Phoenix, the capitol of Arizona and seat of Maricopa County. Located on the Salt River in the South-Central area of Arizona, the Sonoran Desert on its Eastern doorstep, Phoenix is the definite gravity of the state. A distribution point for a ranging variety of products - from the agricultural products of the fertile Salt River Valley to the metropolis-manufactured electronic equipment and metal products. The city name is borrowed from mythology - the pyrotechnic bird that consumed itself by flame to arise from the ashes reborn - appropriated due to the settlement in 1870 being the effective rebirth of the site used by the Hohokam centuries before (see History).
As with the entire state, the population growth over the past two decades was simply mindblowing. In 1980 789,704 people inhabited the city of Phoenix, leaping 167% to 1,321,045 at the 2000 census. Although not as much as the whole state's jump (188% over the two decades), the growth during the 1990s was second only to New York among the US' large cities.
The Phoenix metropolitan area - which includes the towns of Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Scottsdale, Sun City, and Tempe (see map) - houses over two-thirds of the entire state's population. The population growth the metropolitan area experienced outweighed the city itself, even surpassing the benchmark figure set by the state in its entirety! In 1980 the recorded area population was 1,600,000 - over half being Phoenix itself. The 2000 census saw the dramatic leap of 204% to 3,252,000 people all up - Phoenix itself was now only 41% of the total.
Down into the city we focus. Architecture is rather modern and in many cases contemporary at best, often combining a modern building design with a latin feel given by surroundings. Some of special interest are the Capitol, Hyatt and Bank of America buildings (see picture gallery). But Phoenix isn't just concrete jungle like too many other US cities - tree-lined boulevards and extensive parklands give the city an exquisite, unique feel to it, in a way that simply cannot be described. In the Eastern areas of town lies Papago Park, which contains within it the Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix Zoo. Out of Phoenix' 1,087.3 kmē, the South Mountain Park takes up 69 kmē (6,900 ha) - 6.3% - which may not sound like much, but is in fact one of the largest city parks in the US.
Other places of interest are the Civic Plaza - comprising Symphony Hall and a convention center - and the America West Arena - home of the Phoenix Suns (pro basketball) and Coyotes (pro hockey). There is also the Heard Museum with a very extensive collection of displays on the area; the Phoenix Art Museum for those who appreciate creativity at its best; the State Science Centre with practical exhibits and a planetarium; and the city library system, with one large central building as well as subsidary branches dotted around the city's expanses.