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Metropolitan Phoenix

Phoenix is a cosmopolitan city where a strong, diverse economy supports a thriving and growing business community.

HISTORY

Nicknamed "Valley of the Sun" for receiving more than 325 days of sunshine a year, most locals just refer to it as the Valley - as in the Salt River Valley, the region's official name. Phoenicians are proud of their city's reputation as a preferred place to work and do business, and are just as proud that Phoenix is a great place to raise a family. Neighborhoods feature quiet, tree-lined streets, manicured parks, a multitude of community services, and housing costs that are among the lowest of all major cities. It is ranked in the top 10 of the country's most fiscally fit cities, and has been named one of the nation's best cities for singles and one of the best places to retire. The bright sunshine, superb outdoor recreation, major sports events, and superior cultural attractions make Phoenix a very desirable place to live a quality urban life.

The name Phoenix - a legendary Egyptian symbol of rebirth - was chosen by the early founders because the city was built on the ruins of the ancient Hohokam civilization. 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. The industrious, enterprising and imaginative Hohokam built an irrigation system, consisting of 135 miles of canals still in use today, and the land became fertile. By 1868, a small colony had formed approximately four miles east of the present city and Phoenix was incorporated in1881. The casual, easy growth that characterized the farming community slowly grew into a young metropolis. The Valley's explosive growth began during World War II when military airfields were built in the area because of its near-perfect flying weather. Many diverse industries soon followed.

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY

The fifth largest city and the largest capital city in the United States, the city of Phoenix is surrounded by 24 towns and cities that have grown to form the 14th largest metropolitan area in the country. The Phoenix metropolitan area is projected to be five million people by 2020 and is expected to exceed six million residents by 2040. Nationally recognized as the nation's "Best Managed City," Phoenix's targeted promotion and careful planning have earned the city a global reputation for being "The Place" to live, work and play in the Southwest. Growth has skyrocketed since the 1980s, and a diversified economy has developed just as rapidly as the population. In 2003, metropolitan Phoenix's economy represented $140 billion annually.

Employment

Many residents are employed by the state government since Phoenix is the capital of Arizona. Numerous high tech and telecommunications companies have located in the metropolitan area, particularly in the East Valley. Major corporations in the area include America West Airlines, Banner Health System, Honeywell International, Intel, Mayo Clinic, Avnet, MicroChip Technology, Motorola, Qwest, Safeway, Kroger, UPS, Banc One, American Express, Tosco Marketing, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo Bank, and Southwest Airlines. Real estate construction and sales, commercial and residential, have experienced phenomenal growth, yet the city has managed to keep a lid on the cost of living index. Tourism remains an important contributor to the city's economy, with a majority of the total employment in services and retail trade. In 2003, manufacturing represented $35 billion or 25 percent of the Greater Phoenix economy, and tourism $9 billion or six percent.

Housing

In Phoenix, the housing industry provides an economic foundation similar to automobiles in Detroit and what steel used to be in Pittsburgh. In 2003, new construction and real estate accounted for $45 billion, or about 32 percent of the area's economy. No other major U.S. city relies as much on the housing industry for its economic well-being.

Transportation

The massive highway system connecting Phoenix with the rest of the metropolitan area represents the largest locally funded project in the country. Connections to Interstate 10 and Interstate 17 have resulted in reduced travel times within the city and throughout the metro area. Public transportation includes the RAPID Transit and Valley Metro bus lines. Valley Metro Rail, a light rail project with 26 stations, is under development and scheduled to open in 2008. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is served by 21 airlines that travel to 109 cities in the United States and around the world. The Phoenix Airport System, including Sky Harbor, Deer Valley and Goodyear Airports contributes $20.4 billion to Greater Phoenix annually and maintains 24,600 jobs with a payroll off $763 million.

Education

Arizona State University, located in Tempe, has significantly enhanced the area's work force as well as the educational culture and research capabilities in Phoenix. The metropolitan area also is home to many private educational institutions, including Grand Canyon University, University of Phoenix, Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management, Ottawa University, Western International University, Maricopa Skill Center, DeVry Institute of Technology, and Embry Riddle University. Graduating classes from area schools contribute entry level employees each year, including over 10,000 graduates from area high schools, and 18,000 graduates from community colleges, technical institutes, and universities.

Sports & Recreation

Although the Greater Phoenix Area supports nine major league baseball teams during spring training, and is home to four of the five major professional sports teams, a 2004 study showed the Phoenix sports market as the most overextended in the nation with an income base $68 billion short of what it takes to sufficiently support the professional sports franchises it does have. But the fans keep turning out for the games, as well as the Fiesta Bowl, the National Lacrosse League, NASCAR racing, and PGA and LPGA tournaments. The largest municipal park in the world is located in Phoenix and there are six lakes nearby.

Healthcare

Phoenix is home to more than 20 hospitals, medical centers and specialized health care institutions, including the top-ranked Phoenix Children's Hospital, the Barrow Neurological Institute and Banner Baywood Heart Hospital. The Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital & Medical Center, and Thunderbird Samaritan Medical Center all ranked in the top 50 out of 6,000 hospitals surveyed by U.S. News & World Report 2004 list of best hospitals in the nation.

Military

The military has a significant presence in Greater Phoenix with Luke Air Force Base located in the West Valley area, and contributes $1.4 billion to the economy every year and fuels about 18,500 jobs. Military personnel bring their families, who in turn help the local economy through work and buying goods and services.

STATISTICS

  • Population: 1,575,423 (2009 est)
  • Incorporated: 1881
  • County: Maricopa
  • Elevation: 1,117 feet
  • Total Area: 474 square miles
  • Average July High: 104
  • Average January Low: 38
  • Annual Precipitation: 8.29
  • Median Household Income: $41,207
  • Median Age: 31 years
  • Sales Tax: 1.8 %
  • Cable Internet Service: Yes
  • Fiber Optics: Yes
  • (information current as of 6/2004)

ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS

In Phoenix, there is always an answer to the question: "What are we going to do today?" Phoenix is overflowing with exciting and interesting attractions and activities to appeal to any age and any interest.

Family Fun

Parks, amusement centers and highly acclaimed science and nature attractions are abundant in Phoenix. The Arizona Doll & Toy Museum has a wonderful collection of dolls and toys from yesterday as well as familiar modern playthings. Close by is the Arizona Science Center with more than 750 interactive exhibits and a planetarium, or take a stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden in Heritage Square. ZooLights is a favorite holiday extravaganza at the Phoenix Zoo, as is Boo At The Zoo on Halloween. The Arizona State Fair every October has top-billed entertainment along with thrilling rides, a midway, shows and exhibits. Other popular festivals and events in Phoenix include the annual Chinese Culture & Cuisine Festival, Integrated Health & Fitness Expo, World of Wheels Auto Show, Arizona's Largest Home Show, Prospector's Day, Arizona Aloha Festival, Phoenix Theater New Works Festival, and 4th of July Celebration.

Museums & Galleries

The Heard Museum of Anthropology and Primitive Art is world-renowned for its Native American art exhibits, including the nation's largest kachina doll collection. Other interesting museums are the Arizona Science Center, the Phoenix Museum of History, Arizona Mineral Museum, and the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting. Nestled in downtown's Heritage Square is home an array of historic attractions. The Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, is a 1929 Valley landmark known as the Jewel of the Desert. St. Mary's Basilica, built in 1881, is known for its carillon tower and stained glass art, while the Wrigley Mansion, overlooking the Biltmore, was a 50th wedding anniversary gift in 1931 from the chewing gum magnate to his wife. The national Historic Landmark, Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park, features Hohokam culture ruins. The Desert Botanical Garden, one of only 44 accredited by the American Association of Museums, has one of the world's finest collections of desert plants, including rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world.

Visual Arts

The Phoenix Art Museum, host of the annual Cowboy Artists Show, has a permanent collection of more than 10,000 paintings, sculptures, and costumes from the 15th through 20th centuries. Curriculum at The Art Institute of Phoenix has a focus on design, animation, multimedia, and video.

Theater & Dance

World-class facilities in downtown Phoenix highlight everything from Broadway hits to lyric opera and international artists performing in every medium. The elegant Herberger Theater Center holds performances by Ballet Arizona, the Arizona Opera Company and the Arizona Theatre Company. The Phoenix Theatre, founded in 1920, is the nation's longest continuously-running community theater. The Orpheum theatre is a restored historic landmark circa 1929 for dance, theatre and special performances.

