Today the thriving metropolis of Tempe, Arizona gives few clues to its frontier roots. Almost two centuries ago the Hohokam Indians settled near the Salt River, which now borders the northern part of Tempe. In the early 1860s white settlers arrived, also attracted by the river. Charles Hayden, an early entrepreneur, provided a ferry service for crossing the Salt and the small settlement of Hayden's Ferry was born. Today the old Hayden family home still exists as a restaurant and one can see the flour mill, established conveniently near the ferry. When Fort McDowell was built on the upper Salt in 1865, it provided more business and better safety for the settlers. A pioneer named Darrell Duppa is credited with giving the town its present name, Tempe (pronounced Tem-pee) in 1879. Supposedly, he compared the Salt River Valley with the Vale of Tempe in Greece. Somehow it stuck.
In 1887, the Maricopa/Phoenix Railroad was built across the Salt River giving competition to the ferry. And with the completion in 1911 of Roosevelt Dam, farmers could be ensured of ample water year round. The abundant water and transportation encouraged agricultural development and more settlers arrived.In 1885 the Territorial Legislature chose Tempe for the Territorial Normal School, which has evolved into Arizona State University, one of the largest universities in the United States, and located just south of the river. In 1894 the Tempe Land and Improvement Company began selling lots for home sites and the town was incorporated in 1894.
Today, the vital Salt River still runs west through the northern part of Tempe. It is dammed in two places to provide Tempe Town Lake, a large recreational area adjacent to the city itself and ASU's large sports center, Sun Devil Stadium. Approximately 161 thousand diverse residents call Tempe home. The Tempe, AZ Yellow Pages and Business Directory reveal a variety of entertainment venues and services. Across the river is a world-class zoo. Sports entertainment is plentiful. There are superb and varied restaurants as well as an exceptional Center for the Arts, along with on-going seasonal attractions. At an elevation of 114 feet, its climate is comfortable most of the year. Freezing is rare and while it can get over 100 degrees in the heat of summer, there are multiple cool places to while away those summer hours. This forty square miles of city offers a dream environment for living the good life.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan