Phoenix, Arizona is found in the Southwest and the Western part of the United States of America. Phoenix has a long history. Its growth is amazing, its people are diverse, and its cultural strength is beautiful and magnanimous. Today, the great city of Phoenix has more than 1.5 million human beings. From its airport to its neighborhoods (like Midtown, Uptown, West Phoenix, North Phoenix, Biltmore, Aracadia, and Sunnyslope), Phoenix is known for its technological innovations and its down to Earth people. Phoenix is a cultural center of the state and a large city of the Southwest region. Diverse fauna and flora reside in the city too from bobcats to a giant saguaro. People of diverse backgrounds and creeds live in Phoenix. Frank Lloyd Wright influenced heavily much of the architecture or the city of Phoenix. He built his winter home called the Taliesin West in Phoenix. Home to many recreational parks, artistic locations, and sports arenas, its tourism in Phoenix has been very strong. The mayor currently is Greg Stanton, who is a Democrat. He was re-elected in 2015. It has its own light rail system too. Valley Metro's 20-mile (32 km) light rail project, called Valley Metro Rail, through north-central Phoenix, downtown, and eastward through Tempe and Mesa, opened December 27, 2008. Future rail segments of more than 30 miles (48 km) are planned to open by 2030. From an agricultural community to an international city, it has shown the world that great communities are blessings for the world society. It has almost 1.6 million people. Phoenix is found in the Valley of the Sun metropolis area. South of Phoenix is Maricopa County. Northeast of Phoenix is Scottdale. Southeast of Phoenix is found the city of Temple. Northwest of Phoenix is Glendale and Peoria. West of Phoenix is found Goodyear and north of Phoenix is Prescott.
Native American History
The first inhabitants of Phoenix were the Native Americans. They were hunters and gatherers. They hunted Pleistocene animals like mammoths, mastodons, and giant bisons. Back then, there were ancient horses, camels, and giant sloths in the area whose remains were discovered in the Salt River Valley. The Native Americans lived in the southwestern American region and northern Mexico for tens of thousands of years. This existed in 9,000 B.C. By 7,000 B.C, some Native Americans left the area to be replaced by other Native Americans. This era lasted from ca. 7,000 B.C. until 1 A.D. These human beings were hunters and gatherers. They travel the area too. By about 3,000 years ago, the culture changed into an agricultural lifestyle. Maize around this time was cultivated. The agrarian culture grew. Farming spread. Groups started to show their cultural differences. These differences in the ancient Southwestern territories were among farmers, villagers, and the nomads. The farmer culture was dominated by a tribe called the Hohokam.
The Hohokam peoples used petroglyph or writings on stone. They came from Mexico. They were agrarian in their civilization. They traveled as north as the Salt River basins. For more than 2,000 years, the Hohokam peoples traveled into Phoenix. Hohokam is a present-day name given to the occupants of central and southern Arizona who lived here between about the year 0 and 1450 A.D. (current era). It is derived from the Pima Native American (Akimel O'odham) word for "those who have gone" or "all used up. The Hohokam travel into the valley has been divided into 5 periods by paleontologists. The earliest period is known as the Pioneer Period, which lasted roughly from 1–700 AD, and was categorized by groups of shallow pit houses, and by its end the first canals were being used for irrigation. Also, the period saw the first decorated ceramics appearing.
This was followed by the Colonial Period (c. 700 – 900 AD), during which time the irrigation system was expanded and the community sizes grew, as did the size of the dwellings. Rock art and ball courts began to appear, and cremations became the usual form of burial. 900 to 1150 AD, referred to as the Sedentary Period, again saw the expansion of the settlements and the canal system. Platform mounds began to be built, and plazas and the ball courts which began to appear in the last period, became more prevalent in the larger settlements. The final period, the Classic Period, lasted approximately from 1150 A.D. until 1450 A.D. The number of villages declined during this period, but the size of the remaining settlements increased. Their canals were about 135 miles which made the desert land arable. Many of these canals are used for the model day Arizona Canal, Central Arizona Project Canal, and the Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct. By 1300, the Hohokam peoples became the largest population in the Southwest. They traded with the Aztecs and other nearby peoples like the Anasazi, Mogollon, and the Sinagua. Some believed that the Hohokam witnessed a supernova of 1006. They disappeared from the area by the mid 1400’s possibly either because of drought or flooding. Afterwards, many people came into the area. They were the Akimel O'odham (commonly known as Pima), Tohono O’odham and Maricopa tribes began to use the area, as well as segments of the Yavapai and Apache. The O’odham especially dominated the Phoenix area with irrigation systems, crops, etc. They worked to protect themselves from the Yuma and Apache tribes. The Yuma people traveled and they lived in the Arizona state.
