • BodyPhoenix City Council
 • MayorGreg Stanton (D)
Area
 • City1,338.26 km2 (517.948 sq mi)
 • Land1,338.26 km2 (516.704 sq mi)
 • Water3.22 km2 (1.244 sq mi)
 • Metro42,920 km2 (16,573 sq mi)
Elevation[2]331 m (1,086 ft)
Population (2010 census)
 • City1,445,632 [1]
 • Estimate (2012)1,488,750 [1] (US: 6th)
 • Density1,080.2/km2 (2,797.8/sq mi)
 • Metro4,263,236 (US: 14th)
 • DemonymPhoenician
Time zoneMST (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST)no DST/PDT (UTC−7)
ZIP codes85001–85099
Area code(s)480, 602, 623
FIPS code04-55000
GNIS ID(s)44784, 2411414
Major airportPhoenix Sky Harbor International Airport - PHX (Major/International)
Websitewww.phoenix.gov
 
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Phoenix, Arizona
State Capital
City of Phoenix
Images, from top, left to right: Downtown Phoenix skyline, Saint Mary's Basilica, Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Tovrea Castle, a saguaro cactus, Camelback Mountain

Flag

Seal
Nickname(s): Valley of the Sun, The Valley
Location in Maricopa County and the state of Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona is located in United States
Phoenix, Arizona
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°27′N 112°04′W / 33.450°N 112.067°W / 33.450; -112.067Coordinates: 33°27′N 112°04′W / 33.450°N 112.067°W / 33.450; -112.067
Country United States
State Arizona
County Maricopa
IncorporatedFebruary 5, 1881
Government
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • BodyPhoenix City Council
 • MayorGreg Stanton (D)
Area
 • City1,338.26 km2 (517.948 sq mi)
 • Land1,338.26 km2 (516.704 sq mi)
 • Water3.22 km2 (1.244 sq mi)
 • Metro42,920 km2 (16,573 sq mi)
Elevation[2]331 m (1,086 ft)
Population (2010 census)
 • City1,445,632 [1]
 • Estimate (2012)1,488,750 [1] (US: 6th)
 • Density1,080.2/km2 (2,797.8/sq mi)
 • Metro4,263,236 (US: 14th)
 • DemonymPhoenician
Time zoneMST (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST)no DST/PDT (UTC−7)
ZIP codes85001–85099
Area code(s)480, 602, 623
FIPS code04-55000
GNIS ID(s)44784, 2411414
Major airportPhoenix Sky Harbor International Airport - PHX (Major/International)
Websitewww.phoenix.gov

Phoenix (/ˈfnɪks/; O'odham: S-ki:kigk; Yavapai: Wathinka or Wakatehe; Western Apache: Fiinigis; Navajo: Hoozdoh; Mojave: Hachpa 'Anya Nyava)[3] is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona. Phoenix, with 1,445,632 people (as of the 2010 U.S. Census) is the most populous state capital in the United States, as well as the sixth most populous city nationally, after (in order) New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.[4]

It is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area (also known as the Valley of the Sun, which in turn is part of the Salt River Valley), the 12th largest metro area by population in the United States with about 4.3 million people in 2010.[5][6] In addition, Phoenix is the county seat of Maricopa County and is one of the largest cities in the United States by land area.[7]

Settled in 1867 as an agricultural community near where the Salt River merges with the Gila River, Phoenix was incorporated as a city in 1881.[8] Phoenix's canal system led to a thriving farming community, many of the original crops remained important parts of the Phoenix economy for decades, such as alfalfa, cotton, citrus and hay (which was important for the cattle industry).[9][10] In fact, the "Five C's" (Cotton, Cattle, Citrus, Climate, and Copper), remained the driving forces of Phoenix's economy until after World War II, when high tech industries began to move into the valley.[11][12]

Located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate. The "Fourth C", Climate, makes Phoenix a primary destination of "snowbirds" (residents of colder, northern areas, who winter in Phoenix).[13] In 2003 (the last year of an annual study by ASU), it was estimated that Phoenix's population grows by more than 300,000 during the winter months, injecting more than $1 billion dollars into the local economy.[14][15] Residents of the city are known as Phoenicians.

The population growth rate of the Phoenix metro area has been nearly 4% per year for the past 40 years. That growth rate slowed during the Great Recession but the U.S. Census Bureau predicted it would resume as the nation's economy recovered, and it already has begun to do so. While currently ranked 6th in population, it is predicted that Phoenix will rank 4th by 2020.[16]

Being near the center of the state, Phoenix is the jumping off point for the various attractions in the Valley of the Sun, as well as the rest of Arizona. Those attractions include: the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, the London Bridge at Lake Havasu, Meteor Crater, Montezuma's Castle, Sedona, Tombstone, and many others.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Map of Hohokam Lands ca. 1350

For more than 2,000 years, the Hohokam peoples occupied the land that would become Phoenix.[8][17] 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 the nearby Anasazi, Mogollon and Sinagua, as well as with the more distant Mesoamerican civilizations.[18] It is believed that between 1300 and 1450, periods of drought and severe floods led to the Hohokam civilization's abandonment of the area.[19] Local Akimel O'odham settlements, thought to be the descendants of the formerly urbanized Hohokam, concentrated on the Gila River.[20][21][22]

When the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, most of Mexico's northern zone passed to United States 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, bringing what is now southern Arizona into the American fold.[23][24] In 1863 the mining town of Wickenburg was the first to be established in what is now Maricopa County, to the north-west of modern Phoenix. At the time Maricopa County had not yet been incorporated: the land was within Yavapai County, which included the major town of Prescott to the north of Wickenburg.

The US Army created Fort McDowell on the Verde River in 1865 to quell Native American uprisings. The fort established a camp on the south side of the Salt River by 1866, which was the first non-native 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,[25] but this community was incorporated after Phoenix.

Founding and incorporation[edit]

The history of the city of Phoenix begins with Jack Swilling, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. In 1867 he saw in the Salt River Valley a potential for farming, much like that already cultivated by the military further east, near Fort McDowell. He formed a small community formed that same year about 4 miles (6 km) east of the present city. Lord Darrell Duppa suggested the name "Phoenix", as it described a city born from the ruins of a former civilization.[8][26]

The Jones-Montoya House, located at 1008 E. Buckeye Road, was built in 1879 and is the oldest known house in Phoenix.

The Board of Supervisors in Yavapai County, which at the time encompassed Phoenix, officially recognized the new town on May 4, 1868, and the first post office was established the following month, with Swilling as the postmaster.[8] On February 12, 1871, the territorial legislature created Maricopa County, the sixth one formed in the Arizona Territory, 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.[8]

The town grew during the 1870s, and President Ulysses S. Grant issued a land patent for the present site of Phoenix on April 10, 1874. By 1875, the town had a telegraph office, sixteen saloons, and four dance halls, but the townsite-commissioner form of government was no longer working well, so that year, an election was held to select three village trustees and other officials.[8] By 1880, the town's population stood at 2,453.[26]

An aerial lithograph of Phoenix from 1885

By 1881, Phoenix' continued growth made the existing village structure with a board of trustees obsolete. The 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, officially incorporating Phoenix with a population of approximately 2,500.[8]

The coming of the railroad in the 1880s was the first of several important events that revolutionized the economy of Phoenix. 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.[27] Earlier in 1888 the city offices were moved into the new City Hall, at Washington and Central.[8] When the territorial capital was moved from Prescott to Phoenix in 1889 the temporary territorial offices were also located in City Hall.[26] On March 12, 1895, the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad ran its first train to Phoenix, connecting it to the northern part of Arizona. The additional railroad sped the capitol city's economic rise. The year 1895 also saw the establishment of Phoenix Union High School, with an enrollment of 90.[8]

1900 to the post World War II years[edit]

Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, 1908.

