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Laura B. Historic Phoenix Homes Specialist. EEOC. Member NAR, PAR, AAR Phoenix, AZ. Member PAR, NAR, AZMLS. EEOC

Scottsdale is located centrally in the state of Arizona. Smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, with mountains ringing the city and giant saguaro cactus guarding those mountains.

Scottsdale was named after the Rev. Winfield Scott, Civil War veteran. who was later a chaplain in the regular army. He first visited the area in 1881. Later he homesteaded, taking out a patent in 1891. Meanwhile he served at Fort Huachuca, leaving his brother George in charge of the homestead. Following his retirement, Scott promoted property near his home as a health and agricultural center. The name Scottsdale became official in 1896 with the establishment of the school district. It had seventy residents in 1897.

Scottsdale experienced continuous growth though golf, art and tourism, and also had a post war boom in the 40’s, and continues to be a favored place to visit and enjoy the plush offerings.

Scottsdale was first incorporated in 1951 and as such is a relatively new city! And boy has it come a long way baby.  Scottsdale really came into its own when the U.S. Conference of Mayors named Scottsdale as one of the nation's "Most Livable Cities" in 1993. We have also been named "Number One Resort Community in America" and "A Fabulous Place to Retire". We've been called "The Most Western Town" and in 2002, The Robb Report sited Scottsdale as "America's Best Place to Live for golf". And we have a number of chefs listed on the "Ten Best New Chefs in America" listed by Food and Wine.

We know it's a great place to live, Scottsdale sparkles, everything is clean, manicured and landscaped...and you'll see no billboards, which totally sets it apart from any other city you might visit! Our building height is regulated, so that no matter where you are, you have at least a peak of a mountain. The Spanish and Western Architecture is very appealing and of course Frank Lloyd Wright has left his mark on our fair city. 

The first known residents of Scottsdale were the Hohokam Indians (about 800 A.D.) who farmed the land and built over 200 miles of canals (many of which are still in  use today) to carry water to their crops. Can you imagine how they built these canals 1000 years ago without modern tools or air conditioning. Very smart and very hardy!  They disappeared without a trace and everyone is still wondering what happened to them.  I sure hope that doesn't happen to us!

Winfield Scott, the founding father of Scottsdale arrived about 1888 and purchased  600 acres just outside Phoenix. The purchase was made through the Desert Land Act, which required the owner to irrigate the land. He proceeded to plant his land with citrus trees. (I don't know what made him think he could come to the desert and plant citrus), but obviously ignorance was bliss and he proceeded to build an irrigation system that did the job very well. (how far we've come, now that only desert landscaping is acceptable). The citrus thrived with the irrigation system he developed, but a raging  flood in 1891 destroyed most of the citrus. 

He then started campaigning to bring "settlers" to Orangetown. That name had been given to the area because (you guessed it) of the citrus trees. However, and no one knows exactly how this happened, Orangetown became Scottsdale sometime in the 1890’s and officially Scottsdale in 1897 when the U.S. Post Office came to town.

Winfield Scott was no wild western hombre, but a preacher, farmer, business man and developer (yes we had them even then). When he arrived there were approximately 3000 people in the Phoenix area. Seven hotels, eight restaurants and probably some bars. But he set out to attract more people to the "Valley of the Sun", and it worked. And it is still working.

Old Winfield would not recognize the place today. It continues to grow with an influx of new people, new ideas, and new developments. We boast everything from Arabian Horse Shows to Native American Casinos. Scottsdale was voted the "Most Livable City" in 1993.

Most of the original settlers came for their health, those 300 plus days of sunshine probably had a lot to do with it, as it still does. The sunshine is addictive and must be responsible for our 200,000 residents today!

Today as then people were looking for their quiet spot in the sun to live and work in a relaxed environment. The early pioneers would not believe Scottsdale of today. The little farming community has grown up into an upscale resort area, complete with the finest hotels, spas, restaurants and shopping galore. With 200,000 population and growing daily it would be hard for old Winfield Scott to find his way.

Since World War II Scottsdale has been growing, from the fighter pilots that trained at Scottsdale Airfield and came back after the war with their wives and families. The McCormick’s came in 1947 and bought the land that comprises McCormick Ranch. 1956 brought Motorola to southern Scottsdale. Both of these contributed to the growth of Scottsdale. Certainly when McCormick Ranch opened its doors to corporate groups, it didn't take long for the word to spread.

I remember one of my first times here in Scottsdale about 1972, we stayed at the Royal Palms in a casita. It certainly wasn't the extravagant resort it is today, but wonderful just the same. I was so taken with the desert, that I knew I would return time and time again. The town was so quaint with the Sugar Bowl and their fantastic banana splits. The Cavalliere Blacksmith Shop, was downtown as it has been for almost 100 years. Back in 1909 they had boxing and wrestling matches there as well shoe horses. And the same family owns Reata Pass, the longest operating business in Scottsdale. The restaurant is filled with Cavalliere family ironwork, western antiques and old ranch tools...along with hundreds of flapping dollar bills signed by  their former owners...a trend started long ago when cowboys used to put in reserve a little money at their favorite local watering hole before heading out on the trail. Reata Pass has seen a lot of people come and go and it's still going strong. 

It's just not the sun and the weather that helped put Scottsdale on the map. Certainly the "old" Phoenix Resorts have helped. 1929 was a really big year for Phoenix. Everyone was discovering the desert environment and many people believed winter months in Arizona, the place to be! Arizona Highway magazine in its infancy lured a lot of people with its
Wigwam Resort also opened in 1929, on quite a smaller scale than today, with just 13 rooms that could hold 24 guests. Originally a dude ranch it is now the largest of the Arizona resorts.

Royal Palms Resort designed by a wealthy New Yorker in the Spanish colonial style on 65 acres was used as a private home and finally opened as the Royal Palms Inn in 1948. Today it is one of the most coveted small luxury resorts in Phoenix.

San Carlos Hotel, was built around the same time, a state of the art facility, the first hotel in Phoenix with steam heat, elevators and air-cooling, costing a $1.00 a day more that the other three area hotels! Totally redone now of course!

With all these hotels and resorts dotting the desert could golf courses be far behind? The first nine-hole golf course was built at the Wigwam Resort  in 1929. Today there over 120 Phoenix golf courses!

Golf, Resorts and these glimpses of the "old west" coupled with the way the town has evolved keeps 'em coming from all over the world. Scottsdale also attracts artists and crafters, just look at our over 100 galleries on main street and you can see that's true. Frank Lloyd Wright came to town, and started his school for architects at Taliesin West and the arts have flourished ever since

Laura B. Historic Phoenix Homes Specialist. EEOC. Member NAR, PAR, AAR Phoenix, AZ. Member PAR, NAR, AZMLS. EEOC
Laura Boyajian
Mobile: 602.400.0008

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