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Phoenix, Arizona

This article is about the Arizonan city. For the mythical creature see Phoenix, and for other uses see Phoenix (disambiguation).
Phoenix is surrounded by twenty two towns and cities that have grown so closely together that it is almost impossible to distinguish one from another in this satellite image. The large cluster of light brown pixels gridded by horizontal and vertical lines (roads and highways) demarcates the Greater Phoenix urban area.
Phoenix is surrounded by twenty two towns and cities that have grown so closely together that it is almost impossible to distinguish one from another in this satellite image. The large cluster of light brown pixels gridded by horizontal and vertical lines (roads and highways) demarcates the Greater Phoenix urban area.

Phoenix is the capital, largest city, and largest metropolitan area of the state of Arizona, United States. As of the 2000 census, Phoenix ranked:

  • the sixth largest city of the United States, with a population of 1,321,045;
  • the fourteenth largest metropolitan area of the United States, with a population of 3,251,876; and
  • the largest capital city in the United States (including Washington D.C.).

A July 1, 2003 Census estimate showed Phoenix's population rising to 1,388,416, putting it into position to quickly become the 5th largest city of the United States.

Phoenix is the county seat of Maricopa County. It was incorporated on February 5, 1881. Phoenix is the principal city of the Phoenix metropolitan area.



Location of Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix lies at an elevation of approximately 1,117 feet in the heart of the Sonoran Desert and is located in the center of Arizona in the Phoenix Valley or "Valley of the Sun" at 33°31'42" North, 112°4'35" West (33.528370, -112.076300)1. The Greater Phoenix area has a population of 3.2 million and includes Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria and many smaller communities such as Goodyear, Litchfield Park, and Anthem . Retirement communities include Sun Lakes, Sun City, Sun City West and Fountain Hills. The Salt River runs from the northeast of Maricopa County through the south of Phoenix, although it is typical to see the riverbed entirely dry. The Phoenix metro 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 far to the east. Current development of the metro area is beginning to push beyond the geographic boundaries to the north, west and south through Pinal County towards Tucson, Arizona.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1,230.5 km² (475.1 mi²). 1,229.9 km² (474.9 mi²) of it is land and 0.6 km² (0.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.05% water.


Clear blue skies are typical, with an average of 300 sunny days a year. The temperature reaches or exceeds 100°F (38°C) on an average of 89 days during the year, including most days from early June through early September. In every year except 1911, the temperature has soared to 110°F or higher. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time high of 122°F. The dry Arizona air makes the hot temperatures more tolerable early in the season; however, the influx of monsoonal moisture has been known to make August in Phoenix as humid as summers in the Southern United States.

The normal annual rainfall at Sky Harbor International Airport is 8.29 inches. March is the wettest month of the year (1.07 inches). Rain is particularly scarce from April through June, inclusive. Although thunderstorms occur on occasion during every month of the year, they are most common during the monsoon season from July to mid-September as humid air surges in from the Gulf of California. Winter storms moving inland from the Pacific Ocean occasionally produce significant rains but occur infrequently. Fog is observed from time to time during the winter months. Blowing dust and sand also can restrict visibility; these phenomoena occur most frequently during the driest months of the year, from May to July. Severe thunderstorms--bringing strong winds, large hail, or tornadoes--can occur during any month of the year, but only happen an average of once or twice per year somewhere in the metropolitan area.

At the airport, the first frost typically occurs on December 12 and the last frost on February 7; however, these dates are not representative of the city as a whole as the frequency of freezes varies considerably among neighbroroods and elevation. Compared with many areas of Phoenix, these dates err on the warm side by a month or nore. The earliest frost of Record occurred on November 3, 1946 and the latest on April 4, 1945. Successive winters without any frosts at the airport are not unknown, and the longest period without a freeze occurred between November 23, 1979 and January 31, 1985.

Snow falls roughly one year in four, but since records commenced in 1896, it has accumulated to 0.1 inch only 7 times. The worst snowstorm occurred on January 20-21, 1937, when 1 to 4 inches fell (2 to 10 cm) in parts of the city and did not melt entirely for four days. Another 1.0 inch fell on January 20, 1933. On February 2, 1935, 0.5 inches fell. Most recently, 0.4 inches fell on December 21-22, 1990. Snow also fell on March 12, 1917 (0.2 inch), November 28, 1919 (0.1 inch), and December 11, 1985 (0.1 inch).


