The Life of a State: A Timeline of Arizona's History

Long before we were officially a state, Arizona was making history — and not all of it bad, though some of it certainly borders on the unbelievable. In 1910, a Maricopa County Sheriff by the name of Carl T. Hayden took part in the first known automobile chase. He caught the bad guys and used the good press to great advantage, winning a seat in Congress and going on to be the first seven-term U.S. Senator. Take that, Sheriff Joe. We leave this project wishing it were the state’s bicentennial, because we certainly could have gone on with another 100 moments in Arizona history. We didn’t even get to mention Bob Corbin’s honesty, Erma Bombeck’s wit, Glen Campbell’s rhinestones or Rose Mofford’s hair, not to mention Pat Tillman’s bravery. This state is young, and sometimes immature — a mess in progress, we like to say — but people here believe what they believe with a passion (and sometimes a vengeance), and no doubt it’s a fascinating place to call home.

1913: A priest is injured during a dynamite explosion at a Morenci church; no one is caught, but a "young Mexican" is blamed.

1914: Women in Arizona are given the right to vote, years before the rest of the country.

1917: Murder/rape suspect Starr Daley is lynched near the Superstition Mountains after a chase through Tempe and Mesa.

1917: The "Zimmerman Telegram" — a secret message from Germany to Mexico offering to return Arizona to the nation for aid in World War I — is sent.

1919: Angry over the lack of jobs, white mobs attack people of color in the booming mining town of Bisbee.

1922: Ground is broken for the 113,000-square-foot Mormon Temple in Mesa.

1922: Architect Mary Colter designs Phantom Ranch buildings at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

1926: Passing through Phoenix with a lady friend, Babe Ruth puts on a home run show for some kids near a cotton field.

1927: César Chávez is born in Yuma.

1928: Construction begins on Tovrea Castle in Phoenix.

1928: Leone Jensen jumps from the roof of the Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix and supposedly starts haunting the establishment.

1929: The Detroit Tigers hold the first-ever spring training camp in the Valley.

1930: Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

1930: Killer Eva Dugan loses her head — literally — during her execution by hanging in Florence.

1932: Infamous "trunk murderess" Winnie Ruth Judd is convicted.

1935: The Hoover Dam is dedicated. Ninety-six people had died during its construction.

1939: Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West is completed.

1940: Silent-film star Tom Mix rolls his fancy car into a dry wash near Florence and dies. It is now known as the "Tom Mix Wash."

1941: USS Arizona is sunk by the Japanese in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

1942: Thousands of Japanese-Americans are "relocated" to internment camps around Arizona.

1944: German POWs escape from Phoenix's Papago Park in the largest such escape of the time.

1948: A UFO reportedly crashes at the foot of Squaw Peak in Phoenix.

1948: Native Americans in Arizona win the right to vote.

1948: Phoenix Street Railway, launched in 1887, stops service.

1952: Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymoon at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

1953: Phoenix desegregates its public schools.

1953: The first McDonald's franchise in the country opens on Central Avenue in Phoenix.

1953: Police conduct a raid on polygamists in Colorado City.

1954: The Wallace and Ladmo Show premières on KPHO-TV.

1955: Oklahoma! (the movie) is filmed in Arizona.

1960: Developer Del Webb debuts Sun City, and 100,000 show up for the opening ceremonies. The story makes the cover of Time.

1963: Legend City amusement park opens on Van Buren Street in Phoenix.

1964: U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater runs for president, loses.

1967: The Monkees horse around in Phoenix, performing at Veterans Memorial Coliseum during their first tour.

1968: The Phoenix Suns hit the court for the first time. (A year later, the Suns lost a coin toss for the chance to draft Lew Alcindor, not yet known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

1969: Big Surf, the nation's first wave pool, opens in Tempe.

1970: New Times is founded in Tempe.

1970: Construction on Paolo Soleri's futuristic Arcosanti begins near Cordes Junction. It has yet to be finished.

1970: Fountain Hills' namesake water feature becomes the world's tallest, holding that distinction for more than a decade.

1971: "Trunk murderess" Winnie Ruth Judd freed from custody for the final time.

1974: Gary Tenen and Randall Tufts discover Kartchner Caverns in southern Arizona.

1975: Ruby the "painting pachyderm" becomes a Phoenix Zoo phenomenon.

1975: The nation's first drive-thru McDonald's opens in Sierra Vista.

1976: U.S. Representative Mo Udall runs for president, loses.

1976: Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles dies after a bomb detonates in his Toyota in a Central Phoenix parking lot.


1976: Ernesto "Miranda Rule" Miranda is murdered near the future site of Chase Field in Phoenix.

1978: NBC airs the movie A Fire in the Sky, featuring a comet that annihilates Phoenix.

