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Old City Hall, Phoenix, Arizona

Walking & Geoheritage Tour of Phoenix, AZ

The main entrance to old Phoenix City Hall on the west side of the historic Maricopa County Courthouse is faithfully guarded by two terra cotta sculptures of the mythological phoenix. This is just one stop on the walking tour of downtown Phoenix launched in time for the 5,800+ geoscientists descending on Phoenix for the 131st Annual Conference of the Geological Society of America at the Phoenix Convention Center, 22-25 Sept 2019.

The tour begins with the sandstone girding the Convention Center and winds westward 2 km to the Arizona Capitol Building. Constructed in 1898 of entirely Arizona materials, the Capitol is one of the most beautiful buildings in Phoenix. Standing proudly atop the Capitol Building’s copper cupola crown, bearing a torch and garland, is the 17-foot tall statue of Winged Victory.  

Arizona Capitol Building
Arizona Capitol Building, Phoenix, Arizona. Courtesy of M. Dodds of the Phoenix Preservation Office.

The second part of the tour showcases geoheritage sites of the Phoenix Basin and nearby McDowell Mountains. Each stop is accompanied by an image and a brief description of geologic features. At Dreamy Draw, an historic mercury mine, the story of the original miner, Sam Hughes, is revisited.  Piestewa Peak, named after the first American Indian woman, to fall in the Iraq War is a favorite summer twilight hiking spot.

The Salt, Gila, Agua Fria and Verde Rivers delivered waters that the Hohokam channeled into one of the largest and well-engineered irrigation systems of prehistoric America. Those same rivers drew Mexican and American settlers and now provide the sand and gravel for a metropolitan area of more than 4 million people living in the heart of the sweltering Sonoran Desert.

Tafoni of Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park.

Enjoy the tour; please feel free to share with us your ideas on how to improve it (

Conway, F.M. and Gootee, B.F., 2019, Urban Walking Tour & Geoheritage of the Phoenix Area – A StoryMap

Mike Conway and Brian Gootee
Arizona Geological Survey at University of Arizona

StoryMap built using ESRI ArcGIS Online application.