Phoenix skyline in 2001, looking west
Phoenix skyline in 2001, looking west

At the census of 2000, there were 1,321,045 people, 465,834 households, and 307,450 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,074.1/km² (2,781.9/mi²). There were 495,832 housing units at an average density of 403.2/km² (1,044.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.07% White, 5.10% African American, 2.02% Native American, 2.00% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 16.40% from other races, and 3.28% from two or more races. 34.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any country origin.

There were 465,834 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.39.

In the city the population age distribution was 28.9% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 103.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,207, and the median income for a family was $46,467. Males had a median income of $32,820 versus $27,466 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,833. 15.8% of the population and 11.5% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 21.0% were under the age of 18 and 10.3% were 65 or older.


Phoenix is served by several major television stations:

  • KTVK-3 (News Channel 3, Independent)
  • KPHO -5 (CBS 5, CBS)
  • KAET -8 (Channel 8, PBS)
  • KSAZ-10 (FOX 10, FOX)
  • KPNX -12 (Channel 12, NBC)
  • KNXV -15 (ABC 15, ABC)
  • KUTP-45 (UPN 45, UPN)
  • KASW -61 (WB 61, WB)

There are also many radio stations to listen to in Phoenix. The city has two main traditional newspapers: The Arizona Republic serves the greater metropolitan area and East Valley Tribune tends to focus on East Valley issues. In addition, the city is also served by numerous free neighborhood papers and weeklies such as the Phoenix New Times , Arizona State University's State Press, and the College Times.

Sports Teams, Venues and Tournaments

Arizona Diamondbacks, Major League Baseball
Nine Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in Greater Phoenix; these teams, plus three that train in Tucson, are collectively known as the Cactus League .
Arizona Cardinals, National Football League (team plays in Tempe)
Phoenix Suns, National Basketball Association
Phoenix Mercury, Women's National Basketball Association
Phoenix Coyotes, National Hockey League (team plays in Glendale)
Arizona Rattlers, Arena Football League
Arizona Thunder , indoor soccer
Arizona Sting, National Lacrosse League (team plays in Glendale)
Phoenix International Raceway, Indy Racing League and NASCAR
Manzanita Speedway , sprint car racing
Firebird International Raceway , boat racing , drag racing, road course
Phoenix Open , PGA TOUR
Standard Register Turquoise Classic , LPGA
Tradition , PGA Champions Tour
Fiesta Bowl at Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium

Museums, Attractions and other Places of Interest

Heard Museum
Taliesin West and Gammage Auditorium , both designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Phoenix Art Museum
Fleischer Museum
Arizona Science Center
Hall of Flame
Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park
Phoenix Museum of History
Arizona Historical Society Museum
America West Arena
Bank One Ballpark
Glendale Arena
Desert Botanical Garden , Phoenix Zoo and Hole-in-the-Rock in Papago Park
Tovrea Castle
Wrigley Mansion
St. Mary's Basilica
Symphony Hall for the Phoenix Symphony at the Phoenix Civic Plaza
South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the world
Mystery Castle
Camelback Mountain
Piestewa Peak Recreation Area
Encanto Park
Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds
Metrocenter Mall
Castles N' Coasters amusement park
Hotel San Carlos
Arizona Biltmore


Sky Harbor International Airport
Williams Gateway Airport was converted from Williams Air Force Base, which closed in 1993.
Falcon Field Airport , Falcon Field airport in Mesa is attempting to become a commercial airport, to relieve Sky Harbor of some of the main airport's traffic. The airport has occasionally received Boeing 737's from charter airlines to carry passengers to nearby destinations.
Valley Metro, local public transit service (buses, rideshare, future light rail project)
Valley Metro Rail, a light rail project under development
Scottsdale Municipal Airport in nearby Scottsdale, attracts a large number of private jets.


Luke Air Force Base

List of famous Phoenix residents

Phoenix in film

Regions of Arizona
North Central Arizona | Northern Arizona | Phoenix metropolitan area | Southern Arizona
Largest Cities
Apache Junction | Avondale | Bullhead City | Casas Adobes | Catalina Foothills | Chandler | Flagstaff | Gilbert | Glendale | Lake Havasu City | Mesa | Nogales | Payson | Peoria | Phoenix | Prescott | Scottsdale | Sierra Vista | Sun City | Surprise | Tempe | Tombstone | Tucson | Yuma
Apache | Cochise | Coconino | Gila | Graham | Greenlee | La Paz | Maricopa | Mohave | Navajo | Pima | Pinal | Santa Cruz | Yavapai | Yuma

Last updated: 11-10-2004 20:08:41