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CHANDLER ARIZONA HISTORY

Chandler"s history began when Dr. Alexander John Chandler arrived in Prescott in 1887. Dr. Chandler was the first veterinary surgeon appointed to the region. Unfortunately, the entire Southwest was soon experiencing a severe drought, and Dr. Chandler, unable to help the area"s cattle herds, resigned his post and made plans to move on to California.  However, as he arrived in the small frontier town of Phoenix, a deluge of rain began to fall that halted his travel.  As Dr. Chandler watched from his hotel room the desert fed by the rain came to life.  The doctor saw and the possibilities of the region and reconsidered his resignation.

In 1891, Dr. Chandler bought 80 acres of land from the federal government south of Mesa in the Salt River Valley.  Dr. Chandler began studying irrigation methods and with the financial backing of two Detroit friends formed the Consolidated Canal Company.

When the Granite Reef Dam to the southeast of Phoenix was completed in 1908, water from the Salt River was available for all canals to the south.  Thousands of acres were put under cultivation, but there was still not enough water to keep the land from remaining dry.

By 1911 Dr. Chandler had accumulated nearly 18,000 acres south of Mesa.  In 1911, when the Roosevelt Dam was completed each landowner was restricted to irrigating only 160 acres.   In order to have irrigation available, Dr. Chandler was forced to subdivide his 18,000-acre ranch.  He hired a city planner and an architect to design a planned community with spacious lots, wide boulevards and a town green unique to the Southwest.

The town of Chandler was formed in 1912. Growth was slow at first, but Dr. Chandler looked toward the future, knowing that the town needed to become a destination in order to attract tourists who might later become residents.  So, in the middle of an alfalfa field, construction started on the San Marcos Hotel, the area"s first luxury resort.  Upon its completion, wealthy guests from around the country flocked to the small town just south of Phoenix, looking for a winter getaway.   On May 17, 1912, Dr. Chandler opened the Town-site office. Excursion trains on the newly completed Arizona Eastern Railroad brought 300 speculators who spent $50,000 for land that day.

The town then consisted of three wooden shacks -- the town-site office, a dining hall and the Morrison Grocery.  There was also a billboard marking the site of the elegant future Hotel San Marcos.   Dr. Chandler had an ambitious plan that was well ahead of his time. He envisioned a landscaped central park that would be surrounded by businesses.  The walkways in front of the buildings would be covered by a trellis-like roof, supported by colonnades.  Deed restrictions required land owners to build on their land within one year.

One year after the first land sale, Chandler was beginning to look like an established town.  Businesses had been built along the west and south side of the park, including the Bank of Chandler and the Eastern Railroad depot.  Graded dirt roads encircled the park, and there were wagons, carts and Model T Fords busily moving about the town. The park was covered by grass, with newly planted trees, and was divided into a north and south side by the Commonwealth Canal.

The grand opening of the Hotel San Marcos took place on November 22, 1913. Among the 500 guests present were Governor George P. Hunt and Vice President Thomas Marshall.  The hotel was an immediate success with wealthy visitors coming from all over the country every winter.

Agriculture was still the big business in Chandler at the time.   Cotton, grains and alfalfa were the primary crops.  Farmers also raised cattle, sheep and, yes, ostriches.  Ostrich feathers were used to adorn popular women's fashions. Top quality feathers sold for as much as $250 a pound.

As the years passed, cotton became the most common and profitable crop in Chandler.  By the time World War I began, long-staple cotton was in demand to be used for the production of rubber tires and aircraft fabrics. During the war, the Goodyear Tire Company leased 8,000 acres south of town from the Chandler Improvement Company and built the town of Goodyear.

By 1920, Chandler had more than 1,000 residents.  Automobiles had become the main form of transportation, so the town's roads needed to be paved.  The water and sewage systems were also outdated and the utility services were unreliable.

Arthur Price, the local Justice of the Peace, drafted the town's first charter, and in May of 1920, the citizens voted to incorporate and become the Town of Chandler.  Dr. Chandler agreed to serve as the first mayor until one could be elected.  Soon after a mayor and council was elected.

The Great Depression was not a devastating experience for most of Chandler's residents.  The cotton crash of 1920 had a far greater impact on the agriculturally based economy.  Dr. Chandler, however, did not fare so well during the depression years.   The Bank of Chandler collapsed and he lost the San Marcos to his creditors.  He was able to retire comfortably, though, and lived in a cottage on the grounds of the hotel.

By the late 1930s, Chandler was experiencing some problems spurred by growth and technology.  Drivers of the new faster cars sometimes didn't realize that Arizona Avenue then ended at the town plaza.  Cars often jumped the curb and drove right into the park.  The large diesel trucks that made deliveries to businesses around the park had trouble navigating the narrow roads around the plaza.

In 1940, the state proposed to align Route 87 down Arizona Avenue.   Residents were not happy to see their beautiful park divided in half for a highway, but the town's original design was no longer safe or practical.

In 1941, the U.S. Air Force announced its plans for the construction of a fighter pilot training base east of Chandler.  The base began operations in October and two months later Japanese bombers attacked Pear Harbor.  It soon became common to see uniformed men in town.

On August 14, 1945, Chandler residents celebrated late into the night when they received news of the end of the war.

During World War II, Chandler's population doubled and reached 3,800 by 1950 -- the year Dr. Chandler passed away.  On May 24, 1954, the status of Chandler was upgraded from town to City.

In recent years, Chandler's borders have been expanded and the population has boomed -- from 30,000 in 1980 to more than 120,000 today.  The economic base of Chandler has been diversified.   While agriculture is still somewhat of a vital element, Chandler now enjoys a strong manufacturing and electronics sector.

The downtown storefronts have been restored to a modern version of their original turn-of-the-century look, and the plaza has been redesigned and named after the City's founder.  The Center for the Arts, new parks, restaurants and retail centers mark an exciting future for the City.  Family festivals such as the Ostrich Festival, and a host of other annual events, make Chandler a popular draw for travelers from all across the country.

Call today and let us show you why so many people are choosing Chandler Arizona as a great place to live.



Len Roberts
My Home Group, LLC
110 S. Priest, Suite 101
Tempe, Arizona 85281
(480) 216-6779Z

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