Get ready to impress your friends, family, and co-workers. Moments from now, you will be the Cliff Clavin of Phoenix trivia! Here’s a list of facts about Phoenix and our great state of Arizona. Do you have unique trivia to add to the list? Drop me a line by submitting a comment at the bottom of this page.

It’s a little-known fact that…

  • The Phoenix Valley was the floor of a shallow, ancient sea 1.8 billion years ago.
  • The Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix is featured in the opening sequence of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 slasher-thriller, Psycho.
  • The male mulberry tree is banned in Phoenix due to its high pollen production.
  • Phoenix is the 5th most populous city in the nation, but only the 12th largest metro area by population.
  • The region receives 320 days of sun each year, the most of any major U.S. city.
  • Ancient rock carvings, or petroglyphs, are visible in their natural environs at the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve within the city limits.
  • The original capital of the Arizona Territory was not Phoenix. It was first located in Navajo Springs, then alternated between Prescott and Tucson until 1889, when Phoenix was chosen as a geographic compromise.
  • At 1,086 feet mean elevation, the city of Phoenix is lower than the bottom of the Grand Canyon at 2,200 feet. Much of the Colorado River water that churns through the Grand Canyon flows down to Phoenix via the Central Arizona Project canal. The water is distributed for household and irrigation use.
  • The slender, ubiquitous palm tree that you see today dotting the Phoenix skyline is not native. Only the California fan palm, or Washingtonia filifera, is indigenous to Arizona. Its natural habitat is also not Phoenix, but instead the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, which is located 90 miles west of downtown.
  • The city’s name was proposed by an Englishman, Phillip Darrell Duppa, who lived the last half of his life in the Arizona Territory. Duppa’s suggested moniker reflected that a new city was rising from ashes of the Hohokam civilization, like the Phoenix sunbird of Greek mythology. Duppa also founded the town of New River (35 miles north of downtown Phoenix) as a stagecoach stop.
  • 18 million years ago, a volcano erupted in the Superstition Mountains, just 23 miles east of downtown Phoenix.
  • Phoenix is the largest U.S. city which also serves as a state capital.
  • The Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded in Phoenix. The charitable organization grants experiences and trips to children with life-threatening conditions and illnesses.
  • Phoenix is the largest U.S. city without Amtrak rail service.
  • Bethany Home Road, an east-west corridor in Phoenix, is named for a local 1908 tuberculosis sanitarium. The hospital was located near the southwest corner of 16th Street and Bethany Home Road.
  • There is a hidden, unmarked, speak-easy bar above the Stock & Stable restaurant at 5538 N 7th Street. Enter through a fire escape at the back of the building or a mock freezer door in the restaurant’s kitchen.
  • The Phoenix area was first used by 19th-century settlers as a hay camp that supplied the horses at Fort McDowell, which opened in 1865.
  • Rock music icon Alice Cooper attended Cortez High School in Phoenix. He lives in Paradise Valley and leads a non-profit charity called Solid Rock which serves inner-city Arizona teens.

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  • Marilyn Monroe’s favorite pool was at the Arizona Biltmore. It is also where Irving Berlin wrote the timeless holiday melody, White Christmas. The lead architect on the Arizona Biltmore was Albert Chase McArthur who was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Peak real estate season in the Phoenix metro is March through May. Winter is also an active time of year for real estate transactions, which is inverse from other parts of the country.
  • Modern-day concrete canals in Phoenix overlay the 1,000+ miles of canals and irrigation ditches that were dug by the Hohokam between 600AD-1450AD.
  • Phoenix is one of the few U.S. cities with all four major professional sports franchises: Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Arizona Cardinals (NFL) and Arizona Coyotes (NHL).
  • The City of Phoenix is the only state capital with more than 1,000,000 residents.
  • The 125-acre Phoenix Zoo near Papago Park is the largest privately-owned non-profit zoo in the U.S. It was founded by a member of the Maytag appliance family.
  • The hottest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix was 122 degrees Fahrenheit at Sky Harbor International Airport on June 26, 1990. Flights were grounded on that day because aircraft manufacture specs did not have flight load factor data posted for temperatures that high.
  • Actress Jennie Garth of 90210 TV fame attended Greenway High School in Phoenix and Apollo High School in Glendale.
  • Joe DiMaggio, Clark Gable, and John Wayne all frequented Durant’s Steakhouse on Central Avenue.
  • The Granite Reef Diversion Dam, south of Fountain Hills, diverts most of the water from the Salt River. It is redirected to Phoenix for drinking water and irrigation.
  • Ping Golf clubs world headquarters is located in Phoenix.