On February 25, 1901, Governor Murphy dedicated the permanent state Capitol building,[8] and the Carnegie Free Library opened seven years later, on Feb.18, 1908, dedicated by Benjamin Fowler.[26] In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the National Reclamation Act, allowing for dams to be built on western streams for reclamation purposes.[28] Theodore Roosevelt Dam was started in 1906, the first multiple-purpose dam, supplying both water and electric power, to be constructed under the National Reclamation Act. On May 18, 1911, the former President himself dedicated the dam, which was the largest masonry dam in the world, forming several new lakes in the surrounding mountain ranges.[29]

On February 14, 1912, under President William Howard Taft, Phoenix became the capital of the newly formed state of Arizona.[29] This occurred just six months after Taft had vetoed, on August 11, 1911, a joint resolution giving Arizona statehood. Taft disapproved of the recall of judges in the state constitution.[28] In 1913 Phoenix adopted a new form of government, changing from a mayor-council system to council-manager, making it one of the first cities in the United States with this form of city government. After statehood, Phoenix's growth started to accelerate, and by the end of its first eight years under statehood, Phoenix' population had grown to 29,053. In 1920 Phoenix would see its first skyscraper, the Hearst Building.[8] In 1929 Sky Harbor was officially opened, at the time owned by Scenic Airways. It would later be purchased by the city in 1935, who operates it to this day.[30]

Phoenix Skyline - ca. 1940

On March 4, 1930 Former President Calvin Coolidge dedicated a dam on the Gila River named in his honor. Because of a long drought the “lake” behind it held no water. Humorist Will Rogers, also a guest speaker, quipped, “If that was my lake I’d mow it.”[28] Phoenix's population had more than doubled during the 1920s, and now stood at 48,118.[8]

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. There were 3 air force fields in the area: Luke Field, Williams Field, and Falcon Field, as well as two large pilot training camps, Thunderbird Field No. 1 in Glendale and Thunderbird Field No. 2 in Scottsdale.[8][31][32]

When the war ended, many of the men who had undergone their training in Phoenix returned, and their families came with them. Large industry, learning of this labor pool, started to move branches here.[12] In 1948 high-tech industry, which would become a staple of the state's economy, arrived in Phoenix when Motorola chose Phoenix for the site of its new research and development center for military electronics. In time, other high-tech companies such as Intel and McDonnell Douglas would follow Motorola's lead and set up manufacturing operations in the Valley.[12]

By 1950, over 105,000 people lived within the city and thousands more in surrounding communities.[8] The 1950s growth was spurred on by advances in air conditioning, which allowed both homes and businesses to offset the extreme heat known to Phoenix during its long summers. In 1959 alone, Phoenix saw more new construction than it had in the more than three decades from 1914 to 1946.[12][33]

The 1960s through the 1980s[edit]

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. In 1960 the Phoenix Corporate Center opened; at the time it was the tallest building in Arizona, topping off at 341 feet.[34] The 1960s saw many other buildings constructed as the city expanded rapidly, including: the Rozenweig Center (1964), today called Phoenix City Square,[35] the landmark Phoenix Financial Center (1964),[36] as well as many of Phoenix's residential high-rises.

In 1965 the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum was opened on the grounds of the Arizona State Fair, west of downtown, and in 1968, the city was surprisingly awarded the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise,[37][38] which played its home games at the Coliseum until 1992.[39] In 1968, the Central Arizona Project was approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson, assuring future water supplies for Phoenix, Tucson, and the agricultural corridor in between.[40]

In the 1970s the downtown area experienced a resurgence, with a level of construction activity not seen again until the urban real estate boom of the 2000s. By the end of the decade, Phoenix adopted the Phoenix Concept 2000 plan which split the city into urban villages,[41] each with its own village core where greater height and density was permitted, further shaping the free-market development culture (see Cityscape, below). This officially turned Phoenix into a city of many nodes, which would later be connected by freeways.

Downtown Phoenix at night

The famous "Phoenix Lights" UFO sightings took place in March 1997. In 2008 Squaw Peak, the second tallest mountain in the city, was officially renamed Piestewa Peak 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.[42]

Phoenix has maintained a growth streak in recent years, growing by 24.2% before 2007. This made it the second-fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States following only Las Vegas.[43] 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.[44] 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. Recently Downtown Phoenix and the central core have experienced renewed interest and growth, resulting in numerous restaurants, stores and businesses opening or relocating to central Phoenix.[45]

Geography[edit]

Landsat 7
Satellite image of the Phoenix Metro Area in 2002.

Phoenix is in the southwestern United States, in the south-central portion of Arizona, and about halfway between Tucson to the south and Flagstaff to the north. The metropolitan area is known as the "Valley of the Sun", due to its location in the Salt River Valley. It lies at a mean elevation of 1,117 feet (340 m), in the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.[46][47]

Northern skyline, Downtown Phoenix in foreground, Sunnyslope Mountain clearly visible on high resolution.

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. Scattered, low mountain ranges surround the valley: 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. On the outskirts of Phoenix are large fields of irrigated cropland and several Indian reservations.[27][46] The Salt River runs westward through the city of Phoenix, and the riverbed is often dry or contains a little water due to large irrigation diversions. The community of Ahwatukee is separated from the rest of the city by South Mountain.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 517.9 square miles (1,341 km2); 516.7 square miles (1,338 km2) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (0.6 km², or 0.2%) of it is water. Even though it is the 6th most populated city, the large area gives it a low density rate of approximately 2,797 people per square mile. In comparison, Philadelphia, the 5th most populous city has a density of over 11,000.

As with most of Arizona, Phoenix does not observe daylight saving time. In 1973, Gov. Jack Williams argued to the US 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.[48]

Cityscape[edit]

A panoramic view of Phoenix from the South Mountain Range, Winter 2008 with Sky Harbor International Airport on the far right.

Neighborhoods[edit]

Downtown Phoenix skyline looking northeast toward Camelback Mountain.
Map of the urban villages of Phoenix.
Phoenix Sunset from Papago Park - 2010

Since 1979, 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.[41][49] 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.[50]

The 15 urban villages are:

In addition to the above urban villages, Phoenix has a variety of commonly referred-to regions and districts, such as Downtown, Midtown, West Phoenix, North Phoenix, South Phoenix, Biltmore, Arcadia, and Sunnyslope.

