Phoenix is in Central Arizona. It is in Maricopa County and is the capital of Arizona. It is at the heart of the state and has earned the nickname “Valley of the Sun” or “The Valley”. The name refers to over 300 days of sunshine the city receives each year and its location set amid the mountains. Phoenix is situated on a flat valley floor with mountains surrounding it on every side. Camelback Mountain and Squaw Peak are both landmarks and hiking spots.
Estrella Mountain and South Mountain, which is a 12-mile wide chain of mountains divides the valley from the Sonoran desert to the south. Mc Dowell Mountain is a mountain preserve at the north of the valley and the Superstition Mountains in the east.
All of these mountains provide a spectacular scenic backdrop for the valley. Phoenix covers 496 square miles.
Phoenix is the center of almost everything in Arizona – population, government, industry, finance, business, agriculture, fine arts, sports and much more. Phoenix began as a small farming town. Today Phoenix’s population is over 1.3 million. The town sits at an elevation of 1,090 feet. The Valley has a warm southwestern climate with a summer high temperature of 105 degrees and a winter low temperature of 34 degrees. Most will agree that Phoenix is the ideal place to start your excursions to other the parts of the state, although there is so much to see and do in town too.
There are so many attractions in the Phoenix area; it is difficult to decide where to begin. The Heard Museum is known around the world for its mission of preserving the Native American past. The museum does a tremendous job with its displays and outstanding artwork collections. Visitors will want to make it one of their stops to learn more about the history of the Southwest. If shopping is your thing, then the Arizona Biltmore is the place for you. The Biltmore has upscale shops and wonderful restaurants. The outdoor mall has been around for a long time and is a popular weekend window-shopping destination. Another great shopping spot in downtown Phoenix is the Arizona Center.
This is another outdoor mall with great restaurants and nightlife. The Phoenix Zoo is a perfect place to go to see some interesting animals. There are camels, snakes, giraffes and the speckled bear. You will want to make a day of it. The Arizona Science Museum is the place to go if you have young ones. This hands-on museum allows children to experience scientific theories and be a part of the learning. The Desert Sky Pavilion has many bands perform in its outdoor amphitheater. There is seating for 18,000 and at least 50 major shows make there stop at the pavilion each year.
You will find many outdoor activities in the Valley of the Sun. The Phoenix Mountain Preserve is the largest municipal park in the United States with more than 24,000 acres. There are many mountain parks that are a part of the preserve. South Mountain Park stretches 16,500 acres and is a part of the chain of desert mountain parks ringing the city. Squaw Peak Park and North Mountain Park are both very popular hiking areas.
Many people use these trails on a daily basis. Papago Park is a wonderful place to see spectacular red rock formations. The views from the park of the city are terrific. Encanto Park is a lush green park with meandering water ways located in the center of Phoenix. The children’s amusement park located at Encanto is a great place to take little ones
The Hohokam Indians came to this area over 2,000 years ago. They built networks of irrigation ditches and used the water from the Salt River. Their community flourished for nearly 1,500 years, until they vanished. The Hohokams named after the Piman word for “the people who have gone” disappeared from the valley leaving behind their sophisticated network of ditches.
John Y.T. Smith was the first white settler in the area. He chose the site to start cutting hay because of the remains of the canal ditches left behind by the Hohokam Indians. Smith invited his friend Jack Swilling from Wickenburg to come out to his place.
Jack liked what he saw, so in 1867 he formed a canal company.
It is believed that Darrell Duppa, an educated Englishman came up with the name Phoenix. Duppa suggested that just as the mythical Egyptian bird the Phoenix rose from its ashes and flew, so did the place where the Hohokams built their canals system be reborn again.
Phoenix was filed as a town site in 1872. It was during this time that cotton became a main crop in the valley. In 1887, the railroad arrived in town. Then two years later Phoenix became the territorial capital. When the construction of the Roosevelt Dam was completed the town’s growth increased. The dam ensured that there was dependable source of irrigation water.
Then in 1912, Arizona became a state and Phoenix became the capitol. During the 1950’s Phoenix spread out 17 square miles. It was a small western town that was best known for its ideal climate for those suffering from asthma. However, gradually the city and state became known for more than just climate. The “Five C’s” soon became the points that were the mainstays of the city and state. The C’s referred to climate, citrus, copper, cotton and cattle.
But it wasn’t until the encroachment of World War II that Phoenix really began to grow. Arizona’s ideal weather was perfect for air flight. Soon military airfields and the defense industry headed to Phoenix to set up shop. Phoenix had the work force and the land needed to set up plants for creating a military buildup. After the war, families headed west to start a new beginning. Then air-conditioning became standard, which made the desert summers bearable.
Today tourism has become a leading industry. The Phoenix area or “Valley of the Sun” is a haven for winter visitors. Tourism also makes Phoenix a great place to live. There are numerous restaurants, shopping areas and recreational spots for all to enjoy. The relaxed and casual living make Phoenix a desirable place to live and visit. Phoenix has grown to over 430 square miles and continues to be a town of new opportunities and growth.