A look at Glendale today will show you a thriving community. This vibrant and diverse city in Maricopa County has grown to be one of the most diverse and bustling cities in the state. The city’s vibrance and attractiveness can be attributed to its history as a desert land developed into a town.
Glendale, AZ, began as a desert in Arizona in the 1800s. The area was no more than a barren land plagued by droughts. Within Arizona, Phoenix had already begun to attract its share of settlers, becoming an established community in the heart of Arizona’s territory.
The development of Phoenix can be traced back to two things: the construction of a railway and, most importantly, a network of prehistoric Hohokam canals. The canals allowed water to flow through the city, giving life to the community and the nearby farms that sustained it.
Unfortunately, the area to the west of Phoenix remained dry. Seeing this and the potential this area had, William J. Murphy, along with two other builders, took initiative. It was because of him that the nearly 40-mile [mf1] Arizona Canal was constructed. In 1885, his vision came to fruition as the canal was completed, bringing much-needed water to irrigate the lands to the west.
To pay for the debt he incurred for the canal’s construction, he intended to sell the land south of the canal. In 1887, William J. Murphy named this area “Glendale.”
After 1887, Murphy wanted to draw potential investors for the development of the newly founded Glendale. As an area south of the canal, early Glendale was not connected to any major part of Arizona.
Murphy then proceeded to construct the 11-mile Grand Avenue to connect Glendale to Phoenix. The construction of this diagonal road did more than attract investors. It also contributed to the influx of settlers lured by the promise of space and opportunities in a new land. From 1891 until 1895, Glendale saw consistency in the diverse families coming to start a new life.
Farming was crucial to early businesses in Glendale. It was equally important for families, though on a smaller scale. With sugar beets being the main crop of the town, selling products derived from it was deemed a must.
In 1906, the Beet Sugar Factory was constructed. The factory allowed the town’s main crop to be manufactured for commercial applications. With word going around that a factory was built, more immigrants made their way to Glendale.
From being a barren drought-stricken area in Arizona, Glendale has grown into a thriving city. Ultimately, Glendale’s 200-year-old story is one where one man’s vision, a lot of water, and some sugar beets were the main characters.