Climate[edit]

Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate (Köppen: BWh), typical of the Sonoran Desert in which it lies. Phoenix has extremely hot summers and warm winters. The average summer high temperatures are some of the hottest of any major city in the United States, and approach those of cities such as Riyadh and Baghdad.[51] The temperature reaches and exceeds 100 °F (38 °C), on average over 92 days each year,[52] including most days from late May through early October. Highs top 110 °F (43 °C) an average of 18 days during the year[53] The longest stretch of continuous 100 degree days is 76, from June 10 – August 24, 1993. The greatest number of 100 degree days in a year in Phoenix history is 143 (1989), while the fewest is 48 (1913). For comparison, New York City has had a total of 59 days of 100 degree weather since 1870. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 122 °F (50 °C).[54]

Most deserts undergo drastic fluctuations between day and nighttime temperatures, but not Phoenix due to the heat sink effect. As the city has expanded, average summer low temps have been rising steadily. The daily heat of the sun is stored in pavement, sidewalks and buildings, and is radiated back out at night.[55] Overnight lows greater than 80 °F (27 °C) occur frequently each summer, with the average July low being 81 °F (27 °C), and the average August low being 80 °F (27 °C). On average, 67 days throughout the year will see the nighttime low at or above 80 °F (27 °C). The highest low temperature recorded in Phoenix was 96 °F (36 °C), which occurred on July 15, 2003.[51]


Phoenix Haboob - 2011

The city averages over 330 days of sunshine, or over 90%, per year, and receives scant rainfall, the average annual total at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport being 7 inches (180 mm).[56] Precipitation is sparse during most of the year, but the monsoon season brings an influx of moisture. Prior to 2008, the start of the monsoon season officially began when the average Dew point was 55 degrees for three days in a row. On average this occurred on July 7 with the monsoon continuing for the next two months; however, in 2008 the National Weather Service decided to take the guesswork out of monsoon start and end dates. From that point forward, June 15 has been the official first day of the monsoon, and September 30 the last day.[57] The monsoon raises humidity levels and can cause heavy localized precipitation, occasional flooding, large hail, strong winds, the rare tornado, and dust storms,[58] which can rise to the level of a haboob in some years.[59] July is the wettest month of the year (1.05 inches (27 mm)), while June is the driest (.02 inches (0.51 mm)).

Graupel fall - February 2013

On average, Phoenix has only one day per year where the temperature drops to or below freezing.[52] However, the frequency of freezes increases the further one moves outward from the urban heat island. Frequently, outlying areas of Phoenix see frost. The earliest frost on record occurred on November 4, 1946, and the latest occurred on April 4, 1945. The all-time lowest recorded temperature in Phoenix was 16 °F (−9 °C) on January 7, 1913, while the coldest daily maximum was 36 °F (2 °C) on December 10, 1898. Snow is a very rare occurrence for the city of Phoenix. Snowfall was first officially recorded in 1898, and since then, accumulations of 0.1 inches (0.25 cm) or greater have occurred only eight times. The heaviest snowstorm on record dates to January 21 – January 22, 1937, when 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10.2 cm) fell in parts of the city and did not melt entirely for three days. Before that, 1 inch (2.5 cm) had fallen on January 20, 1933. On February 2, 1939, 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) fell. Snow also fell on March 12, 1917 and on November 28, 1919. The most recent snow of significance fell on, December 6, 1998 across the northwest portions of the valley that are below 2,000 feet. During the 1998 event, Sky Harbor reported a dusting of snow. The last measurable snowfall was recorded when 0.1 inches (0.25 cm) fell in central Phoenix on December 11, 1985.[60] On December 30, 2010 and February 20, 2013, graupel fell, although it was widely believed to be snow.[61][62]

Climate data for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Arizona, 1981–2010 normals
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °F (°C)88
(31)
92
(33)
100
(38)
105
(41)
114
(46)
122
(50)
121
(49)
117
(47)
116
(47)
107
(42)
96
(36)
87
(31)
122
(50)
Average high °F (°C)67.4
(19.7)
70.9
(21.6)
77.1
(25.1)
85.4
(29.7)
95.0
(35)
104.1
(40.1)
106.2
(41.2)
104.5
(40.3)
100.0
(37.8)
88.7
(31.5)
75.8
(24.3)
66.2
(19)
86.8
(30.4)
Daily mean °F (°C)56.5
(13.6)
59.8
(15.4)
65.3
(18.5)
72.8
(22.7)
82.1
(27.8)
90.9
(32.7)
94.8
(34.9)
93.6
(34.2)
88.4
(31.3)
76.7
(24.8)
64.2
(17.9)
55.5
(13.1)
75.0
(23.9)
Average low °F (°C)45.6
(7.6)
48.7
(9.3)
53.5
(11.9)
60.2
(15.7)
69.3
(20.7)
77.7
(25.4)
83.4
(28.6)
82.7
(28.2)
76.8
(24.9)
64.7
(18.2)
52.6
(11.4)
44.8
(7.1)
63.3
(17.4)
Record low °F (°C)16
(−9)
24
(−4)
25
(−4)
35
(2)
39
(4)
49
(9)
63
(17)
58
(14)
47
(8)
34
(1)
27
(−3)
22
(−6)
16
(−9)
Precipitation inches (mm)0.91
(23.1)
0.92
(23.4)
0.98
(24.9)
0.27
(6.9)
0.11
(2.8)
0.02
(0.5)
1.05
(26.7)
1.00
(25.4)
0.64
(16.3)
0.58
(14.7)
0.64
(16.3)
0.88
(22.4)
8.01
(203.5)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)4.14.43.91.71.00.24.25.02.82.52.63.936.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours257.3257.6319.3354.0399.9408.0378.2359.6330.0310.0255.0244.93,873.8
Source: NOAA (extremes 1895–present)[52][63][64] Hong Kong Observatory (sun only, 1961–1990)[65] The Weather Network[66]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Mountain Lion (aka Puma)
Giant Saguaro

Unusual species are occasionally found within Phoenix boundaries and surrounding areas of Arizona. Native species include desert tortoises, gila monsters, roadrunners, coyotes, chuckwallas (large lizards), javelina (wild pigs), bobcats, jaguars, and mountain lions. There are many species of falcons, hawks, golden and bald eagles, and the state bird, the cactus wren.[67][68][69] Phoenix is also home to a plethora of snakes, such as the western diamondback rattlesnake, sonoran sidewinder, several other types of rattlesnakes, sonoran coralsnake, and dozens of other non-venomous snakes, including the California kingsnake.[70]

The Arizona Upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert (of which Phoenix is a part) has the most structurally diverse vegetation in the United States. It includes one of the most famous species of succulents, the giant saguaro cactus. Other important species are organpipe, ocotillo, barrel, prickly pear and cholla cacti, Palo Verde trees, various types of palm trees, agaves, foothill and blue paloverde, ironwood, mesquite and creosote bush.[71][72]

Demographics[edit]

Phoenix is the sixth most populous city in the United States according to the 2010 United States Census, with a population of 1,445,632, making it the most populous state capital in the United States.[73] Phoenix's ranking as the sixth most populous city was a drop from the number five position it had held since the U. S. Census Bureau released population estimates on June 28, 2007. Those statistics used data from 2006, which showed Phoenix's population at 1,512,986, which put it just ahead of Philadelphia.[73] The 2010 Census, while showing an overall increase from the official 2000 Census showed a drop in Phoenix' population from the 2007 estimates, allowing Philadelphia to regain the fifth spot.[73]

