State capital and largest city of Arizona, USA, in Maricopa County, located on the Salt River; population (2000 est) 1,321,000. It is a commercial and industrial centre, an agricultural distribution point for the irrigated Salt River valley, and a popular winter resort. Products include steel, aluminium, aviation equipment, computers, electrical goods, cosmetics, clothing, and processed foods. Phoenix was incorporated in 1881.
Settled from 1864 around the irrigation network of a Hohokam American Indian farming settlement, which disappeared in the 15th century, by the late 1870s Phoenix became the trade centre of the southwest, and was a lawless cowboy town. It became the territorial capital in 1889, and the state capital in 1912. The completion of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River in 1911 provided the water and power needed for economic development. In 1926 the Southern Pacific Railroad connected Phoenix to the east, and tremendous growth from the 1940s transformed the city.
Growth of the city In 1868 the settlement was known as Swilling's Mill, then Helling Mill, then Mill City. It was named Phoenix in 1870 because it rose from the old Hohokam ruins. Prior to the 1940s, Phoenix was mainly a health resort and retirement community. During the decade 1960–70, the population of the area increased by over 45%, and by 34% between 1990 and 2000. Contributing factors include the dry climate and warm winters, with a January mean temperature of over 9°C/48°F and an annual precipitation of 190 mm/9 in; availability of space for urban expansion; and the overspill of industry from southern California, relating to information technology and aviation.
Features Museums and galleries include the Phoenix Art Museum; the Heard Museum, which houses a collection of crafts from Arizona's Hopi and Navajo cultures; the Pueblo Grande Museum, featuring archaeological material from the Hohokam period; and the Arizona State Capitol Museum. Educational institutions include the University of Phoenix (1976), the Grand Canyon University (1949), and the Devry Institute of Technology (1967). An architectural community developed around the winter home of designer Frank Lloyd Wright, who built ‘Taliesen West’ in 1938; an architectural school, working studio, and exhibition facilities now occupy the residence. There are 161 entries on the national register of historic places. The city is home to a symphony orchestra, opera, and ballet. Sports teams include the Arizona Cardinals (American football), Phoenix Suns (basketball), Arizona Diamondbacks (baseball), and Phoenix Coyotes (ice hockey). Phoenix is the birthplace of former US senator Barry Goldwater.
Environmental problems Water availability is a problem as the area around Phoenix is a desert. The Theodore Roosevelt Dam and an aqueduct from the Colorado River safeguard the city's water supply (only 5% is from groundwater); summer temperatures in this arid region frequently rise above 37°C/100°F. The city imposes restrictions on lawn watering and it is against the law to let water run into the street. Being surrounded by mountains, Phoenix also experiences problems with air pollution.