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100 Years in Scottsdale: Podunk Tumbleweed Flat to Nuevo Riche

Apr 1, 2008
It would be hard to envision that while standing on a cobbled patio on some plush hotel, Scottsdale 100 years ago would have been not much more than a few farmers' orchards doted among the desert scrub, where the lizards and coyotes scampered about. Today the city has some of the most developed tracks of land that are commanding some of the highest land prices in the southwest. This article will go over how this, in a nutshell, came to be and the state of its current condition.

Early Development Highlights

For a city whose name originates from a retired U.S. Army Chaplain over 100 years ago, Winfried Scott, the town didn't actually become a city until 1951. Water was key to vitalize the land as demonstrated by the native peoples. The old Chaplain took what irrigation genius the Hohokam natives had masterminded a few thousand years before and build his own irrigation design over it so the cotton and barley could take sprout in the ruddy soil.

Barley, cotton and oranges were about all there was for the first 50 years. No bronzed white haired golfing retirees were to be seen for some time. The land was uninviting as the Sonoran desert is to most man or animal, four-legged or otherwise, with it's searing summer daytime temps. Irrigation was beginning to make it more hospitable for the farming community and soon after World War II the town became somewhat renowned for its heritage of old west. The Parada del Sol (walk in the sun) parade created a national buzz for being the longest horse drawn carriage parade worldwide. It developed into a bit of an artist's township too. The famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright built one of his trademark nature-fused houses and the "Desert Camp" compound with flowing sand-dune inspired lines.

Of Water, Floods and Golf Course Links

So around the late fifties the place started booming. Life magazine even posted an article as Scottsdale being one of the most "desirable" communities in the west. The population took off and practically doubled within a decade.

Unfortunately a swollen river during flood times completely disrupted Scottsdale residents. It wasn't much of a river for the most part, but more of a remnant of an ancient runoff that most believed happened only every 99 years. Residents at the time didn't think much of it, even though the dry river bed cut the town in two sections. When the floods came uncharacteristically frequent during the 60s the city was crippled. The Army Corps of Engineers stepped in to build bridges as a means to restore arterial travel for residents. The city deliberated on what to do to route the flood waters and started with instead of a concrete trench like LA has, but by the planting of grass in the form of golf courses and parks in the lower part of the wash. It's considered quite innovative to this day.

What city planners kind of stumbled on to was that, in the advent of this solution, it created a park and golf system that cut through the middle of the town, just as the dry river bed once had. This system of greenery made it more alluring to vacationers who only had a small jaunt from downtown to a golf course from their hotel. Scottsdale city caught a windfall of tax money from all the development and success from tourism and population jump. From there it has only grown larger and larger to the beautiful monstrosity it is today.
About the Author
Scottsdale Luxury Suites (http://www.luxurysuites.com) provides easy arrangement to stay and vacation in Scottsdale. The Hotel Scottsdale is one such offering that puts you close to all of the action and sights in downtown Scottsdale. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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