Historical population
CensusPop.
1870240
18801,708611.7%
18903,15284.5%
19005,54475.9%
191011,314104.1%
192029,053156.8%
193048,11865.6%
194065,41435.9%
1950106,81863.3%
1960439,170311.1%
1970581,57232.4%
1980789,70435.8%
1990983,40324.5%
20001,321,04534.3%
20101,445,6329.4%
Est. 20121,488,7503.0%
sources:[1][74][75]

After leading the nation in population growth for over a decade, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, followed by the recession, led to a slowing in the growth of Phoenix. The Phoenix metropolitan area's net population growth was estimated at around 77,000 in 2009, down from a peak of about 162,000 in 2006.[76][77] Despite this slowing, Phoenix's population grew by 9.4% since the 2000 census (a total of 124,000 people), while the entire Phoenix Metropolitan area grew by 28.9% during the same period.[78] The 124,000 gain was the smallest of any census period since 1940-1950, when the city's entire population was 107,000 residents, and that 9.4% was the lowest percentage increase rate since the 1880-1890 census period. The city of Phoenix captured 13% of the metropolitan growth, down from 33% in the 1990-2000 census period.[79]

The Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (officially known as the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale MSA), is one of 10 MSA’s in Arizona, and is the 14th largest in the United States, with a total population of 4,192,887 as of the 2010 Census. Consisting of parts of both Pinal and Maricopa counties, the MSA accounts for 65.5% of the total population of the state of Arizona. Phoenix is also part of the Arizona Sun Corridor megaregion (MR), which is the 10th most populous of the 11 MRs, and the 8th largest by area. It had the 2nd largest growth by percentage of the MRs (behind only the Gulf Coast MR) between 2000 and 2010.[80]

Downtown Phoenix from an airplane, 2011

The population is almost equally split between men and women, with men making up 50.2% of city's citizens. The population density is 2,797.8 people per square mile, and the median age of the city is 32.2 years, with only 10.9 of the population being over 62. 98.5% of Phoenix's population lives in households with an average household size of 2.77 people. There were 514,806 total households, with 64.2% of those households consisting of families: 42.3% married couples, 7% with an unmarried male as head of household, and 14.9% with an unmarried female as head of household. 33.6% of those households have children below the age of 18. Of the 35.8% of non-family households, 27.1% of them have a householder living alone, almost evenly split between men and women, with women having 13.7% and men occupying 13.5%. Phoenix has 590,149 housing units, with an occupancy rate of 87.2%. The largest segment of vacancies is in the rental market, where the vacancy rate is 14.9%, and 51% of all vacancies are in rentals. Vacant houses for sale only make up 17.7% of the vacancies, with the rest being split among vacation properties and other various reasons.[81]

The median income for a household in the city was $47,866, and the median income for a family was $54,804. Males had a median income of $32,820 versus $27,466 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,110. 21.8% of the population and 17.1% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 31.4% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.[82]

According to the Census:[83]

Phoenix's population has historically been predominantly white.[84] In 1970, non-Hispanic whites represented over 80% of the population.[84] 20.6% of the population of the city was foreign born in 2010. Of the 1,342,803 residents over 5 years of age, 63.5% speak only English, 30.6% speak Spanish as their primary language, 2.5% speak another Indo-European language, 2.1% speak Asian or Islander languages, with the remaining 1.4% speaking other languages. 15.7% of non-English speakers speak English less than "very well".[85][86] The ancestral breakdown has the top 10 ancestries as: Mexican (35.9%), German (15.3%), Irish (10.3%), English (9.4%), Black (6.5%), Italian (4.5%), French (2.7%), Polish (2.5%), American Indian (2.2%), and Scottish (2.0%).[85]

In 2000, the Phoenix metro area's religious composition was reported as 45% Catholic, 13% Latter-day Saints (concentrated heavily in the suburb of Mesa) and 5% Jewish. The remaining 37% are largely members of Protestant denominations or are unaffiliated.[87]

Economy[edit]

The early economy of Phoenix was focused primarily on agriculture and natural resources, dependent mainly on the "5Cs" which were copper, cattle, climate, cotton and citrus.[11] By the end of the Roaring 20s, Phoenix boasted the largest meat processing plant between Dallas and Los Angeles.[88] While that plant, and it’s attendant stockyards are long gone, a remnant remains in the famous Stockyards Restaurant.

With the conclusion of the Second World War, the valley’s economy began to diversify. After World War II, the city’s population began to surge as many men who had undergone their military training at the various bases in and around Phoenix, returned with their families. In 1948 Motorola chose Phoenix for the site of its new research and development center for military electronics. They were followed in time, by other high-tech companies such as Intel and McDonnell Douglas.[12]

Sun City, Arizona - Aerial View

The construction industry, spurred on by the city’s growth, further expanded with the development of Sun City. Much like Levittown, New York became the template for suburban development in post-WWII America,[89] Sun City, just northwest of Phoenix, became the template for retirement communities when Del E. Webb opened the community just west of Phoenix in 1960. Over 100,000 people visited the community on Opening Day.[90]

As the financial crisis of 2007–2010 began, construction in Phoenix collapsed in 2008, and housing prices plunged. Historically, Arizona trailed the rest of the country into recession but due to the prominence of the construction industry in its economy, Phoenix entered this last recession before the rest of the country.[91]

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the US Department of Commerce, in 2012 (the latest year for which data is available), the Phoenix MSA had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of just over $201 billion. The top 10 industries were, in descending order: real estate ($31B), financial services ($21.3B), manufacturing ($16.8B), health care ($15.7B), retail ($14.9B), Wholesale ($12.9B), professional services ($12.8B), construction ($10.4B), waste management ($9.1B), and tourism ($6.8B). Government, if it had been a private industry, would have been ranked third on the list, generating $18.9 billion.[92] Among Phoenix's chief manufactured products are computers and other electronic equipment, missiles, aircraft parts, chemicals, and processed foods.[46]

As late as 2006, Greater Phoenix ranked number 1 in terms of employment growth among major job markets (a major job market has more than 1 million jobs). By 2010, Greater Phoenix had fallen to dead last of the those 28 job markets. However, 2013 saw Greater Phoenix rise to 7th. Arizona’s year-over-year job growth (of which Phoenix is the main driver) continued to outpace the nation through August 2013. Arizona’s year-over-year job growth was at or above 2.0% each month of that year. In contrast, national job growth was between 1.5% and 1.7% on a year-over-year basis.[93] Arizona is forecast to regain its previous employment peak in 2015, making it eight years for the state to get back to even terms after the Great Recession; the national economy is currently forecast to replace all of the jobs lost by 2014, one year earlier than Arizona. This is due to the more severe downturn in Arizona as compared to the rest of the nation, as evidenced by the fact that from peak to trough, Arizona jobs declined by 11.8%, compared to 6.3% for the nation.[94] In 2013, the Phoenix area saw a 2.7% increase in non-farm employment, from 1.758 million to 1.805 million. Job growth has occurred across the board with the fastest rate in education and health services, trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, financial activities and leisure and hospitality.[95]

