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Boundaries and Population of Today
The boundaries of Sunnyslope today are Northern Avenue on the south, to North Mountain
range (or Cactus Road), on the north, and from 19th Avenue on the west, to the mountains
to the east. Population of Sunnyslope today is approximately 40,000. The area is
To view a partial map of the first homesteads within the current Sunnyslope boundaries
please click here (courtesy of Bob Rowe).
William R. Norton (above left) is considered to be the founder of Sunnyslope. Reportedly
the area was named from a moment back in time when Mr. Norton and one of his daughters
were enjoying a buggy ride over the desert, north of the Arizona Canal, close to
the North Mountains. His daughter looked at the sun shining on the mountains and
exclaimed, "What a pretty sunny slope!." Mr. Norton liked the phrase and named the
area Sunny Slope. The name was written as two words until after World War II. The
photo on the right is Mr. Norton’s home which was built in 1907 on Central Avenue
between Ruth and Alice Avenues.
The First Subdivision in Sunnyslope
Mr. Norton homesteaded many acres of this desert land around the turn of the century.
He platted the first subdivision in Sunnyslope in 1911. It was known as the Sunny
Slope Subdivision and its boundaries were from Central Avenue on the west, to Dunlap
Avenue on the north and from 3rd Street on east to Alice on the south.
In 1919 Sunnyslope was a natural desert area with only four or five cottages on it.
There were no roads, no electricity, no phones and no water—only cactus and sagebrush.
Then many people from states back east were sent to Arizona for their health. With
no irrigation north of the Arizona Canal, the Sunnyslope desert was a very dry area
and was considered to be a good place to live for people trying to recover from tuberculosis
Many of these people built tent houses or small cottages, planning to get well and
then return to their old homes. Some people, however, liked the desert and decided
to stay. Marguerite and Wm. Albert Colley were among those who stayed. They had come
to the desert in 1919 because of the health of their son.
Desert Mission and Angels of the Desert
In 1927 the Desert Mission was established. This was a facility that provided medical,
social, and religious needs of the people living in the community. Marguerite Colley,
a practical nurse, and Elizabeth Beatty became known as the "Angels of the Desert”
(to read more about Marguerite and Elizabeth click here).
Because of their work in giving medical aid and delivering food to the needy in the
neighborhood. The Desert Mission continued to provide services through many decades.
In 1936 there were approximately 600 resident in Sunnyslope. There was still much
vacant land, covered with vegetation and cacti.
In the late 1940s, after World War II, the community really boomed. Many small businesses,
churches and schools were established. The first school, Sunnyslope Elementary School,
was opened in 1949, Mountain View Elementary School was opened in 1952, and the third
elementary school built in Sunnyslope was Desert View which opened in 1956. Sunnyslope
High School opened in 1953.
Attempts to incorporate as a town government
Four attempts were made to incorporate Sunnyslope as a town, but each time the issue
was voted down. Some residents of the area were concerned about the taxes, and others
felt that the Maricopa County government, that was serving them, was doing a good
In 1959 the City of Phoenix annexed the community of Sunnyslope along with many other
valley areas. These areas became part of the City of Phoenix, but Sunnyslope has
always retained its identity.
John C. Lincoln Health Network has been the largest employer of the community for
many years. Along with excellent health care, it also provides many other services
for the schools and organizations of the area. John C. Lincoln Health Network is
continuing the work that the Desert Mission provided in the early years of Sunnyslope.
Through the decades, in Sunnyslope, there has been many small businesses, (mom and
pop type businesses) that have served the community. Many organizations have provided
guidance throughout the years in improving the neighborhood by working with the many
Today the Sunnyslope Village Alliance and the Sunnyslope Village Revitalization are
working to improve housing, to combat crime and to solve other problems of the area.
The Sunnyslope Historical Society goals are recording and preserving the history
of this unique and caring community.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SUNNYSLOPE
FOR MORE FASCINATING HISTORY IN OUR NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES