Learn Arizona’s History at AZ Heritage Center

AZ Heritage Center

Tempe, Arizona, United States, is located in Maricopa County. The Census Bureau reports that the 2020 population was 180,587. Named after the Vale of Tempe, a Greek town, Tempe is located in Arizona. Tempe is found in the East Valley of Phoenix. It is bordered on the west by Phoenix and Guadalupe, Scottsdale, and Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community to the north, Chandler to the south, and Mesa to the east. Tempe is also home to Arizona State University’s main campus.

Tempe is an inner suburb between Phoenix and the rest in the East Valley. Tempe’s northern area has an urbanized, dense development pattern with a growing skyline. This is due to its location as the main campus for Arizona State University. Southward, the development pattern becomes more sparse, with single-family homes, strip malls, and lower-density office buildings.


This area was home to the Hohokam, who built canals to sustain their agricultural activities. They left their settlements in the 15th century. However, there were a few families and individuals who remained nearby.

Fort McDowell, located approximately 25 miles (40 km) northeast from Tempe’s current downtown Tempe, was built on the upper Salt River in 1865. This allowed for the construction of new towns further down the Salt River. Hispanic and US military personnel were employed to plant food and animal feed for the fort. They established small camps close to the river less than one year later. These were the first permanent communities to emerge in the Valley following the fall of Hohokam. In 1867-1868, Phoenix was established. After Charles T. Hayden’s ferry service, these settlements were called ‘Hayden’s Ferry’ after Charles T. Hayden’s ferry service. They were located east and west of Hayden Butte, respectively. The ferry was the main river crossing in the region. James McKinney and William Kirkland soon founded the Tempe Irrigating Canal Company to supply wheat, alfalfa, and cotton water.

Pioneer Darrell Dupa is the one who suggested Tempe’s name. He did this after comparing the Salt River Valley near a 300-foot (91m) tall butte to the Vale of Tempe in Greece.

Tempe was a sundown community where African Americans could work but was encouraged to move elsewhere. Warren and Carol Livingston, both African Americans, were the first to purchase property in Tempe in 1965.

The 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature chose Tempe in 1885 as the location for the Territorial Normal School. It later became Arizona Normal School and Arizona State Teachers College.

Built-in 1887, the Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad crossed the Salt River at Tempe. It connected the town with the nation’s expanding transportation network. Tempe Land and Improvement Company was established to sell lots in this thriving town. Tempe was an economic center for the agricultural region. In 1894, Tempe was incorporated.

In 1911, the Roosevelt Dam was completed. This dam provided enough water to supply the growing needs of Valley farmers. Theodore Roosevelt, the former president, praised the achievements of the people in central Arizona and predicted that their cities would prosper in the future. Arizona was recognized as the 48th State in less than one year. The Salt River Valley also continued its development.

Tempe has grown as a suburb and a hub of commerce and education in the 20th century and 21st century.

AZ Heritage Center

One of Arizona’s most important historical museums in the AZ Heritage Centre at Papago Park. Explore Arizona’s history and see the rise of desert cities. Also, learn about World War II through the eyes and experiences of Arizonans. There are special events, promotions, and children’s programming all summer, such as Amazing Arizona Kids! and 2-for-1 First Tuesdays. Available for group rates and facility rentals

Broadcast News History in Arizona

The Arizona Heritage Center’s newest exhibit, “On Air: The History of Broadcast News In Arizona,” is now open. This exhibit is about the history of Arizona’s first broadcast news station. It also shows the dramatic technological and cultural changes between the 1920s and today. The featured objects tell not only the story of Arizona’s development but also show how Arizona provided the backdrop for many of the country’s most important stories and trusted faces in broadcasting news locally and nationally.

This exhibit features objects from the Arizona Historical Society’s collections House of Broadcasting and Arizona State University Walter Cronkite Schools of Journalism. It also includes individual donations from Robert Petty.

A Photo Journey Through the Navajo & Hopi Nation

Katharine L. McKenna, a contemporary artist, takes you on a photo tour through Northern Arizona. McKenna spent her gap year in college in upstate New York volunteering at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, in 1977 and 1978. She helped the museum collect woven rugs, pottery, baskets, and jewelry for its annual Navajo Arts and Crafts exhibition. She kept a journal and took photographs of all 24 trading posts she visited and the many miles she traveled through Northern Arizona’s Hopi and Navajo Nations.

The exhibition includes McKenna’s black-and-white images and Native American artifacts from the Arizona Historical Society Collections. You can join McKenna on a journey and enjoy excerpts from her journal. Through December 2022.

The Exhibition Of History Maker

The Historical League is proud to present the 2019 Historymakers Lobby Exhibit. The exhibit will highlight the outstanding contributions of the 2019 honorees to our State. It will also provide direct access to the incredible oral histories and achievements of each Historymaker group since 1992 when the program was launched. 2019 Arizona Historymakers: Betsey Bayless, Dr. Arthur DeCabooter, Michael J. Fox, Merrill Mahaffey, and Alfredo Gutierrez are honorees.

The Arizona Heritage Center is a perfect place to learn about the State’s rich history. You won’t regret it! If you’re interested in learning more about Arizona, be sure to visit the Heritage Center.