When crews building the Arizona Canal in the 1880s reached the area south of Camelback Mountain, they found a ridge of hard rock in their way. Instead of blasting it, they let the water flow over it and Arizona Falls was born. It was a place where people gathered to socialize and escape from the heat, and eventually Arizona Falls evolved into a piece of Arizona history.
Water is the life-blood of the Valley of the Sun. It flows from rivers such as the Salt and Verde into a labyrinth of 131 miles of canals that feed the valley's homes, businesses, farms, and orchards. The canals we depend on today were first designed to irrigate existing farms and encourage future agricultural development. William J. Murphy was a pioneer in this regard. In 1883, the railroad excavator and entrepreneur and his men braved raw desert, flash floods, and funding mishaps to construct the canals.
Arizona Falls, formed by a natural 20-foot drop along the Arizona Canal between what is now 56th and 58th streets, reopened in June 2003 as a restored hydroelectric plant and neighborhood gathering place where visitors can learn, interact and reflect.
The new Arizona Falls combines art, history and technology to generate clean electricity from the canal's waterfall
The site showcases the Phoenix Art Commission's "WaterWorks at Arizona Falls" project, designed by renowned Boston artists Lajos Heder and Mags Harries. The main entrance is on the south side; a footbridge connects the north bank to the viewing platform
Arizona Falls generates up to 750 kilowatts of clean, renewable electricity, which can power up to 150 homes. The roof of the new turbine building and the adjacent shade structure will house solar panels to power ceiling fans on the public deck.
Arizona Falls is also the newest addition to SRP's renewable energy program, EarthWise Energy™, a mix of locally produced electricity generated from clean energy sources, such as the flowing water in the canals, the sun and even garbage.
In the late 1800s, Phoenicians enjoyed the wonders of Arizona Falls, gathering there to picnic, socialize and dance near the cool water.
Utilizing the flowing water of the canal to produce power, Arizona Falls was also the site of the first hydroelectric plant in Phoenix. Originally built in 1902, the plant was rebuilt by SRP in 1911, began delivering power again in 1913 and was eventually shut down in 1950
As the years passed and more people moved to the Valley, Arizona Falls was almost forgotten as the place to gather - until today.
The photo above shows the generating station in approximately 1935.
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