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Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1864; Incorporated: 1881
Location: The Salt River Valley, south-central Arizona, United States, North America
Motto: Ditat Deus ("God enriches," state motto).
Flag: Design adopted in 1990 features stylized symbol of the mythical bird, the phoenix, on a dark purple field.
Flower: Blossom of the saguaro cactus (state flower)
Time Zone: 5 am Mountain Standard Time (MST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 91.2%; Black, 5.2%; American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, 1.9%; Asian and Pacific Islander,1.7%; Hispanic origin (may be of any race), 20%.
Elevation: 332 m (1,090 ft) above sea level. Phoenix is located on flat desert land.
Latitude and Longitude: 33°44'N, 112°07'W
Climate : Desert climate with warm temperatures and low rainfall and humidity; very little wind except for storms in July and August. Hot summers and mild winters, with an average of 211 days of sunshine annually, one of the nation's sunniest cities.
Annual Mean Temperature: 22°C (72°F); January 11°C (51°F); August 32°C (89°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: None
Average Annual Precipitation: 19.5 cm (7.66 in)
Government: Council-manager government
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone area codes: 602
Postal codes: 85001-85086

1. Introduction

When Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, was founded, its first settlers named it after a mythical beast that rises from the ashes, reflecting their hopes for the city that they rescued from decay by rebuilding a network of abandoned irrigation canals. People have always been drawn to the city by its year-round warm weather, sunny climate, and natural beauty, and in the twentieth century the development of air conditioning and the construction of major irrigation projects added to Phoenix's appeal. Long regarded as a magnet for retirees, Phoenix now attracts new residents of all ages and has been a major beneficiary of the wave of migration to the Sun Belt in recent decades. Its population today is 1.2 million and growing. It has become a leading commercial center of the Southwest, with a city government recognized as one of the nation's most effective.

2. Getting There

Phoenix, the city between southern Texas and California, is located in the Salt River Valley in south-central Arizona. The Superstition Mountains and a series of lakes form the city's eastern boundary, and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve encircles the city.


The major interstate highways running through Phoenix are I-10 (the Papago Freeway) and I-17 (the Black Canyon Freeway), which intersect in the city to form the Maricopa Freeway. (South of the city it becomes the Pima Freeway). State Route 89 (the Grand Avenue Expressway) enters the city from the northwest.

Bus and Railroad Service

Two Amtrak trains are available daily, and bus service is provided at the Greyhound/Trailways bus station on East Buckeye Road.


Phoenix has three airports, of which the major one is Sky Harbor International Airport, located five kilometers (three miles) southeast of downtown. The airport's ongoing series of art exhibits, arranged by the Phoenix Art Commission, has been copied by other airports around the country. More than 23 airlines operate flights into and out of the city. Nearly 28 million people annually arrive at and depart from Phoenix by air.


Phoenix benefits from its central location in relation to markets in Colorado, Utah, Texas, southern California, and Mexico, to which it is connected by a network of interstate highways. The city is served by more than 50 trucking companies, which provide commercial freight service to these and other locations. Two transcontinental rail lines provide rail freight service, and two airlinesAmerican and American Westprovide wide-body air cargo service.

Phoenix Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 1,246,712
Area: 1,225 sq km (473 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 20% Hispanic, 5.2% Black, 1.9%; American Indian, 1.7% Asian (minorities represented)
Nicknames: Valley of the Sun

Metropolitan Area

Population: 2,607,000
Description: Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona
Area: 37,747 sq km (14,574 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 119
Percentage of national population 2: 0.94%
Average yearly growth rate: 2.1% Ethnic composition: 91.4% white; 4% black; 2.2% Asian; approximately 20% Hispanic (may be of any race)

  1. The Phoenix metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

The streets in the central part of the city are laid out in a grid plan, with numbered streets and avenues running north-south, and east-west streets named after presidents of the United States (including Washington, Adams, and Jefferson). The core of the downtown area can be found between Glendale Avenue and Maricopa Freeway. The Squaw Peak Freeway, a 16-kilometer (ten-mile) artery that connects downtown Phoenix with its northern suburbs, is lined with giant sculpted versions of Indian utensils in a public arts project that has drawn mixed reactions from Phoenix residents.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Phoenix Transit System operates a fleet of 380 buses six days a week in the metropolitan area, and on weekdays only in Tempe and Mesa. The base fare is $1.25, and the average daily ridership is 112,400. The Reserve-a-Ride transportation program has served 196,000 elderly and disabled residents.


In addition to the major attractions in the city itself, sightseers can take day trips by bus or charter plane to the Grand Canyon and other regional attractions.

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Atlanta Cairo Rome Beijing
(United States) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 2,607,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 1864 AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $82 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $40 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $2 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs $124 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 1 13 20 11
Largest newspaper The Arizona Republic Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 435,330 1,159,450 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1890 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

4. People

In the decades following World War II (193945), Phoenix, together with other areas of the Southwest, enjoyed a dramatic population increase as residents of northern cities moved westward. Phoenix itself has a population of 1,246,712, up from 983,403 (487,589 males and 495,814 females) in 1990; its rank has risen from ninth-to sixth-largest city in the nation. The population of the Phoenix-Mesa Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was 2,238,498 in 1990, and an estimated 2,839,539 in 1997an increase of over 25 percentmaking it the fifteenth-largest MSA in the United States.

In 1990, minorities represented in Phoenix's population were Hispanics (20 percent), blacks (5.2 percent), American Indians (1.9 percent), and Asians (1.7 percent). As of 1996, the Phoenix-Mesa MSA was 91.4 percent white, four percent black, and 2.2 percent Asian. Hispanics (an ethnic category that crosses racial lines) make up about 20 percent of Phoenix's population. Because of its large Hispanic presence, Phoenix has traditionally been a heavily Catholic city. Catholics still make up between one-fourth and one-third of the population, although this percentage has been declining. The next largest denominations are the Church of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons (Phoenix has the nation's third-highest Mormon population), Southern Baptists, and United Methodists.

5. Neighborhoods

Phoenix and its suburbs form a 2,072-square-kilometer (800-square-mile) grid of north-south and east-west streets and avenues, surrounded by mountains and desert. Downtown Phoenix, the historic center of the city, is home to Arizona's capitol building, the Phoenix Civic Center, Heritage Square, and other important sites. A newer neighborhood, called "midtown" serves as an extension of the downtown, housing the city's main library, its art museum, and other museums, as well as office buildings.

Phoenix is the hub of a rapidly growing metropolitan area that includes 23 satellite towns, all located along the Salt River Valley. Relatively low housing costs contribute to the popularity of Phoenix. In 1990 the average value of a single home was $77,100, well below the national average. In addition, Phoenix's property taxes have been rated the ninth lowest in the nation by Money magazine.

A number of government and private groups oversee urban redevelopment, including the Central Phoenix Redevelopment Agency, Phoenix Community and Economic Development Administration, and Metro Phoenix Economic Development Consortium. Since the late 1980s, the city has carried out a $1.1 billion redevelopment program that has included construction of the Arizona Center and Mercado shopping complexes and the 18,000-seat America West Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns. The city has 7,364 federally assisted housing units.

6. History

Native Americans occupied the site of present-day Phoenix hundreds of years ago, building a thriving community between 700 and 1400, establishing an agriculture-based civilization in the dry land of the region by developing an irrigation system that included over 161 kilometers (100 miles) of canals. By the middle of the fifteenth century, this civilization had vanished, possibly decimated by an extended period of drought. Their Native American successors called them the Hohokam ("the people who have gone").