Colonization by Europeans
By the 1500’s, Spanish explorers came about into the Arizona area. Many of them wrote accounts about their journeys. They left behind European diseases that ravaged Native American tribes with no immunity, especially smallpox, measles and influenza. The Spanish opened a mission in the Tucson area, but made no settlements anywhere near Phoenix. When the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, most of Mexico’s northern zone passed to United States control. A portion of it was made into the New Mexico Territory (which included what is now Phoenix) shortly afterward. Later, in the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, the U.S. promised to honor all land rights of the area including those of the O’odham. The O’odham gained full constitutional rights. During the American Civil War, the Salt River and the Gila River Valleys (which made up of much of the territory of Phoenix today) were claimed by both sides in the conflict. Confederate Arizona was officially claimed by The South, and formally created by a proclamation by Jefferson Davis on February 14, 1862. Its capital was at Mesilla, in New Mexico.
The North claimed the Salt River Valley as part of the Arizona Territory, formed by Congress in 1863 with its capital at Fort Whipple, before it was moved the following year to Prescott. While laying claim to the area, the Confederates made no move to enforce that claim, while one of the reasons for the establishment of Fort McDowell was to support the North's possession of the territory. However, since the Phoenix area had no military value, it was not contested ground during the war.
The founding of Phoenix
The founding of Phoenix has a long history. By 1863, the mining community of Wickenburg was the first to be established in what is now Maricopa County. It’s located to the northwest of modern Phoenix. During that time, Maricopa County had not yet been incorporated. The land was within Yavapai County, which included the major town of Prescott to the north of Wickenburg. When the Civil War came to a close, settlers from the north and east began to encroach on the Valley of the Sun. The U.S. Army set up Fort McDowell on the Verde River in 1865 to quell Native American uprisings. In order to create a supply of hay for their needs, the fort established a camp on the south side of the Salt River in 1866. This was the first non-native settlement in the valley. Later, other nearby settlements would form and merge to become the city of Tempe. Yet, this community was incorporated after Phoenix. Phoenix’s history as a city started with Jack Swilling. He was an ex-Confederate who in November 1867 was on a visit to the Fort’s camp. He was the first to utilize the agricultural potential of the Salt River Valley. He promoted the 1st irrigation system, which was in part inspired by the ruins of Hohokam canals.
Returning to Wickenburg, he raised funds from local gold miners and formed the Swilling Irrigating and Canal Company, whose intent was to build irrigation canals and develop the Salt River Valley for farming. The next month, December, Swilling led a group of 17 miners back to the valley, where they began the process of building the canals which would revitalize the area. There is no concrete evidence on who came up with the name for the new community, but anecdotal stories give credit to Darrell Dupa, who suggested they name it Phoenix. Swilling had suggested "Stonewall", after Stonewall Jackson, and another proposed name was Salina, which had been an early name for the Salt River. However, in light of the rebirth of a town after the collapse of the Hohokam civilization, the name Phoenix predominated. A letter to a newspaper in Prescott shows that this name was already in use by January 1868. The Board of Supervisors in Yavapai County, which at the time encompassed Phoenix.
It officially recognized the new town of Phoenix on May 4, 1868 and formed an election precinct. The first post office was established on June 15, 1868, located in Swiling’s homestead, with Swiling serving as the postmaster. Phoenix grew. By 1870 in the U.S. census, the total Salt River Valley population had 240. Due to economic considerations benefiting the members of SRVTA, the more westerly town site was selected, and a 320 acres (1.3 km2) plot of land was purchased in what is now the downtown business section. On February 14, 1871, following a vote by the territorial legislature, Governor A.K. Safford issued a proclamation creating Maricopa County by dividing Yavapai County. In that same proclamation, he named Phoenix the county seat, but that nomination was subject to the approval of the voters. An election was held in May 1871, at which Phoenix' selection as the county seat was ratified. Quite a few members of SRVTA were also elected to county positions: among them were John Alsop (Probate Judge), William Hancock (Surveyor) and Tom Barnum was elected the first sheriff. Barnum ran unopposed as the other two candidates had a shootout that left one dead and the other withdrawing from the race. The town's first government consisted of three commissioners. Several lots of land were sold in 1870 at the average price of $8. The first church in Phoenix opened in 1871 as did the first store. The first public school class was held on September 5, 1872, in the courtroom of the county building. By October 1873, a small school was completed on Center Street (now Central Avenue). The total value of the Phoenix Town site was $550, with downtown lots selling for between $7 and $11 each.
