Even with light rail (WBIYB), most Phoenicians spend vast amounts of time in their cars. But you can't avoid history, if you're paying attention.
Most people know the east-west grid of the original city has streets named after presidents, from Grant to the south to Roosevelt at the north (named after Theodore). The least deserving president is James Buchanan but there he is, right by the railroad tracks.
With so many streets in 1,500-square-miles of urban space, there's also plenty of asphalt to give faux Spanish names, or the names of developer's wives and daughters (Cheryl, Susan, Linda, Pamela, Sharon, Cindy, etc.). But the next time you're racing along in your SUV, consider:
McDowell Road, which was the wagon road to Fort McDowell, the supplying of hay to the cavalry being one of early Phoenix's raisons d'etre. Irwin McDowell was in command of union forced defeated at First Bull Run in the Civil War.
Thomas Road was named after William Thomas, a rancher and Maricopa County recorder at the turn of the 20th century.
Earll Drive takes its name from E.A. Earll, who platted the Earll Place homes. The origin of nearby Cheery Lynn is unknown (at least to me).
Osborn Road does not honor the state's seventh governor, Sidney Preston Osborn, who served from 1941 to 1948. Instead, it was named after homesteader John Preston Osborn, Sidney Osborn's grandfather.
Indian School Road ran past the Phoenix Indian School, which operated from 1891 to 1990, where children from reservations were educated and (until the 1920s) "assimilated" in white culture.
Bethany Home Road ran to the tuberculosis sanatorium of the same name, operating in the early 20th century (at 15th Avenue).
Hatcher Road started out as Wabash. It was renamed after local beekeeper Robert Hatcher, who came to Phoenix from Florida in 1908.
Dunlap Avenue is named for Phoenix Mayor John Dunlap (1904-1905).
Greenway Road took its name from pioneer John Greenway. One of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, Greenway established a copper mine in Ajo. His wife, Isabella Greenway, was the state's first female representative, elected to the U.S. House in 1932 (this when Arizona had only one representative). She also was one of Eleanor Roosevelt's bridesmaids.
Bell Road, intended by planners in the 1970s to be the northern boundary of Phoenix, takes its name from Harvey Bell, one of the organizers of the failed Paradise Verde Irrigation District.
Galvin Parkway that runs through Papago Park from McDowell to Van Buren was named for Paul Galvin of Motorola, once the most important foundation of the city's tech economy and well-paid jobs — now essentially gone.
Lincoln Drive honors John C. Lincoln, founder of Lincoln Electric. He moved here because his wife had TB. Among his chief legacies is John C. Lincoln Medical Center.
Litchfield Road's namesake was Goodyear executive Paul Litchfield. Goodyear created Litchfield Park first as a cotton farming area (the Southwest Cotton Co.), growing the long-staple cotton used in making tires. The company went on to test blimps there and finally sell the land for suburbia.
Broadway Road was not named after New York's landmark avenue. Instead, it honors pioneer Noah M. Broadway, who also served as Maricopa County sheriff in the 1880s.
Baseline Road denotes the Salt River and Gila River Baseline, used by surveyors.
Keating Avenue in Mesa's Dobson Ranch. Yep, apparently it is named after S&L kingpin Charlie. (There's also a Keating Circle around 44th Avenue and Bell; in Dobson Ranch Keating also apparently honored his mentor, Cincinnati financier Carl Lindner).
Curious omissions: Streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Jack Swilling, popular 1960s Mayor Milt Graham, Lincoln Ragsdale...I'm sure you can add others, or point us to the streets if I am wrong.