By the sixteenth century, Hispanic conquistadors had arrived in Arizona, introducing new agricultural techniques, as well as horses and cows. Over the following centuries, Europeans began settling in the region, drawn by mining and trading opportunities. The modern city of Phoenix had its beginnings in the late 1860s when a small group of settlers formed a colony in the area and began building canals on the site of the former Hohokam irrigation system. Because the new settlement was rising from the ashes of a former civilization, the name "Phoenix" was chosen for it in 1868. In 1881, its local government was changed from a village trustee system to one consisting of a mayor and a city council, and the city was incorporated. Its population was 2,500 at the time. Phoenix progressed rapidly. Within a decade it had a horse-drawn streetcar line and one of the earliest electric plants in the West, and the Southern Pacific railroad had arrived, promoting the economy of the growing city.

The completion of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam in 1911 was a milestone in Phoenix's history. The largest masonry dam in the world, it was also the first dam constructed to supply both water and electricity. The following year, Arizona became a state, and Phoenix became its capital. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, the city's population grew from approximately 5,000 to 29,000 as Phoenix began to make the transition to a modern city. In addition to the railroad and the Roosevelt Dam, a third technological advancethe development of air conditioningplayed an important role in the city's continued growth. World War II (193945) brought large numbers of men to military bases in the area and contributed to the growth of industry, which rapidly replaced agriculture as the most important sector in the city's economy.

In the postwar decades, Phoenix prospered, growing more rapidly than ever. Since 1950, the city's population has risen from 106,000 to 1.2 million, the seventh largest in the nation, and Phoenix has become the leading southwestern center for business and industry. In the 1990s, it experienced yet another in a series of population booms, as a number of Californians moved to the area. Although Phoenix has inevitably experienced some of the disadvantages of rapid growth, including urban sprawl and air pollution, its city government has been recognized as one of the most effective in the nation and is committed to maintaining the quality of life for its residents as the city's growth continues into the twenty-first century.

7. Government

Phoenix government is structured as a council-manager system, with eight council members who are elected to four-year terms. The mayor is also elected to a four-year term. Phoenix's municipal government has been widely recognized for its effective city management. In 1993 the city shared the Carl Bertelsmann Prize, an international prize for well-run local government, with Christchurch, New Zealand.

8. Public Safety

Phoenix has 2,320 sworn police officers and 1,138 sworn firefighters. The city is divided into six police precincts. In 1997 a total of 124,884 crimes were reported to police, down from 131,628 the previous year. Violent crimes accounted for 11,386 calls, and property crimes 103,306. Numbers for individual types of crime included arson, 116; homicide, 229; sexual assault, 825; robbery, 3,806; and burglary, 39,905.

9. Economy

With continuous population growth and an abundance of land and water, Phoenix has a thriving economy. In the decades since World War II, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism have all played a major role in Phoenix's economy, creating jobs to keep pace with the city's growing population. Industries include agricultural chemicals, aircraft parts, electronic equipment, radios, air-conditioning equipment, leather goods, and Native American crafts.

Most recently, the high-technology and service sectors have also moved to the forefrontretail trade and services account for close to half of all employment in the city. More than 40 companies have corporate headquarters in Phoenix. Service-sector companies with headquarters in the city include Ramada, Best Western, Greyhound, and U-Haul. Financial services companies with a corporate presence in the city include Wells Fargo Bank, Chase Bank, American Express, Discover Card Services, and Bank of America.

10. Environment

Phoenix has experienced some of the problems associated with urban growth, including air pollution. In 1995 Phoenix was among the cities failing to meet national ambient air quality standards for carbon monoxide and ozone for at least a few days of the year.

The city of Phoenix collects 514,382 metric tons (567,000 tons) of solid waste annually and handles 395,887 metric tons (436,383 tons) as part of recycling programs in which 100,000 households participate. The city operates five water treatment plants, treating 270 billion liters (71.3 billion gallons) of wastewater annually.

11. Shopping

In addition to the standard department stores and specialty shops, Phoenix offers stores specializing in regional items, including Western-style clothing, copper products, Native American crafts, and leather crafts. The Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix has some 500 shops and restaurants on two levels, as well as a one-hectare (three-acre) garden area; live entertainment also performs in the evenings. Also downtown, the Town and Country Shopping Center (Arizona's first open-air mall) has about 70 shops, eateries, and service providers spread throughout an attractive setting with fountains and red brick sidewalks. The exclusive Biltmore Fashion Park features such nationwide chains as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, and Ann Taylor, as well as a variety of smaller clothing, jewelry, and specialty shops. Other downtown shopping centers include the Tower Plaza Mall and the award-winning Colonade Mall.

A unique shopping experience is provided by the Mercado, a two-block-long complex of commercial buildings adjacent to the Phoenix Civic Plaza that is modeled on a traditional Mexican village. The colorful buildings and courtyards of this Mexican-theme mall and cultural center house shops featuring Mexican arts, crafts, and clothing, as well as Mexican restaurants. A variety of specialty items can be found at the gift shops of the Phoenix Art Museum and the Desert Botanical Garden. Once a week farmers from the region come to sell their produce at the farmers' market in the courtyard of Heritage Square, and American Park 'N Swapthe largest outdoor flea market in the Southwestis open for business all weekend and two days a week.

12. Education

Phoenix has over 20 public school districts, with individual superintendents and school boards; altogether they operate more than 400 schools. The city's largest school district, the Phoenix Union High School District, had 15 schools in the 199596 school year, with a total enrollment of 21,083 students. The Phoenix-Mesa metropolitan statistical area had a public school enrollment of 443,053 in 199495, up 12.6 percent from 199192. The region has a large magnet school program that offers intensive study in a variety of fields. There are 63 Head Start classroom sites in Phoenix, with 126 classrooms.

Institutions of higher education in Phoenix include Grand Canyon University, a campus of Arizona State University, Phoenix College, DeVry Institute of Technology, Maricopa Community Colleges, Phoenix Institute of Technology, and South Mountain College. Maricopa Community Colleges is the country's second-largest community college system.

13. Health Care

Health care plays an important part in Phoenix's economy, employing over 33,000 people in the greater metropolitan region. The Phoenix-Mesa metropolitan statistical area had 3,927 office-based physicians in 1995. Phoenix's largest hospital is St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, with 629 beds. Other facilities include the world-renowned Barrow Neurological Institute, Arizona State Hospital, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Phoenix Children's Hospital, Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix Indian Medical Center, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.3

14. Media

Phoenix has two major daily newspapers: The Arizona Republic (morning) and The Phoenix Gazette (evening), as well as about 50 other daily and weekly publications. Also published in Phoenix are the Phoenix Magazine and Arizona Highways. The city has eight commercial television stations, one public television station, and several cable outlets, as well as 27 am and FM radio stations, some of which broadcast in Spanish.

15. Sports

Phoenix is home to the National Basketball Association's Phoenix Suns, who play at the America West Arena; the National Football League's Phoenix Cardinals; the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes; and the International Hockey Leagues' Phoenix Roadrunners, as well as baseball's Triple-A Firebirds. An expansion baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, was launched in 1998. In addition, Arizona State University fields Sun Devils teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Other spectator sports include auto racing at the Phoenix International Race-way and the Manzanita Speedway, horse racing at Turf Paradise, and greyhound racing at Phoenix Greyhound Park.

Phoenix is also the site of the following annual sporting events: five golf tournaments, including the Phoenix Open and the LPGA Turquoise Classic; the Formula One Grand Prix auto race; and the Phoenix Jaycees' Rodeo of Rodeos.

Almost ten major league baseball teams hold spring training in Phoenix and play exhibition games in March and early April.

