15 Facts about Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is the capital and largest city of Arizona and seat of Maricopa county. Located in the south central part of the state on the Salt River, Phoenix is 398 miles (640 km) east of Los Angeles, California; 400 miles (640 km) west of El Paso, Texas; and about a five-hour drive from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It is situated on flat desert terrain surrounded by irrigated farmlands and mountains.
1. A popular resort and retirement spot, Phoenix is the center of Arizona's "Valley of the Sun." The sun shines almost every day, except in July and August, when light rain falls. Arizona's average temperature is 72° F (22° C), but summer temperatures range to 100° F (38° C). Even though the humidity is low, air conditioning is considered essential.
2. The architecture in Phoenix is Southwestern, and the Spanish-colonial and Indian styles are carried out not only in the rambling ranch houses in the sprawling suburbs but also in the shopping centers and in many commercial buildings. Numerous shopping centers in the area have boutiques that feature Western fashions and Indian handicrafts, including Navajo rugs.
3. Golf, tennis, horseback riding, swimming, boating, and fishing are year-round activities. Horse races, greyhound races, and rodeos are popular attractions. The Phoenix Open golf tournament is held in mid-January. The Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association play in US Airways Center, along with the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association. The Cardinals of the National Football League moved from St. Louis to Phoenix in 1988 and play in the University of Phoenix Stadium in nearby Glendale. The major league baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, plays at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. The Phoenix Coyotes professional hockey team moved from Phoenix to nearby Glendale in 2003.
4. The Heard Museum houses anthropological and aboriginal-arts collections from Arizona's Indian cultures. Senator Barry Goldwater's kachina doll collection is there. The museum holds an Indian Fair every April.
5. The Phoenix Art Museum features exhibits of contemporary southwestern art; works from the medieval, Renaissance, and French baroque periods; and displays of Mexican art and Chinese porcelain. It also houses the Arizona Costume Institute, miniature rooms with period decor, and a junior museum.
6. Other museums of interest in Phoenix include the Pueblo Grande Museum, containing relics and exhibits depicting the Hohokam Indians, who inhabited the area centuries ago; the Arizona Museum, with Indian artifacts and relics of the state's pioneer days; the Bayless Museum, which recreates a general store of the 1890s; the Arizona Mineral Museum, containing displays of all phases of earth science; the Pioneer Outdoor Living History Museum, a collection of buildings re-creating the settlement of the Southwest; the Hall of Flame Museum, which houses antique firefighting equipment; and the Shemer Art Center and Museum, a 1920s Santa Fe mission-style adobe residence that has become a cultural center offering classes, concerts, lectures, and art exhibits. Near Scottsdale is the Taliesen West complex, former home of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is now a training school for architects and is open to the public.
7. The State Capitol, constructed of native stone, has a museum of Arizona historical memorabilia and exhibits of prehistoric Indian cultures and modern Indian crafts. The grounds feature landscaped gardens with a variety of native trees, shrubs, and cacti.
8. Tourist attractions in Phoenix are the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo, both in Papago Park. The 150-acre (60-ha) garden is devoted exclusively to desert plants. Special attractions at the zoo are the Arizona Exhibit, the Children's Zoo, and a herd of rare Arabian oryx, antelope with black markings and nearly straight horns. Among the other parks in Phoenix, Escanto Park has a waterfowl refuge, and Thunderbird, a desert park, has facilities for picnicking, camping, and hiking. Another park is the Telephone Pioneers of America Park, which is the nation's first barrier-free park, designed to meet the needs of physically challenged individuals. The Pioneer and Military Park serves as a monument to the pioneer families of Arizona.
9. Other parks are nearby: Estrella Mountain Regional Park is situated on 1,285 acres (520 ha) of rugged desert terrain; Lake Pleasant Regional Park, 14,382 acres (5,825 ha), has two lakes and many forms of desert vegetation, including the giant saguaro cactus; and South Mountain Park consists of 15,357 acres (6,219 ha) of peaks, canyons, and rock formations, one of which bears a Spanish inscription dated 1539.
10. Grand Canyon University; the American Graduate School for International Management; DeVry Institute of Technology; Maricopa County Community College District, which includes ten community colleges; Phoenix College; Arizona Christian University (formerly, Southwestern College); Western International University; American Indian College; Arizona Bible College; Arizona State University West; and the University of Phoenix are in Phoenix. Arizona State University is in nearby Tempe.
11. Cultural organizations in Phoenix include the Phoenix Little Theatre, the Phoenix Symphony, the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, Arizona Opera, the Bach and Madrigal Society, and the Phoenix Boys' Choir.
12. Special events that reflect the city's Western heritage include the National Livestock Show and the Agricultural Trade Fair in January and the Valley of the Sun Annual Square and Round Dance Festival as well as the Indian Arts and Crafts Show in February. The Gem and Mineral Show takes place in the spring. The World's Championship Rodeo is held annually. Phoenix celebrates the Mexican holiday El Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May).
13. Phoenix is an industrial and agricultural center. Industrial activities are largely in electronics, research and development, telecommunications, semiconductors, and aerospace technology. Manufactured products include aircraft parts, electronic equipment, agricultural chemicals, radios, air-conditioning machinery, leather goods, electrical appliances, tools, plastic products, cosmetics, food processing, wood products, and Indian and Mexican novelties.
14. Water for irrigation as well as for power is impounded behind Roosevelt Dam, built in 1911 on the Salt River about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Phoenix. The agricultural area that surrounds Phoenix grows lettuce, melons, vegetables, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and olives -all of which are processed and packed in the city. This area also produces fields of cotton and alfalfa.
15. Phoenix was incorporated in 1881 and became the territorial capital in 1889, two years after the first train arrived. When Arizona was admitted to the Union in 1912, Phoenix was made the state capital.