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The Little-Known History of Mesa, Arizona

Mesa is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, which is located in the state’s south-central region. The word “tabletop” or “tableland” is derived from Spanish. It is a community that knows no limits, with endless opportunities for new discoveries, professional sports, wild west adventures, and farm to table cuisine. From city to country, mountain peak to desert floor, arts and culture to wildlife and nightlife, every guest has unrivaled access to one of the country’s most diverse visitor offerings.

Mesa is the country’s most populous suburban city, the third-largest city in Arizona after Phoenix and Tucson, the 35th-largest city in the United States, and the largest city that is not a county seat. According to the Census Bureau, the city has a population of 518,012 inhabitants, making it larger than Minneapolis, St. Louis, or Miami.

The place has a complicated and interesting past. Mesa has seen it all, from its ancient beginnings to today’s thriving business and residential culture. The Hohokams were the first prehistoric people to live in Mesa, and they lived in the valley for over 1,500 years. They were canal builders and farmers who lived in large families of up to 500 people. They are best known for building an extensive network of irrigation canals. The prehistoric Hohokam canals were remarkable feats of engineering and labor. The hand dug scheme irrigated 110,000 acres and was the world’s largest prehistoric irrigation system. The place is home to a number of higher education institutions, including Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, which is located in the city’s southeastern corner, is the largest relief airport in the Phoenix region.

The small town that began as a “station on the track” grew and thrived over time. Except for the 1920s, the city’s population doubled every decade, and it quickly outgrew its initial one-square-mile limit. The people of Mesa have not always had an enjoyable time. The city has seen epidemics, two major depressions, and two World Wars send its sons and daughters off to fight. Extreme weather, floods, and drought have all put the citizens of the country to the test.

Arizona’s climate is so fragile that it is, in many respects, more polluted than New York City or Los Angeles. Its romantic image as a wild desert and a place of old-fashioned close-to-the-earth simplicity belies the fact that the state’s economy shifted from pastoral to industrial and technological long before it was pastoral or agrarian after the 1860s. It  is well known for its waterless tracts of desert, but, thanks to many large man-made lakes, it has many more miles of shoreline than its reputation might suggest.

The place is now a vibrant desert village surrounded by smaller neighboring towns on all sides. Phoenix is the only other city larger than Mesa in Central Arizona. It has a population of over 500,000 people, making it America’s 35th largest city. Mesa has drawn many educational institutions from around the country to develop college facilities in Mesa, in addition to having the country’s largest community college. With numerous museums and the Mesa Arts Center, the city is also a pioneer in creating a vibrant cultural economy. Mesa will undoubtedly continue to grow and establish its own identity in the Salt River Valley for many years to come.

Mesa, Arizona is blessed to be the home of so many amazing landmarks.  Here’s a short list of our favorites: 

  • Mesa Arts Center
  • Schnepf Farms
  • i.d.e.a. Museum
  • Vertuccio Farms
  • Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum
  • Queen Creek Olive Mill
  • Mesa Amphitheatre
  • Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre
  • The Rose Garden At MCC

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 1630 South Stapley Drive, Suite 212 in Mesa, Arizona! Stop by for a visit anytime!

GillespieShields Mesa Arizona Top Family Law Attorney(1)

By Azwatchdog – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

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Phoenix Location

7319 North 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85020 | 602-870-9700

Mesa Location

1630 S. Stapley Drive, Suite 212, Mesa, AZ 85204 | 480-985-4000