Phoenix is currently the 6th largest city in
the US and the center of the large Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Also known
as the Valley of the Sun Phoenix was founded in 1861 near the confluence
of the Salt and Gila Rivers. This area had been occupied by the Hohokam
for the previous two thousand years. The Hohokam were agriculturalists
who built about 135 miles of canals in that area that and became the
blueprint for the Central Arizona Project, the Arizona Canal and the
Hayes-Rhodes Project. These projects are significant in the birth and
growth of Phoenix as this area was initially an agricultural area.
In 1867 a Civil War veteran, Jack Swilling from Wickenburg stopped by the White Tank Mountains and saw the abandoned Hohokam villages and the canal systems that they had built. It occurred to Swilling that if the canals were rebuilt the area could become farming land. When Swilling had the canals rebuilt a small farming community arose just east of present day downtown Phoenix. Using the abandoned canals built by a previous culture gave rise to the notion that the area was resurrected in a modern form and thus was a Phoenix. That is how and why Phoenix got its name.
Phoenix is located in the northern Sonora Desert. It is also located in the basin and range province. This means that Phoenix is surrounded by mountain ranges. To the north are the McDowell Mountains, the Superstition Mountains to the east, the Sierra Estrella to the south and west and the White Tank Mountains on the west side of the valley. Its location in the Sonoran Desert and being at an average elevation of 1,117 feet above sea level conspire to make Phoenix extremely hot in the summer time reaching temperatures that are usually 5 to 10 degrees hotter than Las Vegas and often well over 105°.
Phoenix is in the center of a huge metropolitan area that includes places like Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Peoria, Avon, Tolleson and Surprise. Altogether these communities have over 4.5 million residents. Phoenix is connected to California and its neighbor to the east, New Mexico by Interstate 10. Phoenix is connected to Interstate 40 and places such as Camp Verde, Sedona and Flagstaff by Interstate 17. Phoenix is connected by US 93 to Kingman and Las Vegas.
Phoenix began to grow out of its original agriculture based economy as it attracted visitors seeking a relief from the snow bound northern cities. Financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies also located in Phoenix. Currently high tech companies such as Godaddy are located in Phoenix. As Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and as such government is a pillar of the economy.
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