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Founded in 1871, Phoenix is the capital of the state of Arizona. At an elevation of 1100 feet, it is situated in the biologically unique Sonoran Desert.
Why would anybody want to start a city in the middle of a desert? The answer is, surprisingly, agriculture. The Salt and Verde Rivers of central Arizona were exploited for large-scale agriculture by Native Americans as early as the 11th century. The area that now encompasses Phoenix was a center of the Hohokam culture, which built large canal systems and a network of towns and villages, whose remains may be viewed in the city to this day. The city's name reflects its status as a city "reborn from the ashes" of the previous settlement.
Anglo-American settlement of the area commenced in the 1860s, and in 1911 the completion of the first of several large reservoirs in the mountains north and east of Phoenix insured its success as a center for irrigation-based agriculture. Many tens of thousands of acres were planted in citrus and cotton and other crops, and for many years intensive, year-round irrigated agriculture formed the basis of the economy.
Daily highs (°F)
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Nightly lows (°F)
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Check Phoenix's 7 day forecast at NOAA
Warm and sunny winter weather also ensured a thriving tourism industry, and encouraged many easterners and midwesterners to relocate to Phoenix. High-tech industry began to flourish after World War II, and since that time the growth of Phoenix has been explosive, rising from a population of just 106,818 in 1950 to today's figure of well over 1,300,000 and metro area of over 3,250,000.
The Arizona Republic is Phoenix's major daily newspaper. Besides news, it provides detailed community info, including an events calendar.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) serves as a hub for Southwest Airlines and US Airways ; is also served by Air Canada, Westjet, British Airways, American Airlines, Midwest Airlines, jetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Great Lakes Aviation.
Due to a dispute among the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Union Pacific Railroad, and Amtrak, passenger train service to Phoenix has been discontinued. Amtrak passengers may disembark at Maricopa, Arizona (25 miles south of Phoenix) and arrange their own travel into the city. No regular shuttle service currently exists.
Interstate 10 from the south and west, and Interstate 17 from the north. US Route 60 is also a major route into Phoenix from the east. The AZ Route 87 comes in from Payson.
Greyhound Bus Lines, 2115 E. Buckeye Rd., +1 602-389-4200, . This is a large bus terminal adjacent to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
TUFESA Bus Lines, Bus service to/from Mexico.
Megabus travels daily to and from Los Angeles, with two trips in each direction. Buses stop in nearby Tempe on the east side of College Avenue between 6th and 7th streets near the Arizona State University campus; a stop in Phoenix proper will be added in the near future. Fares start at just $1 when reserved well in advance.
Renting a car like a local
The new Car Rental Facility for the Phoenix Airport is just west of the airport itself. National polls have shown that Phoenix is the 4th highest city in terms of surcharges in the nation. Car rental companies are required to add 29% (no decimal point, that's twenty nine percent!) to your bill to pay for this state of the art building. Take a cab to a local office of a car rental company. Do not tell them you are flying in. That way you are a "local rental" and do not have to pay some of the surcharges that are automatic if you rent at the car rental building at the airport. The surcharges finance everything from the local jails to the new Cardinals Stadium. The cab will likely be $25, but the surcharges for a $499 weekly rental will take your bill upwards of $650 and more. That cab looks a little cheaper now, doesn't it?
Valley Metro . Extensive metropolitan bus system, soon to be supplemented by a light rail system.
Freeways. Extensive network of freeways, most built since 1987. Caution: Heavy construction on some segments and interchanges continues. Check construction schedules and closures in the local media.
Car rental is the most convenient form of transportation for visitors, with local companies offering better prices but national chains offering more convenience vis-a-vis return policies and times.