ArizonaCity Stories

Phoenix, AZ

The Phoenix Ghetto:

Struggle of the Past and Present…

One of the largest West Coast cities, Phoenix has its own culture and story that lies deep within the Phoenix Hispanic neighborhoods and in the city’s African-American community.

Population: Over 1.5 Million
Percentage African-American: 7%
Percentage Hispanic: 41%
Rank in State: Arizona’s 1st largest city
Average Income: $25,000
Poverty Rate: 22%

Story of the Phoenix Black Population

The Phoenix black population has been in Arizona and in the Phoenix area since the 1800s as cowboys, laborers, and soldiers, along with the idea that they would be able to work in the local mining camps.

By 1890, the Phoenix black population was over 1,000 black residents living in the state of Arizona.

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s the Phoenix black population increased with the help of World War I job opportunities and the vision of a better life than living in cities that were in the racist south.

After more and more black families came to the state, Arizona began to segregate its racial communities from one another, along with the rise of racism and the introduction to the Klu Klux Klan.

Not until the 1950s did segregation legally end in the state of Arizona, but not until the years between the 1970s and 1990s did the days for minorities in Arizona became better.

phoenix ghetto phoenix black population phoenix black neighborhoods

Coffelt Projects.  Located in one of the first black neighborhoods .

Before then, there were a number of all-black organizations to help African-Americans while they were living or visiting Arizona.

The actual city of Phoenix was the last city in Arizona to get rid of segregation and not until the early 1990s was Martin Luther King Day made into an official holiday in the state.

By the 1970s, the Phoenix black population was up to 28,000 and by the 1990s there was over 50,000 living in the Phoenix black neighborhoods.


Story of the Phoenix Hispanic Population

Similar to the Phoenix black population, Mexicans would also have problems and issues of having equality, but not until the 1960s and 1970s did the Phoenix Hispanic population began to slowly have rights in the city.

With the border of Mexico being only a couple of hours away, the Phoenix Hispanic population has always been part of the Phoenix story.

Not until the 1920s did the the Phoenix Hispanic population began to grow into the thousands.

Starting in the 1950s and continuing today, the Phoenix Hispanic population has widely expanded throughout the region.

In the early days, many originally came to Arizona for work and were planning on return to Mexico as soon as they accomplish their own individual goal.

This changed during the 1940s and 1950s, as more opportunities became available and many began to fight for equal rights for their community, with receiving more gains during the 1960s and 1970s.


‘Hoods and Communities

Today, out of the 1.5 million people living in the city, the Phoenix black population is only 7% and the Phoenix Hispanic population is about 40%.

Originally, the Phoenix black neighborhoods was in the area of 15th Avenue and Buckeye.

The Phoenix Hispanic neighborhoods was originally around Monroe Street, and would later reside in the area between 7th and 15th streets from around Buckeye to Jefferson Street.

phoenix ghetto phoenix black neighborhoods phoenix hispanic neighborhoods

South Side

Currently, the Phoenix black neighborhoods are mostly on the South Side like the Park South neighborhood or along Buckeye on the West Side in the Central City area.

With the close location to the country of Mexico, there is an obvious large Phoenix Hispanic population in the city.

phoenix ghetto phoenix black neighborhoods phoenix hispanic neighborhoods

Central City area.

Today, the Phoenix Hispanic neighborhoods include areas like in the East Side in the Central City area, the West Side, the South Side and the North Side in the areas that are west of N. 19th Ave.

Outside of the Phoenix Hispanic neighborhoods, there is Mexican communities in Glendale, the city center or downtown area of Chandler along Chandler Boulevard or around Phoenix Avenue and Frye Road, and off of Broadway in Mesa.


Click to see more about Phoenix ghetto from Gangs Map to Short Documentary

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

Sources / Research:

Epler, Patti. “Gang Influence Runs Deep in Phoenix’s Roots.” Phoenix New Times. N.p., 02 Apr. 2016. Web. 15 Jan. 2017. <>.
Finkelman, Paul. Encyclopedia of African American History: 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century. Oxford: Oxford U, 2009. Print.
Hornsby, Alton. Black America a State-by-state Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif.œ: Greenwood, 2011. Print.
Luckingham, Bradford. Minorities in Phoenix: A Profile of Mexican American, Chinese American, and African American Communities, 1860-1992. Tucson: U of Arizona, 1994. Print.