What Is An Urban Village?

May 20, 2008

Map of Urban Villages in PhoenixWhether you are an Arizona transplant or a lifelong resident of the Grand Canyon State, you may not be familiar with the term "urban village." To me, the word "village" conjures up mental images of a small, close-knit community living in huts with thatched roofs, perhaps on a tropical island. Valley residents can attest that there's nothing like that going on around here, what with our high-rise buildings, cookie-cutter suburban homes, and light rail system.

So what the heck is an urban village, then? If you guessed that it's an invention of city planners to distinguish various parts of the valley, then give yourself a pat on the back.

As the Valley grows larger and larger, city planners are coming up with more ways to divide the city into more manageable sections. Motorists who cruise the roads and highways have no distinction between Phoenix and Scottsdale or Mesa and Tempe, save for those little green signs by the roadside. The importance of these boundaries is not to be overlooked, however.

Phoenix itself is just over 500 square miles and keeping the city running smoothly takes the effort of many thousands of people. For simplicity's sake, the city of Phoenix was divided into 9 special sections known as "urban villages" by the City Planning Commission in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Today, there are 15 urban villages that make up the greater Phoenix area.

The part of the valley I call home is known as Deer Valley Village. This region is in the northern part of Phoenix, with boundaries at Greenway Road to the south, the Central Arizona Project aqueduct to the north, 51st/59th Ave to the west, and 16th Street to the east. The entire area is approximately 57 square miles, and contains such landmarks as the Interstate 17/Loop-101 Freeway Interchange, Turf Paradise race track, and the Deer Valley Airport.

Just beyond Deer Valley is the North Gateway Village, which extends from the Central Arizona Project aqueduct to Carefree highway, and from approximately 7th Avenue to 67th Avenue. This 45 square mile area features several landmark mountains and a scenic stretch of Interstate 17 that ferries people to Anthem and the Rio Vista Village.

While the primary focus of this site will be related to news and events in Deer Valley Village, it may include topics related to the North Gateway and Rio Vista villages from time to time. Readers can count on becoming familiar with these and other urban villages of Phoenix in the near future.

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