Location and geography
Phoenix is located in middle of Arizona, in the heart of the Sonoran desert, one of the largest deserts in the Eastern Hemisphere. Phoenix is the most populous city in Arizona, and the sixth most populous city in America, with over 1.45 million inhabitants. The city covers 1,338 sq. km/516 sq. miles, and is located in a valley surrounded by mountain ranges. Therefore, the topography is flat, helping the streets run on a grid formation.
Arizona is located in the Southwestern region of the United States. Phoenix is a valley city encircled by the Sierra Estrella mountain range to the southwest, the McDowell Mountains to the northeast, the Superstition Mountains to the east, and the White Tank Mountains to the west. Hence, the Phoenix metropolitan area is said to be the Valley of the Sun. The Salt River runs through the valley. However, the river contains little water due to the area's irrigation controls. Several Indian reservations abut the outskirts of the city.
The Phoenix area was occupied as long ago as 700 A.D. As evidenced by a 1500-year-old Pueblo Grand archaeological site, native Americans of the Hohokam tribe originally inhabited the area around the Salt River that is now known as Phoenix. The Salt River, unfortunately, was subject to droughts, forcing the Hohokam to build an irrigation system within the valley. The irrigation system consisted of more than a hundred miles of canals, and it created a fertile valley for farming.
Centuries after the Hohokam tribe disappeared (Hohokam literally means the people who have gone), Jack Swilling discovered the fertile land as he was resting his horse at the foot of the White Tank Mountains in 1867. Swilling created the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company, and began the task of irrigating the valley once again. By spring of 1868, canals were filled with water, and the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company harvested its first crops later that year. Swilling founded what would become known as Phoenix, officially recognized in 1868. The name was chosen to represent the new town rising from the ancient civilization, and the rebirth of the valley's irrigation systems.
The Phoenix Herald dates back to 1880, when the weekly newspaper changed its name from the Salt River Valley Herald. By 1886, the city had electric plants, with a horse-drawn streetcar line, and the first Southern Pacific train arriving the following year. In 1889, Phoenix became the Arizona government seat.
Another important event was the construction of the Roosevelt Dam, which opened in 1911 and secured electricity and the management of water for farming and other pursuits. The following year, Arizona became the 48th state admitted to the union.
In 1920 Phoenix had just over 29,000 residents. By 1930 the population had grown to more than 48,000. About 105,000 people lived in the city by 1950, and Phoenix was well on its way to growing into today's business center with a decidedly friendly feel.
The main economic industries in Phoenix are tourism and manufacturing. Electronic equipment, agricultural chemicals, aircraft parts, radios, leather goods, air-conditioning equipment, and Native American crafts are also vital parts of Phoenix's economy. The city enjoys sunny weather all year round, which contributes to its bustling tourism industry. One can book a flight to Phoenix from 89 locations within the United States, and 17 internationally. The sun and accessibility, coupled with the metropolitan area's 500+ hotels and dozens of resorts, help explain why more than 15 million people visit the Valley of the Sun each year.
Phoenix is becoming a corporate hub as well, attracting large corporations such as Time Warner Telecom, IBM, American Express, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase Bank, Intel, Discover Card Services, and many technology firms.
Phoenix is celebrated nationally for its authentic Mexican cuisine; in fact, nearly half of its population is Latino. The culture of Phoenix is based on its great influence from its large immigrant population, mainly immigrants from Latin America.
Due the increase of technology firms and new businesses developing in Phoenix, many young, college-educated people are moving to the area. Additionally, the sunny weather, low cost of living, golf courses, and resorts draw retirees to the region as well.