Arizona Centennial Series - 10 Top Headlines Spotlighting Arizona

10 Top Arizona Headlines Over The Past 100 Years

Arizona became the 48th state in the Union, officially gaining its statehood February 14, 1912. Since that time dramatic events have captured the news medias attention more than others. Over the past 100 years, Arizonans have become impacted by events that have not only shocked locals but also people across the nation; the following includes the stories we felt attracted the most media attention.


Clyde Tombaugh Discovers Pluto (1930)

On March 13, 1930, Lowell Observatory located in Flagstaff, Ariz. announced the discovery of the planet that would eventually be named Pluto. Clyde Tombaugh discovered the  planet on February 18, 1930. This brought major media attention to the research facility, putting Arizona on the map for a great, defining moment.


New Phoenix Coyotes Arena (2003)

In 2003, the Phoenix Coyotes had a place to call home. In 2002, when development started there was a lot of controversy over the location and how prosperous the sight would be. Names for the arena were selling at rocket high prices, with University of Phoenix Stadium winning, spending $154 million for 20 years. The sports district has allowed new growth to the Valley, attracting news of the team, economic development, what the stadium is bringing to the location and how much the name cost. The location of the stadium has continued to promote success in the Glendale area.


Flying Saucer Sighted In Tucson (1950)

On February 1, 1950, a fiery object shot quickly west through the Tucson skies. A B-29 took off in pursuit of the object, but the plane could not catch up to the object. This is one of the most bizarre cases in Tucson history, documented by the Tucson Daily Citizen (before the paper became the Tucson Citizen). This made citizens question the Air Force base while the news media worked to find and report answers. Eventually, it was said the Air Force was etching vapor trails. This story graced the cover of news media around Arizona for months.

Flying Saucer Sighted in Tucson 1950, Arizona Centennial Series


Cardinals Go To The Superbowl (2009)

It took 61 years and in 2009 the Arizona Cardinals went to the Superbowl. Arizona residents were wearing t-shirts to support the team and news media gobbled up every technique they could to write about the team finally making it. Arizona was not only in the news with this story, the state was put on the map. Although the Cardinals didn’t win the Superbowl, the fact that they got there created quite a historic moment.

Cardinals go to Superbowl 2009, Arizona Centennial Series


Sweat Lodge Deaths (2009)

On October 9, 2009, James Arthur Ray, self-help guru, gave a seminar in Sedona, Ariz. in a sweat lodge where two people died and 12 were sent to the hospital. Every 15 minutes, a volcanic rock the size of a cantaloupe was brought into the self-made tent to cure spiritual and financial problems. Ray has appeared on Oprah and Larry King Live causing the media to go on an information hunt and asked questions about his true healing power sprawling the tragedy nationwide. News media has been covering the story for two years. As of now, James Arthur Ray has not been convicted of any crime.


Hanging Invitations (1900)

A misunderstanding on a hot-button issue put Arizona in the national spotlight more than a century ago. The statute required sheriffs to issue invitations to all sheriffs in the territory whenever an execution was scheduled. George Smiley was scheduled to be hung December 8, 1899; however, amused by the requirement, Sheriff F.J. Wattron of Holbrook sent out gilt-edged cards assuring invitees that the proceedings would be “cheerful” and the execution “a success.” The story went viral when the Associated Press got hold of a card. President William McKinley requested a 30 stay and new invitations be sent out by the sheriff. Wattron re-sent invitations and George Smiley was hung on January 8, 1900.


Arizona Becomes A State (1912)

We had to include Arizona becoming a state as a big news topic. On February 14, 1912, Arizona became the 48th state of the United States. This didn’t come without a price. In 1598, Spain claimed the land as part of New Spain. In 1821, Mexico became independent from Spain and claimed the land. By the late 1820’s, the Spanish had deserted most of their outposts in the area, and Americans began to pour in looking for land and opportunities. In 1848, the United States was at War with Mexico. Arizona became part of the territory of New Mexico in 1853. The westernmost battle in the Civil War was fought in Arizona. On December 29, 1863 Arizona was established as a separate territory and part of the United States. Two famous Indian Chiefs Cochise and Geronimo were natives of Arizona and carried on guerrilla warfare within the territory against the encroaching white settlers until Geronimo surrendered in 1886, ending the Apache Wars. The first attempt at statehood in 1891 was rejected by Congress. Congress twice tried to admit Arizona and New Mexico as one state, but that idea was rejected. Finally in 1912, Arizona entered the union. It was not easy, but the “Grand Canyon State” was a worthy addition to the United States.

Arizona becoms a state 1910,  Arizona Centennial Series


Tuscon Shooting (2011)

Jared Loughner, the man accused of the Tucson massacre that left six dead and injured 13 others, including Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Congresswoman, shocked the news media and put everyone across the world in a panic. At this point no one knows the meaning behind the shooting, and Jared Loughner has not been convicted of any crime. News stations across the nation have followed this story for the latest developments and continue to do so. Journalist from around the country have come to Arizona to see what leads could be discovered. President Obama flew into Tucson to give a speech and condolences. Although a recent event, this news story has made a tremendous impact on news involving Arizona.


FBI Memo (2001)

The FBI was informed of a July 2001 memo sent from the bureau’s Arizona office warning headquarters that Arabs were training at U.S. flight schools. The flight schools were located in Arizona. Phoenix-based agent Kenneth Williams wrote a memo to his superiors in Washington two months before the attacks, suggesting that terrorists might be learning to fly commercial jetliners at U.S. flight schools, according to local papers. Once the September 11, 2001 attacks happened, the media generated a special interest in Arizona and flight schools. The controversy was so prominent the story circulated in the news for years after the attacks.


SB1070 (2010)

SB1070 was approved by the Senate on April 13, 2010 with a 35 to 21 vote. This bill has been the harshest measure of the United States fighting illegal immigration. Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill April 16, 2010 putting it into effect. Under the new measure, it will be a misdemeanor offense in Arizona to be without proper immigration paperwork. Additionally, police are now allowed to distinguish an individual’s immigration status if they develop a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an illegal immigrant. Other states, such as California, didn’t agree with the bill, arguing it is racial profiling. Arizona was banned by other states, and the news media has been following this story for the past year. This is the No. 1 news story because it questions constitutional rights and every state recognizes its dramatic impact. The  effects of the bill are uncertain. 

SB1070 Bill Passed 2010, Arizona Centennial Series