Phoenix, the United States’ sixth largest city, has a plethora of pleasing attributes, from the picturesque Sonoran Desert punctuated with cartoon-like cacti to cowboys and ranchers embracing the southwestern lifestyle.
But it’s not all blue jeans, cowboy dreams and nostalgic clips of the animated characters Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner running through the rugged landscape that inspires more than 16 million people to visit Phoenix each year.
The gateway to the Grand Canyon offers plenty of phenomenal, fun places and spaces. How many of these fun facts do you know?
What’s in a name?
According to legend, Phoenix gets its name from pioneer Darrell Duppa, who saw the ruins and prehistoric canals of the Hohokam people and believed another civilization would rise, like the legendary, immortal Phoenix bird that was said to have risen from its own ashes every 500 years.
Not so dry desert
Greater Phoenix is located in the Sonoran Desert, which is one of the wettest and greenest deserts in North America.
So bright you have to wear shades
Phoenix basks in sunshine 85 per cent of its daylight hours, more often than any other major metropolitan area in the U.S. The average temperature is 24 degrees Celsius and the annual high temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. The average high temperature in winter is 20 degrees Celsius.
Greater Phoenix is home to more than 200 golf courses.
Phoenix has franchises in all four major professional sports leagues: National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns; Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks; National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals; and National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, dubbed “America’s Friendliest Airport,” saw more than 42 million passengers in 2014.
Work hard, play hard
Greater Phoenix’s major industries are high-tech manufacturing, tourism and construction. Greater Phoenix is the corporate headquarters of six Fortune 500 companies.
Playtime in the park
Phoenix is home to South Mountain Park and Preserve, the largest municipal park in North America, which covers more than 16,500 acres and has more than 80 kilometres of hiking, biking and equestrian trails.
Ride in style
The $1.4 billion light rail system debuted in downtown Phoenix in December 2008. The 32-kilometre rail system links Phoenix to the neighbouring communities of Tempe and Mesa, Ariz., and includes stops at attractions like the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, Chase Field and Talking Stick Resort Arena. The air-conditioned trains operate 20 hours a day and make stops at 28 stations every 12 minutes. Station platforms can accommodate the boarding of 600 passengers onto a three-car train within 30 seconds.
Kilometres of museums
Phoenix has a carefully curated collection of museums, including the Heard Museum, home of Native American artifacts including the largest kachina doll collection donated by the late Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater; the Desert Botanical Garden, which boasts the world’s largest collection of desert plants; Taliesin West, home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation; and the Hall of Flame, which features the world’s largest collection of fire-fighting equipment.
The Phoenix Suns have brought the NBA playoffs to Talking Stick Resort Arena 29 times.
Arizona is home to 22 Native American Indian tribes, communities and nations —more than in any other state. These tribal communities include: Ak-Chin Indian Community; Cocopah Tribe; Colorado River Indian Tribes; Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation; Fort Mojave Indian Tribe; Fort Yuma-Quechan Tribe; Gila River Indian Community; Havasupai Tribe; Hopi Tribe; Hualapai Tribe; Kaibab Paiute Tribe; Navajo Nation; Pascau Yaqui Tribe; Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community; San Carlos Apache Tribe; San Juan Southern Paiute; Tohono O’odham Nation; Tonto Apache Tribe; White Mountain Apache Tribe; Yavapai-Apache Nation; and Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe.
Who’s ready for some football?
Greater Phoenix hosted Super Bowl XXX on Jan. 28, 1996, Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, 2008 and Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, 2015.
Get a room
Phoenix boasts the largest hotel in Arizona, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. Located a block from the Phoenix Convention Center, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel opened in October 2008 and has 1,000 guest rooms, more than 7,432-square-metres of meeting space, a pool and sundeck; a fitness centre and spa; and a contemporary restaurant.
University of Phoenix Stadium, home of Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLIX, features both a retractable fabric roof and a roll-out grass field. The University of Phoenix Stadium will be the host of the 2016 College Football Championship Game of the Bowl Championship Series and the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.
Take a hike
Phoenix’s elevation is 340 metres. Three distinct mountains define the city’s horizon: South Mountain, Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak, providing many options for hiking.
The Hohokam people inhabited what is now Greater Phoenix until about 1450 A.D. They created the first major urban civilization in the Salt River Valley and developed a canal system that is still in use today.
The city of Phoenix was established in 1868; two years later, the first survey and census of the city recorded it was about a kilometre long and a half-kilometre wide, with 74 dwellings and a population of 250. Today, greater Phoenix has a population of nearly 4.3 million.
The average age of Greater Phoenix residents is 34.
Some 15 Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the Cactus League, which in 2013 drew a record 1.72 million fans. Greater Phoenix is currently home to 15 Cactus League franchises: Los Angeles Angels,Oakland Athletics,Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres,Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox.
Greater Phoenix’s top attractions, based on yearly attendance, are South Mountain Park and Preserve, Tempe Town Lake, Camelback Mountain and First Friday Art Walks in downtown Phoenix.
(Main Image: Visit Phoenix)