Arizona, a southwestern U.S. state, is best known for the Grand Canyon, the mile-deep chasm carved by the Colorado River. Flagstaff, a ponderosa pine–covered mountain town, is a major gateway to the Grand Canyon. Other natural sites include Saguaro National Park, protecting cactus-filled Sonoran Desert landscape. Tucson is University of Arizona territory and home to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
It is also part of the Western United States and the Mountain West states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona is one of the Four Corners states. It has borders with New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California, and Mexico, and one point in common with the southwestern corner of Colorado. Arizona’s border with Mexico is 389 miles (626 km) long, on the northern border of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California.
Arizona is the 48th state and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, achieving statehood on February 14, 1912. Historically part of the territory of Alta California in New Spain, it became part of independent Mexico in 1821. After being defeated in the Mexican–American War, Mexico ceded much of this territory to the United States in 1848. The southernmost portion of the state was acquired in 1853 through the Gadsden Purchase.
Southern Arizona is known for its desert climate, with very hot summers and mild winters. Northern Arizona features forests of pine, Douglas fir, and spruce trees; the Colorado Plateau; some mountain ranges (such as the San Francisco Mountains); as well as large, deep canyons, with much more moderate summer temperatures and significant winter snowfalls. There are ski resorts in the areas of Flagstaff, Alpine, and Tucson. In addition to the Grand Canyon National Park, there are several national forests, national parks, and national monuments.
About one-quarter of the state is made up of Indian reservations that serve as the home of 27 federally recognized Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation, the largest in the state and the United States, with more than 300,000 citizens. Although federal law gave all Native Americans the right to vote in 1924, Arizona excluded those living on reservations from voting until its state Supreme Court ruled in 1948 in favor of Native American plaintiffs.
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Morris Helzberg opened the first Helzberg Jewelry Store on Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. A few years later, his youngest son, 14-year-old Barnett, took responsibility for the store after his father suffered from a stroke.Barnett was an exuberant young businessman who saw an opportunity to gain more customers by advertising in the newspaper. He started with a $300 investment, but when it produced good business, he quickly increased it to $3000 and insisted on more ads and bigger spreads.By the end of the decade, Barnett had expanded the business to three stores, including a prominent location at Eleventh and Walnut in Kansas City, Missouri, sealing his reputation as a distinguished jeweler in the Midwest.Fixture manufacturer, Colonial Cabinet Company, had to increase its work force to accommodate the Helzberg expansion. They enthusiastically share their good fortune by placing a large sign headed THE PROSPERITY NEWS outside the store.
Barnett continued to spend money on exciting ads and promotions throughout the Great Depression. Expanding beyond newspaper advertising, Helzberg sponsored the popular Helzberg Sweetheart Hour radio program that provided uplifting entertainment to listeners each week.Barnett made his greatest contribution to the jewelry industry when he and fellow jewelers established the Diamond Council of America–an institution for teaching jewelers and their salespeople the science of diamonds and gemology.Barnett built the store of his dreams on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed in Fifth Avenue style, the three-level store was called Helzberg’s House of Treasures.On October 14, 1956, Barnett Sr. ran a full-page ad entitled An Open Letter to My Son, in the Kansas City Star, welcoming his son Barnett Jr. to the family business.
Helzberg Diamonds had come of age by the end of the decade, operating 15 stores in six Midwestern markets, as well as a successful mail order division.The department store concept was a new and exciting opportunity for Helzberg expansion. More than 20 licensed jewelry counters were added in Woolco, K-Mart, Arlan and GEM department stores.Barnett Sr. stepped up to chairman of the board giving 29-year-old Barnett Jr. responsibility for leading the company. At the time, Helzberg operated 39 stores.
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