Whether you’re from the Grand Canyon State or just curious about the spectacular western vistas, some facts about Arizona’s history just might be a surprise.
Arizona’s name has to do with either silver or water, according to State Symbols USA
. It’s a Spanish version of an Aztec word for “silver-bearing” — but it’s also based on the Pima Indian word for “little spring place.”
The modern irrigation system surrounding the capital city, Phoenix, follows a pattern of canals dug by early agricultural civilizations as distant as 20,000 years ago, according to the Office of the Governor
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Bits and pieces of other people’s history, real and fictional, abound on Arizona’s “West Coast,” as Visit Arizona calls it
— from the original London Bridge to the imperial sand dunes of a galaxy far, far, away, where scenes from “Return of the Jedi” were filmed.
When the battleship USS Arizona was christened in 1915, two bottles were broken: one of champagne, and one of water from Roosevelt Lake in Arizona — a concession, so reported The Arizona Republic
, to prohibitionists back home in the ship’s namesake state.
Famous people you might not have known called Arizona home: Humor columnist Erma Bombeck; “Wonder Woman” actress Lynda Carter; Apache chiefs Cochise and Geronimo (Goyathlay); “Family Circus” cartoonist Bil Keane; World War I flying ace Frank Luke Jr.; singer Linda Ronstadt; astronomers Percival Lowell and Clyde Tombaugh; and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
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Arizona’s Coconino County is enshrined in the early 20th century comic strip “Krazy Kat,” beloved among comics fans for its inventively surreal art and storylines. Cartoonist George Herriman kept a summer home there, and the stark but varied landscape found expression in his surreal, sparse scenery. As Web Comic Overlook put it
, “Herriman captures the subversive weirdness of the Southwest.”
You’d be “surprised” to know Arizona’s 10th-largest city got its name because founder Flora Mae Statler reportedly once said
"she would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much."
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