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Phoenix Communities

As the sixth largest city in the United States by population, Phoenix is the center for financial, commercial, cultural, entertainment and government activities in the State of Arizona. Phoenix is Arizona’s capital and the county seat of Maricopa County with more than 515 square miles. It offers more than 300 sun filled days a year, and an average temperature of 74.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The name Phoenix, legendary Egyptian symbol of rebirth, was chosen because the city was built on the ruins of the Hohokam Indian civilization.

 

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About Phoenix

Hundreds of years before any of the cities in the eastern part of our country were so much as clearings in the wilderness, a well established, civilized community occupied the land we know as Phoenix. The Pueblo Grande ruins, which were occupied between 700 A.D. and 1400 A.D., testify to our city's ancient roots.

The wide Salt River ran through the Valley of the Sun, but there was little rain and no melting snow to moisten the brown earth from river to mountain range on either side.

Those former residents were industrious, enterprising and imaginative. They built an irrigation system, consisting mostly of some 135 miles of canals, and the land became fertile. The ultimate fate of this ancient society, however, is a mystery. The accepted belief is that it was destroyed by a prolonged drought. Roving Indians, observing the Pueblo Grande ruins and the vast canal system these people left behind, gave them the name "Ho Ho Kam" -- the people who have gone.

Phoenix's modern history begins in the second half of the 19th century. In 1867, Jack Swilling of Wickenburg stopped to rest his horse at the foot of the north slopes of the White Tank Mountains. He looked down and across the expansive Salt River Valley and his eyes caught the rich gleam of the brown, dry soil turned up by the horse's hooves. He saw farm land, predominately free of rocks, and in a place beyond the reach of heavy frost or snow. All it needed was water.

Returning to Wickenburg, he organized the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company, and moved into the Valley. The same year, the company began digging a canal to divert some of the water of the Salt River onto the lands of the Valley. By March 1868, water flowed through the canal, and a few members of the company raised meager crops that summer.

By 1868, a small colony had formed approximately four miles east of the present city. Swilling's Mill became the new name of the area. It was then changed to Helling Mill, after which it became Mill City, and years later, East Phoenix. Swilling, having been a confederate soldier, wanted to name the new settlement Stonewall after Stonewall Jackson. Others suggested the name Salina, but neither name suited the inhabitants. It was Darrell Duppa who suggested the name Phoenix, inasmuch as the new town would spring from the ruins of a former civilization. That is the accepted derivation of our name.

Phoenix officially was recognized on May 4, 1868, when the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the county of which we were then a part, formed an election precinct here.

A post office was established in Phoenix on June 15, 1868, with Jack Swilling as postmaster. The sharp whistle of the first steam mill in the Valley added a brisk note to the sound of emerging industry. It advertised the Richard Flour Mills, built in 1869, where the Luhrs Tower now stands.

City of Phoenix