History of Phoenix
The area of present-day Phoenix had been inhabited by Hokoham peoples for more than 2,000 years. Those peoples largely left the area after severe droughts in 14th and 15th centuries. Other peoples, most notably the Maricopas, arrived later and settled in the area.
Phoenix area was generally neglected by the European settlers, explorers and missionaries as most of them concentrated on southern Arizona. Many fur traders, including the Mountain Men, passed through the area and sometimes passed some time there to replenish the supplies and to rest.
After the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, the entire Salt River Valley, including Phoenix, became part of the New Mexico Territory. During the Civil War, both Confederate and Union included the Valley within their borders. However, the area did not see any battles as its military importance was virtually inexistent.
The real history of Phoenix starts only after the Civil War, when a Confederate veteran by the name of Jack Swilling arrived to the area and saw its potential for farming. The only thing lacking was a steady water supply, which he solved by building canals. A small community was quickly established and, after changing several names, it was finally named Phoenix, describing a town that rose again from the ashes of a former civilization. The town grew, built its first institutions, schools and churches and in 1881 it was finally incorporated. Around that time the railroad came to Phoenix too, which provided the vital boost to the city’s economy.
When Arizona became a US state in 1912, Phoenix was chosen as the state capital due to its central position, despite the fact at the time it was smaller than Tucson.
During WWII Phoenix became one of the major national centers of military industry. Wartime in Phoenix was marked by several incidents, including the ban of the Army personnel from the city, the attempted escape of the German prisoners held in Phoenix and the fire that destroyed almost entire street railway fleet in the city.
After the war, the city continued to grow and tourism became one of the significant industries. During the 1970s and the 1980s, crime became a significant problem in Phoenix. The city neighborhoods were ethnically, racially and socially diverse, which aggravated the tensions and led to more crime. The last decades of 20th century were also marked by the UFO sightings and crime sprees including the Baseline Killer and Serial Shooter. Today, the crime rates have declined, the economy and the population continue to grow.
Phoenix Geography and Climate
As for the geography, the city is surrounded by the McDowell, White Tank, Superstition and Sierra Estrella mountains. The city is mainly flat and the main streets are organized into a grid. The main geographic feature in Phoenix is the Salt River which runs westward through it and it is often completely dry.
Since it is located in the northeastern portion of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a typical subtropical desert climate. The summers are extremely hot and lot and the winters are warm. Rainfall is scant, however in the period between July and September there is often some heavy local precipitation and even flooding due to the increase of the monsoonal moisture.
Population in Phoenix
Phoenix has a large Mexican community. The largest demographic group is White (76.7%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (40.8%), Black (6.5%) and Asian (3%). The largest ancestry group is Mexican, followed by German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French and Scottish.
Agriculture used to be the primary industry in Phoenix, however in the last 40 years most of the farmlands had turned into suburbs. The state government is the largest employer in the city and some of the major companies include Allied Waste, PetSmart, and the Apollo Group. U-Haul and Best Western are headquartered in Phoenix.
Culture, Education and Sports
Some of the big names in popular music who came from or were based out of Phoenix include Stevie Nicks, Wayne Newton, Duane Eddy, George Benson, Bob Hoag and Alice Cooper, as well as bands such as Mr. Mister, Jimmy Eat World, Meat Puppets and The Refreshments.
Some of the most famous cultural institutions in the city include Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona Science Center, Heard Museum, Phoenix Symphony Hall and the Orpheum Theatre.
Phoenix is famous for its exquisite Mexican cuisine, one of the best in the United States.
Sport is very important for Phoenix and its residents. It has professional franchises in all four major sports leagues: the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals (who never actually played in Phoenix itself but are nevertheless based there), the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes and the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Phoenix is also the center of the so-called Cactus League, which consists of fifteen MLB teams who have their spring training in Phoenix each year.
The main institution of higher education in Arizona is the Arizona State University based in Tempe, but with two campuses in Phoenix. There are also ten community colleges and two skills centers in the city.
Transportation in Phoenix
Arizona’s largest and busiest airport, Sky Harbor International (PHX), is located in phoenix. It is the 10th busiest airport in the United States. The second-largest airport in the area is the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
Phoenix is the largest US city with no intercity passenger railroad service. The public transportation within the city is operated by Valley Metro, which includes buses, trains and a ride-share (carpool) program. As for the highways, two interstate highways pass through Phoenix (I-10 and I-17), as well as four state routs and the U.S. 60.