It was announced that the population of Arizona was 2.2 million at the end of 1995 - and then at the end of 2004 it was approximately 5.9 million. Recently we are gaining over 100 new residents per day! I remember reading old signs that said 93,000. That figure is now up to 6.4 million in Arizona (not counting illegals either). The 'metro' area is nearing 2.5 million.
There are six new high schools planned - just for the Phoenix Union High School District!
Let's just see how astounded you are at the growth of Phoenix. The 'Valley of the Sun' is now well over three million in population! Building continues unabated and at a breakneck pace. Phoenix is the largest city in area. Phoenix is projected to be the third largest city in the entire U.S. in the near future - NY ... LA ... Phoenix ... !
There was talk that Buckeye - yes, Buckeye, will surpass Phoenix as the nation's largest city in physical size - Phoenix is about 535 square miles (though Jacksonville, Florida is much larger by strip annexation - 780 square miles). The one map I saw showed the annexations Buckeye is making - all the way down to near Gila Bend and all the way up to near Wittman just South of Wickenburg! Supposedly they have let 380,000 building permits for the next 30 years.
Maricopa County was recently moved up to the third most populous county in the US. Los Angeles, Cook County (Chicago), then - little ol' us. The state is reported to be getting a net gain in population of 475 people - per day! (Add that up kids.)
115th Avenue has been re-named 'Avondale Boulevard' in their area, which is expanding dramatically. If you continue further South on 'Avondale Boulevard' you will run into Phoenix International Raceway which has grown into a world-class motor racing facility (from the desert I remember as a child).
The beginning of the survey which established the State of Arizona ( the Gila & Salt River Base and Meridian survey. The confluence of the Gila and the Salt rivers is right near here. ) is on the top of a hill just to the East of the racetrack. Baseline Road is named for the 'baseline' of the survey. And the Gadsden Purchase came all the way up to the Gila River - that was Mexico on the South side of the river until then - all the way to near Phoenix.
Recent developments & announcements are also astounding. ASU is basically taking over a good section of downtown Phoenix from 3d St. to 3d Ave., from Roosevelt to Van Buren, and expects to have 15,000 students are supposed to be there by 2008. They've just renamed each of the ASU campus' to make it more clear which campus is which.
The old APS building is now a fully-functioning ASU building too. And in the parking area adjoining it to the North is the new Walter Chronkite School of Journalism and the new KAET (Ch.8) studios.
The U of A has opened a medical school on what is left of the old Phoenix Union High School campus. The only buildings left - at 7th St. along Van Buren are just being finished. They all had their facades redone - very nice. Just North is a consortium of 'genetics' businesses working with the UofA Medical School.
Five new high-rise buildings are being constructed within three blocks of Central and Van Buren.
The State just sold a relatively small parcel of land on the banks of the Tempe Town Lake (boy that is strange to say) for about $2 million dollars ... an acre!
Hi-Rise condos seem to be the rage. One that seems to be about four stories tall is kitty-corner from the Heard Museum. And Right across from Xavier at Central and Highland they are planning a 40-story (yes, 40) condo development.
Then at 1st St. and Polk it was just announced that a 50-story (yes, 5 0) condo is planned on the old Ramada Inn site. Is to be the tallest building in Arizona. Now being used for the ASU Nursing School as the idea seems to have cooled along with the real estate market.
They apparently want to build at least a couple of 150 to 200 foot tall towers on East Camelback near 24th in the Biltmore Fashion Park area. This was a Donald Trump project and was killed by the area residents. There is sure to be something there in the near future. They have put in a tunnel - yep, a tunnel - to connect the Esplanade area on the South side of Camelback across from the Biltmore so the people will stop jay-walking to get there to shop. Six - 6! - million dollars.
Some mention was made of an 11-building complex on Scottsdale Road near Camelback - one of which is to be 40 storys. And remember that Scottsdale Fashion Square is now extended South across Camelback Rd. There is a plan to fill-in that area from this mall to the East and across Scottsdale Rd with another retail and condo development.
