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Get To Know the Cities and Towns of Greater Phoenix

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The Greater Phoenix area is made up of more than 25 cities and towns, depending on how you define it. It is often easiest to think of Greater Phoenix to be the same as Maricopa County, although I will include some areas that are actually in Pinal County, because the people who live in those areas often work, play and shop in Maricopa County. For at least a decade the metro Phoenix area has been one of the fastest growing in the country, and it's a lot of area to cover! So, lets get to know our cities and towns.
  1. About Maricopa County
  2. Phoenix
  3. Mesa
  4. Chandler
  5. Gilbert
  6. Tempe
  7. Scottsdale
  8. Cave Creek
  9. Glendale
  10. Surprise
  1. Peoria
  2. Maricopa
  3. Avondale and Goodyear
  4. Litchfield Park
  5. El Mirage
  6. Wickenburg
  7. Sun Cities
  8. Other North and Northeast Valley Cities and Towns
  9. Other Southeast Valley Cities and Towns

About Maricopa County

Maricopa County

Maricopa County is located in central Arizona, and nine of the ten largest cities in the state are located here. As I mention in the introduction, some people consider "Greater Phoenix" and "Maricopa County" to be synonymous. Most of the time, when I describe something in Metro Phoenix or Greater Phoenix, it's pretty close to being the same as Maricopa County although I do consider some communities outside of Maricopa County (but physically close by) to be part of the area if people there typically work, school or play here.

Phoenix

Phoenix City Hall

Although many people tend to refer to the entire Greater Phoenix area as simply 'Phoenix,' the City of Phoenix is the hub of it all. Phoenix is the state capital, and the non-agricultural history of the area is concentrated right here. Phoenix is also the 6th largest city in the country.

Mesa

Mesa Arts center

Mesa is one of Arizona's largest cities in terms of both area and population. It is located in what is often referred to as the East Valley -- the southeast portion of the Greater Phoenix area.

Chandler

Ostrich Festival in Chandler, Arizona

Chandler, Arizona was named for a veterinarian, Dr. A. J. Chandler, who settled in the area in 1891. In 1920 the Town of Chandler incorporated, with Dr. Chandler as its first Mayor. Chandler is in the part of town often referred to as the East Valley, and is southeast of Phoenix.

Gilbert

Welcome to Gilbert, Arizona

Gilbert incorporated on July 6, 1920. It was known as the "Hay Capital of the World" until the late 1920s. My, a lot has changed since then! Gilbert, Arizona was recognized as the fastest growing city in America between 1990 and 2005 with a growth rate of nearly 500%.

Tempe

Tempe Beach Park

Tempe is located in the southeast part of the Greater Phoenix area. It is one of the cities that is included an area often referred to as the East Valley. One of Tempe's claim to fame is that it is the primary location of Arizona State University.

Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale

The City of Scottsdale is often thought of as Arizona's playground for the rich and famous. Sometimes referred to as Snotsdale by critical (or envious?) Arizonans, you'll find quite a concentration of high end shopping, luxury resorts, fine dining and country club living in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Cave Creek

The Town of Cave Creek is located in the northern part of the Valley of the Sun. It's a town with a western spirit and a history of mining and ranching.

Glendale

Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona

Glendale, Arizona is in the northwest portion of the Greater Phoenix area. In recent years, Glendale has seen major growth in both residential and commercial development. Two major stadiums now have a Glendale, Arizona address, and the city is building toward more development as a tourism and entertainment destination.

Surprise

Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona

Surprise, Arizona was named for Surprise, Nebraska. The community incorporated in 1960. In the past decade Surprise, AZ has grown from a town of about 2,000 homes to a bustling community for both families and retirees, with the population more than tripling in that time. The adult living community of Sun City Grand is actually within the Surprise city limits.

Peoria

Mural at the Challenger Space Center

Peoria, Arizona is located northwest of the city of Phoenix, and is considered part of the greater Phoenix area. It was founded in 1886 by settlers from Peoria, Illinois.

Maricopa

Pacana Park in Maricopa

The City of Maricopa is not in Maricopa County; it's actually in Pinal County. How confusing! Maricopa is located about 20 miles south of Phoenix.

Avondale and Goodyear

Phoenix International Raceway © 2007 Judy Hedding

Avondale was incorporated in 1946, and is probably best known as the location of Phoenix International Raceway, where NASCAR events are held. Goodyear was also incorporated in November 1946 and was originally known for its agricultural success, especially with respect to cotton.

Litchfield Park

Luke Air Force Base in Litchfield Park, Arizona

The City of Litchfield Park was incorporated in 1987. It the home of Luke Air Force Base.

El Mirage

El Mirage AZ

El Mirage is a residential community in the northwest part of the Greater Phoenix area, near Sun City and Surprise. Historically agricultural, it is a primarily residential community of about 25,000 people, about half of which are of Hispanic origin (2009 Census estimate).

Wickenburg

Wickenburg

The old west (and the new west) is alive and well in Wickenburg, about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Sun Cities

Sun City and Sun City West are both large communities in the northwest portion of the Greater Phoenix area. Sun City began in 1960 and was the first master-planned "active adult retirement community" in the United states. Sun City West began in 1978 two miles west of the original Sun City. Their popularity and national attention is the biggest reason that some people think of the Phoenix area as a community of retirees! By the way--Sun City Grand is actually part of Surprise.

Other North and Northeast Valley Cities and Towns

The Towns of Carefree and Cave Creek are north of East Phoenix and Scottsdale, and are often mentioned together, as sister towns. Fountain Hills is northeast of Scottsdale. They are all generally considered upscale communities.

Other Southeast Valley Cities and Towns

Queen Creek and Apache Junction are located in the southeast part of the Greater Phoenix area and have experienced significant growth as people look for more affordable alternatives and lifestyles. Gold Canyon is an unincorporated community in the area. The Superstition Mountains are the backdrop for these southeastern communities.

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