Welcome to Greater Phoenix, the city that fulfills great expectations, whether you're traveling for business or pleasure.
This Southwestern capital has leapt from the ninth-largest to the sixth-largest city in the U.S. in little more than a decade. At the same time, Phoenix has emerged as one of the nation's premier tourist destinations. And no wonder. Only the number and diversity of the cultural offerings equal the abundance and variety of the outdoor recreational choices and sports venues. Earning many coveted industry awards, the resorts and hotels combine luxury and efficiency in unique ways. And, of course, the weather is the envy of the nation during most of the year.
The city's adherence to its Old West character and values exercises a powerful attraction. There's the importance given to wide-open spaces and protection of the desert environment, not to mention the emphasis placed upon hospitality and a general feeling of neighborliness. Fortunately, the city has not strayed too far from the rugged individualism that won the West. As a result, Phoenix continues to captivate visitors and keep them coming back for more.
The Wild West will always be synonymous with cowboy shoot-outs and dusty outlaws riding off into orange sunsets, pistols flailing. Train robberies, gold panning and scenes like these capture the hearts of both young and old.
It's no surprise that 75 years ago, Greater Phoenix used images of the Wild West to successfully lure visitors to this scenic destinationmuch the same as we do today. Back then, officials promoted the area by commissioning cowboy artists to paint scenes of Southwest culture, to be hung in railroad stations stretching all the way to the East Coast. Having grown from a small town site to the sixth-largest city in the U.S., Phoenix owes much of its development to a steady stream of visitors. The area's strong foundation in tourism dates back to 1926 when the Southern Pacific Railroad finished building a line that connected Phoenix with California and Chicago. Fittingly, these are still two of our top visitor markets. With increased accessibility to visits, Greater Phoenix witnessed an increase in tourism, and many hotels and resorts quickly began popping up across the deserta trend that has continued. Now, more than three dozen resorts dot the local landscape. It all started about 75 years ago, in 1929, when a cornerstone of international hospitality was established with the advent of the Arizona Biltmore in the north section of town. The only hotel now in existence to have benefited from Frank Lloyd Wright's creative genius, the Biltmore put Phoenix on the map as the site of a world-class resort hotel. Visited by every U.S. president from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush, this "jewel of the desert" has received Mobil Travel Guide's Five-Star recognition longer than any other U.S. establishment.
The very same year, an important cultural development occurred in downtown Phoenix when the Orpheum Theatre was opened and dedicated to the wonderful "talkies" being filmed in Hollywood. A mind-boggling architectural mixture of Spanish medieval and baroque as well as Italian and Greek allegorical styles, this movie palace was reputed to be the grandest theater west of the Mississippi.
Fortunately, the Orpheum escaped the wrecking ball that destroyed so many of the grand old film palaces. After $14,000,000 in restorations, it reopened in 1997 and is one of Phoenix's most delightful cultural highlights. The Orpheum's lively calendar features live theater, concerts, operas and dance performances, as well as films. It plays host to such famous stars as Carol Channing.
Later that eventful year of 1929, the residents of a charming two-story Spanish Colonial revival building in midtown Phoenix invited art lovers to come in and "take a look" at what is now the Heard Museum. Maie and Dwight Heard were extremely passionate about the art and history of Arizona's native peoples, and their collections are the basis of what has become one of the nation's most important Native American institutions, and a must-see for any visitor.
Also in 1929, a gem of a hotel began to welcome the public in the Litchfield neighborhood. Distinguished by a rustic charm that evokes Arizona's rich history, the casually elegant Wigwam continues to delight guests with one of the West's most impressive championship golf courses. For the first 10-plus years of its existence, the resort served to lodge only visiting executives of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
Greater Phoenix was an exciting, new frontier that continued to beckon visitors, many of whom may have planned for an ultimate destination of California, but decided Phoenix was too good to pass up. Others may have stayed for just a few days, but the beauty of the rugged desert combined with new, innovative hotel rooms equipped with air conditioning that cooled the desert down, allowed them to enjoy their stay.
More and more impressive resort hotels continued to open, including the Camelback Inn, which debuted in 1936. Home to one of the world's best spas, the resort is a frequent recipient of Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond ratings.
As the decades passed, Phoenix continued to prosper, both in terms of its population and in its ability to provide a gratifying experience to an increasing number of visitors. If you haven't already, find out why more than 13 million visitors travel to our region every year. Greater Phoenix Amazing What You Can Do Here!
One must go back decades, even centuries, to ascertain the historical roots of Phoenix's diverse and often dazzling cultural offerings.
Arizona's history is rich and colorful, and composed of many, many different peoples. There are the ancient ones, the Hohokam who have left behind their canals, dwelling places and petroglyphs dating back to the 1400s.
The presence of the Spanish conquistadors and the fact that Arizona was once part of Mexico are evident in many ways, ranging from beautiful old churches throughout the state to exciting fiestas to local Spanish street names.
The role of the pioneers and the cowboys, those hardy souls who endured great hardship and helped win the West, has inspired songs, stories and paintings.
Put the fruits of this cultural diversity together with a tradition of hospitality and, as they say, the rest is history.