While the original colony of Phoenix was founded in 1868, the city actually has a rich history that dates back to sometime between 700 A.D. and 1400 A.D. known as the Pueblo Grande ruins, this region was most likely inhabited by roving Native American tribes who created their own irrigation system by utilizing the canal system.
Europeans Enter Phoenix
Of course, the modern start of Phoenix began in 1868 when a man named Jack Swilling stopped for a minute to let his horse rest and saw the Salt River Valley. The fresh, rock-free soil revealed farmland that would be optimal for farming with the right water source. He created the Swilling Irrigation Company and moved into the valley along with a small group of people. The area was called Swilling’s Mill at first, name after its founder. However, the name would continue throughout the years to Helling Mill, Mill City, East Pheonix, and finally in 1868 became Phoenix.
From Post Office to Industrial Town
1868 was also the year of the first post office and soon after the first steam mill was created leading to a rapid burst of growth. This led to the official creation of the downtown Pheonix area which originally was a mile long and consisted of 96 blocks. Over time the city grew and grew and more industries moved in. The mining boom helped raise the profile of the town and led to the incorporation of the city in 1881 when Pehonix became too large for a village trustee designation to be enough.
More growth was on its way however as the invention of a horse-drawn streetcar line helped to spur growth and exploration throughout the city. While the first streetcar was a bit shaky in 1887, within two years the system started expanded and by 1889 the Southern Pacific railway crossed the city. The railway revolutionized the city its ability to produce and market products and led to the creation of a Chamber of Commerce and its eventual designation as the state capital of Arizona. 1902 led to the last big change as the National Reclamation Act opened up the way for Phoenix to build a dam which allowed them to properly manage the water supply in the Valley. Soon after in 1912 Arizona was officially approved as a state.
Heading to Phoenix? Check out this article on Things to do in Phoenix.