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It can be useful to think of Phoenix as a flower with petals (other communities) growing in every direction from the bud of Sky Harbor Airport. The East Valley includes Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Mesa, Fountain Hills, and Apache Junction. To the southeast are Chandler and Gilbert. The West Valley includes Glendale, Sun City, Peoria, and Litchfield Park.
Central Avenue, which runs north and south through the heart of Downtown Phoenix, is the city's east-west dividing line. Everything east of Central is considered the East Valley and everything west of Central is the West Valley.
Phoenix has grown around what was once a cluster of independent towns in Maricopa County, but the gaps between communities that were open desert space just a few short decades ago have begun to close in and blend the entire Valley into one large, sprawling community.
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