Phoenix Exterior Convention.2009

According to the 2010 Census, the top ten employment categories are office and administrative support occupations (17.8%), sales and related occupations (11.6%), food preparation and serving related occupations (9%), transportation and material moving occupations (6.1%), management occupations (5.8%), education, training, and library occupations (5.5%), business and financial operations occupations (5.3%), healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (5.3%), production occupations (4.6%), and construction and extraction occupations (4.2%). The single largest occupation is retail salespersons, which account for 3.7% of the entire workforce.[96] As of December, 2013, 12.9% of the workforce were government employees, a high number because the city is both the county seat and state capitol. The civilian labor force was 2,033,400 (down 0.5% from twelve months earlier), and the unemployment rate stood at 7.6%, above the national rate of 6.7%.[97][98]

Phoenix is currently home to four Fortune 500 companies: electronics corporation Avnet,[99] mining company Freeport-McMoRan,[100] retailer PetSmart[101] and waste hauler Republic Services.[102] Honeywell's Aerospace division is headquartered in Phoenix, and the valley hosts many of their avionics and mechanical facilities.[103] Intel has one of their largest sites in the area, employing about 12,000 employees, the second largest Intel location in the country; they are spending $5 billion to expand their semiconductor plant.[104] 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 and moving supply company; Best Western, the world's largest family of hotels; Apollo Group, parent of the University of Phoenix; and utility company Pinnacle West. Choice Hotels International has its IT division and operations support center in the North Phoenix area. US Airways, now merged with American Airlines has a strong presence in Phoenix, with the corporate headquarters located in the city prior to the merger. US Air/American Airlines is the largest carrier at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Mesa Air Group, a regional airline group, is headquartered in Phoenix.[105]

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 three 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.[106] Foreign governments have established 30 consular offices and eleven active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations in metropolitan Phoenix.[107][108]

Culture[edit]

Performing arts[edit]

Orpheum Theater - Phoenix

There are quite a few performing arts venues around the city, with most located in and around downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale. The Phoenix Symphony Hall is home to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, the Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona.[109] The Arizona Opera company also has intimate performances at its new Arizona Opera Center, which opened in March 2013.[110] Another venue is the Orpheum Theatre, which is home to the Phoenix Opera, formerly known as the Phoenix Metropolitan Opera.[111] Ballet Arizona, in addition to the Symphony Hall, also has performances at the Orpheum Theater as well at the Dorrance Theater. Concerts also regularly make stops in the area. The largest downtown performing art venue is the Herberger Theater Center, which houses three performance spaces and is home to two resident companies, the Arizona Theatre Company and the Centre Dance Ensemble. Three other groups also use the facility: Valley Youth Theatre, iTheatre Collaborative[112] and Actors Theater.[113]

Concerts can be seen at the US Airways Center and the Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix, Ak-Chin Pavilion (formerly Cricket Wireless Pavilion) in Maryvale, Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, and Gammage Auditorium in Tempe (the last public building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright).[114] Several smaller theatres including Trunk Space, the Mesa Arts Center, the Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix Theater, Celebrity Theatre, and Modified Arts support regular independent musical and theatre performances. Music can also be seen in some of the venues usually reserved for sports, such as Wells Fargo Arena and University of Phoenix Stadium (Phoenix Theater).[115]

Several television series were set in Phoenix, including the 2000s paranormal drama Medium, the 1960–1961 syndicated crime drama The Brothers Brannagan, Alice and The New Dick Van Dyke Show from 1971 to 1974.

Museums[edit]

Arizona Science Center

Several museums exist throughout the Valley. They include the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona Capitol Museum, Arizona Military Museum, Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum, the Phoenix Zoo, the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park, Children's Museum of Phoenix, Arizona Science Center, and the Heard Museum. In 2010 the Musical Instrument Museum opened their doors, featuring the biggest musical instrument collection in the world.[116]

Designed Alden B. Dow, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Phoenix Art Museum was constructed in a single year, opening in November 1959.[117] It is the Southwest’s largest destination for visual art from across the world.[118] The Phoenix Art Museum presents a year-round program of festivals, live performances, independent art films and educational programs. It displays international exhibitions alongside the Museum’s comprehensive collection of more than 17,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design.[119][120] Interactive exhibits can be found in nearby Peoria's Challenger Space Center, where individuals learn about space, renewable energies, and meet astronauts.[121]

The Heard Museum 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.

Fine arts[edit]

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.

Her Secret Is Patience by Janet Echelmen

In April 2009, artist Janet Echelman inaugurated her monumental sculpture, Her Secret Is Patience, a civic icon suspended above the new Phoenix Civic Space Park, 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 (30 m)-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. Author Prof. Patrick Frank writes of the sculpture that "...most Arizonans look on the work with pride: this unique visual delight will forever mark the city of Phoenix just as the Eiffel Tower marks Paris."[122]

Tourism[edit]

The tourist industry is the longest running of today’s top industries in Phoenix. Starting with promotions back in the 1920s, the industry has grown into one of the top 10 in the city.[123] Due to its climate, Phoenix and its neighbors have consistently ranked among the nation's top destinations in the number of Five Diamond/Five Star resorts. With more than 62,000 hotel rooms in over 500 hotels and 40 resorts, greater Phoenix sees over 16 million visitors each year, the majority of whom are leisure (as opposed to business) travelers.[124] Sky Harbor Airport, which serves the Greater Phoenix area, serves about 40 million passengers a year, ranking it among the 10 busiest airports in the nation.[125]

One of the biggest attractions to the Phoenix area is golf, since there are over 190 golf courses in the area.[47] In addition to the museums, there are many attractions in and near Phoenix, such as: Agua Fria National Monument, Arcosanti, Camelback Mountain, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Hole in the Rock, Lost Dutchman State Park, Montezuma's Castle, Montezuma's Well, Mystery Castle,Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, St. Mary's Basilica, Taliesin West, and the Wrigley Mansion. Phoenix also serves as a jumping off point to many of the sights around the state of Arizona, such as the Grand Canyon, Lake Havasu (where the London Bridge is located), Meteor Crater, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, Tombstone, Karchner Caverns, Sedona, Arizona and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Cuisine[edit]

Like many other western towns, the earliest restaurants in Phoenix were often steakhouses. In addition, Phoenix is also renowned for authentic Mexican food, thanks to both the large Hispanic population and proximity to Mexico. Like other major cities, some of the restaurants have a long and storied history. The Stockyards steakhouse dates to 1947, while Monti's La Casa Vieja (Spanish for "The Old House") has been in operation as a restaurant since the 1890s. Macayo's (a Mexican restaurant chain) was established in Phoenix in 1946, and other major Mexican restaurants include Garcia's (1956) and Manuel's (1964).[126][127][128] 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. Today the city boasts cuisines from all over the world, such as Korean, Bar-B-Que, Cajun/Creole, Greek, Hawaiian, Irish, Japanese, Sushi, Italian, Fusion, Persian, Indian, Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Southwestern, Tex-Mex, Vietnamese, Brazilian, and French.[129]

Although a McDonald's restaurant which opened in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955 is often incorrectly identified as the first franchise, the McDonald brothers actually sold their first franchise to Phoenix gasoline retailer, Neil Fox, in 1952 for a one-time fee of $1,000. The brothers anticipated no further connection with the operation. They expected Fox to call his store "Fox's". When he informed them that he wanted to call it "McDonald's", the brothers were astounded. "'What the hell for?" Dick McDonald asked Fox. "'McDonald's' means nothing in Phoenix."

