Today’s City of Tempe, Arizona was shaped by a rich history of Native American and Hispanic culture and influences from entrepreneurial settlers from across the United States.
- Following the establishment of Fort McDowell on the eastern edge of central Arizona’s Salt River Valley in 1865, enterprising farmers moved into what is now the City of Tempe, Arizona. They dug out the irrigation canals left by the prehistoric Hohokam people and built new ones to carry Salt River water to their fields. Valley farms soon supplied food to Arizona’s military posts and mining towns.
- The first settlers to move to the Tempe area, south of the Salt River and east of Phoenix, were Hispanic families from southern Arizona. In 1872, some of these Mexican settlers founded a town called San Pablo east of Tempe Butte.
- Another settlement, known as Hayden's Ferry, developed west of Tempe Butte. Charles Trumbull Hayden, owner of a mercantile and freighting business in Tucson, homesteaded this location in 1870. Within a few years, he had built a store and flourmill, warehouses and blacksmith shops, and a ferry.
- Both settlements grew quickly and soon formed one community. The town was named Tempe in 1879. “Lord” Darrell Duppa, an Englishman who helped establish Phoenix, is credited with suggesting the name. The sight of the butte, the wide river and the nearby expanse of green fields, reminded him of the Vale of Tempe in ancient Greece.
- In 1885, the Arizona legislature selected Tempe as the site for the Territorial Normal School, which trained teachers for Arizona’s schools.
- The Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad, built in 1887, crossed the Salt River at Tempe, linking the town to the nation's growing transportation system. The Tempe Land and Improvement Company was formed to sell lots in the booming town. The City of Tempe, Arizona became one of the most important business and shipping centers for the surrounding agricultural area.
- After World War II, the City of Tempe, Arizona began growing at a rapid rate as veterans and others moved to the city. The last of the local farms quickly disappeared. Through annexation, the city reached its current boundaries by 1974. Tempe had grown into a modern city. The town's small teachers college had also grown, and in 1958, the institution became Arizona State University.
- Prompted by Tempe’s centennial in 1971, Mill Avenue was revitalized into an entertainment and shopping district. Today, the City of Tempe, Arizona is well known nationally as the home of ASU, the Insight Bowl and events such as the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ Marathon and Ford Ironman Arizona. It is the seventh largest city in Arizona, with a strong modern economy based on commerce, tourism and technology.