Phoenix, Arizona

ounded in 1871, Phoenix is the capital of the state of Arizona. At an elevation of 1100 feet, it is situated in the biologically unique Sonoran Desert. Why would anybody want to start a city in the middle of a desert? The answer is, surprisingly, agriculture. The Salt and Verde Rivers of central Arizona were exploited for large-scale agriculture by Native Americans as early as the 11th century. The area that now encompasses Phoenix was a center of the Hohokam culture, which built large canal systems and a network of towns and villages, whose remains may be viewed in the city to this day.

Anglo-American settlement of the area commenced in the 1860s, and in 1911 the completion of the first of several large reservoirs in the mountains north and east of Phoenix insured its success as a center for irrigation-based agriculture. Many tens of thousands of acres were planted in citrus and cotton and other crops, and for many years intensive, year-round irrigated agriculture formed the basis of the economy.


Warm and sunny winter weather also ensured a thriving tourism industry, and encouraged many easterners and midwesterners to relocate to Phoenix. High-tech industry began to flourish after World War II, and since that time the growth of Phoenix has been explosive, rising from a population of just 106,818 in 1950 to today's figure of well over 1,300,000.

things to do in Phoenix:

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park
The US's only city-operated archaeological site, exploring and interpreting the pre-Columbian Hohokam civilization.

Heard Museum
Celebrating Native American cultures and arts, especially those of Arizona and New Mexico.

Phoenix Art Museum
16,000 artworks with an emphasis on American, Asian, Latin American, and modern and contemporary.

Desert Botanical Garden
Plant life of the Sonoran Desert, and of arid lands around the world.

Arizona Science Center
Science and Technology, along with a planetarium.

Chase Field
Formerly known as Bank One Ballpark (The BOB). Home of the National League Arizona Diamondbacks, capacity 49,033, with a retractable roof and air conditioning. You can get really decent tickets for $12.50.

Phoenix Symphony
The city's classical and pops orchestra, presenting a 25-week season of concerts.
Arizona Opera. Presenting a season of five grand opera productions, with emphasis on Verdi, Puccini, and Mozart.

Arizona Theatre Company
Professional theater in downtown Phoenix's Herberger theater complex.

Mesa Arts Center
Visit the newly constructed and award winning MAC. Home of contemporary art displays and studios, as well as the Southwest Shakespeare Company and the Mesa Symphony Orchestra.

Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse
Rawhide has got to be the best place to take kids from back east that want to be cowboys and cowgirls. At Rawhide you can experience gunfights, stunt shows, stagecoach rides, desert train rides, enjoy the petting ranch, bull riding, gold panning, camel rides, see a working blacksmith, shop in western shops, play games, and go horseback riding.

Copyright Travel West 2009  Cities - Phoenix, Arizona - Travel Guide West