Longform

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.