Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the state of Arizona. With 1,445,632 people (as of the 2010 U.S. Census), Phoenix is the most populous state capital in the United States, as well as the sixth most populous city nationwide.
The anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area (also known as the Valley of the Sun, a part of the Salt River Valley), it is the 13th largest metro area by population in the United States, with approximately 4.3 million people in 2010. In addition, Phoenix is the county seat of Maricopa County and is one of the largest cities in the United States by land area.
Settled in 1867 as an agricultural community near the confluence of the Salt and Gila Rivers, Phoenix incorporated as a city in 1881. Located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate. Despite this, its canal system led to a thriving farming community, many of the original crops remaining important parts of the Phoenix economy for decades, such as alfalfa, cotton, citrus and hay (which was important for the cattle industry). 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.
The population growth rate of the Phoenix metro area has been nearly 4% per year for the past 40 years. While that growth rate slowed during the Great Recession, it has already begun to rebound. Phoenix is the cultural center of the Valley of the Sun, as well as the rest of Arizona.
For more than 2,000 years, the Hohokam peoples occupied the land that would become Phoenix. The Hohokam created roughly 135 miles (217 km) of irrigation canals, making the desert land arable. Paths of these canals would later become used for the modern Arizona Canal, Central Arizona Project Canal, and the Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct. The Hohokam also carried out extensive trade with the nearby Anasazi, Mogollon and Sinagua, as well as with the more distant Mesoamerican civilizations. It is believed that between 1300 and 1450, periods of drought and severe floods led to the Hohokam civilization's abandonment of the area. Local Akimel O'odham settlements, thought to be the descendants of the formerly urbanized Hohokam, concentrated on the Gila River.
When the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, Mexico sold its northern zone to the United States and residents became U.S. citizens. The Phoenix area became part of the New Mexico Territory. 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 U.S. Army created Fort McDowell on the Verde River in 1865 to forestall 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, but this community was incorporated after Phoenix.
Founding and incorporation
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 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.
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. 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, actually running unopposed when the other two candidates, John A. Chenowth and Jim Favorite, fought a duel wherein Chenowth killed Favorite, and then was forced to withdraw from the race.
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 needed an overhaul, so that year an election was held in which three village trustees as well as several other officials were selected. By 1880, the town's population stood at 2,453.
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. Earlier in 1888 the city offices were moved into the new City Hall, at Washington and Central. When the territorial capital was moved from Prescott to Phoenix in 1889 the temporary territorial offices were also located in City Hall. With the arrival of the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad in 1895, Phoenix was connected to the Prescott, Flagstaff and other northern state communities. The increased access to commerce, expedited the city's economic rise. The year 1895 also saw the establishment of Phoenix Union High School, with an enrollment of 90.
1900 to World War II
On February 25, 1901, Governor Murphy dedicated the permanent state Capitol building, and the Carnegie Free Library opened seven years later, on February 18, 1908, dedicated by Benjamin Fowler. The National Reclamation Act was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902, which allowed for dams to be built on waterways in the west for reclamation purposes. The first dam constructed under the act, the Theodore Roosevelt Dam began in 1903. It supplied both water and electricity, becoming the first multi-purpose dam, and Roosevelt himself would attend the official dedication on May 18, 1911. At the time, it was the largest masonry dam in the world, forming Theodore Roosevelt Lake in the mountain east of Phoenix.
On February 14, 1912, under President William Howard Taft, Phoenix became the capital of the newly formed state of Arizona. This occurred just six months after Taft had vetoed in August 1911, a joint congressional resolution granting statehood to Arizona, due to his disagreement of the state constitution's position regarding the recall of judges. 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 Heard Building. 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.
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.
Postwar explosive growth
A town that had just over sixty-five thousand residents in 1940 became America's sixth largest city by 2010, with a population of nearly 1.5 million, and millions more in nearby suburbs. Shermer argues that after the war Phoenix boosters led by Barry Goldwater and other ambitious young businessmen and politicians, often with an Eastern education, created a neoliberal pro-business climate. They attracted Eastern industry by rejecting the New Deal formula of strong labor unions and tight regulation of industry. They told prospects that Phoenix had excellent weather, cheap land, good transportation, low-wage rates, a right-to-work law that weakened unions, minimal regulations, easy access to the West Coast markets, and an eagerness to grow. They pointed out it was highly attractive place for young couples to raise their families. Hundreds of manufacturing firms were attracted to Phoenix, especially those that emphasized high technology, along with, corporate headquarters. Shermer argues that the Phoenix plan was widely admired by other ambitious cities in the South and Southwest, and became part of national conservatism as exemplified by Goldwater and his supporters. The Phoenix plan was not built on libertarian low-government ideals. Rather, Shermer argues, it involved active government intervention in the economy to promote rapid growth. For example the state played the central role in giving Phoenix a guaranteed water supply, as well as good universities.
When the war ended, many of the men who had undergone their training in Arizona returned bringing their new families. Large industry, learning of this labor pool, started to move branches here. 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. Seeing the same advantages as Motorola, other high-tech companies such as Intel and McDonnell Douglas would also move into the valley and open manufacturing operations.
By 1950, over 105,000 people lived within the city and thousands more in surrounding communities. 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. There was more new construction in Phoenix in 1959 alone than during the period of more than thirty years from 1914 to 1946.
The 1960s through current
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. The 1960s saw many other buildings constructed as the city expanded rapidly, including: the Rosenzweig Center (1964), today called Phoenix City Square, the landmark Phoenix Financial Center (1964), 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, which played its home games at the Coliseum until 1992. 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. The following year, Pope Paul VI created the Diocese of Phoenix on December 2, by splitting the Archdiocese of Tucson, with Edward A. McCarthy as the first Bishop.
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, each with its own village core where greater height and density was permitted, further shaping the free-market development culture. Originally, there were 9 villages, but this has been expanded to 15 over the years (see Cityscape below). This officially turned Phoenix into a city of many nodes, which would later be connected by freeways. 1972 would see the opening of the Phoenix Symphony Hall, Other major structures which saw construction downtown during this decade were the Wells Fargo Plaza, the Chase Tower (the tallest building in both Phoenix and Arizona) and the U.S. Bank Center.
Nominated by President Reagan, on September 25, 1981 Phoenix resident Sandra Day O'Connor broke the gender barrier on the U.S. Supreme Court, when she was sworn in as the first female judge. 1985 saw the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the nation's largest nuclear power plant, begin electrical production. 1987 was marked by visits by both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
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, surpassed only by Las Vegas. In 2008, Squaw Peak, the second tallest mountain in the city, was renamed Piestewa Peak after Army Specialist Lori Ann Piestewa, an Arizonan and the first Native American woman to die in combat while serving in the U.S. military, as well as being the first American female casualty of the 2003 Iraq War. 2008 also saw Phoenix as one of the cities hardest hit by the subprime mortgage crisis, and by early 2009 the median home price was $150,000, down from its $262,000 peak in 2007. 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.