By 1875, the town had a telegraph office, sixteen saloons, and four dance halls, but the townsite-commissioner form of government was no longer working well. At a mass meeting on Oct. 20, 1875, an election was held to select three village trustees and other officials. Those first three trustees were John Smith (Chairman), Charles W. Stearns (treasurer), and Capt. Hancock (secretary). 1878 saw the opening of the first bank, a branch of the Bank of Arizona, and by 1880, Phoenix's population stood at 2,453. Later in 1880, the first legal hanging in Maricopa County was held, performed in town. In 1881, Phoenix continued to grow. It had a board trustee, but it became obsolete. The 11th Territorial Legislature passed "The Phoenix Charter Bill", incorporating Phoenix and providing for a mayor-council government. The bill was signed by Governor John C. Fremont on February 25, 1881, officially incorporating Phoenix with a population of approximately 2,500. On May 3, 1881, Phoenix held its first city election. Judge John T. Alsap defeated James D. Monihon, 127 to 107, to become the city's first mayor. Infrastructure and services developed in Phoenix especially to respond to crisis or events. After many smallpox outbreaks, the public health department was instituted during the early 1880’s. There was the volunteer fire department being created after 2 serious fires in the city. The public water system began in 1887. Other services which would see their beginnings in this decade were a private gas lighting company in 1886. A telephone company was created in 1886, a mule drawn streetcar system was made in 1887 and electric power came about in 1888. The coming of the railroad in the 1880’s was the first of several important events that revolutionized the economy of Phoenix. A spur of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Phoenix and Maricopa, was extended from Maricopa into Tempe in 1887.
Merchandise now flowed into the city by rail instead of wagon. Phoenix became a trade center, with its products reaching eastern and western markets. In response, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce was organized on November 4, 1888. Earlier in 1888, the city offices were moved into the new City Hall at Washington and Central (later, the site of the city bus terminal until Central Station was built in the 1990’s). When the territorial capital was moved from Prescott to Phoenix in 1889 the temporary territorial offices were also located in City Hall. The Arizona Republic was a daily paper in 1890 with Ed Gill as its editor. The greatest flood in the Valley’s history was in 1891. The creation of the Phoenix Sewer and Drainage Department existed in 1892. The Phoenix Street Railway electrified its mule-drawn streetcar lines in 1893, with streetcar service continuing until a 1947 fire. Another important event which occurred in 1893 was the passage of a territorial law which allowed Phoenix to annex land surrounding the city, as long as it obtained the permission of the inhabitants of that area. This would begin a process which lasts till today, as the city annexed some surrounding terrain, growing from its original 0.5 square miles of territory to slightly over 2 square miles of territory by the turn of the century. On March 12, 1895, the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad ran its first train to Phoenix, connecting it to the northern part of Arizona. The additional railroad sped the capital city's economic rise. The year 1895 also saw the establishment of Phoenix Union High School, with an enrollment of 90.
The Early 20th Century
By 1900, the population of Phoenix was 5,554. On February 25, 1901, Governor Murphy dedicated the permanent state Capitol building. It was built on a 10 acre site on the west end of Washington Street, at the cost of $130,000. The Phoenix City Council levied a $5,000,000 tax for a public library after the state legislature. In 1901, a bill allowed for a tax to support free libraries. Andrew Carnegie sent money to a library in the city as well. The Carnegie Free Library opened in 1908 and it was dedicated to Benjamin Fowler. Back then, many tuberculosis patients came into the Phoenix weather. The reason was because of its dry, warm climate. Tuberculosis is a dangerous lung disease. The Roman Catholic order of the Sisters of Mercy opened St. Joseph's Hospital in 1895, with 24 private rooms for tuberculosis patients. Although the Catholic population was small and poor, the city's Protestants were generous and funding a new hospital. In 1910 the sisters opened Arizona's first school of nursing. Today St. Joseph's Hospital is part of a corporation called Catholic Healthcare West, and is still operated by the Sisters of Mercy. Until 1901, the sisters also ran Sacred Heart Academy, an elite school for young ladies. The Sisters of the Precious Blood opened St. Mary's Catholic High School in 1917. Brophy College Preparatory for boys was opened in 1935 by the Jesuits.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the National Reclamation Act, allowing for dams to be built on western streams for reclamation purposes. Residents were quick to enhance this by organizing the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association (on February 7, 1903), to manage the water and power supply. The agency still exists as part of the Salt River Project. Theodore Roosevelt Dam was started in 1906. It was the first multiple-purpose dam, supplying both water and electric power, to be constructed under the National Reclamation Act. On May 18, 1911, the former President himself dedicated the dam, which was the largest masonry dam in the world, forming several new lakes in the surrounding mountain ranges. On February 14, 1912, President William Taft was in existence. Phoenix in that year became the capital of the newly formed state of Arizona. This happened just six months after Taft had vetoed on August 11, 1911, a joint resolution giving Arizona statehood. Taft disapproved of the recall of judges in the state constitution. Compared to Tucson or Prescott, Phoenix was considered preferable as the capital because of its central location. It was smaller than Tucson, but outgrew that city within the next few decades, to become the state's largest city.
