South Phoenix is a region of Phoenix, Arizona, with the boundaries of the Gila River Indian Community to the south and west, 48th Street or Interstate-10 (Phoenix/Tempe and Phoenix/Chandler borders) to the east, and the Salt River to the north. This area includes Phoenix's following Urban Villages: South Mountain Village (aka South Mountain District or SoMo)  along with Laveen Village  and Ahwatukee Village. The area is sometimes simply referred to as "the Southside" or SoPho by its residents. Major arterial east-west streets include Broadway Road, Southern Avenue, Baseline Road, Dobbins Road, Elliott Road, Warner Road, Chandler Boulevard, and Pecos Road, most of which connect South Phoenix with the suburbs of Tempe and Chandler. Major arterial south-north streets include 24th Street, 16th Street, 7th Street, Central Avenue, 7th Avenue, and 19th Avenue connecting South Mountain Village to Central and North Phoenix; 27th Avenue, 35th Avenue, 43rd Avenue, 51st Avenue, 59th Avenue, 67th Avenue, and 75th Avenue connecting Laveen to west Phoenix; and 32nd Street, 40th Street, and 48th Street connecting South Mountain Village to east Phoenix and Tempe.
The first land purchase recorded in South Phoenix occurred near what is today 15th Avenue and Broadway, where Noah Matthew Broadway, who was Maricopa County Sheriff from 1885–1886, purchased land in 1871 which became the 160-acre (0.65 km2) Broadway Ranch. The land was otherwise unpopulated at the time except for a few Mexican grain farmers who lived south of the Salt River between what are now 24th St. and 48th St.
In May 1873, Prescott merchant Michael Wormser made arrangements to supply the Mexican farmers, and required them to obtain legal title to their land. When they ended up falling into debt, he took possession of their land, acquiring 9,000 acres (36 km2) of land in South Phoenix and Tempe. After Wormser's death on April 25, 1898, most of his real estate holdings were purchased on January 9, 1901 by land and cattle magnate Dwight B. Heard, who also ran The Arizona Republican (now The Arizona Republic) newspaper from 1912 until his death in 1929. This land, which includes most of the northeast part of South Phoenix, became the Bartlett-Heard Ranch, which began being subdivided and sold for homesites on March 20, 1910. Most of the land initially sold from the Ranch was between 7th Avenue and 16th Street, and between Broadway Road and Southern Ave., mostly for small farms, in an area that became known as Roosevelt Place when it was developed into residential homes on one- and 2-acre (8,100 m2) lots in the 1920s.
During 1912-1913, the Highline and Western canals were built to supply water from the Salt River to the South Mountain area, which led to further agricultural development. In addition to raising cattle, the land was used for raising alfalfa, cotton, oranges and other citrus trees, canaigre (a plant that produces tannin used for tanning leather), and even Louis Janssens' Belgian-American Ostrich Farm, which operated on 230 acres (0.93 km2) of Bartlett-Heard subdivided land until World War I. (Two other families, the Petersons and Pickrells, also operated ostrich farms in South Phoenix; all of these ostrich farms were between 16th St. and 40th St., south of Southern Ave.)
In 1928, Kajuio Kishiyama settled in the South Mountain area to farm vegetables on land which he leased. The Arizona Alien Land Law of 1921 (overturned as unconstitutional by the Arizona Supreme Court in 1935) prohibited "Orientals" from owning land in Arizona. Kishiyama successfully experimented with growing flowers near the Western Canal at 40th St. and Baseline Road, and another Japanese family, the Nakagawas, arrived in the area in the 1930s. These families were relocated to internment camps during World War II, of which there were two in Arizona, the Gila River War Relocation Center and the Poston War Relocation Center. After the war was over, the Kishiyama and Nakakama families returned to the South Mountain area and started over, again successfully raising large fields of flowers, lettuce, and other vegetables along the Baseline corridor.
In the decades prior to the 1970s, South Phoenix was the only part of the city in which homes were sold to African American and Mexican American residents, due to restrictive covenants in place on housing in other parts of the city.
There are numerous sites of historic and natural interest within the boundaries of South Phoenix, including Mystery Castle, Heard Scout Pueblo, the San Francisco Xavier Mission built in 1940 by Francisco Vasquez (open to public Saturday and Sunday, 08:00 am to 5:00 pm), The Farm at South Mountain, South Mountain Park, and several historic buildings at the entrance of the park called "Scorpion Gulch."
The south side, always working-class, went into a steep decline following the post-war population boom in the metro area. The neighborhood gained a reputation around the Valley for gang violence, racial tension, and general disrepair and the area became dotted with abandoned housing and urban prairies. Since the late 1990s (and especially since 2002), the area has undergone rapid development, especially along the Baseline corridor, where acres of citrus groves and flower fields have been turned into housing developments and commercial properties.
Though much of the area has become predominantly Latino, the areas closer to downtown and Tempe remain predominantly African-American. Census tract 1160, between Broadway and Baseline, has a population of 4,711 and is 56.3% African-American, the highest percentage in the entire state of Arizona. Other traditionally black neighborhoods include Hermoso, South Vistas, Lindo Park and the Park South neighborhood. The South Vistas is clearly the most dominant of all the neighborhoods previously mentioned. The Phoenix Police Department released statistics in 2009;2010 and 2011 referring to the South Vistas as the leader in drug revenue and murder investigations.
The headquarters for the Apollo Group, parent company of University of Phoenix and Western International University and corporate offices for SuperShuttle Int. are located in the South Mountain Village area.
The South Mountain Village is served by the community newspaper South Mountain District News, which also covers news from Laveen which is west of South Mountain Village. The South Mountain District News is a free monthly publication.
South Phoenix has similar crime rates to other areas of Phoenix. Uniform crime rate reports from the Phoenix Police Department show property crime rates at or below those in the more affluent communities in north Phoenix. Violent crime rates are also similar with most of the activity concentrated between Southern and Broadway.
- Ryden, Don W. (August 1989). South Mountain Agricultural Area Historic Resources Survey. City of Phoenix Planning Department. p. 16.
- Ryden, Don W. (August 1989). South Mountain Agricultural Area Historic Resources Survey. City of Phoenix Planning Department. pp. 16, 18, 23-24, 52-53.
- Ryden, Don W. (August 1989). South Mountain Agricultural Area Historic Resources Survey. City of Phoenix Planning Department. pp. 33, 38-39.
- Ryden, Don W. (August 1989). South Mountain Agricultural Area Historic Resources Survey. City of Phoenix Planning Department. p. 68.
- Ryden, Don W. (August 1989). South Mountain Agricultural Area Historic Resources Survey. City of Phoenix Planning Department. p. 7.
- Census Tract 1160, Maricopa County, Arizona
- South Mountain District News
- South Mountain Villager
- Uniform Crime Rate Property Crime Map
- Uniform Crime Rate Violent Crime Map