Phoenix Union High School

The site for Phoenix Union High School was surveyed in 1897 to build a high school. Once complete, the complex served the community in more ways than education. For 40 years, it was the educational, cultural, theatrical, civic, and athletic center of Phoenix. Community events were held in the complex, including performances, meetings, and celebrations. Additional structures for education were built in 1912. At the time, the buildings were progressive and state-of-the-art. Each department was set in a different building to create a core campus. This style of campus with a central core was only found in California high schools at the time. The new buildings created a well-ventilated campus with lots of light and pure water.

An auditorium was built in the center of campus for both the students and the community. Phoenix Union High School's improvement fits into a large movement that swept the United States between 1910 and 1940 known as the 'high school movement.' Secondary education rose and was open to all to provide life skills and not just skills for college. The increase in secondary education also led to the rise in women in the labor force and, eventually, more rights.


1920 Postcard
1920 Postcard A postcard from the 1920s promotes the excellent education in Phoenix. Date: c. 1920
Night School
Night School Phoenix Union High School has served its community for a long time. A 1920s night school class is shown here. Source: Arizona State Library Date: c. 1920s
High School Marching Band
High School Marching Band Marching bands are a staple at any high school across the nation. This 1920s marching band poses for a photograph on the steps of Phoenix Union High. Source: Arizona State Library Date: c. 1920
Aerial Campus View
Aerial Campus View Pictured in the center, Phoenix Union High School expanded into several buildings to house different subjects for students. The aerial photograph shows Phoenix in 1920, well before high rises dominated the skyline. Source: Arizona State Library Date: c. 1920
Early 19th Century Postcard
Early 19th Century Postcard Early publishers often left a white border to save ink on mass produced postcards in the early to mid 19th century.
Present Day Phoenix Union High School
Present Day Phoenix Union High School The front entrance to the high school as it stands today.
Present Day Phoenix Union High
Present Day Phoenix Union High The high school as it looks today. This picture was taken from the annual Zombie Walk in downtown Phoenix that takes place around Halloween every year. In 2014 they set the record for most zombies in one place.



Thomas Black, “Phoenix Union High School,” Salt River Stories, accessed June 19, 2024,