Music

The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra has been performing for more than 35 years at Symphony Hall, plus an outdoor performance series. Special performances by artists and groups throughout the year offer ample opportunities to enjoy rock, jazz, country and the big band sound. Some of the nation's best appear around the metro area at America West Arena, Bank One Ballpark, the outdoor Cricket Pavilion, and the Gammage Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at many area nightclubs. Phoenix spends nearly $600 million in entertainment every year.

Sports Events

For the sports enthusiast, Phoenix has garnered well-earned praise for being one of the world's top five golf destinations. The city also hosts three major golf tournaments, and holds Indy racing and a NASCAR show each year. Phoenix claims the Arizona Rattlers (AFL), the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), the Phoenix Suns (NBA), Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL), the Arizona Sting (National Lacrosse League), and the Arizona Sand Sharks (soccer).

Resorts & Shopping

Of the more than three dozen luxurious resorts scattered throughout the metropolitan area, there are five top-rated resorts with day spas in Phoenix, with the Arizona Biltmore considered one of the most spectacular in the world. Copper Square, in downtown Phoenix, is home to two world-class hotels as well as theaters, museums, sports venues, restaurants and shops. Passionate shoppers will find their heart's desires at fabulous malls, unique boutiques and antique shops throughout the Valley.

Location

The metropolitan valley sits at 1,135 feet above sea level along a flat valley floor in the center of Arizona. Located along the banks of the Salt River in the Sonoran Desert, where early Hohokam Indians first settled, Phoenix is surrounded by the McDowell Mountains to the northeast, South Mountain Park to the south, the White Tank Mountains to the west and the Superstition Mountains to the east. Covering over 9,000 square miles in Maricopa County, Greater Phoenix is geographically larger than Los Angeles.

Climate

Clear blue skies and lots of sunshine make Phoenix a premier desert city. The weather is warm, sunny and dry with a yearly average temperature of a pleasant 72 degrees. Occasional rain during winter is not unusual, and winter temperatures sometimes dip below freezing at night. Daytime temperatures between November and April range from the 40s to 80s, and inch up toward the 90s and beyond in May, then average triple digits for much of June through September. The air turns humid in mid-July when monsoon season brings towering cumulus clouds, sudden dust storms, and occasional downpours. The normal annual rainfall is 8.29 inches.

Demographics

Phoenix, with a population of 1.3 million, is the sixth largest city in the country and serves as the centerpiece for 3.2 million people living in the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United States. The capital of Arizona and the county seat of Maricopa County, Phoenix is the largest capital city in the country (including Washington DC), and the largest metropolitan area in the state of Arizona. Greater Phoenix comprises 22 incorporated cities - including Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa. Eight incorporated cities in the Phoenix metro area have a population of 100,000 or more: Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. The median age in Phoenix is 30.7 years. The metropolitan area has its roots firmly set in tourism, which is the second largest industry in the area, and 68% of the visitors are leisure travelers.

Lifestyles

There's more to Phoenix than cactus and line dancing. The place is a cultural paradise. There are important Native American archaeological sites to explore, as well as world-class museums, galleries, scenic hiking trails, libraries, botanical gardens, and a breeding zoo recognized world-wide for saving rare species and as a sanctuary for injured wildlife. Nine Major League baseball teams hold spring training in the metro area, all four of the major professional sports (NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB) have teams here, and auto racing is a regular at Phoenix International Raceway. You can enjoy the symphony and a plethora of performing arts events, play on golf courses galore, pamper yourself at top-notch resorts, relax at dude ranches or spas, shop until you drop, and spoil yourself dining in some of the best restaurants this side of the moon. And the nightlife is hopping, too, with plenty of swank bars, live bands and dance clubs. Lush stretches of beautiful Sonoran desert preserves extend right into the heart of the city. The Grand Canyon and winter ski areas are only a few hours from downtown Phoenix, and Mexico is a three to four hour drive to the south. Large nearby lakes offer fishing and boating, and mountain preserves have hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails. It quite simply offers the best of everything.

The Famous

Some of the more well-known who have called Phoenix their home include Nicole Powell, Barry Goldwater, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Stevie Nicks, Jenna Jameson, Sandra Day O'Connor, Dan Quayle, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Alice Cooper and Hugh Downs. Films shot on location in Phoenix include Jerry Maguire, Raising Arizona, The Gauntlet and Psycho.