In 1913, Phoenix formed a new form of government. It went from a mayor council system to a council manager system. It was one of the first cities in the United States with this form of city government. After Arizona’s statehood, Phoenix’s popular grew massively. By the end of the first eight years under statehood, Phoenix’s population grew to 29,053. Two thousand were attending Phoenix Union High School. In 1920, Phoenix built its first skyscraper, the Heard Building. In 1928, Scenic Airways, Inc. saw profitability in flights in the Southwest. Scenic General Manager, J. Parker Van Zandt purchased land for Scenic in Phoenix, and named the new airport Sky Harbor, which was formally dedicated on Labor Day in 1929. On March 4, 1930, former President Calvin Coolidge dedicated a dam on the Gila River named in his honor. Because of a long drought the "lake" behind it held no water. Humorist Will Rogers, also a guest speaker, quipped, "If that was my lake I’d mow it."
Phoenix's population had more than doubled during the 1920's, and now stood at 48,118. After the stock market crash of 1929, Sky Harbor was sold to another investor, and in 1930 American Airlines brought passenger and air mail service to Phoenix. In 1935 the city of Phoenix purchased the single runway airport, nicknamed "The Farm" due to its isolation, and it has been owned and operated by the city to this day. During the 1930's couples used to fly into Sky Harbor solely to get married at the chapel, for Arizona was one of the few states that did not have a waiting period for marriage. It was also during the 1930's that Phoenix and its surrounding area began to be called "The Valley of the Sun", which was an advertising slogan invented to boost tourism. In 1940 as the Depression ended, Phoenix had a population of 65,000 (with 121,000 more in the remainder of Maricopa County). Its economy was still based on cotton, citrus and cattle, while it also provided retail, wholesale, banking, and governmental services for central Arizona, and was gaining a national reputation among winter tourists.
WWII in Phoenix
During World War II, Phoenix’s economy became a distribution center. It was turning into an embryonic industrial city. It mass produced military supplies. In the area, there were 3 Air Force fields like Luke Field, Williams Field, and Falcon Field. There were two large pilot training camps. Their names are Thunderbird Field, NO. 1 in Glendale and Thunderbird Field No. 2 in Scottsdale. These facilities coupled with the giant Desert Training Center, being created by General George S. Patton (east of Phoenix) brought thousands of new people into Phoenix. Mexican-American local organizations enthusiastically supported the war effort, providing encouragement for the large number of men who enlisted, and assistance for their families. Many civilians were employed in the war effort, bringing the community more money than ever before. Some projects were organized in cooperation with the dominant Anglo community, but most were operated separately. Numerous postwar politicians got their start during the war on the home front or from their experiences and contacts in the military.
The postwar G.I. Bill of Rights provided mortgage funding for home ownership, allowing thousands to move out of small apartments. On Thanksgiving night on 1942, there was a brawl at a bar. This caused the MPs to arrest a black soldier. Later, black troops rebelled from segregated units. 3 men died and 11 were wounded in the rebellion. Most of the 180 men arrested and jailed were released, but some were court-martialed and sent to military prison. This existed in the midst of racial tensions in America and rebellions happened in Detroit and in other places where black innocent people were brutalized and murdered by racists. German prisoners of war built a secret tunnel at the prisoner-of-war camp which was located at the present site of Papago Park. In the Great Papago Escape of 23 December 1944, 25 POW's escaped. Local and federal officials took a month to recapture them all. During the war, public transportation was overwhelmed by the newcomers at a time when gasoline was rationed to 3 gallons a week and no new autos were built. In 1943, the transit systems operated seventeen streetcars and fifty-five buses. They carried 20,000,000 passengers a year. A fire in 1947 destroyed most of the streetcars, and the city switched to buses.