16. Parks and Recreation

Phoenix's parks, including Mountains Preserve, are comprised of 12,319 hectares (30,441 acres). Reportedly the nation's largest city park at 6,475 hectares (16,000 acres), South Mountain Park provides a scenic view of the city and offers hiking trails and horseback riding. There is a boat lagoon at Encanto Park, which is located at 15th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard. The Margaret T. Hance Deck Park, part of the ongoing improvements to the downtown area, is a 12-hectare (29-acre) strip of land between Third Street and Third Avenue with fountains, wooded areas, and a Japanese garden (a gesture toward Phoenix's sister city of Hemeji, Japan). Other parks in the Phoenix area include Papago Park, Squaw Peak Recreation Area, Estrella Mountain Regional Park, and White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

Phoenix has 663 kilometers (412 miles) of bicycle paths, 141 municipal tennis courts, 27 municipal swimming pools, and five municipal golf courses. Together, Phoenix and the surrounding Salt River Valley area have over 140 golf courses and more than 1,000 tennis and racquetball courts. Water sports are played at a variety of natural and artificial lakes in the region. Other outdoor activities enjoyed year round in the Phoenix area include hiking, mountain climbing, camping, and horseback riding.

The Phoenix Zoo, situated on a hilly site covering 51 hectares (125 acres), houses over 1,300 animals, representing 300 different species both from the region and throughout the world, and including 150 animals classified as endangered. The animals are maintained in open settings that are as close as possible to their natural habitats, including facsimiles of mountains, rain forests, grasslands, and deserts. There is also a petting zoo for children.

The Desert Botanical Garden displays over 2,000 species of desert plants, situated along a 2.4-kilometer (1.5-mile) trail.

17. Performing Arts

The performing arts are well represented in Phoenix and enhanced by the completion in 1989 of the downtown Herberger Theater Center, next door to the Phoenix Civic Plaza Convention Center. The complex houses the 820-seat Center Stage and the 330-seat Stage West. The Phoenix Symphony performs both classical and pops concerts at Symphony Hall, which seats 1,400. The Phoenix Little Theatre, the city's oldest theater company, was founded in 1920 and has operated continuously since that time. Theater groups that perform in the new theaters of the Herberger complex include the Arizona Theatre Company, Black Theater Troupe, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, Aurora Mime Theatre, and Musical Theater of Arizona. Phoenix is also home to the Centre Dance Ensemble and Opera Musical Theatre. The Arizona Opera also performs regularly in Phoenix, and a variety of touring artists appear at the Phoenix Desert Sky Pavilion, Celebrity Theatre, and Grammage Auditorium. The newly restored 1929 Spanish baroque-revival Orpheum Theatre is a showcase for the performing arts as well as civic events.

18. Libraries and Museums

Phoenix's first library, housed in two rooms of a building, was launched at the turn of the century, thanks to the efforts of the Phoenix Library Association, formed in 1899. Today the Phoenix Public Library has a collection totaling 1.8 million book volumes, as well as publications and other media. It has a main building downtown, and 11 neighborhood branches throughout the city. Altogether, Phoenix has more than 50 libraries of all types, including university libraries and research centers.

The Phoenix Art Museum displays artworks by American, European, and Asian artists. Its permanent collection consists of some 18,000 objects, and it is noted particularly for its collections of Asian and Latin American art, and eighteenth-century French painting. The museum of the Arizona Historical Society offers interactive exhibits focusing on the history of central Arizona and includes life-size re-creations of stores and other buildings from the city's early days. The Heard Museum of Anthropology and Primitive Art features an outstanding collection focusing on regional Native American cultures. Displayed are artifacts ranging from prehistory to the present, including tools, clothing, weapons, and Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni crafts.

The Phoenix Hall of Flame is a fire-fighting museum with one of the world's most extensive collections of fire-fighting gear, gathered from all over the world and ranging from horse-drawn equipment to state-of-the-art computerized dispatch systems. Other museums in the Phoenix area include the Phoenix Museum of History; the Arizona Museum of Science and Technology, an interactive museum geared primarily toward children; Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum; Cave Creek Museum; Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum; Arizona Military Museum; the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park, which focuses on archaeology and the history of the Hohokam Indians, the first known inhabitants of present-day Phoenix; and the Plotkin Judaica Museum. The Arizona Hall of Fame, located in downtown Phoenix, honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the state.

Historic artifacts are on view in four turn-of-the-century homes located in Heritage Square: the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum, the Silva House, the Stevens-Haustgen House (home of the Pueblo Grande Museum described above), and the Rosson House, which features an exceptional collection of period furniture.

19. Tourism

Visitors from many areas have long been drawn to Phoenix's dry, sunny climate and its year-round warm weather, making tourism one of the city's top sources of income and the state's second-largest source of employment. Phoenix receives almost ten million visitors a year from the United States and Canada. Visits by Japanese tourists were boosted with the introduction of direct flights to and from Tokyo in 1991, and European tourism was increased when direct flights to and from London were started in 1996. The city has 83 hotels and resorts, with a total of 21,272 rooms. Phoenix has become an increasingly popular convention site in the past two decades, with convention attendees accounting for almost 40 percent of all visitors to the city. With a total seating capacity of more than 29,000, the 31,586-square-meter (340,00-square-foot) Civic Plaza and Convention Center is Phoenix's major convention facility. Other convention venues include Veterans Memorial Coliseum at Arizona State University.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Arizona Stock Show & Rodeo
Copper World Classic Auto Racing
Fiesta Bowl
Phoenix Open Golf Tournament

ARR Desert Classic Marathon
Fountain Hills Festival of Arts & Crafts
Fountain Hills Great Fair
Lost Dutchman Days

Arizona's Cactus League Spring Training
Chandler Ostrich Festival
Indy Racing League Phoenix 200
Scottsdale Arts Festival

Easter Pageant
Maricopa County Fair
Music by Moonlight Concert Series
Southwest Salsa Challenge

Cinco de Mayo Festival
Peach Festival
Queen Creek Potato Festival

July Fourth Festivities

Coors Light World Finals Drag Boat Racing
Cowboy Artists of America Exhibition

French Week in Arizona
Holiday Out West Arts & Crafts Festival
Hot Air Balloon Race & Thunderbird Balloon Classic

Electro Magic
Pueblo Grande Indian Market
Tumbleweed Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

21. Famous Citizens

Joan Ganz Cooney (b. 1929), television producer.

Barry Goldwater (190998), U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate.

Stevie (Stephanie) Nicks (b. 1948), musician, member of the rock band Fleetwood Mac.

Mare Winningham (b. 1959), singer and actress.

22. For Further Study


DigitalCity WebGuide Phoenix. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

The "Phoenix." [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Phoenix City Hall. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Phoenix City Net. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Phoenix Guide. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Phoenix Online. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Phoenix & Valley of the Sun Convention & Visitors Bureau. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Government Offices

Mayor's Office
200 W. Washington St., 11th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phoenix City Hall
200 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phoenix Community & Economic Development
200 W. Washington St., 11th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Phoenix Civic Plaza Convention Center
225 E. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Phoenix and Valley of the Sun Convention & Visitors Bureau
400 E. Van Buren
1 Arizona Center, Suite 600
Phoenix, AZ 85004


Arizona Business Guide
P.O. Box 194
Phoenix, AZ 85001

Arizona Republic
P.O. Box 1950
Phoenix, AZ 85001

Phoenix Magazine
5555 N. 7th Ave., Suite B200
Phoenix, AZ 85013


Arizona Atlas and Gazetteer. Freeport, ME: De Lorme Mapping, 1993.