The hamburger stand opened in 1953 on the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road in the growing north side of Phoenix, and was the first location to sport the now internationally known "arches", which were twice the height of the building. Three other franchise locations opened that year, a full two years before Kroc purchased McDonald's and opened his first franchise in Illinois. It was also the site where the trademark "Golden Arches" were first used.[130]

Sports[edit]

Phoenix is home to several professional sports franchises, and is one of only 12 U.S. cities to have representatives of all four major professional sports leagues, although only two of these teams actually carry the city name and play within the city limits.

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.[131] In 2001, the Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees 4 games to 3 in the World Series,[132] becoming the city's first professional sports franchise to win a national championship while located in Arizona. The win was also the fastest an expansion team had ever won the World Series, breaking the record of 5 years set by the Florida Marlins in 1997.[133]

The Arizona Cardinals moved to Phoenix from St. Louis, Missouri in 1988 and currently play in the Western Division of the National Football League's National Football Conference. The Cardinals were founded in 1898 in Chicago, as the Morgan Athletic Club, and in 1920, their name being the Racine Cardinals, they became a charter member of the National Football League, making them the oldest continuously run professional football franchise in the nation. The Cardinals, however, have never played in the city itself; they played at Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University in nearby Tempe until 2006 and now play at University of Phoenix Stadium in west suburban Glendale.[134]

The Phoenix Suns were the first major sports team in Phoenix, being granted a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise in 1968.[135] They originally played at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, moving to the America West Arena (now U.S. Airways Center) in 1992.[136] In 1997, the Phoenix Mercury was one of the original eight teams to launch the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). They also play at U.S. Airways Center. The Mercury won their first WNBA championship in 2007, when they defeated the Detroit Shock in five games.[137]

The Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League moved to the area in 1996,[138] formerly known as the Winnipeg Jets. They originally played their home games downtown at America West Arena before moving in December 2003 to the Jobing.com Arena, adjacent to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.[139]

Phoenix has an arena football team, the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. Games are played at U.S. Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. They won their first of four AFL championships in 1994; in 2013 they won their second championship in a row.[140]

The Greater Phoenix area is home to the Cactus League, one of two spring training leagues for Major League Baseball. With the move by the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks to their new facility in Scottsdale, the league is entirely based in the Greater Phoenix area, as opposed to the Grapefruit League, which is spread throughout southern Florida. With the Cincinnati Red's move to Goodyear, fifteen of MLB's thirty teams are now included in the Cactus League.[141]

The Phoenix International Raceway, was built in 1964 with a uniquely-shaped one-mile oval and a meandering 2.5-mile road course.[142] Today, "Phoenix International Raceway has a tradition that is unmatched in the world of racing."[143] It currently hosts several NASCAR events per season,[144][145] and the annual Fall NASCAR weekend—including NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch, Craftsman Trucks and Featherlite Southwest Series races—is one of the biggest events in the entire state.[143] After thirty years of hosting various events, especially NHRA drag racing events, Firebird International Raceway (FIR) closed operations in 2013. [146] However, the NHRA negotiated a deal with the Gila River Indian Community (the owners of FIR) and re-opened the venue to NHRA events in 2014, under the new name, "Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park".[147] Phoenix hosted the United States Grand Prix from 1989 to 1991. The race was discontinued after poor crowd numbers.[148]

The Phoenix Marathon is a new addition to the city's sports scene, and is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.[149] The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series has held an event in Phoenix since 2004:[150] Phoenix is one of the three cities that hosts the annual Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon in January.

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

Sun Devil Stadium held Super Bowl XXX in 1996 when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.[151] University of Phoenix Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008, in which the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots.[152] The University of Phoenix Stadium will host Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.[153] The U.S. Airways Center hosted both the 1995 and the 2009 NBA All-Star Games.[154]

The Phoenix area is the site of two college football bowl games: the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, formerly known as the Insight Bowl, which was at Chase Field until 2005, after which it moved to Sun Devil Stadium;[155] and the Fiesta Bowl, played at the University of Phoenix Stadium.[156] The city is also host to several major professional golf events, including the LPGA's Founder's Cup[157] and, since 1932, The Phoenix Open of the PGA.[158]

Phoenix's Ahwatukee American Little League reached the 2006 Little League World Series as the representative from the U.S. West region. On March 28, 2010, the University of Phoenix stadium hosted WWE's flagship event, WrestleMania XXVI, which had broke the stadium's attendance record with 72,219 fans; it has since been broken by the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, with 78,603 fans. Phoenix also hosted TNA Bound for Glory on October 14, 2012.

Professional Clubs

ClubSportLeagueVenueChampionships
Arizona CardinalsFootballNational Football LeagueNFCUniversity of Phoenix Stadium2*
Arizona DiamondbacksBaseballMajor League BaseballNational LeagueChase Field1
Phoenix SunsBasketballNational Basketball AssociationWestern ConferenceUS Airways Center0
Phoenix CoyotesIce hockeyNational Hockey LeagueWestern ConferenceJobing.com Arena0
Phoenix MercuryWomen's BasketballWomen's National Basketball AssociationUS Airways Center2
Arizona RattlersArena FootballArena Football LeagueUS Airways Center3
Phoenix FCSoccerUSL Professional DivisionPeoria Sports Complex0

(*)Note: The Cardinals won 2 of their championships while in Chicago pre-modern era.

Semi-Professional and Amateur Clubs

ClubSportLeagueVenueChampionships
Arizona ScorpionsBasketballAmerican Basketball AssociationPhoenix College0
Arizona Derby DamesBanked Track Roller DerbyRoller Derby Coalition of LeaguesHall of Dames0

Parks and recreation[edit]

Midtown Phoenix is visible to the left in this view from the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, December 2010.

Phoenix is home to a large number of parks and recreation areas. The city of Phoenix includes National Parks, County (Maricopa County) Parks and city parks. Tonto National Forest forms part of the northeast boundary of the city, while the county has the largest park system in the country.[159] The city park system was established to preserve the deseart landscape in areas that would otherwise have succumbed to development, and includes South Mountain Park, the world's largest municipal park with 16,500 acres (67 km2).[160] The city park system has 189 parks which contain over 33,000 acres, and has facilities for hiking, camping, swimming, horseback riding, cycling, and climbing.[161] Some of the other notable parks in the system are Camelback Mountain, Encanto Park (another large urban park) and Sunnyslope Mountain, also known as "S" Mountain.[162] Papago Park in east Phoenix is home to both the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo, in addition to several golf courses and the Hole-in-the-Rock geological formation. The Desert Botanical Garden, which opened in 1939, is one of the few public gardens in the country dedicated to desert plants, and displays desert plant life from all over the world. The Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately owned non-profit zoo in the United States, and is internationally known for its programs devoting to saving endangered species.[163]

In addition, many waterparks are scattered throughout the valley to help residents cope with the desert heat during the summer months. Some of the notable parks include Big Surf in Tempe, Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix in Phoenix (has a Glendale mailing address), Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, and the Oasis Water Park at the Arizona Grand Resort – formerly known as Pointe South Mountain Resort – in Phoenix. The area also has two amusement parks, Castles N' Coasters in north Phoenix, next to the Metrocenter Mall and Enchanted Island located at Encanto Park.