Phoenix had just over sixty-five thousand residents in 1940. Later, it became America’s sixth largest city by 2010, with a population of nearly 1.5 million, and millions more in nearby suburbs. Young veterans traveled into Phoenix too. By 1948, high tech industry would be a strong staple of the economy of Arizona. Military electronics, research, and development centers developed. Motorola made offices in Phoenix. It was close to New Mexico and southern California. Engineering programs existed in Arizona State University. The climate allowed more residents to live there. Other high tech companies like Intel and McDonnel Douglas would set up manufacturing operations in the Phoenix area too. After World War II, the 1950’s saw Phoenix going through massive changes. Population growth rapidly increased in the city. Industry has grown. Many housing for minorities developed. Also, there was smog, traffic congestion, and many people moved into the suburbs and other surrounding communities. By 1950, over 105,000 people lived within the city. Thousands lived in surrounding areas. There were 148 miles (238 km) of paved streets and 163 miles (262 km) of unpaved streets. The 1950's growth was spurred on by advances in mechanical air conditioning, which allowed both homes and businesses to offset the extreme heat known to Phoenix during its long summers. Affordable cooling in the decade contributed to a wild building boom. In 1959 alone, Phoenix saw more new construction than it had in the more than three decades from 1914 to 1946. In May of 1953, there was the location of the very first franchise of the McDonald’s restaurant chain in Phoenix. It was found in the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Roads. The Phoenix location also was the first McDonald’s restaurant to feature the Golden Arches architectural motif, which would be emblematic architectural element of the global restaurant chain. The McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice, desired to expand the successful restaurant that they had created in San Bernardino, California. They licensed the first McDonald’s franchise to the Phoenix businessman named Neil Fox and two other partners for a licensing fee of $1,000.00. There was the rise of Barry Goldwater too in Phoenix. He lived from 1909 to 1989. He was one founding father of the modern conservative and libertarian movements. He was well known in Phoenix, Arizona and throughout the state. He wanted reform and he rebuilt the Republican Party in the state. He was a state Senator known as “Mr. Conservative.”
He promoted conservative views throughout his life. He led a 1964 Presidential campaign against LBJ, which Goldwater lost. I don’t agree with him on many political views, but it is important to outline the complexities of a person's life regardless of their ideological affiliations. He is of both English and Jewish heritage. He is related to the famous theologian Roger Williams. He was a lifelong Episcopalian. He was a conservative. Therefore, he opposed New Deal liberalism and distrusted unions. Phoenix schools back then was segregated. Goldwater held a contradictory view on civil rights. He believed in civil rights for black people, but he wanted the states to handle the issue without federal intervention. I oppose that proposition since civil rights is a federal issue beyond just a state issue. He opposed the federal Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act because of federalism reasons. Of course, I disagree with Goldwater on that issue. In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was explicit in opposing the 1964 Presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. Dr. King wrote the following words:
"...On social and economic issues, Mr. Goldwater represented an unrealistic conservatism that was totally out of touch with the realities of the twentieth century. The issue of poverty compelled the attention of all citizens of our country. Senator Goldwater had neither the concern nor the comprehension necessary to grapple with this problem of poverty in the fashion that the historical moment dictated. On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represented a philosophy that was morally indefensible and socially suicidal. While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy..." (From The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, ed., Clayborne Carson [Time Warner, 1998], 247. See also, Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? [Harper & Row, 1967]).
Barry Goldwater was a pilot, an outdoorsman, and a photographer. He loved the natural beauty of Arizona. He loved history and politics. He wanted to get rid of corruption in Phoenix. He was elected to the Phoenix City Council in 1949. He wanted to eliminate widespread prostitution and gambling. Goldwater rebuilt the weak Republican Party and won election to the U.S. Senate in 1952, defeating the Senate Majority Leader Ernest McFarland by enough of a lead in the Phoenix area to narrowly overcome Democratic strength in rural Arizona. Many groups wanted to eliminate corruption in city government.
In 1947 a new organization, the Phoenix Charter Revision Committee, began to analyze the administrative instability, factionalism, mediocrity and low morale that had long paralyzed city government. The proposed a series of reforms and reorganized itself as the nonpartisan Charter Government Committee. Goldwater was a leader, and the committee, starting in 1949, swept nearly all the elections in the next two decades. The Committee had a broad base that included many civic and business leaders, and made sure that all the city's religions were represented. The problem was that the committee had only one woman and it had no black people or Hispanic people in the organization. Eugene C. Pulliam, owner of the city's major newspaper the Arizona Republic, provided extensive publicity. Much of the Committee’s funding secretly came from Gus Greenbaum, an associate of organized crime figures, despite the Committee’s vehement public denunciation of crime and corruption. The newly invigorated city council introduced a more efficient, less corrupt system based on a professional city manager. While the Committee could win all its elections, it was defeated on one major policy issue when a different grassroots group warned against urban renewal proposals, saying they were socialistic and threatened the rights of private property owners.
