PHOENIX — A 105th birthday is not a common milestone for celebration; then again, Arizona is anything but commonplace.
Over the last hundred or so years, we’ve come from an obscure collection of outposts to the 14th-most populous state containing the sixth-largest metropolis in the nation. As Arizona grew, it developed a rich and peculiar history of its own.
But the people of Arizona are proud of our uniqueness. So pour yourself a nice cold drink, open the windows, and scoff at the rest of the shivering nation while we look back on the last 104 years of Arizona’s one-of-a-kind history.
Below are some of the events you might not have heard about broken down by decade.
The path to statehood was an uphill battle for Arizonans. Dismissed by U.S. Senators as “a mining camp” that “has reached its limit of development” in 1902, President William Howard Taft rejected progressive constitutions written by radical frontiersman. After demanding numerous revisions, Taft signed the document on February 14th, 1912 making Arizona the 48th state in the U.S.
This picture, taken at the border at Nogales, Ariz., in 1916, shows, from left, Gen. Alvaro Obregon, Gen. Pancho Villa and Gen. John J. Pershing in a friendly meeting. Numerous battles of the Mexican Revolution took place near the Arizona border, including the Battle of Ambos Nogales in 1918, which led to the first closed border between the towns.
International Street, with the border line staked out down the center, at Nogales, Arizona, and Sonora. This photo was taken days after an airplane dropped bombs on the Mexican side of the town to quell the Escobarista Rebellion. The only casualty – a frightened woman who died from a heart attack.
With monikers like”the Trunk Murderess” and “the Blonde Butcher,” Winnie Ruth Judd may be the most notorious woman in Arizona history. Judd was accused of murdering her two roomates one hot night in June 1931 over the affections of Jack Halloran, a prominent Phoenix businessman. She then hacked the bodies to pieces, stuffed them into trunks and took them on a train to Los Angeles as her luggage. Judd escaped the death penalty by pleading insanity, and escaped the Arizona State Asylum for the Insane six times between 1933 and 1963.
The Hoover Dam was built between 1931 and 1936. More than one hundred men died during it’s construction, but the project was finished two years early. Nearly a million people tour the dam each year, but the dam has seen a significant decrease in traffic since the completion of the Hoover Dam Bypass.
Gladwill Hill, Wide World News editor in Phoenix, Arizona, watches an egg fry on a sidewalk in Phoenix during 100 degree temperatures, July 14, 1942. Could this be the origin of Arizona’s favorite wives tale?
A Chinese cadet memorizes Japanese Army insignia while training at Thunderbird Field, near Glendale, AZ. He is learning to fly military planes so he can return to China and fight the Japanese. Many Chinese pilots trained at the Glendale area airfield went on to fight with the Flying Tigers.
Pro-league legends have played in Arizona long before we got our Diamondbacks. This 1955 photo shows Willie Mays goofin’ around after practice at the New York Giants spring training camp in Phoenix. Mays roped in 51 home runs that season, leading the league by 14 big ones (Mickie Mantle had 37.)
An aerial view of Downtown Phoenix with Camelback Mountain seen in the background. Advances in air conditioning spurred enormous growth in the Phoenix area in the 1950s. There was more construction in Phoenix in 1959 alone than there was between 1914 and 1946. The ability to offset the torrid summers put Arizona on the map.
Arizona Republican Sen. Barry M. Goldwater announces his candidacy for the U.S. presidency in Phoenix, January 1964. Recognize this name? Goldwater is the politician most often credited for sparking the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s. He lost to Lyndon B. Johnson by one of the largest landslides in history.
Connie Hawkins of the Phoenix Suns uses his long reach to carry the ball past Billy Cunningham of the 76ers. The Suns performed well in their inaugural season, ranking third in the Western Conference. Read more about about the inception of the Suns and how they picked their logo and mascot here.
Flower Children in Arizona? These are some of the young residents at a commune near Benson, Arizona. The original caption for this 1970 photo reads “Many come from broken homes and complicated backgrounds, but their beliefs are essentially simple: truth, love, and non-violence — and no drugs.” The commune is gone, but the city is still known as the gateway to Karchner Caverns State Park.
A Phoenix policeman investigates a June 1976 bombing which critically injured Arizona Republic Investigative reporter Don Bolles. The reporter was lying beside his exploded car when paramedics arrived and told them he was “working on a Mafia story.”
The St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona on a handshake deal in 1987, changing their name to the Phoenix Cardinals. In 1994, the name was changed to the Arizona Cardinals due to fan preference.
Mother Teresa gives farewells to her sisters and a small crowd outside her new chapter house in downtown Phoenix. Her September 1989 visit drew massive crowds.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been the elected sheriff of Maricopa County since 1993. Seen here after a 1996 riot at “Tent City,” Sheriff Joe has had a near constant media presence since first being elected.
The 1995 Phoenix Suns model the Arizona Diamondback’s uniforms. The Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona D-Backs are the youngest teams in the MLB, both having their their inaugural season in 1998.
Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Luis Gonzalez brought home Arizona’s first major sports league championship just four years into the franchise’s existence when the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees in a full seven-game World Series.
While Gov. Janet Napolitano pushed for the mountain formerly known as Squaw Peak to be renamed in 2003, the U.S. Board on Geographical Names didn’t follow that lead until 2008. The second-highest point in the Phoenix metropolitan area was named after Army specialist Lori Piestewa, the first known Native American woman killed in United States history and first woman soldier who lost her life in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Eight tornadoes were recorded throughout Arizona on Oct. 5 and 6 in 2010, the most for a day in Arizona’s history. Most of the tornadoes were spotted around Flagstaff.
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