As cities go, Scottsdale’s a mere youngster as 65. Despite its youth, the city, its residents and businesses have quite a history of accomplishment since incorporating in 1951.
Just a few milestones that got us to today:
- Archaeologists and Native American communities trace the human history of Scottsdale back at least 8,000 years when Archaic people seasonally hunted around the McDowell Mountains. Riverine Hohokam people farmed areas near the Salt River; Upland Hohokam settled in the Pinnacle Peak area some 2,000 years ago.
- Modern day Scottsdale began with completion of the Arizona Canal across undeveloped and sparsely populated Salt River Valley in 1885, spurring settlers and speculators to acquire farmable land along its route. U.S. Army Chaplain Winfield Scott and his wife Helen were first to homestead here in 1888.
- From 1888 to 1950, Scottsdale was a farming community. Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa became incorporated municipalities, but Scottsdale remained fiercely independent, relying on its close-knit residents, faith groups and civic clubs for town governance and programs.
- World War II introduced thousands of service members and war workers to the climate and opportunities of the Salt River Valley. Merchants realized Scottsdale needed infrastructure to support the expected influx of new residents and businesses after the war.
- The Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce formed in 1947, promoted tourism and held dances to fund paving streets. The chamber held public hearings to discuss the merits of incorporating as a town, and its volunteers circulated incorporation petitions. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors declared Scottsdale incorporated as of June 25, 1951.
- At incorporation, Scottsdale’s population was 2,032 on less than one square mile – primarily the “Old Town” area of Scottsdale. County Supervisors appointed five Scottsdale residents to the Town Council: Malcolm White (Mayor), Mort Kimsey, Jack Sweeney, E.G. Scott and Bill Miller. Miller resigned during the first month when he moved outside town boundaries; George “Doc” Cavalliere was appointed. Cavalliere had spent much of his youth working on cattle ranches and digging water wells in the Pinnacle Peak area, and later ran Reata Pass and Greasewood Flat Western-themed restaurants.
- During 1951 the town hired Hurley Pruitt as Town Marshal, enacted a criminal code, contracted with Rural Fire Protection Company, passed a zoning ordinance, drew up a street paving plan and erected town limit signs. In 1952, the town leased rooms at the Rural Fire station on the corner of Brown Avenue and 2nd Street as the Town Hall.
- Scottsdale’s first Town Clerk was Virgie Lutes Brown, granddaughter-in-law of pioneer Scottsdale businessman E.O. Brown. She and her husband Alvin “Cotton” Brown had spent many hours at the Brown’s and D.C. Ranches when those were working cattle ranches.
- Determined to maintain Scottsdale’s cachet and control its future land plan, the town began annexing land in all directions. By 1960 Scottsdale had grown to 10,000 residents living on 5 square miles; in 1984, with a final large annexation north to the Tonto Forest, Scottsdale grew to its present size – 185 square miles. Population in July 2014 was 224,800.
- Thanks to citizen involvement and innovative public-private partnerships throughout the last 65 years, Scottsdale, its residents, visitors and businesses have many points of pride: the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt Flood Control Project, the Civic Center Mall, a comprehensive General Plan, an aesthetically-supportive sign ordinance, the Scottsdale Airport/Airpark, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and countless others.
Happy 65th anniversary, Scottsdale! We’ve come a long way, but the best is yet to come!
~ by Joan Fudala