Arizona by the 1960’s changed from a Democratic stronghold in the 1930’s to a Republican bastion by the 1960’s. To this day, Arizona is a heavily conservative, Republican state. Democrats have lost much political power over the decades. There are many reasons for this. Many Midwesterners traveled into Arizona. Many of these human beings were Republicans. The new industries in Arizona were headed by people who voted Republican and abhorred labor unions. These new industries used high technologies and they appealed to engineers and technicians. Many Democratic areas were found in urban centers. Many retirees came into Arizona were Republicans. The media climate was different too. Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette newspapers and their television stations, owned by Eugene Pulliam.
After 1964 however the Pulliam media were politically better balanced. Finally, Pearce points to the quality of Republican candidates that Goldwater had systematically recruited from among the affluent, well-educated new arrivals from the East. They attracted votes across party lines, as did Goldwater himself, as well as Governor Howard Pyle, Congressman John Rhodes and numerous others. Pearce, however, also notes a growing right-wing element, based in Phoenix that repeatedly challenged the business-oriented Republican establishment. Goldwater would be more libertarian and opposed the theocratic element of the GOP by the 1980's and in the 1990's.
The Civil Rights Movement in Phoenix
The civil rights movement has a long history in Phoenix, Arizona. A lot of people in America don't know about the civil rights movement in Phoenix. Decades ago, numerous people moved into Phoenix in trying to get economic opportunities and to escape the bigotry and racism that existed in other places of America. Also, racism is a global phenomenon, so racism existed back then in Phoenix too. The Klan was prominent there in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. Also, many residents and others in the city fought back in order to fight for human justice for all people. Local organizations and leaders in Phoenix fought for local and national change. Black Americans came into Phoenix too. Phoenix had segregation back then. Back then, much of the black population in Phoenix was middle class, rich, and entrepreneurs. One of the greatest civil rights leaders in Phoenix was Lincoln Ragsdale Sr. He lived from 1926 to 1995. He was outspoken on many issues and he was a famous Tuskegee Airmen back during World War II. He fought for reforms in the Valley like voting rights, civil rights, the desegregation of schools including neighborhoods, and public accommodations. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was raised in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He and his family escaped the Tulsa riot where white racist terrorists burned black businesses and murdered innocent black people. Onlia Violet Ragsdale (his mother) had a college degree and was the President of the National Association of Colored Women’s Oklahoma chapter. Lincoln Ragsdale fought for racial equality and he loved flying, so he was in the Tuskegee Airmen. He narrowly escaped a lynching when he was 19. He moved into Phoenix in 1946. He and his brother formed a mortuary business. His family has done this before too.
This made Lincoln Ragsdale Phoenix's first black funeral home owner in Arizona in 1948. He graduated from Arizona State University and received a doctorate in business administration from Union Graduate School. He married Eleanor Ragsdale, who was a local schoolteacher at Dunbar Elementary School. She was an activist in her own right. They married in 1949. He formed many businesses from construction to a restaurant. Lincoln called Phoenix the Mississippi of the West. Phoenix had signs that discriminated against black people and Mexicans. He worked to integrate cemeteries via the Greater Phoenix Council for Civic Unity or the GPCCU. He fought for the desegregation of Arizona schools. Barry Goldwater supported this effort. The law which passed only went so far as to allow school boards to voluntarily desegregate. While many districts, including Tucson's, did desegregate voluntarily, Phoenix schools did not. The GPCCU then campaigned for a local ballot initiative to desegregate Phoenix's schools, but it failed by a 2-to-1 margin. Before 1954, Phoenix desegregated their schools before the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. He fought against housing discrimination too. The Ragsdales raised 4 children despite threats, harassment from the police, and graffiti with racial epithets on their home. Ragsdale and Rev. George B. Brooks were in the Maricopa County NAACP chapter. They protested and wanted to end workplace discrimination that barred black people from skilled jobs. Lincoln and Eleanor organized protests in local Phoenix Woolworth stories in 1962.
He fought and caused the passage of an Arizona state wide civil rights law. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Arizona State University in 1964 at Ragsdale’s invitation after which the Ragsdale hosted him in their home. Dr. King spoke in 1962 too in Phoenix. Ragsdale worked with the Hispanic community too. As a pilot, Ragsdale served on the Phoenix Municipal Aeronautics Advisory Board in the 1970's. Lincoln and Eleanor Ragsdale knew African dignitaries, Jesse Jackson, and other human beings. Lincoln Ragsdale later became involved in the intense fight to create a statewide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Arizona, which finally passed after a voter-approved ballot measure in 1992. Eleanor Ragsdale also fought for racial justice too. She was an entrepreneur. Many people played a role in the Phoenix Civil Rights movement. Their names were: George B. Brooks, Clovis Campbell Sr., Val Cordova, Carl E. Craig, Hayzel B. Daniels, Pete Garcia, J. Eugene Grigsby Jr., Charles Lama Jr., Edward F. Orduna. The city council created the Phoenix Human Rights Commission in July of 1963 to fight poverty and racism. It was chaired by William P. Reilly who wanted more job opportunities for black Americans.
It or the Commission received pledges from 300 businesses to hire without regard to race, color, or creed. A self-help job training program was created in 1967 by Reilly, Carl Craig, Robert Nesby, George Brooks, Augustus Shaw, and other black activists. Operation LEAP (Leadership and Education for the Advancement of Phoenix) was created to fight poverty too. It was a public, private sector partnership agency. Yet, Operation LEAP struggled to get results. Many Mexicans supported black people in marches and sit ins in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. Many Hispanic groups existed too. A lot of black women were in leadership positions of the civil rights movement. Great teacher Arlena E. Seneca worked in education. She won Phoenix Women of the Year honors. Vernell Coleman organized Juneteenth celebrations and Black History Month in Phoenix. Helen Mason supported the Phoenix Black Theater Troup. African American churches and other institutions assisted the black community in Phoenix in many ways.
The Arizona State University has many progressive activists. Clovis Campbell was the first African American to serve in the Arizona Senate. He was elected in 1970. Many unsung heroes of Phoenix include Vicky Daviss-Mitchell. She is a longtime community activist for over 50 years. She is a blogger, and a resident of Phoenix. She knew of crosses being burnt in years, of segregation, and other evils. Yet, she continues to fight for justice. She is right to say that some things ought to be taught at home too. Another community activist in Phoenix is Samuel Lee France. Dr. Neal Lester is a professor of English at Arizona State University. He wants education, housing, and ending evils. He’s the director of Project Humanities. He specializes in African American literacy and cultural studies. In our generation, the civil rights struggle continues. The unjust ban on ethnic studies in schools of Arizona must be banned. Immigration rights should be maintained. The rights of black people and all people must be respected.
Late 20th century Developments
From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, the city of Phoenix further developed. The city metropolitan area has grown and it became a large tourist destination. It has an exotic desert setting. Many recreational opportunities existed and nightlife plus civil events flourished in the Central Avenue. By this time, Central Avenue was filled with skyscrapers. The Phoenix Corporate Center opened in 1960. Back then, it was the tallest building in Arizona at 341 feet. By 1964, there was the completion of the Rozenweig Center or Phoenix City Square. Architect Wenceslaus Sarmiento's largest project, the landmark Phoenix Financial Center (better known by locals as the "Punch-card Building" in recognition of its unique southeastern facade), was also finished in 1964. In addition to a number of other office towers, many of Phoenix's residential high-rises were built during this decade. The growth in Phoenix didn’t transpire evenly. This pattern existed in other cities too. The growth was mainly in the city’s north side, which was a location that was nearly all white. In 1962, one local activist testified at a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing. This person said that of 31,000 homes that was recently spurning up in the neighborhood, not a single one had been sold to an African American.
Phoenix’s African American and Mexican American communities remained mostly in the south side of Phoenix. The color lines were so rigid that no one north of Van Buren Street would rent to the African American baseball star Willie Mays (who was in town for spring training during the 1960’s). In 1964, a reporter from the New Republic wrote of segregation in these terms: "Apartheid is complete. The two cities look at each other across a golf course." People would fight against segregation in Phoenix too. In 1965, the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum was opened on the grounds of the Arizona State Fair. This location was west of downtown. In 1968, the city was awarded the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise in a surprising fashion. The Phoenix Suns played its home games at the Coliseum until 1992. By 1968, the Central Arizona Project was approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This action assured future water supplies for Phoenix, Tucson, and the agricultural corridor in between. In 1969, the Catholic Church created the Diocese of Phoenix on December 2, by splitting the Archdiocese of Tucson. The first bishop was Reverend Edward A. McCarthy, who had become a Bishop in 1965.
