History of Phoenix Arizona Street Names


Every town has its own set of streets with quirky, interesting names. Phoenix Arizona is no different. Here's a quick glossary of some of the major streets with a brief explanation of how they got their names.


Bethany Home Road is named for the Bethany Home, a tuberculosis sanitarium run by a religiousHistory of Phoenix Arizona Street Names group in the early 1900s. The building was on the far outskirts of the city, near what is now 15th Avenue. 


Cactus Road supposedly is named after another TB camp where the sick were confined in tents and shacks in the early 1900s.


Indian School Road is named for the Indian boarding school that was located at the Central Avenue intersection from 1891 until 1990. Like the other schools of its nature across the country, the purpose of the school was to assimilate Indian children into white culture. The assimilation era of the school lasted from 1891 to 1935. It ended with passage of the New Deal legislation.


Thunderbird Road ran past Thunderbird Field Number One at a private flying school around the time of World War II.


McDowell Road is hardly the only landmark by that name. It shares its eponymous nature with Fort McDowell, McDowell Mountain, and McDowell Peak. The McDowell for whom these sites were named was Civil War General Irwin McDowell (1818-1885). A West Point graduate, McDowell was a Union commander when they were decimated at the Battle of Bull Run. He reportedly never visited Arizona, and is buried at the National Cemetery on the Presidio Military Reservation in San Francisco.


History of Phoenix Arizona Street NamesGreenway Road was named for mining magnate, General John Campbell Greenway (1872-1926). An engineering graduate from Yale, and one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, Greenway was commissioned as a brigadier general for his service on the front line in France during World War I.  He moved to Arizona in 1910 to manage Bisbee mines owned by the Calumet and Arizona Company. 


Although Sidney Preston Osborn was Arizona's 11th governor, Osborn Road was not named after him. At the time the street was named, Sidney was just a teenager. The road that shares his name ran past the south edge of the Osborn family farm, near Central, and had been homesteaded by one of the governor's relatives in the late 1870s. 




Shea Boulevard and Bell Road were named after James A. Shea and Harvey Bell, two farmers who managed by using well water for irrigation. Smart guys, though, the pair saw greater potential for Paradise Valley if an old irrigation idea could be resurrected. Eventually, Shea and Bell organized the Paradise Verde Irrigation District. The district battled the Salt Water Users Association over the Valley's water in a dispute that lasted nearly 20 years. In 1934, the US Secretary of the Interior ruled in favor of the opposition. As a result, Paradise Valley remained a dry vision until after World War II when developers saw ways to build that did not require irrigation.


Broadway Road is named for Noah Broadway, who owned a lot of land in the area now known as south Phoenix.


History of Phoenix Arizona Street Names



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