The history of Mesa dates back at least 2,000 years to the arrival of the Hohokam people. The Hohokam, whose name means "All Used Up" or "The Departed Ones", built the original canal system. The canals were the largest and most sophisticated in the prehistoric New World. Some were up to 90 feet (27 m) wide and 10 feet (3.0 m) deep at their head gates, extending for as far as 16 miles (26 km) across the desert. By A.D. 1100 water could be delivered to an area over 110,000 acres (450 km2), transforming the Sonoran Desert into an agricultural oasis. By A.D. 1450, the Hohokam had constructed hundreds of miles of canals many of which are still in use today.
After the disappearance of the Hohokam and before the arrival of the early settlers little is known, as explorers did not venture into this area. By the late 19th century near present-day Mesa, U.S. Army troops subdued the Apache opening the way for settlement.
Mormon pioneerDaniel Webster Jones, with Henry Clay Rogers as his right-hand man, led an expedition to found a Mormon settlement in Arizona. Leaving St. George, Utah in March 1877, Jones and others arrived at Lehi, an area within the northern edge of present-day Mesa. Jones had been asked by Mormon officials to direct a party of people in establishing a settlement in Arizona. This settlement was initially known as Jonesville and Fort Utah and did not receive the name of Lehi until 1883, when it was adopted on the suggestion of Brigham Young, Jr.
At the same time, another group dubbed the First Mesa Company arrived from Utah and Idaho. Their leaders were named Francis Martin Pomeroy, Charles Crismon, George Warren Sirrine and Charles I. Robson. Rather than accepting an invitation to settle at Jones' Lehi settlement, they moved to the top of the mesa that serves as the city's namesake. They dug irrigation canals, some of which were over the original Hohokam canals, and by April 1878, water was flowing through them. The Second Mesa Company arrived in 1879 and settled to the west of where the First Mesa Company settled in 1880, due to lack of available farmland. This settlement was called Stringtown.
On July 17, 1878, Mesa City was registered as a 1-square-mile (2.6 km2) townsite. The first school was built in 1879. In 1883, Mesa City was incorporated with a population of 300 people. Dr. A. J. Chandler, who would later go on to found the city of Chandler, worked on widening the Mesa Canal in 1895 to allow for enough flow to build a power plant. In 1917, the city of Mesa purchased the utility company. The revenues from the company provided enough for capital expenditures until the 1960s. During the Great Depression, WPA funds provided paved streets, a new hospital, a new town hall and a library.
With the opening of Falcon Field and Williams Field in the early 1940s, more military personnel began to move into the Mesa area. With the advent of air conditioning and the rise of tourism, population growth exploded in Mesa as well as the rest of the Phoenix area. Industry--especially early aerospace companies--grew in the 1950s and 1960s. As late as 1960, half of the residents of Mesa made a living with agriculture, but this has declined substantially as Mesa's suburban growth continued on track with the rest of the Phoenix metro area.
In 1990, the Census Bureau reported city's population as 10.9% Hispanic and 84.9% non-Hispanic white.
Due to Mesa's extremely long east to west travel distance, in excess of 18 miles (29 km) and large land area 133.13 square miles (344.8 km2), locations in Mesa are often referred to as residing within either East Mesa or West Mesa.
Commonly accepted boundaries
Mesa employs a grid system for street numbering that is different from that used in Phoenix and other portions of the metropolitan area. Center Street, running north to south, bisects Mesa into eastern and western halves and serves as the east and west numbering point of origin within Mesa. Streets west of Center St., such as W. University Drive or W. Main St. are considered to be in West Mesa, whereas streets east of Center St., such as E. University or E. Main St., are considered to be in East Mesa.
Mesa Drive, running north to south and bisecting Mesa into east and west sections, is located 0.5 miles (800 m) east of Center Street, and serves as the zip code boundary between the 85281, 85201, 85202, and 85210 zip codes of Western Mesa and the 85203, 85204, 85205, 85206, 85207, 85208, 85209, 85212, 85213, 85215, 85220, and 85242 zip codes of Eastern Mesa.
