Phoenix, Arizona History

Word Phoenix with National Flag of USA near skyline silhouette

Phoenix, Arizona, began its long and diverse history as a frontier town. In 1867 Jack Swilling found the perfect spot for his irrigation system with rich soil that lacked water supply – he moved into this valley in search of greener pastures than those available near Wickenburg, where he was originally from. With time the once little valley has turned into a city of over 1.6 million inhabitants. In this article, we look at the important milestones in the making of the history of Phoenix, Arizona.

Earliest days

After its discovery, the newfound area was called Swilling’s Mill after its founder. Some years later, the habitat had grown into an ad-hoc colony. It was later renamed Helling Mill before being changed to just ‘Mill City’.  Years later, Darrell Duppa suggested that instead, the area be called “Phoenix”, which has remained unchanged ever since!

The infancy stage of being a Town

By 1870, it was clear that a townsite had to be selected. On Oct 20th of that year, a meeting was held in the home of John Moore where they would select such a site’s founding father with his signature on articles which made up what is now known as ‘The Salt River Valley Town Association’. Captains William A Hancock & James P Perry, led by majority vote, chose commission members alongside John T. Alsap, who became the first serving chairman of the newly created Town union. Eleven years later, with an increased population (of about 2500 inhabitants) and land mass, a new city council was incorporated, with JT Alsap serving as its first Mayor!

Growth into a Metropolis

With the establishment of statehood, Phoenix had grown into an important young metropolis. The thriving community that once characterized it slowly halted as people began moving away from farming and towards more modern jobs in urban areas like this one! By 1930 there were 120 miles worth of sidewalks and a population census of almost 50,000 people. 

When the war hit America, Phoenix quickly turned into an industrial city. Luke Field, with its various airfields, brought thousands of men and equipment here – their needs, both military or personal, were met in part by small industries located around town. When the war ended, many of these men returned back to Phoenix. The city had only 140 square blocks then, and families came with them. Phoenix had become a boomtown with massive migration post World War 2, such that by 1950 there were 106 thousand people living within its limits while thousands more depended on it for their livelihoods! 

Phoenix of Today

The city of Phoenix, Arizona, has witnessed incredible growth since 1950. Once a small 17 square mile area with only 106 thousand people, ranking it 99th among American cities, whereas today it holds more than 500 square miles and 1 .6 million inhabitants, which makes it fifth in the country (most recent national census). Today, this city has limitless potential, with its growing software industry and increasing diversity in racial composition – the future of Phoenix, Arizona, looks very bright indeed!

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