Somewhere between a saguaro selfie and a poolside cabana are friendly dive bars to explore, great music to discover and street art to stumble upon—all wrapped in a stunning desert backdrop.
Phoenix is the capital of the southwestern U.S. state of Arizona. Known for its year-round sun and warm temperatures, it anchors a sprawling, multi city metropolitan area known as the Valley of the Sun. It’s known for high-end spa resorts, Jack Nicklaus–designed golf courses and vibrant nightclubs. Other highlights include the Desert Botanical Garden, displaying cacti and numerous native plants.
Decking the Valley of the Sun is an unending grid system that bleeds into contiguous cities like Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe and Mesa. Abrupt rocky clumps at Papago Park, Camelback Mountain, South Mountain Park and Piestawa Peak, break up Phoenix’s sprawl, and bring a western-style desertscape to the middle of the city.
Greater Phoenix’s appeal lies in these pockets of desert wilderness, the year-round sunshine and the many chances to study Arizona’s indigenous cultures.
You can indulge every whim at Scottsdale’s opulent resorts, tee off at innumerable golf courses, watch big sporting moments at heavyweight arenas and brush up on America’s greatest architect at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West architecture lab.
PHOENIX EARLY HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
Out of the Ashes
Hundreds of years before any of the cities in the eastern part of our country were so much as clearings in the wilderness, a well established, civilized community occupied the land we know as Phoenix. The Pueblo Grande ruins, which were occupied between 700 A.D. and 1400 A.D., testify to our city’s ancient roots.
The wide Salt River ran through the Valley of the Sun, but there was little rain and no melting snow to moisten the brown earth from river to mountain range on either side.
Those former residents were industrious, enterprising and imaginative. They built an irrigation system, consisting mostly of some 135 miles of canals, and the land became fertile. The ultimate fate of this ancient society, however, is a mystery. The accepted belief is that it was destroyed by a prolonged drought. Roving Indians, observing the Pueblo Grande ruins and the vast canal system these people left behind, gave them the name “Ho Ho Kam” — the people who have gone.
Phoenix’s modern history begins in the second half of the 19th century. In 1867, Jack Swilling of Wickenburg stopped to rest his horse at the foot of the north slopes of the White Tank Mountains. He looked down and across the expansive Salt River Valley and his eyes caught the rich gleam of the brown, dry soil turned up by the horse’s hooves. He saw farm land, predominately free of rocks, and in a place beyond the reach of heavy frost or snow. All it needed was water.
Returning to Wickenburg, he organized the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company, and moved into the Valley. The same year, the company began digging a canal to divert some of the water of the Salt River onto the lands of the Valley. By March 1868, water flowed through the canal, and a few members of the company raised meager crops that summer.
Phoenix Is Born
By 1868, a small colony had formed approximately four miles east of the present city. Swilling’s Mill became the new name of the area. It was then changed to Helling Mill, after which it became Mill City, and years later, East Phoenix. Swilling, having been a confederate soldier, wanted to name the new settlement Stonewall after Stonewall Jackson. Others suggested the name Salina, but neither name suited the inhabitants. It was Darrell Duppa who suggested the name Phoenix, inasmuch as the new town would spring from the ruins of a former civilization. That is the accepted derivation of our name.
Phoenix officially was recognized on May 4, 1868, when the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the county of which we were then a part, formed an election precinct here.
A post office was established in Phoenix on June 15, 1868, with Jack Swilling as postmaster. The sharp whistle of the first steam mill in the Valley added a brisk note to the sound of emerging industry. It advertised the Richard Flour Mills, built in 1869, where the Luhrs Tower now stands.
The rapid influx of pioneers continued, and by 1870, it was clear that a townsite had to be selected. On Oct. 20, 1870, a meeting was held to select such a site in the home of John Moore.
This well-known farmer offered 40 acres to the cause, but 320 were purchased by a popular subscription that raised $50. The official designation of this new townsite was the North Half of Section 8, Township 1 North, Range 3 East. Today, it would encompass the downtown business section, bounded on the north by Van Buren Street, on the south by Jackson Str
SCOTTSDALE EARLY HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
Winfield & Helen Scott, 1900
In the early to mid 1880s, U.S. Army Chaplain Winfield Scott visited the Salt River Valley and was impressed with the region and its potential for agriculture. Returning in 1888 with his wife, Helen, he purchased 640 acres for $3.50 ($92 as of 2015) an acre for a stretch of land where downtown Scottsdale is now located. Winfield and his brother, George Washington Scott, became the first residents of the town, which was soon known as Orangedale due to the large citrus groves planted by the Scott brothers. Many of the community’s original settlers, recruited by Scott from the East and Midwest, were educated and had an appreciation for cultural activities. The town’s name was changed to Scottsdale in 1894, after its founder.
First schoolhouse in Scottsdale
In 1896, these settlers established the Scottsdale Public School system, and opened the first schoolhouse, which was followed by the opening of the first general store by J. L. Davis, which also housed the first post office for Scottsdale in 1897. In the early 1900s the community supported an artists and writers culture, culminating in the opening of the region’s first resort in 1909, the Ingleside Inn, located just south of the Arizona Canal and west of the Crosscut Canal (Indian School Road at about 64th Street) in what is today Scottsdale. Also in 1909, Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop opened in downtown Scottsdale, and the original schoolhouse was replaced by the much more expansive Little Red Schoolhouse, which remains standing to this day. While not in its original building, Cavalliere’s has been in continuance operation since that time.
In 1912, both the Phoenix Street Railway Company and a competitor, the Salt River Valley Electric Railway Company, proposed building streetcar lines to Scottsdale but due to an economic downturn, neither was built.
Between 1908 and 1933, due to the construction of the Granite Reef and Roosevelt dams (in 1908 and 1911, respectively), Scottsdale’s population experienced a boom, growing steadily during those years. Scottsdale became a small market town providing services for families involved in the agricultural industry.
During the First World War Scottsdale and its environs supported a large cotton farming industry, which was due to the creation of Long Staple Egyptian Cotton, developed by the US Department of Agriculture. Although cotton is still grown in southern Arizona, Scottsdale’s cotton boom ended with the loss of government contracts at the end of the war.
Jokake Inn, Scottsdale
In 1920, a second resort was opened on 12 acres of the property owned by the artist Jessie Benton Evans. Called the Jokake Inn, meaning “mud house,” the structure still stands on the grounds of the world-famous Phoenician Resort.
The Depression years saw an influx of artists and architects to Scottsdale, which included, in 1937, the internationally renowned Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1937, Wright and his wife purchased 600 desert acres at the foot of the McDowell Mountains and established what is now known as Taliesin West, his winter home and his architectural firm’s Southwestern headquarters. Scottsdale and the rest of Phoenix have seen an everlasting influence from Frank Lloyd Wright. Many buildings throughout the region were designed by the famous architect. His significant influence on the regional architecture is commemorated through a major street which bears his name and a 125-foot (38 m) spire memorial designed by Wright himself in North Scottsdale.