In 1971, Phoenix adopted the Central Phoenix Plan. This allowed unlimited building heights along Central Avenue. The problem was that the plan didn’t sustain long term development of the Central Corridor. There were few office towers constructed along the North Central during the 1970’s. None approached the scope of construction during the previous decade. Downtown experienced a resurgence. There was a great level of construction activity. This would not be seen again until the urban real estate boom of the 2000’s. Many high rise buildings were erected, including the buildings currently named Wells Fargo Plaza, the Chase Tower (at 483 feet, the tallest building in both Phoenix and Arizona) and the U.S. Bank Center. By the end of the decade, Phoenix adopted the Phoenix Concept 2000 plan which split the city into urban villages, each with its own village core where greater height and density was permitted, further shaping the free-market development culture. This officially turned Phoenix into a city of many nodes, which would later be connected by freeways. 1972 would see the opening of the Phoenix Symphony Hall. The Salt River flooded in 1980. That flood damaged many bridges. So, the Arizona Department of Transportation and Amtrak worked together. They temporarily operated a train service. It has been referred to by the Valley Metro Rail known as “Hattie B” line. It existed between central Phoenix and the southeast suburbs. There were high operating costs and a lack of interest from local authorities in funding, so it was discontinued. Sandra Day O’Connor (who was born in Texas and grew up in Arizona) was the first woman justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on September 25, 1986. In 1985, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the nation's largest nuclear power plant, began electrical production. Conceived in 1980, the Arizona Science Center, located in Heritage and Science Park, opened in 1984. 1987 saw visits by Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
Phoenix in the 21st Century
The 20 story City Hall was opened in Phoenix in 1992. There were many areas being developed to help refugees from Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Sierra Leona, Laos, Vietnam, and Central and South America. Many of the refugees from those nations lived in the Sunnyslope area with low cost housing. Students and adults spoke 43 different languages in local schools by the year of 2000. In the 21st century, Phoenix continued to grow economically. Its population grew too. It was the second fastest metropolitan area in America under Las Vegas. The Phoenix Light Rail developed in 2008. It would connect Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. Squaw Peak, the second tallest mountain in the city, was officially renamed Piestewa Peak after Army Specialist Lori Ann Piestewa, an Arizona native who was the first Native American woman to die in combat with the U.S. military. Also, she was the first American female casualty in the 2003 Iraq War. Phoenix was hit hard by the subprime mortgage crisis. In early 2009, the median home price was $150,000, down from its $262,000 peak in recent years. Crime rates in Phoenix have declined in recent years and once troubled, decaying neighborhoods such as South Mountain, Alhambra, and Maryvale, have recovered and stabilized. Recently, Downtown Phoenix and the central core have experienced renewed interest and expansion, resulting in numerous restaurants, stores and businesses opening or relocating to central Phoenix.
The Culture of Phoenix.
The culture of Phoenix is very diverse. There are performing arts venues in the city too. The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera plus the Ballet Arizona are found in the city. Performs globally come to these locations to express their talents to the world. Several smaller theaters including Trunk Space, the Mesa Arts Center, the Crescent Ballroom, Celebrity Theater, and Modified Arts support regular independent musical and theater performances. Music can also be seen in some of the venues usually reserved for sports, such as the Wells Fargo Arena and the University of Phoenix Stadium. Dozens of museums exist in the Valley (which includes Phoenix). The Musical Instrument Museum opened its doors in 2010. It has the biggest musical instrument collection in the world. It was designed by Alden B. Dow. He was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Phoenix Art Museum was constructed in a single year. It opened in November of 1959. Sculptures are found in the new Phoenix Civil Space Park. That is a two city block park in the middle of downtown. Tourism is very popular in Phoenix too. The greater Phoenix area has more than 62,000 hotel rooms in over 500 hotels and 40 resorts. Due to its natural beauty and climate, Phoenix has a plethora of outdoor attractions and recreational activities. The Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States. Since opening in 1962, the zoo has developed an international reputation for its efforts on animal conservation, including breeding and reintroducing endangered species back into the wild.
Right next to the zoo, the Phoenix Botanical Gardens were opened in 1939, and are acclaimed worldwide for their exhibits and educational programs, featuring the largest collection of arid plants in the U.S. South Mountain Park, which is the largest municipal park in the U.S., is also the highest desert mountain preserve in the world. Mexican food is found in restaurants as well. Some of Phoenix's restaurants have a long history. The Stockyards steakhouse dates to 1947, while Monti's La Casa Vieja (Spanish for "The Old House") was in operation as a restaurant since the 1890's, but closed its doors November 17, 2014. Macayo's (a Mexican restaurant chain) was established in Phoenix in 1946, and other major Mexican restaurants include Garcia's (1956) and Manuel's (1964). There are other restaurants that show Korean, Irish, Japanese, Thai, Spanish, Brazilian, and French cuisine. Sports are a huge part of the culture of Phoenix. The Arizona Cardinals (of the NFL), the Arizona Diamondbacks (of the MLB), the Phoenix Suns (of the NBA), the Arizona Coyotos (of the NHL), the Phoenix Mercury (of the WNBA), the Arizona Rattlers (of IFL or indoor football), and the Phoenix Rising FC (of Soccer), and other teams play in Phoenix.