Country Club Drive
Country Club Drive, running north to south and bisecting Mesa into east and west sections, is located 0.5 miles (800 m) west of Center St, and serves as the jurisdictional boundary between Arizona's 5th and 6th congressional districts. Note that this same road (as Arizona Avenue) serves as the official east and west numbering point of origin within the city of Chandler, located south of Mesa.
Located in the Sonoran Desert, Mesa has a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh), with mild winters and very hot summers. The hottest month is July, with an average high of 106 °F (41 °C) and an average low of 77 °F (25 °C). The coldest month is December, with an average high of 67 °F (19 °C) and an average low of 41 °F (5 °C).
As of the census of 2010, there were 439,041 people, 146,643 households, and 99,863 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,171.3 people per square mile (1,224.4/km2). There were 175,701 housing units at an average density of 1,405.7 per square mile (542.8/km2).
There were 146,643 households out of which 33.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.20.
The age distribution was 27.3% under 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $42,817, and the median income for a family was $49,232. Males had a median income of $35,960 versus $27,005 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,601. About 6.2% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.7% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over. Mesa's residents exhibit a great deal of economic diversity, with low-income areas constructed somewhat close to high-scale neighborhoods with expensive custom homes. The neighborhood "Marlborough Mesa" has won a community award.
According to the City's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Numerous properties in the city are considered to be historical and have been included either in the National Register of Historic Places or the listings of the Mesa Historic Properties. The following are images of some of these properties with a short description.
Historic Mesa, Arizona (NRHP = National Register of Historic Places) (MHP = Mesa Historic Properties)
Replica of the original Lehi School built in 1880 (MHP).
Sirrine House, built in 1896 (NRHP) Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Architect, builder, or engineer: Sirrine, Joel E., Architectural Style: Queen Anne, Area of Significance: Architecture, Period of Significance: 1900-1924, 1875-1899.
Angulo-Hostetter House, built in 1902 (NRHP) Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Architectural Style: Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Area of Significance: Architecture, Period of Significance: 1925-1949, 1900-1924.
Strauch-Fuller House, built in 1906 (NRHP) Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Architect, builder, or engineer: Unknown, Architectural Style: Mission/Spanish Revival, Area of Significance: Architecture, Period of Significance: 1900-1924.
The Robert Scott House was built in 1909 and is located at 2230 E. Grandview St. in Mesa. The residence belonged to Robert Scott, a wealthy Mesa sheep farmer and large landowner, who was a co-founder of the Salt River Bank. The Scott House originally stood within the original Mesa townsite on the corner of First and Sirrine Streets, and when completed was among the few large formal residences in Mesa. Commercial expansion and downtown redevelopment projects during the past twenty years have changed the character of the townsite area. The original site of the Scott House was sold for commercial development in 1972, and the house was subsequently moved six miles to a residential subdivision where it is now located. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 8, 1982, reference #82002079.
Lehi School, built in 1913 (NRHP) Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Event, Architect, builder, or engineer: WPA, Architectural Style: Moderne, Mission/Spanish Revival, Area of Significance: Architecture, Community Planning And Development, Entertainment/Recreation, Education. Period of Significance: 1950-1974, 1925-1949, 1900-1924.
Spangler-Wilbur House, built in 1915, (NRHP) Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Architect, builder, or engineer: Home Builders Inc., Architectural Style: Colonial Revival, Mission/Spanish Revival, Area of Significance: Architecture, Period of Significance: 1900-1924.
James A. Macdonald House, built in 1916-1918 (MHP).
Dr. Lucius Charles Aston House, built in 1920 (NRHP). The Dr. Lucius Charles Alston House is associated with the history of the development of the African American community in Mesa. The house served as Dr. Alston's office while practicing medicine in Mesa.
The historic Alhambra Hotel was originally built in 1893 and reconstructed in 1922. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 31, 1991.
