In the late 19th century, entrepreneur William J. Murphy envisioned a fertile desert farmland nourished by the waters of the Salt River. The Arizona Canal was completed in 1885 and Murphy went east to spark interest in the new community. Soon after, the first settlers arrived from Peoria, Illinois. The new townsfolk battled red ants and occasional rattlesnakes but thanks to the now-fertile land, the small farming community continued to grow and prosper. Today, Peoria has been nourished by more than the Arizona Canal - enterprising new businesses and a plethora of recreational opportunities continue to draw new residents and make it one of the fastest growing cities in the state.
Recreational activities abound in Peoria. There are more than 30 beautifully maintained and reasonably priced golf courses within a 10-mile radius of Peoria, including the 500 Club and Great Eagle. The Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres baseball teams do their spring training at the world-class Peoria Sports Complex. The complex is at the epicenter of the booming Northwest Valley, which is also close to all the professional sporting events the Phoenix metropolitan area has to offer. Besides Phoenix Suns basketball and Arizona Cardinals football, visitors can see thoroughbred horse racing and high-speed adventure at the Phoenix International Raceway. An abundance of fairs, livestock shows and rodeos enhance the city's southwestern flavor, and concerts take place year-round.
Arts and culture continue to develop and provide another dimension to the city's diversions. Indoor entertainment at Frank Lloyd Wright's Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium and the Phoenix Symphony Hall is outstanding. The Arizona Science Center, the Challenger Center, the Hall of Flame Fire Fighting Museum, the Heard Museum and the Phoenix Art Museum are other fascinating cultural offerings. Closer to home in Peoria, the historic Central School houses the Peoria Museum, where visitors can learn a little more about their local history.
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