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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe desert can be a strange place. For hours and hours, you will see nothing but sandy flats, hills and mountains. However, in between New Mexico and San Diego is one of the desert’s jewels, Phoenix, Arizona. While Phoenix has been growing dramatically for the last 100 years, it wasn't until the last decade that it became one of the largest cities in all of the United States. It isn't contained to just Phoenix either, as there are many major suburbs surrounding the city that have grown with modern technology advancing growth. Despite the desert surroundings, you won’t be bored when going to Phoenix. In 1950, the population in Phoenix was just barely over 100,000. Within a decade, that number shot up to well over 400,000 and now has an all-time high of over 1.5 million. Every decade, the population has increased which has given the city quite a bit of attraction. Of the most recent survey, 65.9% of residents were White (46.5% Non-Hispanic), 6.5% were African American, 40.8% were Hispanic or Latino, and 3.2% were Asian.
HistoryAround 2,000 years ago, Phoenix was an uninhabitable land in the middle of the desert. The Hohokam tribe established canals that would bring water to the area, making it a destination far away from most other tribes and the only trading spot between Texas and the West Coast.
Around 1400, the area was abandoned and Mexico took over the land. It was after the Mexican-American War that the United States acquired the territory, but it was not until 1874 that Phoenix became known by that name. Within years, many flocked to Phoenix as it was an established place for trading between the South and the West. The arrival of the rail system made Phoenix much more desirable, but it didn't see a real boom in population until the end of the 20th century. This is because the town was easier to get to with the newer forms of travel, and many jobs were available in combination with low housing prices. As a result, the population grew by nearly 25 percent between 1997 and 2007.
Sightseeing in PhoenixSince Phoenix is located in the desert, the most notable landmarks are all natural and not man-made. The first one you will want to visit is Papago Park. It’s one of the few places in the area where you can find a body of water with green trees surrounding it. If you want to go for a hike, then head to Camelback Mountain or South Mountain Park for some breathtaking views. There is also the high Piestewa Peak if you are feeling very adventurous. If you want to relax and catch a baseball game instead, then head to Chase Field in downtown Phoenix to watch the Diamondbacks play. There is also the Phoenix Zoo, as well museums such as the Hall of Flame (celebrating firefighters), and the Phoenix Art Museum. Then of course, there is always the Grand Canyon nearby.
DistrictsThere are many different districts in Phoenix. Among these are Central Avenue, the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District; Evans-Churchill, F.Q. Story Historic District; Garfield, Grand Avenue; Greater Coronado, Roosevelt Historic District; and the Warehouse District. For those that want to experience downtown life and catch the nightlife of Phoenix, the Warehouse District is where you want to be. If you are looking to find the art community, then Grand Avenue is the spot to be as the newly restored area has drawn a lot of attention. All of the historic districts are great to look at if you are a fan of Southwestern architecture.
FoodAs Arizona is located in the Southwest, there are a lot of unique foods that are native to the Phoenix area that you are likely to not see anywhere else. Among these foods are the Saguaro and Prickly Pear Cactus. Don’t worry about the prickly part though, those are taken out before you eat. Also, you will find the Navajo-Churro Sheep, which is a type of sheep native only to the area and is known for being a tender cut of meat.
HotelsThe city of Phoenix has not been steeped in art tradition unlike many of the other major cities. This is because a lot of the growth is recent and many of the buildings are new. There are beautiful and luxurious hotels in Phoenix that are due to become landmarks as they withstand the test of time. The most notable is the Arizona Grand Resort and is a AAA Four-Diamond resort which gives a great view of the mountain ranges that Arizona has to offer. Many of the other fine hotels are resorts, such as the Royal Palms, Arizona Biltmore, and Wigwam Resort.
SuburbsThe Phoenix Metro Area has quite a fun name, known as the “Valley of the Sun”, and has seen tremendous growth since the 1990s. It has worked its way up to being the 14th largest metro area in all of the United States with over 4 million residents calling the valley home. Phoenix is the main attraction with nearly 1.5 million residents, but there are five cities that have over 200,000 residents. These are Mesa (439,000), Chandler (236,000), Glendale (226,000), Scottsdale (217,000), and Gilbert (208,000). Tempe and Surprise are also notable suburbs in the Valley of the Sun.
SportsWhile residents of Phoenix aren't as wild about their sports teams as some of the major cities in the Midwest and the East coast, the city is still represented in every major professional sport. In the National Football League, the Arizona Cardinals play outside of town but are within driving distance from Phoenix. The Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball are fairly new but have found success. The Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League have had financial trouble, but they are still in town. Lastly, the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association are a young team that shows a lot of promise.
TransportationIf you are traveling from outside of the United States and want to fly into Phoenix, there is only one option, and that is the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport . However, if your travel is starting from within the United States, you can take a domestic flight to nearby Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. It is about 30 minutes from downtown Phoenix, but that’s a short drive compared to starting from Las Vegas or San Diego.
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Author: koreydbeckett. Last updated: Feb 04, 2015