How Did Phoenix, AZ Get Its Name?

When most people wonder how Phoenix, Arizona got its name they imagine that it has something to do with the city’s extreme heat. And that would make sense because in Greek mythology the phoenix is associated with the sun, and based on some stories the mythological phoenix would combust in a blaze of flames and die before rising anew from its ashes. But according to the City of Phoenix’s website, the name is completely unrelated to the city’s hot climate and instead can be traced back to one of the early settlers of the region, Darryl Duppa, and the first inhabitants of the area, the Hohokam Indians.

Phoenix’s Modern History

Phoenix’s modern history began in 1867 when Jack Swilling of Wickenburg, an early Arizona pioneer, visited the Salt River Valley and recognized the farming potential of the area. All that was missing from the dry desert soil was water. The Hohokam Indians, the area’s previous inhabitants, vanished around 1400 A.D. but had left behind a system of ancient irrigation canals reaching over 135 miles. Inspired by the Hohokam canals, Swilling formed the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company and began construction on modern irrigation canals. In 1868, water flowed through the canals and the first crops of wheat, barley, and corn began to grow.

During that first year, the settlement was called a few different names. It first became known as Swilling’s Mill, then Helling Mill, and then Mill City. With the success of the first year, Swilling and some of his fellow pioneers decided to come up with a permanent name for their small settlement and many different ideas were thrown around. Swilling, a former Confederate soldier, wanted to name the town Stonewall after the Southern war hero Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Another settler’s suggestion was Pumpkinville in reference to the wild pumpkins that were growing in the Salt River Valley. The name Salina was also mentioned because of the Salt River.

Phoenix, Arizona

But it was Phillip Darryl Duppa, an Englishman educated in classical studies and fluent in five languages, who stepped in and suggested Phoenix, the mythical bird that rose from the ashes. He is purported to have said, “a new city will spring phoenix-like upon the ruins of a former civilization.” He predicted that from the ashes of the Hohokam Indian civilization, the new city of Phoenix would rise. The name embodied the hope for the future felt by all present. Phoenix became an official town on May 4, 1868 when an election precinct was formed, and on June 15, 1868, the town’s first post office was established.

Duppa’s prediction proved correct; Phoenix is an ever-growing and prosperous city. The irrigation canal system led to a thriving farming community and later Phoenix became home to many large technology companies. Phoenix continues to build upon the old and it is now the 5th largest city in the United States with a population of over 1.6 million. Phoenix is only continuing to grow as more people decide to call this city their home.

Phoenix Arizona Law Firm

Nicole Pavlik Law Firm helps the residents of the area with their estate planning, business planning, and probate needs. To see what Phoenix attorney Nicole Pavlik can do for your estate or business call her office at (602) 635-6176.

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