Step Into Tempe’s History

Historical Tempe

Tempe’s original settlers might not recognize its progress in the past century, but visitors can still get a sense of Tempe’s past. Start at the Pueblo Grande Museum and discover the daily life of the Hohokam people, the original inhabitants of this area. Then, visit the AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park to gain a sense of the history of central Arizona through interactive, engaging exhibits.

If you’re still hungry for history, walk by the adobe hacienda that was constructed in 1871 by Tempe founder Charles Trumbull Hayden, located on the corner of Rio Salado Pkwy. and Mill Ave. Just north of Charles Trumbull Hayden’s historic home, take a walk to Tempe Town Lake. Imagine it as the home of Hayden’s Ferry, a service that would take people across what was then the Salt River, past fields of green crops. Charles Trumbull Hayden constructed the flour mill in 1874. Many of the buildings south of the mill are original structures, dating back to the late 1800s. For the first 80 years of Tempe’s history, almost all retailers were located on Mill Avenue.

Arizona State University was founded in 1885. For a sense of the college’s past, visit Old Main, the oldest building on campus. Originally dedicated February 4, 1898, Old Main stood three stories and dominated the campus. A trailblazer in technology, it was the first building in Tempe wired for electric lighting. It provided the perfect backdrop to a speech by President Roosevelt in 1911. Alumni are welcome to visit Old Main Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Self-guided tour materials are available at the reception desk on the second floor.