Peoria, Arizona

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Peoria is a city in Maricopa and Yavapai counties in the U.S. state of Arizona. Located primarily in Maricopa County, it is a major suburb of Phoenix. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 142,024.[3] Peoria is currently the fourth largest city in the state of Arizona in terms of land area, and the ninth largest city in the state in terms of population. The city was named after Peoria, Illinois. (The word “Peoria” is a corruption of the Illini word for “prairie fire.”[4][5]) Peoria is now larger in population than its namesake. It is the spring training home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners who share the Peoria Sports Complex. In July 2008, Money Magazine listed Peoria in the "Top 100 Places to Live".[6]

Contents

History

Initial settlement

Peoria sits on flat gently sloping desert terrain in the Salt River Valley, and extends into the foothills of the mountains to the north. Like all desert towns, the key to Peoria’s settlement was water. Seasonal rainfall and runoff from mountain snowmelt filled the Salt River, at times flooding the valley with too much water and wiping out months of backbreaking labor. If the area was to become habitable and productive all year, clearly the cycle of flood and drought had to be overcome and replaced with a reliable supply of water that could be controlled year-round. The pioneers turned to irrigation. In 1868 John W. “Jack” Swilling organized a group of men to dig the first modern irrigation ditch in the Salt River Valley. Their success enticed more people to settle in the area and reap the benefits of a revitalized irrigation system.

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