Atchison, Sterwart, and Bruce Grubbs. The Hiker's Guide to Arizona. Helena, MT: Falcon Press Publishing, 1991.

Dolainski, Stephen. Hidden Arizona. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press, 1997.

Freeman, Roger, and Ethel Freeman. Day Hikes and Trail Rides In and Around Phoenix. Phoenix, AZ: 1991.

Johnson, G. Wesley. Phoenix, Valley of the Sun. Tulsa, OK: Continental Heritage Press, 1982.

Johnson, G. Wesley, ed. Phoenix in the Twentieth Century: Essays in Community History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

Luckingham, Bradford. Phoenix: The History of a Southwestern Metropolis. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989.

Trimble, Marshall. Roadside History of Arizona. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Co., 1996.


A Tour of Phoenix and the State of Arizona. [video-recording] Memphis, TN: City Productions Home Video, 1996.

views updated

Phoenix: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Manufacturing and tourism, traditionally the base of the city's economy, continue to be important to Phoenix. Major industrial products manufactured by companies located in the metropolitan area include aircraft parts, electronic equipment, agricultural chemicals, radios, air-conditioning equipment, leather goods, and native American crafts.

Tourism is an especially vital part of the economy. With more than 10 million visitors from the throughout the United States and Canada annually visiting for the warm weather and sunshine in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix continues to be an important resort center. Flights from Phoenix travel to 89 locations within the United States and 17 cities internationally including destinations in Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Mexico, India, and Canada. The airport is constantly seeking to improve its facilities as is demonstrated by the nearly 80 ongoing slated projects costing an upwards of $600 million.

As the result of the population boom, the economy of Phoenix has taken on new dimensions in recent decades by moving into technology and service industries. Tourism and business services in particular now account for nearly 77 percent of the area's total employment. Another sector of growth has been financial services and banking as several significant processing and/or regional headquarters operations call Phoenix home: American Express, Chase Bank, Bank of America, Discover Card Services, and Wells Fargo Bank. High technology and aerospace firms hold a considerable share of the manufacturing jobs throughout the state (56 percent).

Population and economic growth have made Phoenix the center of the state's economy. More than a third of the state's entire labor force works in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Further, many Fortune 500 companies operate within the area such as Boeing, Bank of America, Time Warner Telecom, IBM, and Intel.

Items and goods produced: aircraft and aircraft parts, electronic equipment, steel castings and fabrications, flour, boxes, agricultural chemicals, aluminum products, radios, mobile homes, air conditioning machinery, creamery products, beer, liquor, saddles and leather goods, apparel, native American and Mexican novelties

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Funding and assistance for business development in Phoenix are available through the Business Development Finance Corporation, Southwestern Business Financing Corp., the Phoenix Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), and the Arizona Commerce and Economic Development Commission.

Local programs

Employers locating facilities in the 100-square-mile City of Phoenix Enterprise Zone (COPEZ), as designated by the Arizona Department of Commerce, can earn state corporate income tax credit for each net new job created in the zone. Tax credits can total up to $3,000 per hire (with a maximum of 200 annually) over a three-year period. The city of Phoenix is the administrator of Foreign Trade Zone #75, which allows companies to reduce or defer payment of customs duties on imported products; companies operating in the zone can benefit from an 80 percent reduction in real and personal property tax. EXPAND (Expansion Assistance and Development Program) was formed to facilitate a growing company's need for funds to acquire capital.

State programs

Arizona has a favorable tax structure for businesses, collecting no corporate franchise tax; in addition, business inventories are exempt from property taxes. The State of Arizona has adopted a four-year accelerated depreciation schedule for certain personal property devoted to any commercial or industrial use. There are weight-distance tax exemptions and transaction privilege tax re-funds for the motion picture industry, and exemptions from taxation for secured and unsecured personal property relating to construction work in progress. Qualified employers that provide technical training for their employees are eligible for the Technology Training Tax Credit.

Job training programs

The Arizona Legislature has allocated $7 million for the administration of the Arizona Work Force Development and Job Training program, targeted at new and existing businesses. Funds are available on a grant basis and range from $2,000 to $5,000 per job. In addition, Arizona State University and the Maricopa Community College district work with area employers to maintain continuing education programs for local workers.

Development Projects

A rapidly growing young city, Phoenix has required more recent construction activities than more mature cities. The first phase of a $600-million construction project for the Phoenix Civic Plaza will, once all three phases are complete, boost the plaza's national rank from 67th to the top 25 by tripling its size. One new research institute (Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN) was built in the downtown area for $46 million while another large facility opened in late 2004 on the campus of Arizona State University.

Economic Development Information: City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Office, 200 W. Washington St., 20th Fl., Phoenix AZ 85003; telephone (602)262-5040; fax (602)495-5097

Commercial Shipping

Phoenix is located at the center of market areas stretching along interstate highways from southern California to western Texas, Colorado, Utah, and Mexico. More than 50 companies provide motor freight service. Rail service is available from two transcontinental rail lines. The Phoenix metropolitan area economy benefits from air cargo service through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where American Airlines and American West provide wide-body freight service.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The local labor force is described as young, plentiful, and well-educated. Arizona consistently ranks in the top five growth states, and workers are attracted by the quality of life to be enjoyed. A right-to-work state, Arizona has union membership of 3.6 percent in the private sector.

In March 2005 Manpower, Inc.'s employment outlook survey indicated that 36 percent of employers in the greater Phoenix area intend to expand their workforce in nearly all major categories including construction, durable goods manufacturing, transportation, trade, and finance. This exceeds the national average of 30 percent. In fact, the Arizona Department of Economic Security reported the area's labor force growth as 7.2 percent in 20032004 (with 1.8 million workers in 2004) while the national level was 0.6 percent. Growth is expected to top 550,000 jobs by 2012 with significant gains in the professional, service, and technical fields.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan area non-agricultural labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 1,674,800

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 2,000

construction: 140,000

manufacturing: 130,500

trade, transportation, and utilities: 339,600

information: 35,700

financial activities: 137,400

professional and business services: 270,900

educational and health services: 172,600

leisure and hospitality: 160,500

other services: 64,200

government: 220,900

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.84

Unemployment rate: 4.0% (January 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
State of Arizona 50,363
Wal-Mart 18,677
Banner Health Systems 13,756
Maricopa County 13,482
City of Phoenix 13,095
Honeywell International Inc. 12,000
U.S. Postal Service 11,406
Wells Fargo Company 11,000
Arizona State University 10,005
Albertson's-Osco 9,500

Cost of Living

The cost of living for the area is below that of the national average according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Phoenix boasts affordable new and existing housing, with median-range homes at costs below the national average as reported by the Arizona State University Real Estate Center in April 2004.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Phoenix area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $254,751

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 99.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.87% to 5.04%

State sales tax rate: 5.6% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.4% plus 0.7% county rate

Property tax rate: Varies by school district. The 2004 average was $16.95 per $100 of assessed valuation

Economic Information: Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Two N. Central Ave., Ste. 2500, Phoenix, AZ 85004; telephone (602)256-7700 or (800)421-4732; fax (602)256-7744; email [email protected]

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Phoenix: Recreation


A visitor to the Phoenix metropolitan area will find many sights and attractions, some of them related to frontier history and the natural beauty of Salt River Valley. A principal attraction in Phoenix since 1939 is the Desert Botanical Garden on 50 acres of Papago Park, containing 10,000 desert plants that represent half of the 1,800 existing species of cactus. Also located in Papago Park is the Phoenix Zoo, a privately funded, non-profit zoo, where 1,200 animals are exhibited.

