Phoenix History

Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and the seat of Maricopa County. It lies in the midst of the Sonoran Desert, surrounded by mountains and lush fields of cotton and citrus fruits. The sun shines almost every day in Phoenix, which is why the Navajo refer to it as Hoozdo (“the place is hot”).

A thousand years before the city of Phoenix was founded, the Salt River area was occupied by a civilized community of farmers. These industrious and imaginative people built an irrigation system of some 135 miles of canals, and kept the land fertile. The fate of this ancient civilization remains a mystery, but it is generally believed that they were destroyed or driven away by a prolonged drought. They have come to be known as the Hohokam, from the Pima Indian phrase for “those who have gone.”

In 1867, Jack Swilling was visiting a hay camp in the area when he came across the Salt River Valley and saw its potential as farmland. Taking his cue from the Hohokam, he started the Swilling Irrigation & Canal Company and dug his first canal to divert water from the Salt River onto the lands of the Valley.

Within a year, a community had grown around the newly developed farmland. The settlers went through a variety of names, including Stonewall, Swilling’s Mill, and Pumkpinville. In the end, it was Swilling’s friend Darrell Duppa who suggested Phoenix, to symbolize the new civilization that had risen from the ashes of the Hohokam ruins.

The Phoenix Points of Pride are 30 landmarks and attractions that the people of Phoenix feel best represent their city. This list of parks, cultural attractions, historic residences, and mountain peaks is compiled by the Phoenix Pride Commission based on votes from more than 40,000 Sun Valley residents. Some of the current Points of Pride are Camelback Mountain, the Desert Botanical Garden, and the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

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