Government[edit]

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

In 1913, Phoenix adopted a new form of government, switching from the mayor-council system to the council-manager system, making it one of the first cities in the United States with this form of city government, with a strong city manager supervising all city departments and executing policies adopted by the Council.[164]

The city council consists 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.[165] The current mayor of Phoenix is Greg Stanton, a Democrat who was elected to a four-year term in 2011.[166] The mayor and city council members have equal voting power to adopt ordinances and set the policies that govern the city.[165] The city's website was given a "Sunny Award" by Sunshine Review for its transparency efforts.[167]

State government facilities[edit]

Phoenix City Hall, showing the city's logo, the phoenix bird.

As the capital of Arizona, Phoenix houses the state legislature. The Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections operates the Adobe Mountain School and the Black Canyon School in Phoenix.[168] Another major state government facility is the Arizona State Hospital, operated by the Arizona Department of Health Services. This is a mental health center which is the only medical facility run by the state government. The headquarters of numerous Arizona state government agencies are in Phoenix, with many located in the State Capitol district immediately west of downtown.

Federal government facilities[edit]

The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Phoenix near the northern boundary of the city.

The Sandra Day O'Connor US Courthouse, US District Court of Arizona, is located on Washington Street downtown. It is named in honor of retired US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was raised in Arizona.

The Federal Building is at the intersection of Van Buren Road and First Avenue downtown, and contains various federal field offices and the local division of the US Bankruptcy Court. This building also formerly housed the US District Court offices and courtrooms, but these were moved in 2001 to the new Sandra Day O'Connor US Courthouse. Before the construction of this building in 1961, federal government offices were housed in the historic US Post Office on Central Avenue, completed in the 1930s.

Crime[edit]

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 at the Clarendon Hotel 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.[169]

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.[169]

After seeing a peak in the early and mid 1990s, the city has seen a general decrease in both the violent and property crime rates. The violent crime rate peaked in 1993 at 1146 crimes per 100,000 people, while the property crime rate peaked a few years earlier, in 1989, at 9,966 crimes per 100,000. In the most recent numbers from the FBI (2012), those rates currently stand at 637 and 4091, respectively. When compared to the other cities on the 10 most populated list, this ranks Phoenix 5th and 6th, respectively. Since their peak in 2003, murders have dropped from 241 to 123 in 2012. Assaults have also dropped from 7800 in 1993 to 5260 in 2012. In the 20 years since 1993, there have only been five years in which the violent crime rate has not declined.[170]

The year 2012 was an anomaly to the general downward trend in violent crime in Phoenix, with the rates for every single violent crime, with the exception of rape, showing an increase. The murder rate increased by 15.4% and aggravated assaults jumped by 27%, while rapes were down by 2%. However, the property crime rate returned to the downward trend begun in the 1990s, after a slight uptick in the previous two years. Vehicle thefts, which have been perceived as a major issue in the Valley of the Sun for decades, saw a continuation of a downward trend begun over a decade ago.[170] In 2001 Phoenix ranked first in the nation in vehicle thefts, with over 22,000 cars stolen that year. [171] That continued in 2002, when car thefts rose to over 25,000, a rate of over 1825 thefts per 100,000 people. It has declined every year since then, and last year stood at just over 480, a drop of almost 75% in the decade. According to the “Hot Spots” report put out by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), The Phoenix MSA has dropped to 70th in the nation in terms of car thefts in 2012.[172]

As the first decade of the new century came to a close, Arizona had become the gateway to the U.S. for drug trafficking. In 2009, roughly half of all the marijuana intercepted along the U.S.-Mexican border was seized in Arizona.[173] Another crime issue related to the drug trade are kidnappings. In the late 2000s, Phoenix earned the title "Kidnapping capital of the USA".[174] The majority of the kidnapped are believed to be victims of human smuggling, or related to illegal drug trade, while the kidnappers are believed to be part of Mexican Drug War cartels, particularly the Sinaloa Cartel.[173]

Education[edit]

Public education in the Phoenix area is provided by 29 school districts. There are 21 Elementary school districts, which contain over 215 elementary schools, and they are paired with 4 high school districts, which have a total of 31 high schools serving Phoenix. Three of the high school districts (Glendale Union, Tempe Union and Tolleson Union) only partially serve Phoenix. In addition there are 4 unified districts, which cover grades K-12, which add an additional 58 elementary schools and 4 high schools to Phoenix's educational system. Of those 4, only the Paradise Valley district completely serves Phoenix.[175] The Phoenix Union High School District is one of the largest high school districts in the country, with 16 schools, over 27,000 students, and nearly 3,000 employees, and covering 220-square miles of the city. Phoenix is also served by an expanding number of Charter schools, with over 30 currently operating in the city.[176]

Post-secondary education[edit]

The campus of ASU from Tempe Butte in nearby Tempe.

Arizona State University is the main institution of higher education in the region. Its main campus is in Tempe. ASU also has campuses in Northwest Phoenix (ASU West Campus), Downtown Phoenix (ASU Downtown Campus) and Mesa (ASU Polytechnic Campus).[177]

A branch of the University of Arizona College of Medicine is located near ASU's downtown Phoenix campus.[178] ASU is currently one of the largest public universities in the U.S., with a 2011 student enrollment of 72,250. [179] There is also a small satellite campus for Northern Arizona University (based in Flagstaff) located in Phoenix.[180]

The Maricopa County Community College District includes ten community colleges and two skills centers throughout Maricopa County, providing adult education and job training. Phoenix College, part of the district, was founded in 1920 and is the oldest community college in Arizona and one of the oldest in the country.[181]

The city is also home to numerous other institutions of higher learning. Some of the more notable are:

Thunderbird Control Tower-Thunderbird School of Global Management


Media[edit]

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). The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix is an independent weekly Jewish newspaper that was established in 1948. 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, as well as the paid weekly paper, The Bachelor's Beat.

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.).[188] The major network television affiliates are KNXV 15 (ABC), KPHO 5 (CBS), KPNX 12 (NBC), KSAZ 10 (Fox), KASW 61 (The CW), KUTP 45 (MyNetworkTV), and KAET 8 (PBS, operated by Arizona State University). Other network television affiliates operating in the area include KPAZ 21 (TBN), KTVW-DT 33 (Univision), KTAZ 39 (Telemundo), KDPH 48 (Daystar), and KPPX-TV 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.

Many major feature films and television programs have been filmed in the city. The radio airwaves in Phoenix cater to a wide variety of musical and talk radio interests.

Infrastructure[edit]

Transportation[edit]

Air[edit]

An aerial view of the control tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor that began operations on January 17, 2007.

Phoenix is served by Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHXICAO: KPHX), one of the ten busiest airports in the United States, serving over 110,000 people on over 1000 flights per day.[189] The airport is centrally located in the metro area near several major freeway interchanges east of downtown Phoenix. The airport serves more than 100 cities with non-stop flights.[190]

Aeroméxico, 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 Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, and London.[191]

The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IATA: AZAICAO: 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: DVTICAO: KDVT), located in the Deer Valley district of north Phoenix, and Scottsdale Airport (IATA: SCFICAO: KSDLFAA LID: SDL), located just east of the Phoenix/Scottsdale border. There are also other municipal airports including Glendale Municipal Airport (ICAO: KGEUFAA LID: GEU), Falcon Field Airport in Mesa (IATA: MSC), and Phoenix Goodyear Airport (IATA: GYRICAO: KGYR).