Historic Heritage Square near downtown is a city block of restored Victorian houses preserved as replicas of homes in the late 1800s and converted into museums, shops, and restaurants; a highlight is the elegant Rosson House. Also downtown is the National Native American Cooperative, which features dancers, foods and crafts, and a monthly Indian market October through May. In neighboring Scottsdale is Taliesin West, a national historic landmark built as the desert home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Scottsdale is also the site of Rawhide, a replica of a 1880s western town that offers a variety of activities, including stagecoach and burro rides, a petting zoo, and stunt shows. Located in nearby Tempe is Big Surf, "Arizona's ocean."

Old West-style entertainment, such as stagecoach rides, covered wagon campfire circles, and simulated gunfighter shoot-outs, is available to groups by reservation through various commercial enterprises in the area. Scenic day trips to the Grand Canyon and other sights near metropolitan Phoenix are provided by several bus and airplane charter services. Encanto Park is the home of the Enchanted Island Amusement Park with a variety of rides geared for the younger set.

Arts and Culture

Phoenix has a vital performing arts community, which was enriched with the 1989 opening of the Herberger Theatre Center. Located downtown next to the Phoenix Civic Plaza Convention Center and Symphony Hall, the complex is designed to augment existing cultural facilities. The Herberger Theater is used primarily for music, dance, and dramatic performances and includes an art gallery.

The Phoenix Center Youth Theatre, CityJazz, Dance Phoenix, and the Phoenix Children's Chorus call the Phoenix Center for the Arts their home. A variety of theater and drama, including amateur, professional, children/family-oriented, and experimental productions, is offered by companies in the Phoenix area. Founded in 1920, the Phoenix Theatre Little Theater is one of the oldest continuously running companies in the country. The Arizona Theatre Company, based in Phoenix, is in residence at the Herberger Theater Center and offers about 25 weeks of performances. Other local troupes include Childsplay, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, and Centre Dance Ensemble.

Housed in Symphony Hall, the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra performs an extensive classical repertoire and presents pops concerts with well-known guest artists. Phoenix hosts the state's professional ballet company and other international dance companies. The Arizona Opera also gives regular performances for Phoenix area audiences. Touring artists perform at the America West Arena, Celebrity Theatre, Gammage Auditorium, and the Cricket Pavilion.

More than 40 museums and 150 art galleries in the Phoenix area offer a range of educational and cultural experiences. The Arizona Hall of Fame Museum, opened in 1902, honors people who have contributed to Arizona heritage. Featuring the history of central Arizona, the Arizona Historical Society Museum includes replications of old-time shops and stores. The family-oriented Shemer Art Center and Museum presents primarily local and state artists. The Arizona Science Center provides interactive exhibits for children and adults in such areas as energy, life science, and health. The Hall of Flame Fire Fighting Museum houses the world's most extensive collection of fire-fighting apparatus, equipment, and memorabilia. Anthropological exhibits, fine arts, and historic arts of Native American cultures of the Southwest are specialties at the Heard Museum, which boasts 18,000 works of art and artifacts. The Phoenix Art Museum contains a permanent collection of 17,000 objects focusing on European, American, Western American, Latin American, and Asian arts and costume design. Owned and operated by artisan members, the Craftsmen's Cooperative Gallery at Heritage Square features handmade arts and crafts.

Festivals and Holidays

Highlights from the Phoenix special events calendar include the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Football Classic, which opens the year with a game between two of the country's best collegiate teams on New Year's Day at Sun Devil Stadium. Also held in January are the Arizona National Livestock Show (since 1948) and the Parada del Sol Parade and Rodeo.

The Heard Museum Guild Annual Indian Fair and Market takes place in March, featuring Native American culture. Also in March is the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Family Fare. The Desert Botanical Garden's Annual Cactus and Succulent Show and Sale is offered in April. In May the Cinco de Mayo festival celebrates the 1862 Mexican victory over the French with various activities throughout the Phoenix area. The Arizona State Fair, billed as one of the most successful in the nation, takes place in October and November. The fall also brings the Way Out West Oktoberfest. The year ends with the APS Fiesta of Light Parade and Victorian Holiday Celebration, two December celebrations of the holiday season in downtown Phoenix. During the final week of the month the Fiesta Bowl events precede the New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl game with the Pageant of Bands, the Fiesta Bowl Parade, and sports and cultural events.

Sports for the Spectator

Phoenix fields teams in all major league sports. The city is home to two professional basketball teams, the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association, and the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association, both of which play their games at the America West Arena. Professional football is represented by the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals and the Arena Football League's Rattlers while professional hockey is represented by the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes and the East Coast Hockey League's Phoenix Roadrunners. In 1998 the major league baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, were formed and began play at Bank One Ball Park, built especially for them. In 2001 the expansion team defeated the powerhouse New York Yankees to capture their first World Series crown.

From March through early April, exhibition baseball games are held nearly every day by the 12 major league baseball teams that hold spring training in Phoenix at the Cactus League games. Other popular sporting events are polo matches and greyhound, horse, and auto racing. The Phoenix Greyhound Park features greyhound races year round, and Turf Paradise schedules thoroughbred racing from September through May. The Phoenix International Raceway, built in 1964, boasts the world's fastest one-mile oval paved track for auto racing, and the Manzanita Speedway holds Sprint, midget, and stockcar races.

Annual sporting events in the Phoenix area include professional golf tournaments, such as the FBR Open, with about 500,000 attendees, and the LPGA Safeway International at the Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club; the Formula One Grand Prix auto race in April; and World Championship Tennis.

Sports for the Participant

Phoenix's consistently warm climate permits such year-round outdoor activities as camping, backpacking, hiking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing, skating, tennis, and golf. In metropolitan Phoenix and the surrounding valley area, there are more than 1,100 tennis and racquetball courts, more than 190 championship golf courses (many designed by golfing legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus), and many natural and man-made lakes and waterways with facilities for a variety of water sports. Contained within the city limits is South Mountain Regional Park, said to be the largest municipal park in the world, which offers horseback riding, hiking trails, and a view of the city. Three snow skiing resorts are within traveling distance of the city.

Shopping and Dining

Retail establishments in Phoenix range from large malls and shopping centersincluding several downtownthat feature nationally known department stores to small specialty shops offering products made by local artists and craftsmen. Located downtown the Arizona Center is a uniquely landscaped mall on three acres of land. Close to the center city is Biltmore Fashion Park, a collection of exclusive and stores anchored by Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Nearby is Town & Country Shopping Center, considered Arizona's original open-air mall; two blocks away is Tower Plaza Mall. Located in the northeast sector of the city is Colonnade Mall, winner of the International Council of Shopping Centers "Beauty of Design" award. A variety of shops in metropolitan Phoenix specialize in such items as native American arts and crafts, products made from Arizona copper, leather crafts, and Western apparel.

Restaurants in Phoenix have become more sophisticated with the city's growth and prosperity. They offer a variety of cuisines, including traditional American, Italian, Continental, Oriental, and French. Specialties are Southwestern and Mexican dishes with an emphasis on regional foods such as chilies, jicama, local game, and citrus. A popular attraction is Rustler's Roost, a landmark and one of the busiest dining establishments west of the Mississippi. With a scenic mountaintop view of the surrounding area, the restaurant features a mineshaft entrance and walls decorated with the brands of local cattle ranches. Selected by Food and Wine magazine as Distinguished Restaurants of North America were Different Point of View, Le Orangerie, and Vincent Guerithault on Camelback.

