History of Gilbert, Arizona


In central Arizona, Gilbert is a young, affluent neighborhood. Incorporated on July 6, 1920, Gilbert is a relatively young community that in the past two decades has seen tremendous growth. The Gilbert Historical Society's historical images.

In 1902, in order to build a railway line between Phoenix and Florence, the Arizona Eastern Railway demanded donations for the right of way. On property owned by William "Bobby" Gilbert, a rail siding was built. Eventually the siding, and the town that sprung up around it, became known as Gilbert. Gilbert, fuelled by the building of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Combined Canals in 1911, was a prime farming community. For several years, it remained an agricultural town and was known until the late 1920s as the "Hay Capital of the World". During the 1970s, when the Town Council authorized a strip annexation that encompassed 53 square miles of county land, Gilbert started to take its current form. Although the population in 1970 was only 1,971, the Council knew that, like the neighboring communities of Tempe, Mesa, and Chandler, Gilbert would gradually expand and develop. As Gilbert prepared itself for growth in the 1980s and beyond, this proved to be a farsighted move.

There were no paved streets, no electricity, and no indoor running water or bathrooms around 1910, when Gilbert was first founded. Sleeping porches were installed on their homes by most people because there were no cooling devices.

The first store in Gilbert, Ayer's Grocery Store, opened in 1910 and became the site of the first post office in 1912. Before settling for several years on the east side of downtown Gilbert Avenue, the town's post office moved places daily. A new Main Post Office was established on Elliot Road in 1979; it was only then that the Post Office began distributing mail to residents of the area. In 1992, Val Vista Station opened.

During the 1970s, 'new' Gilbert started to take shape when 53 square miles of land were annexed by the Town Council. Although the population of the city amounted to less than 2,000 at the time, the Council recognized that the city would need space to expand, like the neighboring cities of Tempe, Mesa, and Chandler.

In 1900, on the southwest corner of Baseline and Cooper Roads, Gilbert's first school was built. The school was relocated to the northeast corner of Guadalupe and Cooper Roads in 1909. Highland was the name of this school because it stood on the highest ground south of the Salt River. The Mesa School District was one of these two schools.

In 1977, the "Alamo" was closed for classroom use, as our building was nicknamed. The only Gilbert building listed on the National Register of Historic Places was reopened in 1982 as the home of the Gilbert Historical Museum.

User:Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

These amazing landmarks are just one of the many must-see sights you don’t want to miss in Gilbert, Arizona:

  • Water Tower Plaza
  • Southeast Regional Library
  • Perry Library
  • Gilbert Temple, Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day-saints
  • St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church
  • Golfland Sunsplash
  • Riparian Preserve At Water Ranch
  • San Tan Mountain Regional Park
  • Freestone Park

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our offices located at 1447 West Elliot Road #103 in Gilbert! Stop by for a visit anytime!


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1447 W Elliot Rd Suite 103
Gilbert, AZ 85233


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