Mesa Journal--Tribune FHA Demonstration Home. Also known as Charles A. Mitten Home. Area of Significance: Commerce, Community Planning And Development; Period of Significance: 1925-1949 (NRHP).
Mesa Women's Club, built in 1931 (NRHP) Historic Significance: Event, Area of Significance: Social History, Period of Significance: 1925-1949.
Irving School was built in 1936 and it is located at 155 N. Center St. The Irving School is a rare surviving example of Federal Modern style architecture applied to an elementary school. The school was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 8, 2000, reference number 00001323.
The Buckhorn Baths Motel was built in 1939 and is located at 5900 Main St. in Mesa. The Buckhorn Baths Motel is a complex consisting of fourteen buildings including a bathhouse, a main office building, and individual room units. The motel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 10, 2005, reference number #05000421.
Some of the individual room units of The Buckhorn Baths Motel which was built in 1939 and is located at 5900 Main St. in Mesa. The Buckhorn Baths Motel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 10, 2005, reference number #05000421.
Housing Storage Supply Warehouse at Williams Air Force Base (now Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus). The housing supply warehouse was constructed in December 1941 by Del E. Webb Construction Company. The housing supply warehouse is significant for its association with the initial development and construction at Williams Air Force Base. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places - 1995. Reference 95000746
Water Tower at Williams Air Force Base (now Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus). The water tower was constructed in the winter of 1941-1942 by the Del E. Webb Construction Company. The water tower possesses the associative quality that connects it to the history of Williams Air Force Base. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places - 1995. Reference 95000745
The Flagpole was built in December 1941, the Base Flagpole is significant as an object for its important symbolic and traditional associations with the origins and history of Williams Air Force Base (now Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport). The pole was erected by Del E. Webb Construction Company. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places - 1995 Reference 95000744.
Marker of the historic flagpole.
Demountable Hangar located at the North Apron, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (formerly Williams AFB), Mesa, Arizona. Built in 1925 and designed by Webb, Del E., Construction Company to resemble an enlisted aviator badge of the Army Air Force. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, ref. #95000743.
Ammo Bunker (S-1007), SW of Vosler Dr. (formerly Alaska Dr.), at Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus (formerly Williams AFB), Mesa, Arizona. Built in 1925 by Webb, Del E., Construction Company. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places ref: 95000748.
Sealed entrance of Ammo Bunker (S-1007).
Ammo Bunker (S-1008), SW of Vosler Dr. (formerly Alaska Dr.), at Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus (formerly Williams AFB), Mesa, Arizona. Built in 1925 by Webb, Del E., Construction Company. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places ref: 95000759.
Sealed entrance of Ammo Bunker (S-1008).
Civil Engineering Maintenance Shop also known as S-735, located in Unity Ave. (Jct. of 11th and A Sts.), at Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus (formerly Williams AFB), Mesa, Arizona. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, ref: #95000747.
Parks and recreation
Mesa has over 2,280 acres of parkland in the city limits. Its largest is Red Mountain Park which spans 1,146 acres. It includes a lake, playgrounds, a basketball court and a cement volleyball court.
Mesa is home to numerous championship golf courses, including the original course in town, Mesa Country Club. This course was founded in the late 1940s by the original leaders of the town, and "Country Club Drive", the most prominent street in Mesa, was at one point the modest entrance to the club.
Several area freeways serve the Mesa area, such as U.S. Route 60, locally known as the Superstition Freeway, which runs between Apache Junction and Phoenix. It is also served by SR 87 and bypass loops Loop 101, which skirts the western city limits as the Price Freeway, and Loop 202, which bypasses the city on the north and east. Public transportation is provided by Valley Metro with Sunday service available on Routes 40-Apache/Main, 61-Southern, 96-Dobson, 108-Elliot, 112-Country Club/Arizona, 156-Chandler/Williams Field, and 184-Power; until July 2008, Mesa was the largest U.S. city with no public transit service on Sundays.