Visitor Information: Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau, 400 E. Van Buren St., Ste. 600, Phoenix, AZ 85004; telephone (602)254-6500; fax (602)253-4415; email [email protected]

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Electronic pop group

Although they sing in English and their band name is distinctly American, the quartet of Phoenix hails from Versailles, France. With three self-produced studio albums behind them, Phoenix has created a distinctive sound that is as contemporary and French as it is retro and universal. "Phoenix is the guilty pleasure made chic, a formal appreciation of '70s and '80s retro-pop that is often banished from the palettes of music intellectualists," wrote Zeth Lundy on Although Phoenix's music is catchy and rooted in guitar-based pop, much like their French compatriots Tahiti 80 and Air, Phoenix's unwillingness to tour and their slightly schticky soft-rock synthesizers and abundant studio effects have made Phoenix a much-loved but little known band. Phoenix guitarist Christian Mazzalai described their unique sound in an interview with Roman Coppola in Index as, "We aim to write great melodies and disrupt them with strange elements from different styles. We meld together sounds from hip-hop, country, rock, you name it."

High school friends in Versailles, France, Deck d'Arcy and Thomas Mars started making music together when they were both around 11. They wrote and recorded their own songs at home. When he was 16, Christian Mazzalai, who went to the same school, saw similarities in Thomas and Deck. "We were the only people at school who'd heard of My Bloody Valentine, so we became friends immediately," Christian said in Index. Years later, the trio started Phoenix as a studio project, making mostly electronic music on their keyboards. After Laurent joined Phoenix in 1994, the group intended on being a studio project. In 1999 Phoenix released their first single, "Heatwave," a disco-flavored electronic track.

When Phoenix began work on was what to be their debut full-length album, they made a lasting decision to produce their own albums. "The four of us really identify with the Beatles and their producer George Martin," Thomas said in Index. "And like the Beatles, we really thrive in the studio. We produce everything ourselves because we never want to lose control of what we've created. We want to be more of a studio band than a live band." Deck also admitted in Index that the reason they sing in English and not French was because, "Honestly, we're lazy. It's very hard to make our music sound good in French. Every language has its own rhythm, its own sound chemistry. And French just doesn't work for our songs."

Phoenix signed a deal with American label Astralwerks, who released their debut United in 2000. commented, "Without batting an eyelash, Phoenix combines chunky metal riffs with jazzy drumming, shifts into a white soul-flavored disco groove, and surrounds it all with production that rings the studio texture of Steely Dan and Hall & Oates into the contemporary dance age. United is one of the most confoundingly brilliant debuts of the year." The Village Voice's Hobey Echlin remarked, "United is best at its most utopian and unashamedly reactionary, a succession of good times hopelessly dependent on recalling other good times, right down to the band reaching back into discredited if not forgotten music made before they were born."

After the release of United, Phoenix did very little touring overseas and only touched U.S. soil a few times. In 2000, the group filmed a trio of music videos for United's singles including the infectious "Too Young" and the country/disco/hard rock/electronic wonderment "Funky Square Dance," the latter directed by Roman Coppola. The band's relationship with Roman also included one with his sister and fellow director Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides), a partnership that would continue throughout their career. For Sofia's 2003 movie Lost in Translation, the Phoenix track "Too Young" was played a prominent scene in the Oscar winning film and included on the popular soundtrack. Before the buzz of Lost in Translation, few in the U.S. knew about Phoenix. "It's better than being in an advertisement, I think," Thomas told "For us, a French band, it was the best way to be discovered, because massive radio won't play you unless you're living here and building something all the time."

For their follow-up album, Phoenix worked on batches of songs for over two years in a basement recording studio in France. The band wanted their sophomore record to be a bit more personal lyrically and sonically; they succeeded beyond their hopes with the 2004 release of Alphabetical. Still high off Lost in Translation, and the critical praise of Alphabetical, the U.S. finally began to take notice of Phoenix. Interview magazine called Alphabetical, "An inspired piece of retrofuturistic rock art. Phoenix are like children run amok in a musical candy store, grabbing handfuls of everything they sample-plucky folk verses, hammering hip-hop basslines, stuttering country riffs, and 1970s synth licks. This is about as good as creative kitsch gets."

Besides a few odd shows in North America, most Phoenix fans in the U.S. had never seen the band perform live, which made the release of Live! Thirty Days Ago, a bit of a mystery. In early 2005 Astralwerks put out a collection of live performances from Phoenix's 2004 Scandinavian tour. The album finally gave fans in North America a taste of what the band was like live, which was quite different from their multi-layered studio songs. "The idea of doing a live album was like a guilty pleasure for us," Mars recalled to Eye Weekly's Jason Anderson, "But there were so many misunderstandings about our band and so many people who saw us live understood much more about us. It made sense to do this, even if it seems really strange to be making a live album after only two records." Live, Phoenix is more of a rock 'n' roll band than their albums would suggest and the band finally scheduled a (very) small string of North American tour dates to support the live album.

Contradicting their first two albums, for their third studio record, Phoenix made an album that sounded more like their live shows; more contemporary, much more accessible and guitar based. In the spring of 2006 came It's Never Been Like That, a record that rivaled the crunchy guitars and pop-rock melodies of The Strokes. Soon after the album's release, Thomas and his girlfriend Sofia Coppola announced they were expecting a child. Thomas and the other members of Phoenix also recorded a song and appeared in Sofia's 2006 film Marie Antoinette.

Selected discography

United, Astralwerks, 2000.
(Contributor) Lost in Translation (soundtrack), Emperor Norton, 2003.
Alphabetical, Astralwerks, 2004.
Live! Thirty Days Ago, Astralwerks, 2005.
It's Never Been Like That, Astralwerks, 2006.

For the Record …

Members include Laurent Brancowitz, guitar; Deck d'Arcy, bass; Thomas Mars, vocals; Christian Mazzalai, guitar.

Group formed in Versailles, France, c. 1993; released debut single, "Heatwave," 1999; signed to Astralwerks Records, released United, 2000; contributed to Lost in Translation film soundtrack, 2003; released Alphabetical, 2004; released Live! Thirty Days Ago, 2005; released It's Never Been Like That, 2006; appeared in film Marie Antoinette, 2006.

Addresses: Record company—Astralwerks Records, 104 W. 20th St., 4th Fl., New York, NY 10001. Website—Phoenix Official Website:



Eye Weekly (Toronto, Ontario), April 7, 2005.

Index, June/July 2004.

Interview, September 2004.

Nylon, September 2004.

Village Voice, October 25, 2000.


Internet Movie Database, (June 30, 2006).

"Interview with vocalist Thomas Mars and bassist Deck D'Arcy,", (June 30, 2006).

"Phoenix Live,", (June 30, 2006).

Phoenix Official Website, (June 30, 2006).

"United," Pitchfork Media, (June 30, 2006).

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Phoenix: History

Native Americans Removed to Make Way for White Settlers

The city of Phoenix stands on the site of a prehistoric settlement built by Native Americans, the Hohokam tribe, who had established a thriving culture but who vanished without a trace around 1450 A.D. Thought to be the ancestors of the Pima"Hohokam" means "those who have gone" in Pimathe Hohokam had constructed a sophisticated system of irrigation canals, many of which are still in use today, that remain as evidence of their existence.

Permanent resettlement of the Hohokam site did not come until the late 1860s; in the interim the area shared the history of the rest of the state. Hispanic conquistadors invaded Arizona in the 1500s in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola, bringing with them cattle, horses, and new agricultural methods. They were followed by miners, traders, and farmers whose presence was tolerated by the Native Americans until the 1850s, when it became apparent that the white settlers were encroaching on their land. Battles between the settlers and the tribes brought intervention by the U.S. military and the tribes were eventually confined to reservations.