Westcor ( Metrocenter ) just announced development of six more malls in the Phoenix area.
I just went to a 30-screen movie theater, with an IMAX screen, in a sprawling 'strip' mall at I-17 and Beardsley - !! And there are about 200 golf courses in the Metro area too. Phoenix, desert, water problem - let's ignore it - it'll go away.
University Pool and park at 11th Ave and Van Buren are gone - now an apartment building.
Instead of the 'Old Courthouse' ( one of my favorite buildings ) being a single location including the court, the Phoenix Police Department, the jail, and the City Council - there are now separate buildings for each. Not to mention that we have 23 Justice Courts in the County, and new Superior Courts too. A new one opened in Surprise, and one at basically 32d St. and Union Hills ( near the intersection of SR-51 and 101 ), and one is now being planned for the Avondale area. There is a new building just for the court records and research too.
The Phoenix Civic Plaza 'reconstruction' is moving along. Since they have more than doubled the size of the original Civic Plaza by going South they decided to double it again by going up. And the large concrete picnic area just North of the (un-touched) Symphony Hall now will be a seven-story something.
They tore down St. Mary's High School downtown - relatively soon after the church was named a Basilica - and now they have built all the way out to 5th St with an enclosed church grounds. Still a beautiful building and grounds.
The failed development at the SW corner of 7th St and Van Buren is a part of the ASU Downtown campus - a business school. Nice area.
Just South of there the Science and History Museums are doing well. And the block South of there - and just North of the renamed Bank One Ballpark (Chase Field) where the old Greyhound station was - is a multi-story parking garage.
The newest thing is they want to get a downtown street race going again. Like the not too successful but World-Class Formula-1 race of some 20 years ago. This one will be a 'Champ car' race (similar to Formula-1, with much less international interest). It is proposed to go across Washington to 7th St, South to Lincoln, across to 1st Ave, and N to Washington. Not likely to get that route - but sure to block all cross-town traffic for the week before the race. (now dead for lack of support.)
The 'Fiesta of Lights' parade and the 'Fiesta Bowl' parade - as well as the Rodeo and Veteran's Day parades are still taking the modified path caused by the construction of the MetroRail train. A mystery as to why - with Jefferson available (and all the new buildings, and the historic renovations) they choose to show off 'Camelback' and 7th Streets to the international audiences these parades draw. I'm working on it.
Most of the buildings along the South side of Camelback from Central to 19th Avenue have been torn down. No one wanted to compete with the years of construction of the Metro train. They are using some of the lots to store all the remaining palm trees they are removing from along Central Avenue. All will be gone - but will any come back?
Central Avenue is about to be 'lost' to the new 'MetroRail' - it is to run right down the middle of Central from Camelback to Jefferson, then to ASU. Wonder what they are going to do with all those $10 Italian bricks they just had to buy for the center lane? It will once again be two lanes when the rail line is finished. No. They just widened Central - again. They actually moved many of the palm trees to the other side of the sidewalk so the train can have the center of Central - and there will still be two lanes on either side. A street slowly being deprived of any character at all.
The new Central Library (just a couple blocks South of McDowell) is simply beautiful. Designed by the only sculptor (not an architect) that is in the AIA. At Noon on the Summer Solstice the light comes through the sky lights and hits 'jewels' placed on top of columns and a kaleidescope of light floods the 5th floor. Standing room only - if you get in at all. Very popular 'event'.
The old location of the main library has been completely taken over by the Phoenix Art Museum. It is now nothing short of a world-class art museum - with shows that sometimes only come to the US to play here - only!
The 'Heard Museum' has expanded as well. Not as much, but is certainly worthy of note for all the shows there.
Of course these are just a few of the bigger changes - there are so many more. The Phoenix we grew up in simply does not exist anymore - they tore it down and built over it or paved over it.