Why is Phoenix the Capital of Arizona?

Why is Phoenix the Capital of Arizona?
Why is Phoenix the Capital of Arizona?

Arizona is a state in the United States known for its year-long sunshine, hot temperatures, and urban landscapes, but what is the capital of Arizona?

The capital of Arizona has been Phoenix since 1889. The city of Phoenix traces its origins back to a small settlement built in 1868 and eventually became the state’s permanent capital in 1889. It was once home to a group of Native Americans known as the Hohokam.

In this article, we will discuss what the capital of Arizona is. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about the capital of Arizona.

Where Is the Capital of Arizona?

Where Is the Capital of Arizona
Where Is the Capital of Arizona

The capital of Arizona is Phoenix, a city located in the south-central area of the state, along the iconic Salt River. It lies around 120 miles north of Mexico’s border. lying between Los Angeles, California, Texas and El Paso.

Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the U.S and is known as the valley of the sun by locals, thanks to its year-long sunshine, beautiful deserts, and warm temperatures. It has some of the most sophisticated urban landscapes of any state, an excellent southwest culture, and plenty of outdoor adventures to take on.

A Brief History of Phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona, USA downtown cityscape at dusk.
Phoenix, Arizona, USA downtown cityscape at dusk.

The area around the modern city of Phoenix has roots that go back many millennia, having once been home to a tribe of Native Americans, which is evident by an archaeological site known as Pueblo Grande. The area included prehistoric mounds, platforms, and a sophisticated canal system. 

It’s most likely that Pueblo Grande was established around 500BCE by the Huhugam, a name given to the people by the culturally aligned O’odham people. Archaeologists have given the name Hohokam to the native Americans that populated Phoenix.

These Native Americans were dynamic, imaginative and creative. They built a canal around 135 miles long that worked as designed to be used as an irrigation system which helped the land become fertile. The final fate of these people is unknown, yet it has been suggested that a long drought forced them to find new land elsewhere.

The modern portion of Phoenix’s history begins with a businessman known as Jack Swilling, who one day in 1867, stopped to rest his horse not far from the iconic White Tank Mountains. He gazed across the Salt River Valley and immediately realized that the soil would be suitable for farming if he could create a source of water.

Jack would return to Wickenburg and begin to organize the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company, who would eventually move into the valley. By the end of March, 1868, they had begun to divert water from the Salt River to the valley below via a camel, providing a valuable source of water. This in turn gave some members of the company the chance to grow crops that summer.

A small colony was formed in 1868 four miles from the modern city of Phoenix. It was first called Swillings Mill, then Hellings Mill and later Mill City. It was later changed to East Phoenix, yet, Swilling, who was a confederate soldier, suggested changing the name to Stonewall Jackson in honor of the Confederate general. Eventually the settlement was named Phoenix, after Darren Duppa had suggested that the town would rise from the ashes of a previous civilization.

Phoenix was officially recognized as an American state on May 4, 1868, when the supervisors of the Yavapai County Board, the county Phoenix was a part of, would form an election precinct here. Phoenix got its first post office on June 15, 1868

Arizona would have to wait almost four decades from its recognition before officially becoming a state on February 14. 1912.

When Did Phoenix Become the Capital of Arizona?

Phoenix Arizona with its downtown lit by the last rays of sun at the dusk.
Phoenix Arizona with its downtown lit by the last rays of sun at the dusk.

The U.S congress would officially claim Arizona as a United States territory in 1863. By 1867, the Arizona Territorial Legislature would vote to move the territorial capital from Prescott to Tucson, which would remain the capital of Arizona for ten years before the capital was moved back to Prescott.

It was finally declared on February 4, 1889, around twenty-three years before Arizona’s recognition as a state, that the permanent capital city was to be Phoenix. So as of 2022, Phoenix has been the capital of Arizona for one-hundred and thirty-three years.

Why is Phoenix the Capital of Arizona?

After Prescott was chosen as the capital of Arizona for the second time in 1887, the capital had spent an equal amount of time in both the Northern and Southern parts of the state over the last decade.

It was finally decided that the capital of Arizona should be placed somewhere central, as this would benefit trade, commerce, business, and politics. Thus, in 1889, Arizona, the small settlement that Jack Swillings Canal Company once transformed, was to be the permanent capital of the state of Arizona.

Best Places to Visit in Phoenix 

If you’re planning on taking a trip to Phoenix at any point in the future, there are countless fun activities that you can partake in. Whether you love the outdoors, desert landscapes, or something a little more physical like ATV tours in the desert, there’s something for everyone. Here are five of the best places to visit in Phoenix.

  1. Musical Instrument Museum: The Musical Instrument Museum is one of the best places you can visit in Phoenix. It’s the world’s only global instrument museum and home to the famous MIM music theater, which can seat up to three-hundred people in a performance space made for excellent acoustics. You can spend around four hours wandering around this fantastic place. 
  2. Camelback Mountain: If you are serious about your outdoor hikes and scenery, Camelback Mountain should be high on your list when you get to Phoenix. It’s located just twenty minutes from the downtown area and has the option of two difficult trials that ascend to nearly 1,500 feet, giving you an amazing 360-degree view of the city.
  3. Desert Botanical Garden: If you love to take in the nature of a place, then the Desert Botanical Garden is not to be missed. Here, you will get to see a large portion of the tranquil desert plants nestled along five trails in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.
  4. South Mountain Park: South Mountain Park is a beautiful area in Phoenix and one of the largest municipal parks in all of the U.S. It is often called Phoenix’s point of pride, and there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied, such as biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
  5. Desert ATV Rental: If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, plenty of companies will rent you ATVs for the day. You can take off and explore the Sonoran Desert at your own pace. 

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!