Scottsdale (O'odham Vaṣai S-vaṣonĭ; Yaqui Eskatel) is a city in the eastern part of Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, adjacent to the Greater Phoenix Area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010 the population of the city was 217,385. The 2013 Population is estimated to be of about 223,789 people living within the city, The New York Times described downtown Scottsdale as "a desert version of Miami's South Beach" and as having "plenty of late night partying and a buzzing hotel scene". It's slogan is, "The West's Most Western Town".
Scottsdale, 31 miles long and 11.4 miles wide at its widest point, shares boundaries with many other municipalities and entities. On the west, Scottsdale is bordered by Phoenix, Paradise Valley, and unincorporated Maricopa County land. Carefree is also located along the eastern boundary, as well as sharing Scottsdale's northern boundary with the Tonto National Forest. To the south Scottsdale is bordered by Tempe. The southern boundary is also occupied by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which also extends along the Eastern boundary, which also borders Fountain Hills, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and more unincorporated Maricopa County land.
The area which would include what would become Scottsdale was originally inhabited by the Hohokam, from approximately 300 BC to 1450 AD. This ancient civilization farmed the area and developed a complex network of canals for irrigation which was unsurpassed in pre-Columbian North America. At its peak, the canals stretched over 250 miles, many of which built remains extant today, some having been renovated and put back into use in the 20th Century. Under still-mysterious circumstances, the Hohokam disappeared around 1450 or 1500, the most likely theory having to do with a prolonged drought. The later occupants of the area, the Pima and O’odham (also known as the Papago), are thought to be the direct descendants of the Hohokam people.
Before European settlement, Scottsdale was a Pima village known as Vaṣai S-vaṣonĭ, meaning "rotting hay." Some Pima remained in their original homes well into the 20th century. For example, until the late 1960s, there was a still-occupied traditional dwelling on the southeast corner of Indian Bend Road and Hayden Road. Currently, those Pima who live within Scottsdale reside in newer homes rather than traditional dwellings. Many Pima and Maricopa people continue to reside on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which borders Scottsdale directly to the south and east.
Early history and establishment
In the early to mid 1880's, U.S. Army Chaplain, Winfield Scott, visited the Salt River Valley and was impressed with the region, and its potential for agriculture. Returning in 1888 with his wife, Helen, he purchased 640 acres for the paltry sum of $3.50 an acre for a stretch of land where the Downtown Scottsdale is now located. Winfield and his brother, George Washington Scott, became the first residents of the town, which was then known as Orangedale, due to the large citrus groves planted by the Scott brothers, who were known as adept farmers, capable of cultivating citrus fruits, figs, potatoes, peanuts and almonds in the desert town. Many of the community’s original settlers, recruited by Scott from the East and Midwest, were educated and had an appreciation for cultural activities. The town's name was changed to Scottsdale in 1894, after its founder.
In 1896, these settlers established the Scottsdale Public School system, and opened the first schoolhouse, which was followed by the opening of the first general store by J.L. Davis, which also housed the first post office for Scottsdale in 1897. In the early 1900's the community supported a thriving artists and writers culture, culminating in the opening of the region's first resort in 1909, the Ingleside Inn, located just south of the Arizona Canal and west of the Crosscut Canal (Indian School Road at about 64th Street) in what is today Scottsdale. Also in 1909, Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop opened in downtown Scottsdale, and the original schoolhouse was replaced by the much more expansive Little Red Schoolhouse, which remains standing to this day. While not in its original building, Cavalliere's has been in continuance operation since that time.
In 1912, both the Phoenix Street Railway Company and a competitor, the Salt River Valley Electric Railway Company, proposed building streetcar lines to Scottsdale but due to an economic downturn, neither was built.
Between 1908 and 1933, due to the construction of the Granite Reef and Roosevelt dams (in 1908 and 1911, respectively, Scottsdale's population experienced a boom, growing steadily during those years, and Scottsdale became a small market town providing services for families involved in the agricultural industry.
During the First World War Scottsdale and its environs supported a large cotton farming industry, which was due to the creation of Long Staple Egyptian Cotton, developed by the US Department of Agriculture. Although cotton is still grown in southern Arizona, Scottsdale's cotton boom ended with the loss of government contracts at the end of the war. In 1920, a second resort was opened on 12 acres of the property owned by the artist Jessie Benton Evans. Called the Jokake Inn, meaning "mud house", the structure still stands on the grounds of the world famous Phoenician Resort.
The Depression years saw an influx of artists and architects to Scottsdale, which included, in 1937, the internationally renowned Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1937, Wright and his wife purchased 600 desert acres at the foot of the McDowell Mountains and established what is now known as Taliesin West, his winter home and his architectural firm’s Southwestern headquarters. Scottsdale and the rest of Phoenix have seen an everlasting influence from Frank Lloyd Wright. Many buildings throughout the region were designed by the famous architect. His significant influence on the regional architecture is commemorated through a major street which bears his name and a spire memorial designed by Wright himself in North Scottsdale.
World War II and the Post-War Years
Among the most consequential events during the years of World War II was the opening of Thunderbird II Airfield in 1942 (which would eventually become Scottsdale Airport), where 5,500 pilot cadets received their primary flight training before the war’s end. Scottsdale also was the site of a German prisoner of war camp, located in what is today Papago Park, around the current intersection of Scottsdale and Thomas Roads.
