Phoenix Renames Street After Lori Piestewa, Changes Robert E. Lee Street

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 7:13pm
Updated: Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 1:13pm

intersection with street signs
Christina Estes/KJZZ
S-Peak Drive was originally named Flynn Lane before it was changed in 1964.

More than two years after giving itself the power to rename streets, the Phoenix City Council has done so. On Wednesday, the council unanimously approved renaming two controversial streets.

Robert E. Lee Street will become Desert Cactus Street. The residential street near Union Hills Drive and Tatum Boulevard was first renamed in 1961 during the Civil Rights movement to honor the Confederate general. Desert Cactus Street was the most popular choice among people who live there. 

Homeowners on Squaw Peak Drive did not get their top choice, which was Mountain Trail Drive. Instead, the council voted to rename it Piestewa Peak Drive after Lori Piestewa, a member of the Hopi tribe who lived near Tuba City, Arizona. She was killed during an ambush in Iraq in 2003 The U.S. Army says Piestewa was the first American Indian woman to die in combat on foreign soil.

The one-mile long street leads to Piestewa Peak, the second-highest peak in the Phoenix Mountains. Piestewa Peak was previously called S-Peak until then-Gov. Janet Napolitano pushed for it to be renamed in honor of Lori Piestewa. Historically, the s-word has been used to demand and degrade indigenous women. 

The name changes take effect March 1. Residents who lived on both streets were invited to rank their top name choices. The results were given to the City Council, which then made the final decision.

Phoenix is setting aside money approximately $28,000 to reimburse residents and property owners for direct expenses related to changing their address.

In September, city staff compiled a list of suggested names and separated them into names suggested by residents who live on the streets and the community at large.

Street names Proposed As Alternatives To Squaw Peak Drive

Eligible Name Submitted By Residents

  • Desert Sunset

Eligible Names Submitted By Community

  • Piestewa Peak Drive 
  • Charles Keating IV 
  • Coyote Crossing 
  • Humble Way 
  • Michael Williams 
  • Mountain Trail Drive

Street Names Proposed As Alternatives To Robert E. Lee Street

Eligible Name Submitted By Residents

  • Black Mesa
  • Desert Cactus Street
  • Edge Hill Street
  • Neutral Way
  • North Hills Street

Eligible Names Submitted By Community

  • Annie Dodge Wauneka 
  • Aves de Arizona
  • Bell's Vireo 
  • Blatteroon 
  • Bonita Calypte 
  • Buffalo Soldier Way 
  • Calle de Belleza 
  • Calle de Esperanza 
  • Calle de la Fortuna 10
  • Calle de la Paz 
  • Calle de Muchos
  • Camino de Montaña 
  • Candelabra 
  • Carpetbagger 
  • Casas de Bien 
  • Casas de Bienestar 
  • Casas Pacificas 
  • Charles Keating IV
  • Fatuous 
  • Harriet Street 
  • James T Kirk Boulevard 
  • John Lewis Way 
  • John McCain 
  • Jordin Sparks Avenue 
  • Kaitlyn Dever Boulevard 
  • Laurens Road 
  • Lincoln Ragsdale 
  • Obama Drive 
  • Pertinacious 
  • Pico del Valle
  • Quisquous 
  • Rose Mofford 
  • Schadenfreude 
  • Schuyler Street 
  • Southwest Sun Avenue 
  • Surrender 
  • Varlet 
  • Vista Al Valle 

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