City Thrives as Trade Center; Irrigation Aids Farms, Industry

In 1864 a U.S. Army post, a supply camp for nearby Camp McDowell, was set up on the ruins of the Hohokam settlement. Then in 1867 the Hohokam's irrigation canals were rebuilt by two settlers, one of whom called the place "Phoenix." He predicted that, like the mythical phoenix bird rising from its own ashes, a great city would emerge from the ruins. Incorporated in 1881, Phoenix rapidly developed into a major trading center with the building of the railroad in 1887 and became the capital of the Arizona territory in 1889; it was named the capital of the state of Arizona in 1912.

Phoenix gained a reputation as a rowdy frontier town because of its saloons, gambling palaces, and general outlaw atmosphere. Law and order were restored by the turn of the century, however, and Phoenix entered a new phase. The railroad, bringing settlers from throughout the country, established an immigration pattern that has continued steadily without interruption; during the three decades following World War II, for instance, the population of Phoenix increased from roughly 107,000 to nearly 790,000 people.

Major technological advances during the first half of the twentieth centurythe Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River, the Southern Pacific Railroad, the advent of air conditioning, and the Central Arizona Project aqueduct systembrought about agricultural and industrial development that also fueled tremendous growth. In the 1990s Phoenix went through its third major growth boom in four decades, partly a result of a large influx of people from California. The city has begun to experience the effects of urban sprawl, including serious air pollution. Entering the twenty-first century, Phoenix's landscape consists of Hispanic colonial and Indian pueblo architecture interspersed with gleaming high-rise office buildings. The economic success of the area has spurred a continuing population growth and nearly all business indicators present positive gains. The City Council has allotted $1 billion in public and private projects to enhance and maintain the community. This foresight, in conjunction with the natural appeal of the environment, prepares the city for boundless prosperity.

Historical Information: Phoenix Museum of History, 105N. 5th St., Phoenix, AZ 85004-4404; telephone (602)253-2734; email [email protected]

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PHOENIX. In 1867, pioneers entered the Salt River valley in central Arizona and admired the remains of the ancient canal system of the Hohokam, a people who had lived in the area prior to 1400. Homesteading the land, clearing out old irrigation ditches, planting crops, and negotiating supply contracts with nearby military posts and mining camps, the pioneers created an economic base for their community. Realizing that they were revitalizing the land of an ancient people, the settlers in 1870 named the town site Phoenix, a fitting symbol of life rising anew from the remains of the past. Growth was slow but steady, and by 1900, the valley center contained a population of 5,444 and offered an impressive array of urban goods, services, and amenities. By then it was a railroad hub, the seat of Maricopa County, and the territorial capital.

Phoenix leaders, taking advantage of the National Reclamation Act of 1902, supported the federal government in the construction of Roosevelt Dam, completed in 1911. Water management projects brought vital stability to the area, allowed irrigation control, and assured agricultural prosperity. Local promoters also encouraged campaigns to attract new residents and visitors to the Valley of the Sun, emphasizing the opportunities and the amenities available, especially the mild winter climate. By 1930, the city had become a regional urban center of 48,118. The Great Depression retarded progress, but the central Arizona oasis recorded a population of 65,414 in 1940.

During the 1930s, the federal government helped to alleviate distress in the city and the valley through New Deal programs, and during and after World War II, the relationship between Washington and the Phoenix area grew stronger as the Arizona capital became a major military and manufacturing center. By 1955, manufacturing had become the city's number-one source of income, with farming and tourism in second and third places. Major firms in the 1950s included Motorola, General Electric,

Goodyear Aircraft, Kaiser Aircraft and Electronics, Ai-Research, and Sperry Rand.

Business initiative, sunny days, and modern technology prevailed in the popular desert hub. Especially appealing were new attractions such as air conditioning. As in other Sun Belt cities, the mass production of air conditioners in the 1950s and the consequent age of refrigeration attracted not only manufacturers but also more residents and tourists. Throughout the years, the winning combination of opportunities and amenities continued to attract newcomers; occasional downturns occurred, but overall, Phoenix boomed. Economic enterprise and the Phoenix life style drew more people to the area. By 2000, more than a million people lived in Phoenix, and it had become the sixth largest city in the nation.


Luckingham, Bradford. The Urban Southwest: A Profile History of Albuquerque, El Paso, Phoenix, and Tucson. El Paso: Texas Western, 1982.

———. Phoenix: The History of a Southwestern Metropolis. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989.

———. Minorities in Phoenix: A Profile of Mexican American, Chinese American, and African American Communities, 1860–1992. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994.


See alsoArizona ; Sun Belt .

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PHOENIX , capital and largest city of Arizona. Its Jewish population in 2002 was 83,000, the 13th largest in the United States and growing. The first known Jew in Phoenix was Dr. Herman Bendell, who arrived in 1871, a year after the town was laid out, as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Arizona Territory. The first Jewish settlers came in 1872: Emil Ganz, a Civil War veteran, who was elected Mayor of Phoenix in 1887; Michael and Joseph *Goldwater (Goldwasser,) who founded a family mercantile dynasty that grew from a wilderness outpost into a statewide chain; Other early arrivals were Hyman Goldberg, his sons Aaron and David, and his brother Isaac (1875); Adolph, Leo, and Charles Goldberg (1879); Wolf Sachs; Joe Melczer; Selig Michelson, postmaster from 1908 to 1912; Gus Hirschfield; Harry Friedman; Pincus Kalsman; I.J. Lipson; and Isaac Rosenzweig. Aaron Goldberg, sat in the ninth and tenth territorial legislatures (1899–1901,) authored the bill that made Phoenix the capital, and his brother, Hyman was elected to the 19th and 20th legislatures. Barnett E. Marks, a young lawyer, who also organized the first Sunday school, later became assistant U.S. attorney for Arizona (1927–28.) Both Barnett and his wife, Freeda, were elected to the state legislature (1922.) Jews have been active in the political and civic life of the city. Rabbi Abraham Krohn of Beth Israel was memorialized in the city in 1958 when it named a public housing development for him. The mayor of Phoenix in 2006, Phil Gordon, was an active member of the Jewish community.

Informal Jewish worship services began in 1906 in a room over Melczer's saloon under the leadership of Barnett Marks. Temple Beth Israel was begun in 1921 as the first synagogue in Phoenix with funds raised by local sections of B'nai B'rith and the National Council of Jewish Women, which had been organized in 1917. Temple Beth Israel relocated to a new building in 1949. The original sanctuary was used as a Baptist church until 2002 when it was acquired by the az Jewish Historical Society with plans for restoration. Jews began coming to Phoenix for their health around 1920. The Jewish population increased dramatically after World War ii as soldiers who had been stationed in Arizona returned to the state with their families. The city became one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, a major southwest trading center, and a haven for winter residents from all parts of the U.S. It is estimated that 2,000 Jewish families move to the Phoenix area yearly. There are over 40 congregations – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Humanistic, and Jewish Renewal. The Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix supports 11 constituent agencies including the Bureau of Jewish Education, Council for Jews with Special Needs, Greater Phoenix Va'ad Ha Kashrut, Hillel at Arizona State University, Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Family and Children's Service, King David School, Kivel Campus of Care, Pardes Jewish Day School, and two Community Centers. The community also has two other day schools: Phoenix Hebrew Academy and Jess Schwartz Community High School. The Federation has a very strong Israel office stressing programming, travel opportunities, and economic partnerships. The Phoenix Sister City Commission accepted a partnership with Ramat Gan in Israel (2005.) Cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert (all east of Phoenix) and Surprise (west of Phoenix) have growing Jewish communities. Surrounding retirement communities are Sun City, Sun City West, Sun City Grand, and Sun Lakes. (Other organized congregations in Arizona are in Flagstaff, Kingman, Lake Havasu, Prescott, Sedona, and Yuma.) According to a demographic study conducted in 2002 the Jewish population in Greater Phoenix included approximately 83,000 in 44,000 Jewish households, a 138% increase since 1984.