1978: Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane is murdered in Scottsdale following a dinner theater performance.

1981: Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

1981: Arizona becomes first state west of the Mississippi to authorize a lottery.

1982: KOOL-TV (Channel 10) news anchor Bill Close is held hostage while on the air in Phoenix.

1983: A southern Arizona church group gets into a fatal shootout with sheriff's deputies in Miracle Valley.

1983: The National Guard breaks up a year-long strike at the Clifton-Morenci copper mine.

1985: Arizona's Legislature votes to increase the drinking age from 19 to 21.

1986: Artist Keith Haring creates a 125-foot mural in downtown Phoenix.

1986: Within months of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station opens west of Phoenix as the nation's largest such facility.

1987: The Harmonic Convergence brings thousands of people to Sedona.

1987: Glenn Beck moves to Phoenix to work as a DJ on Top 40 station Y-95 (KOY-FM).

1987: Pope John Paul II performs Mass at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

1987: Restaurant owner Jack Durant dies, leaving his house to an English bulldog named Humble.

1987: Arizona State University beats Michigan to win the Rose Bowl.

1988: Barry Goldwater tells CNN's Larry King that he believes the government is withholding information about UFOs.

1988: Governor Evan Mecham is impeached for being an embarrassment to the state.

1988: Former Governor Bruce Babbitt runs for president, loses.

1989: Two "artists" are arrested in Phoenix for destroying a yucca plant resembling the Virgin Mary.

1989: The Keating 5 savings and loan scandal includes two Arizona politicians — U.S. Senators Dennis DeConcini and John McCain.

1990: A massive Phoenix police sting dubbed "AzScam" hits the jackpot, nailing several members of the Legislature.

1991: Nine Buddhists are murdered execution-style at a West Phoenix monastery. Initially, the wrong suspects were charged with the killings.

1991: Biosphere 2 begins experiment sealing eight people from the world for two years. This lasts several days.

1992: Flights to the moon promised earlier by travel agent Joe Arpaio (before he was sheriff) fail to take off as promised.

1992: Charles Barkley arrives in Phoenix to play basketball, announces he's no role model. (He's right!)

1992: A drunken teenager dies after the saguaro he shot near Fountain Hills falls and crushes him.

1992: Arizona becomes the only state in which voters approve Martin Luther King Day.

1993: Nordstrom's Last Chance clearance center, the only one in the nation, opens for business in Phoenix.

1995: Timothy McVeigh of Kingman is charged in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people. McVeigh later was executed.

1995: Grand Canyon National Park closes for the first time due to a federal budget crisis.

1997: Governor J. Fife Symington III is convicted on seven felony counts of bank fraud and forced to resign from office.

1997: Thousands (including Symington) see strange lights in the night sky over Phoenix; "Phoenix Lights" conspiracy theories abound.

1997: The University of Arizona beats Kentucky to win the NCAA men's basketball championship.

1998: Linda McCartney dies at McCartney Ranch in Tucson at age 56.

1999: Dan Quayle, who spent much of his childhood in Arizona and is currently a Paradise Valley resident, runs for president, loses.

1999: Arizona becomes the first state to have five women — the so-called Fab Five — in top offices.

2000: Gannett buys the Arizona Republic from the Pulliam family.

2000: U.S. Senator John McCain runs for president, loses.

2001: President Bill Clinton pardons former Governor Symington as belated thanks for a Cape Cod drowning rescue.

2001: Hani Hanjour flies on a plane into the Pentagon on September 11. He received flight training in Phoenix.

2001: The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in the one of the greatest World Series ever played.

2002: Arizona State University tops Playboy's list of the nation's top party schools.

2002: Baseball great Ted Williams' head is frozen at Alcor Cryonics lab in Scottsdale.

2003: Lori Piestewa of Window Rock is the first woman and first Native American to die in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

2003: Mormon housewife Stephenie Meyer of Glendale has a dream that leads to the best-selling Twilight book series/empire.

2005: Scottsdale becomes the first place where one can have one's ashes made into a diamond.

2007: Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces on CNN that it's an honor to be compared to the Ku Klux Klan.

2010: Senate Bill 1070 terrorizes brown-skinned Arizonans and polarizes the nation.

2010: Pause heard round the world, as Jan Brewer attempts to string words together during a gubernatorial debate.


2010: The dam at Tempe Town Lake bursts.

2010: Arizona voters approve a medical-marijuana initiative; smoke shops open immediately.

2011: Jared Loughner guns down 19 people near Tucson, killing a federal judge and seriously injuring U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

2012: Giffords resigns from office, hugs Republican colleagues.

2012: Governor Jan Brewer shakes her finger in President Barack Obama's face during his campaign stop in Chandler.

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