Phoenix is a city with a long and storied history. From Wild West legends to famed politicians to brave war veterans, there's a lot to commemorate. The city is dotted with tons of unique monuments and memorials, as well as public art installations that pay tribute to people, events and causes special to Phoenix. These make for unique photo ops, and help tell the fascinating stories that have shaped Phoenix into the city it is today. Here are a few of our favorites.
Lost treasure and mysterious legends? Yep, Phoenix has them. Visit the Lost Dutchman Monument in Apache Junction to learn about the story of Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant who, according to legend, discovered a hidden gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. He died in 1891, taking the location of the mine to his grave. To this day, treasure hunters set out in search of the lost trove of gold. An 8-foot rock wall monument dedicated to Jacob Waltz (also known as the Dutchman), is the oldest structure in the town, and features a plaque placed there on the 100th anniversary of his death. Pay tribute to the man behind the legend, and ponder the clues and mysteries of the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine.
One of 36 fine art sculptures on display in the heart of Mesa, Arizona, this incredibly detailed Humpty Dumpty sculpture (created in April 2003) lets you relive a childhood favorite. Each of the art pieces, which are scattered throughout downtown Mesa, share a unique snapshot of the world we live in. A bear and her cub, a boy feeding a duck, a woman reading on a bench, even a dinosaur, along with dozens of other statues, are sure to enchant. Mesa also has an impressive collection of murals to check out along the way. The self-guided walking tour of the statues is free, and there are plenty of shops and restaurants to discover as you bounce from statue to statue.
Why travel all the way to Egypt when you can stop by Governor Hunt's Pyramid Tomb instead? Located in Papago Park, Governor Hunt's Pyramid Tomb was built in 1931 for Arizona's first governor, George Hunt. He and his wife are both buried here. Hunt's wife was the first to be interred, and George was placed in the tomb after his death in 1934. His daughter’s and his wife's family’s remains are also inside the tomb. Known for being a great governor and an early supporter of women's suffrage, compulsory education, and organized labor, Governor Hunt continues to be well respected. It's fitting that his tomb is atop a hill in the park, where “he” can keep a lookout over the city. Head up the hill, see the unique pyramid, and get a glimpse of Arizona's rich past.
Make the walk to Central Avenue and East Roosevelt Street in Phoenix, Arizona, and experience one of the most extensive community awareness programs promoting peace and unity in the United States. It takes the form of an art installation known as "Release the Fear." The 8.5-ton metal exhibit, partially built from confiscated weaponry, was designed by artist Robert Miley to provide education and awareness about gun violence. Thousands of guns were melded together to form the piece. It's a thought-provoking and totally one-of-a-kind art installation with a touching message.
The Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, located in front of the Arizona state capital, is an incredibly detailed memorial park with a ton of history. It pays tribute to the lives lost in conflicts and battles throughout Arizona's past. It's home to over 30 exhibits dedicated to events in Arizona history, and the role the state's citizens have played in US wars. Most famously, the park displays the mast and some guns from the USS Arizona, one of the battleships that was bombed and sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also, be sure to check out the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Law Enforcement Canine Memorial, and the Bill of Rights Monument.
The Anthem Community Park is one of the most beautiful public parks in all of Arizona. It's also home to one of the country's most incredible memorials, designed by a resident of Anthem, AZ. It features five marble pillars representing the different branches of the US military. They're staggered in height and arranged according to the Department of Defense's prescribed precedence; the United States Army, the United States Marine Corp, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard. But the coolest feature of the memorial is that once a year, at 11:11 am on Veteran's Day, (November 11th), the sun's rays align perfectly, shining through glass mosaic medallions set into the pillars and glowing on the ground. If you happen to be visiting any other day than Veteran's Day, you can browse the local farmers market that takes place every Sunday from 9 AM to 1 PM, feed the ducks, or take the little ones to the playground. Be sure to catch the miniature train that runs on weekends, too.
With an abundance of fascinating monuments and can't-miss sights, the story of Phoenix is really brought to life in a way that visitors can not just learn about, but witness and experience. Whether you're a history buff, a lover of the arts, or you're just hoping to strike it rich discovering legendary treasure, there's no denying that Phoenix is a captivating destination.
Southwest character and urban adventure meld perfectly in Phoenix, where real cowboys, rugged mountains and the kind of cactus most people only see in cartoons share a sunny landscape with up-and-coming craft breweries, desert trails, scenic roadways and colorful art districts.