Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the state of Arizona. Phoenix is the basis of the Phoenix metropolitan area, also known as the Valley of the Sun, which in turn is part of the so called Salt River Valley. The city 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 (the area of the city is 517.948 square miles.
For more than 2,000 years, the Hohokam peoples occupied the land that would become Phoenix. The Hohokam created roughly 135 miles of irrigation canals, making the desert land usable for agriculture. 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. Hohokam civilization abandoned the area after number of sever periods of drought and severe floods between 1300 and 1450.
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.
Later 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, this community would later be incorporated in Phoenix.
Founding of the city
The Phillip Darrell Duppa adobe house was built in 1870 and is the oldest known house in Phoenix. It was the homestead of "Lord" Darrell Duppa, an Englishman who is credited with naming Phoenix and Tempe as well as founding the town of New River.
The history of the city of Phoenix, however, begins with Jack Swilling, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. In 1867 he saw in the Salt River Valley a potential for farming. He formed a small community that same year about 4 miles 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. 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.
By 1881, Phoenix' continued growth made the existing village structure with a board of trustees obsolete. The Territorial Legislature passed "The Phoenix Charter Bill", incorporating Phoenix and providing for a mayor-council government, and became official on February 25, 1881 when it was signed by Governor John C. Fremont, officially incorporating Phoenix as a city with an approximate population of 2,500.
The building 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. 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 in the first year.
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. 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.
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.
The explosive growth after the WWII
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. Hundreds of manufacturing firms were attracted to Phoenix, especially those that emphasized high technology, along with corporate headquarters.
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 experienced in Phoenix and the surrounding areas 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 till present day
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 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.
In the 1970s the downtown area experienced 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. This officially turned Phoenix into a city of many nodes, which would later be connected by freeways.
There was an influx of refugees due to low-cost housing in the Sunnyslope area in the 1990s, resulting in 43 different languages being spoken in local schools by the year 2000. The famous "Phoenix Lights" UFO sightings took place in March 1997.
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. 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.
Compiled using Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix,_Arizona