J. Stocker, Jewish Roots in Arizona (1954); F.S. Fierman, in: aja, 16 (1964), 135–60; 18 (1966), 3–19; Phoenix Jewish News (1947–2005); Arizona Post (1946–2005); Risa Mallin, Arizona Jewish Historical Society.

[Bernard Postal /

Risa Mallin (2nd ed.)]

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Phoenix: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

A total of 58 separate school districts serve the entire Maricopa County. The city of Phoenix is served by 16 separate public school districts, each with its own school board and superintendent. The Greater Phoenix area has an extensive magnet school program with an emphasis on specialized course work in career fields such as aeronautics and aerospace, agri-business, and computer studies, among others.

The following is a summary of data regarding school districts in the Phoenix area as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 626,461

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 95

middle schools: 32

senior high schools: 67

Student/teacher ratio: ranges from 16.4:1 to 22:1, depending on school district

Teacher salaries

average: $44,404

Funding per pupil: ranges from $4,980 to $8,304, depending on school district

More than 80 private elementary and high schools are also located in Phoenix, providing alternative educational services.

Public Schools Information: Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools, 301 W. Jefferson St., Ste. 660, Phoenix, AZ 85003; telephone (602)506-3866

Colleges and Universities

Phoenix has 79 private technical and business colleges, including the University of Phoenix and Maricopa Community Colleges, the second-largest public community college system in the United States. The University of Phoenix has garnered the spot as the nation's top private university via its innovative online degree program and 163 campuses throughout North America. Both offer undergraduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines and graduate degrees in such fields as business and management and education. Other colleges in Phoenix include Grand Canyon University and a campus of the Arizona State University (ASU), the largest university in the Rocky Mountain area with an enrollment of about 58,000 students and 2,165 full-time faculty, based in nearby Tempe. ASU boasts a strong science orientation; the Phoenix campus (named West Campus) focuses on upper division and graduate courses.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Phoenix Public Library system consists of the main branch downtown and 13 branches located throughout the city. Located in 280,000 square feet, the central library's collection numbers nearly one million volumes as well as magazines, newspapers, tapes, films, slides, and art reproductions. Special collections include the Arizona Room that features a variety of resources related to Arizona's rich history. The Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records also focuses on the state's history and includes law, government, and genealogy holdings. More than 50 special libraries and research centers are located in Phoenix; most are affiliated with colleges, medical centers, and government agencies and specialize in such fields as medicine, business, and technology. Arizona State University's Engineering Center focuses on microelectronics, CAD/CAM, telecommunications, and computer science.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN) held its grand opening in March 2005 with a 170,000 square foot facility. The first of several facilities to be constructed, the $46 million center will employ 450 people. The Arizona Biodesign Institute on the campus of Arizona State University is contributing to Phoenix's growth by luring scientists and biotechnological companies to the area. Four modules are set for completion by 2007; the first opened with 250,000 square feet in the fall of 2004.

Public Library Information: Phoenix Public Library, 1221N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004; telephone (602)262-4636

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Greek, Roman, Egyptian



Alternate Names

Bennu (Egyptian)

Appears In

Ovid's Metamorphoses, Herodotus's Histories



Character Overview

The phoenix is a legendary bird mentioned in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology. According to ancient writers, the phoenix lived for five hundred years, then died and was reborn. It had brilliant golden and scarlet feathers and grew to the size of an eagle.

Just before dying, the phoenix built a nest of fragrant herbs and spices, including cinnamon and myrrh. Then it set the nest on fire and died in the flames. A new phoenix then arose from the ashes. According to Egyptian myth, when the young bird was strong enough, it placed the ashes of the dead phoenix in an egg made of myrrh. Then the young phoenix carried the egg to Heliopolis (pronounced hee-lee-OP-uh-luhs), the Egyptian city of the sun , and placed it on the altar of the sun god Ra.

The Phoenix in Context

The myth of the phoenix may reflect ancient observations of nature, particularly in areas of fire. When many types of hardwood trees are burned to ash in a fire, they return important minerals such as potassium to the soil. This fertilizes the soil to help more trees and vegetation grow. In this way, fire destroys the existing trees, and their ashes provide a way for new trees to appear—much like the myth of the phoenix. Indeed, the creation of the fertilizing compound potash from the ashes of trees was a lucrative business in Europe for centuries, and continues even today.

Key Themes and Symbols

The phoenix was associated with immortality—the ability to live forever—and rebirth. Early Christians saw the phoenix as a symbol of resurrection, or the act of rising from the dead. The main theme of the myth of the phoenix is the eternal or everlasting nature of the spirit, with the phoenix symbolizing that spirit. In the myth, fire represents death as the bird is consumed in flames.

The Phoenix in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

The phoenix was a popular figure in many cultures beyond Egypt. Romans used it on coins to symbolize Rome, the Eternal City. The bird also appears as a sacred figure in both Chinese and Japanese mythology , and was the subject of Japanese comic creator Osamu Tezuka's masterwork, a twelve-book series titled simply Phoenix. More than one American comic book character has gone by the identity of Phoenix, most notably several characters in the Marvel Comic Universe. Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, has a phoenix named Fawkes. The name has also been used by a number of cities and places around the world that have been “reborn” from previous settlements, most notably Phoenix, Arizona.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

The idea of something new rising from the ashes of something older is taken from the myth of the phoenix. In modern times, this idea is often used when referring to rebuilding in the wake of tragedies or disasters, such as the destruction of the World Trade Center or the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. In what ways do these events function as modern versions of the myth of the phoenix? Can you think of other examples?

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Phoenix: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 1,509,000

1990: 2,238,498

2000: 3,251,876

Percent change, 19902000: 45.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 24th

U.S. rank in 1990: 20th

U.S. rank in 2000: 14th

City Residents

1980: 789,704

1990: 983,015

2000: 1,321,045

2003 estimate: 1,388,416

Percent change, 19902000: 34.4%

U.S. rank in 1980: 9th

U.S. rank in 1990: 9th

U.S. rank in 2000: 10th (State rank: 1st)

Density: 2,781.9 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 938,853

Black or African American: 67,416

American Indian and Alaska Native: 26,696

Asian: 26,449

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,766

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 449,972

Other: 216,589

Percent of residents born in state: 34.6% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 114,516

Population 5 to 9 years old: 111,367

Population 10 to 14 years old: 99,471

Population 15 to 19 years old: 97,425

Population 20 to 24 years old: 103,873

Population 25 to 34 years old: 227,481

Population 35 to 44 years old: 211,442

Population 45 to 54 years old: 157,615

Population 55 to 59 years old: 52,623

Population 60 to 64 years old: 38,437

Population 65 to 74 years old: 58,309

Population 75 to 84 years old: 36,879

Population 85 years and over: 11,607

Median age: 30.7 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 25,749

Deaths (2003)

Total number: 7,902 (of which, 174 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $19,833

Median household income: $41,207

Total households: 466,114

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 37,689

$10,000 to $14,999: 27,862

$15,000 to $24,999: 63,160

$25,000 to $34,999: 65,783

$35,000 to $49,999: 82,180

$50,000 to $74,999: 89,831

$75,000 to $99,999: 45,918

$100,000 to $149,999: 33,461

$150,000 to $199,999: 9,674

$200,000 or more: 10,556

Percent of families below poverty level: 11.5% (41.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 109,916