In 1950, the town continued to grow as Motorola became the first of many technology companies to build a plant in Scottsdale. They would follow with a second plant in 1956.
With a population of approximately 2000, the city was incorporated on June 25, 1951. The city appointed its first mayor, Malcolm White, and adopted the motto, "The West's Most Western Town". The seal, depicting a mounted cowboy surrounded by a 64-pointed starburst, was designed by Mrs. Gene Brown Pennington.
Development of Indian Bend Wash, 1950s–1970s
The town began a period of rapid population growth after its incorporation in 1951, growing from 2000 to 10,000 residents during the 1950s. This growth necessitated development into the flood plain known as the Indian Bend Wash. Flood plains throughout history have been enticing locations for development due to their flatness, ease of building and inexpensiveness. This is even more temptation in a desert environment, when flooding so rarely happens. As Scottsdale expanded, the Indian Bend Wash virtually bisected the city in half north to south. In the late 1950s, the problem became more and more pronounced, until in 1959 the Maricopa County Flood Control District (MCFCD) was formed by the Arizona State Legislature. The MCFCD became the lead player for developing a comprehensive flood plan for the entire county.
At the same time, the Army Corps of Engineers also began to look into the problems of flooding in Maricopa County. Over the course of the next several years, they would present several plans, all of which revolved around constructing concrete canals and levees to channel and divert the flood waters, as well as building bridges over the canal, similar to the storm drains of Los Angeles. However, during MCFCD meetings held between 1961 and 1963, a different course of action was being developed. This plan would become known as the multi-use, or Greenbelt, concept. The two concepts were at odds with one another until the canal plan was defeated in a bond referendum in 1965. In 1966 a study was commissioned which validated the Greenbelt concept as a way to prevent flood damage. After a major flood in 1972, work on the Greenbelt project began in earnest, and continued through 1984, by which point the major Greenbelt was completed, although minor projects continue through the current day. Today, the 12-mile (19 km) long Scottsdale Greenbelt connects four city parks - Vista del Camino Park, Eldorado Park, Indian School Park and Chaparral Park - through a 25-mile (40 km) bike path.
Further Expansion and Development, 1970s–1980s
The 1960’s and 1970’s continued to see the city’s growth, the population exploding to almost 68,000 by 1970. Most of the unused property within the city limits was to the north, so that was the direction in which the city expanded. The city, which in 1959 had spanned 5 square miles, had expanded its borders to now encompass 62 square miles. Large ranch tracts covered huge areas in the northern part of the city. One of the largest of these was the McCormick ranch, a 4,236 acre ranch serving much of the eastern boundary of Scottsdale and was owned by Fowler and Anne McCormick. Fowler’s paternal grandfather was Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the grain reaper, and his maternal grandfather was John D. Rockefeller. When Anne died in 1970, the property was sold to Kaiser-Aetna for $12.1 million. This started a series of large-scale, master planned communities within the borders Scottsdale, some of which included Scottsdale Ranch (1978), Gainey Ranch (1980), McDowell Mountain Ranch (1992), Desert Mountain (1986), and DC Ranch (1990s).
In 1975, the “east Shea” section, bordering Fountain Hills is annexed by the city, expanding its area from 62.2 square miles to 88.6 square miles. This is followed by a four year period from 1981-1984 during which the city annexes almost another 80 square miles.
Faced with this rapid expansion and growth, many residents became concerned about losing their southwestern scenery. The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy was born in 1991. Teaming with developers, a plan was developed to set aside the McDowell Mountains and adjoining areas in a huge preserve. In 1995, the citizens of Scottsdale voted to implement a sales tax to purchase acreage for this purpose. When completed, the 36,000 acres planned for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve will be nearly one-third of Scottsdale’s land area, equal in size the Bryce Canyon National Park.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, several large manufacturing companies in the Scottsdale and Tempe areas used the solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) in their manufacturing and operating processes. In 1981, TCE began to show up in two Scottsdale drinking wells, and in 1983, the Indian Bend Wash superfund site was listed on the Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List. Physical construction of environmental remediation systems was completed by 2006, with soil cleanup expected to be completed in five years and groundwater cleanup completed in 30 years.
Sign ordinance, and other civic innovations
To the dismay of many businesses, in the early 1970s, the city passed one of the earliest sign ordinances, restricting the size and height of signs and billboards. The city stated it was protecting the safety of its residents, which it claimed were getting into traffic accidents craning their necks to see higher signs. The ordinance was highly controversial at the time and the city was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, but now such ordinances are common. Scottsdale also contracted out its fire department in what was to be a wave of the privatization of operations of city government that never materialized. Afraid of lawsuits if it used the red color of firetrucks of other cities in the U.S., the company that took over the contract painted the fire engines chartreuse. The city also developed the first robot arm garbage truck, replacing crews who dumped cans into a train of open trailers pulled by a truck, with a single operator sitting in an air conditioned cab.
From its official incorporation in 1951 with a population of 2000, the city of Scottsdale has grown to a 2010 Census of 217,385. It is now the state's sixth-largest city. Scottsdale is commonly defined by its high quality of life, and in 1993 was named the "Most Livable City", in the United States by the United States Conference of Mayors. It is continually ranked as one of the premier golf and resort destinations in the world, with a sizable portion of tax revenue being derived from tourism. It is also home to the Phoenix Open Golf Tournament held at the Tournament Players Club every year and the Barrett-Jackson car show held at WestWorld.