From Metropolis to Pueblo
In preparing a briefing on key events in Arizona I have been struck by Phoenix's good fortune in having a collection of extraordinary leaders who were able to transform a desert city into a metropolis. When Arizona was a territory, the smart money would have been on Tucson being the major city because it had been for years and it had a railroad line. What was overlooked was that Phoenix, from its beginning, had a bunch of go-getters. They quickly began to aim at creating a city that could compete nationally and not just within the state.
At one point, Tucson referred to itself as the "Metropolis of Arizona." It lost that claim with the 1920 census when the population of Phoenix surpassed it. Prior to that point, there were multiple signs that power was shifting to Phoenix.
Today, the nickname for Phoenix is the Valley of the Sun; a name that takes in the larger metropolitan area. Tucson's seemingly permanent nickname is the Old Pueblo.
There have been attempts in Tucson to get rid of that rather limiting description. They have failed and at least once with good cause. A 1981 effort favored "The Sunshine Factory."
They dodged a bullet in that case.
It is easy to imagine what the reaction of the early leaders in Phoenix would have been if someone had suggested referring to their city as the Old Pueblo.
Someone might have gotten a rope.