Profile: Phoenix, Arizona

Here are the basic facts about the Valley of the Sun.

Population: 1,600,000

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9

Major Airport: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Major Employers: Intel, Honeywell, Raytheon, Wells Fargo, Banner Health, Target, Arizona State University, Safeway, Albertsons, Osco, American Express, Bank One

Although Phoenix is considered a youngster, the Hohokam Indians settled in what is now the heart of the city in about A.D. 700, long before the eastern United States was touched by Western civilization. Coping with life in the desert, the Hohokam built 135 miles of canals to carry water to their communities. The Hohokam disappeared centuries ago after a severe drought, but their canals are used to this day. And you can visit the Pueblo Grande Ruins, remnants of prehistoric Hohokam village, near the city's Sky Harbor International Airport.

Today, the central Arizona metropolis is far-flung, encompassing about a dozen cities and towns including Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Cave Creek, Carefree and Queen Creek. People here like their space, and they don’t mind driving to the far reaches of town to find it, even though good freeway access is a relatively new thing. A light rail system connecting Tempe and Phoenix just opened, bringing a mass transit option to the car-driven lifestyle.

And water? Surprisingly, it’s not an issue. Thanks to good deals brokered by Arizona’s political forefathers, metropolitan Phoenix actually has more water than it can use -- for now, anyway.


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