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  • The 1952 David and Gladys Wright home at 5212 E. Exeter Boulevard in Phoenix was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright for his son and daughter-in-law.
  • Arizona Governor Fife Symington went public with his personal account of a UFO sighting in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve over Squaw Peak in 1997. More than 1,000 Phoenix residents saw the craft too. The phenomena became known as The Phoenix Lights.
  • The exterior of Mel’s Diner in the 1970s CBS sitcom Alice is located at 1747 Grand Avenue. The storyline was staged in Phoenix and the restaurant still operates today.
  • At 1,650 acres, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix is the largest publicly-operated shooting range in the United States.
  • Cutting down a saguaro cactus on your property, state land or federal land is a crime, punishable by up to a maximum 25-year sentence. Homeowners wishing to move a saguaro off of their land must contact the Arizona Department of Agriculture for permitting. Failure to do so can lead to a felony criminal damage charge.
  • Most rattlesnake encounters happen within 1/4 mile of the edge of the open desert, not in the central city or older suburbs.
  • Most of Arizona, including Phoenix, does not observe Daylight Saving Time. No need to change clocks.
  • Stevie Nicks, singer-songwriter of Fleetwood Mac fame, was born in Phoenix. Her father was president of the Armor-Dial (Dial soap) consumer products company that was moved from Chicago to Phoenix in 1971.
  • South Mountain Preserve in Phoenix is the 4th largest municipal park in the nation. It has 16,094 acres within the city’s limits.
  • Homebuilder Del Webb established Sun City in 1960. It wasn’t the first active adult community in the U.S. That accolade belongs to Youngtown, Arizona, just down the street.
  • The grid system that determines all streets in Phoenix originates from the confluence of the Salt River and the Gila Rivers.
  • Residential wood-burning fireplaces were banned in Maricopa County after 1998 due to smoke particulates increasing Valley smog.
  • Game show host Art Linkletter was instrumental in the opening of the Deer Valley Airport in 1960.

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  • The westernmost battle of the U.S. Civil War was fought just 48 miles southeast of Phoenix at Picacho Peak on April 15, 1862.
  • The Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal is 370 miles long and connects Lake Havasu, Phoenix and Tucson.
  • Scenes from Transformers 5: The Last Knight were shot on the Loop 303 in north Phoenix during the summer of 2016.
  • Pima Cotton has been grown for centuries in the Phoenix Valley. It was known as far as the Soviet Union in the 20th century for its comfort and durability.
  • Basements are rare in Phoenix homes. Only about 3% of homes within the city have them.
  • The first Mexican-born Governor of Arizona was Raul Castro. He served from 1975-1977.
  • Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater (R) ran against Lyndon B. Johnson (D) in the 1964 U.S. Presidential election and lost.
  • Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the First Christian Church and seminary (originally the Southwest Christian Seminary) at 6750 N. 7th Ave. in Phoenix.
  • The Granite Reef Diversion Dam south of Fountain Hills diverts most of the Salt River through the Arizona Canal and South Canal. It flows to Phoenix for drinking water and irrigation.
  • Wonder Woman TV star, Lynda Carter, was born in Phoenix in 1951. She lived during her childhood in Globe, Arizona.
  • Most of Camelback Mountain falls within Phoenix city limits.
  • The BMO Tower on Central Avenue in midtown Phoenix was originally built for the Dial Corporation in 1991. Its contours resemble a bar of Dial bar soap.
  • The saguaro cactus flower is the official state flower of Arizona. However, the saguaro is not the state tree. That title belongs to the Palo Verde tree. The name means “green stick” in Spanish.
  • Wild burros, coyotes, and javelina roam free within city limits in lesser populated areas of the Valley.
  • There are no residential real estate transfer taxes in Phoenix.
  • Litchfield Park, in Phoenix’s west Valley, was originally founded in 1916 as a cotton farm for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio. Cotton was interlaced within early tires to strengthen them. During WWI, German U-boats had cut off Egyptian cotton supply ships in the North Atlantic and U.S. tire manufacturers needed a domestic source for the requisite long-staple cotton. The town is named for Paul Litchfield, an executive at Goodyear Tire who established the Arizona community.
  • The Western diamondback rattlesnake is the most common rattlesnake in the Valley.
  • In 1950, Phoenix was only the 100th largest city in the U.S. according to census records with a population of 106,000.
  • The Phoenix Financial Center on Central Ave. was built by IBM and was designed to look like a computer punch card.
  • The Heard Museum in Phoenix was started by an heir of the True-Value Hardware stores.
  • Phoenix Country Club is a county island, meaning that it is not technically part of the City of Phoenix and is responsible for its own municipal services.
  • East-west streets in downtown Phoenix are named for U.S. Presidents.
  • North-south streets near downtown Phoenix bore the names of Indians. However, they were later changed to accommodate a street numbering system.

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  • The Executive Terminal at Sky Harbor International Airport is named for Lincoln Ragsdale who was a Tuskegee Airman. The airmen were part of a squadron of black U.S. Army Air Corps pilots in WWII. Ragsdale was also a Civil Rights-era activist in Phoenix.
  • Phoenix receives between 3-15 inches of rain each year.
  • Phoenix receives more than 4,000 hours of sunshine each year.
  • The giant saguaro cactus does not grow arms until it is at least 50 years old. Saguaros can live to be more than 300 years old.
  • The Silver Pony Cocktail Lounge in Phoenix offers a hitching post where you can ride in and tie off your horse. It is located just 6 miles south of downtown at 620 W. Dobbins Rd.
  • Canadian folk rock artist, Gordon Lightfoot, wrote his 1974 hit, Carefree Highway, about the road of the same name in the north Phoenix Valley.
  • Like the Bethany Home sanitarium, the Sunnyslope neighborhood in Phoenix was a founded as a tuberculosis camp for ailing northerners looking to convalesce in an arid climate.
  • Greenway Road in Phoenix is named for Isabella Greenway, the first female U.S. Representative, and friend of the Roosevelts.
  • Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery.
  • Squaw Peak in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve was renamed Piestewa Peak in 2008 to commemorate Lori Ann Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat while serving in the United States military. She was Hopi from Tuba City, Arizona.
  • Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed a revised Arizona State Capital Building to be built near Papago Park, but it was never constructed.

 


You know, uh, basketball was invented by the ancient Celtics. Interestingly enough, so was the parquet floor.Cheers TV sitcom character Cliff Clavin, trivia buff and bar know-it-all in Season 9, Episode 2