Once the site of the Summer Olympics, Phoenix is a metropolis that literally sprawls across the US desert. It’s a fitting home for one of the biggest auto races in North America, the Indy 500. This year’s race is scheduled for May 14th – which happens to be my birthday! It’ll be a special treat to watch a few races and maybe even participate in an interview with the drivers after the race.
With a population of 1.45 million, Phoenix is the 16th-largest city in the U.S. One way to enjoy the heart of the city is to attend a game at Phoenix Stadium, the 65,000-person capacity home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. The stadium is adjacent to the University of Phoenix campus, which is actually part of the same complex.
The geography of the area is fascinating. Surrounded by mountains on three sides and the desert in the middle, Phoenix is actually located inside a large plateau.
This is where the term “Valley” came from. Before the arrival of the Europeans, the area was inhabited by the Hohokam people. The name Hohokam is of Tewa language origin and means ‘master mason’ or ‘foreman carpenter.’ It was the name the native people gave themselves as a reference to their skill in building magnificent structures with adobe. Unfortunately, very little remains of their culture. What some consider to be the center of the city was originally an arid lake bed.
The City in Maps
I’ve always found it interesting how cities develop. While researching this article, I came across a map that showed the position of various buildings within Phoenix’s city limits. The map was labeled with the years when each structure was built and the architects who designed them. It was a quick way to get a sense of the urban development of the city.
According to the map, Phoenix was first settled in 1864 and it wasn’t until the 1890s that the city truly began to take shape. Notable buildings from that time include the Arizona Biltmore and the Sahuaro High School, both of which play an important role in the city’s history. Even now, visitors to the city can still find remnants of that time, such as the well-preserved Victorian houses and the original train depot.
Another map shows the location of streets and highways within Phoenix’s urban limits. In the early 1900s, cars were becoming more common. As a result, the number of cars in circulation increased. That, in turn, led to a greater demand for street cars and, eventually, to the building of the first freeway in America, which ran through the center of the city.
Phoenix has always been a hub for the automobile industry. Even now, the city is home to many famous car manufacturers, such as Chrysler, General Motors and Ford. In fact, the headquarters of these companies is located in the desert city. Naturally, it’s the most popular topic among residents and visitors alike, with many finding it fascinating to learn more about the car-centric history of Phoenix. It’s not uncommon to see people walking or driving around with vintage license plates from the 1940s and 1950s proudly displayed on their vehicles.
Sports Arenas and Stadiums
It’s hard to imagine a city that’s more associated with cars than Phoenix. It was originally named after the type of vehicles that were first manufactured there, the “Phoenix” automobiles. Today, the Phoenix area is home to many auto racing teams. In addition to the Indy 500, the city hosts the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the premier series of the American Le Mans, as well as the Arizona IndyCar race and the Red Dirt Series.
As mentioned above, the Phoenix area is also the site of the Summer Olympics. The first games were held in 1932 and were known as the “Newly-Reorganized” Olympics after the economic turmoil of the Great Depression. The 1932 Games were the last to be held in the “Old” Olympics venue, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is currently the home of the NFL’s Rams. Other stadiums used in the Olympics include the University of Phoenix Stadium (for athletics) and Sun Devil Stadium (for football). These stadiums are among the largest in the United States. The seating capacity of the former is 100,000 and that of the latter is 68,500.
The Valley’s Resorts
Surrounded by mountains on all sides, the Phoenix metropolitan area is actually a large plateau, which naturally provides the city with year-round comfortable temperatures. The area abounds with sunshine and warm temperatures which, along with the red rocks that make up much of the landscape, provide the perfect environment for outdoor activities.
This is fortunate for those who like to vacation in the Valley of the Sun, which is the city and surrounding area’s most reputable nickname. There is certainly no shortage of attractions to visit in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The question is, which ones will you find interesting and worth your while?
The Grand Canyon
Located in the center of the state of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is one of nature’s most stunning sights. It is a vast, magnificent canyon filled with lush greenery and striking rock formations. The area’s largest structures were formed by the forces of nature over millions of years. For sheer size, the canyon dwarfs anything else in the state.
There are many beautiful places to visit in the Grand Canyon. You can start by taking a stroll along Guadalupe River. There is also the Kaibab Plateau, with its magnificent overlooks of the canyon. The Hualapai Reservation, on the other side of the North Rim, offers another vantage point from which to view the mesmerizing landscape. Much of the northern rim is a no-go area because of the danger of falling rocks. The most popular route for tourists is the South Rim, where you’ll find numerous hotels and restaurants.
Sadly, one of the biggest concerns in the area is illegal fishing. According to the Arizona Department of Fish and Wildlife, there were 725 violations of the federal endangered species act on the South Rim alone in 2018. Although the number of illegal fishing arrests on the North Rim is not available, the department estimates there were nearly 600 violations on that side of the canyon in 2017.
In addition to the above sports arenas and stadiums, Phoenix is also home to the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes and the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball. With the exception of the Coyotes, all these teams play their home games at the downtown Phoenix venue, the Talking Stick.
The Talking Stick is a multi-purpose arena that’s part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It is also one of the country’s largest conference centers. If you are a fan of any of these teams, you will not want to miss a game. It’s worth noting that the arena was originally built for the 2002 Winter Olympics. It hosted figure skating and freeride skiing, but it was the hockey that drew the crowds. Since then, the arena has been the home of the Coyotes and the Diamondbacks.
Shopping Centers and Malls
Another interesting facet of the city is its many indoor and outdoor malls. The largest and most popular one is the Millenium Place. This behemoth of a mall has hundreds of stores and restaurants and even a skating rink! It also houses two movie theaters and an art gallery. There’s also the South Phoenix Market Center, the third-largest mall in Arizona. It has over 120 stores, including anchor tenants such as Nordstrom and Dillard’s. Other prominent malls in the area include The Shops at Talking Stick and The Boulders Mall.
The city is home to over 150 hotels and resorts. Some of the most prominent ones are the Grand Canyon, Paradise Valley and Snowflake. There are also a number of bed and breakfasts, as well as vacation rentals available for tourists. This accommodation provides a more home-like atmosphere for visitors and, for some, even offers better value for money.
Attendance And Ratings
With an estimated population of 1.45 million, Phoenix is the 16th-largest city in the United States. The population is roughly equal between the sexes, with men accounting for about 48% of the overall population. Around 82,400 people live in the city center, with the urban sprawl stretching far beyond. In 2017, Forbes magazine estimated the city’s worth at around $16.9 billion.