Rail and bus[edit]

Union Station Phoenix - North - 2009-12-08

Amtrak served Phoenix Union Station until 1996 when the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) threatened to abandon the route between Yuma, Arizona and Phoenix.[192] Amtrak rerouted trains to Maricopa, 30 miles south of downtown Phoenix, where passengers can board the Texas Eagle (Los Angeles-San Antonio-Chicago) and Sunset Limited (Los Angeles-New Orleans).[193][194] Though UP ultimately retained the trackage, Amtrak did not return, leaving Phoenix as the most populated city in the U.S. without passenger Amtrak service, although the station is still there (see photo).

Amtrak Thruway buses connect Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to Flagstaff, Arizona for connection with the Los Angeles-Chicago Southwest Chief.[195] Phoenix is also served by Greyhound bus service, which stops at 24th Street near the airport.[196]

Public transportation[edit]

Phoenix Exterior Convention.2009

Valley Metro provides public transportation throughout the metropolitan area, with its trains, buses, and a ride-share program. 3.38% of workers commute by public transit. During the summer it is very difficult to wait for a bus in the heat as many of the stops have no canopies.[197] Valley Metro's 20-mile (32 km) light rail project, called METRO, through north-central Phoenix, downtown, and eastward through Tempe and Mesa, opened December 27, 2008. Future rail segments of more than 30 miles (48 km) are planned to open by 2030.[198]

Bicycle transportation[edit]

In 2000, bicycle transportation was a mode that 0.89% of Phoenix commuters utilized, down from 1.12% a decade earlier.[197] The Maricopa Association of Governments has a bicycle advisory committee working to improve conditions for bicycling on city streets and off-road paths.[199] Bicycling Magazine ranked Phoenix the 15th most bicycle friendly city of fifty cities in the United States with a population greater than 100,000.[200]

Roads and freeways[edit]

Phoenix auto traffic depends on both surface streets and freeways. Freeways fall under the auspices of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Phoenix ranks first in the nation in the quality of its urban freeways, and the state as a whole ranks first in the nation in the quality of bridges.[201] While being the sixth most populous city in the nation, Phoenix’s freeways do not suffer from the same type of congestion seen in other large cities. In fact, in a recent study, there is not a single stretch of freeway in Phoenix ranked in the 100 worst freeways for either congestion or unreliability.[202]

Interstate 10 and Interstate 17 Interchange at Night.2012

Part of the reason for this is the extensive freeway system in the city, due to the majority of that system being funded by local, rather than federal funds, through a ½ cent general sales tax measure approved by voters in 1985. Another offshoot of this local funding is that Phoenix is the largest city in the United States to have two Interstate Highways and no 3-digit interstates.[203]

As of 2005, the metropolitan area of Phoenix contains one of the nation's largest and fastest growing freeway systems, boasting over 1,405 lane miles.[204] The freeway system is a mix of Interstate, US, and State highways which include Interstate 10, Interstate 17, US 60, SR 51, Loop 101, Loop 202, SR 51, SR 143, and SR 30. There are still major additions to routes 101, 202 and 303 underway, as well as several other smaller projects around the valley.[205] State Routes 30, 87, 85, and 74 connect Phoenix with other areas of the Valley and Arizona.[206]

The street system in Phoenix (and some of its suburbs) is laid out in a grid system, with most roads oriented either north-south or east-west, and the zero point of the grid being the intersection of Central Avenue and Washington Street.[206] The original plan was for the east-west streets to be named after presidents, with the north-south streets named after Indians, however the north-south streets were quickly changed to numbers, with avenues running to west of Central, and street to its east of Central.[8] Major arterial streets are spaced one mile (1.6 km) apart, divided into smaller blocks approximately every 1/8 of a mile. For example, Scottsdale Road, being the 7200 block, lies 9 miles to the east of Central Avenue (72 / 8).[206]

Utilities[edit]

Central Arizona Project (CAP) Canal

Phoenix has a series of artificial canals that draw water from the surrounding riverbeds and small lakes when rainfall occurs. In addition much of the water directed into the canal system is taken from the Colorado River and delivered via the Central Arizona Project Canal.[207] The city’s electrical needs are served primarily by Arizona Public Service, although some customers receive their electricity from the Salt River Project (SRP). The main sources of electrical generation are nuclear, and coal power plants. Arizona is home to the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Station, the largest nuclear generating facility in the United States. SRP is also the largest water provider in Phoenix.[208]

Health care[edit]

In 2011 (the last year for which information is available), Phoenix had a slightly younger population than the country as a whole. While the United States had 13.3% of its population over the age of 65, Phoenix’s percentage stood significantly lower, at 8.1%. Phoenix’s percentage of 18.8% in the next age group, 45-64 was also a great deal lower than the national average of 26.6%.[209]

In 2010, (the last year for nationally reported figures), Phoenix was at or below national levels for most reportable diseases, with the one exception of both Hepatitis A and B, where they were slightly over the national average (0.8 and 1.8 to 0.5 and 1.1%, respectively).[210]

In most major categories, Phoenix had a lower incidence of death than the rest of the nation. Only deaths due to Alzheimer’s (29.7 to 27.2 deaths per 100,000) and pre-natal conditions (5.3 to 3.8 deaths per 100,000) were slightly above the national average. Deaths due to HIV and liver disease were exactly at the national average of 2.5 and 10.8 respectively. However, in several major categories, Phoenix had significantly less indices of death. Deaths by cancer stood at only 57.3 of the national average of 184.6 deaths per 100,000; deaths due to diabetes at only 59.3% of the national rate of 48.1 per 100,000; and heart disease, 56.1% of the national rate of 249.8 per 100,000.[211] Cancer and heart disease were the two top causes of death in the country.[212]

Low weight births (7.5%) were below the national average of 8.1%, yet infant mortality (7.2%) was higher than the rest of the U.S. (6.1%). Births to teen mothers were significantly higher than the rest of the country, sitting at 12.2% as compared to 8.4% nationally.[209]

The Phoenix Metropolitan area is serviced by 56 hospitals and medical centers.[213] Some of the top ranked are:

Other top hospitals in the area are the two Scottsdale Healthcare Centers, Chandler Regional Medical Center, and Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Sign showing Phoenix's sister cities

The City of Phoenix joined the Sister City movement in 1972 with the creation of Phoenix Sister Cities (PSC). Seeking to develop understanding and better relationships with cities around the world, PSC filed for Articles of Incorporation in 1975 and signed their first Sister City agreement with Hermosillo, Mexico in 1976. The city has been a member of Sister Cities International since 2012. Currently Phoenix, has ten sister cities, as designated by the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission, shown in the table below.[220][221] Phoenix and Prague have shared a Capital Cities relationship since May 1991, which was expanded to Sister City Status in 2013.[220] In addition, although they are not official sister cities, Phoenix has cooperation agreements with Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Suceava in Romania[citation needed] aimed at promoting cooperation and sharing best practices between the cities.


See also[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]