It was 1888 when Army Chaplain Winfield Scott visited the Salt River Valley and made his down payment on 640 acres so he could start a farming operation. Scott’s purchase, near the heart of present-day downtown booming Scottsdale, would be the impetus for the development of the city that bears his name. The very favorable climate and ability for irrigation, and the beautiful scenery influenced the initial settlement with agriculture being the main draw, many health seekers came to Scottsdale. Many of the first settlers were educated and had an appreciation for cultural activities. These early settlers established the Scottsdale public school system in 1896, supported a burgeoning artists and writers culture in the early 1900’s, and promoted Scottsdale’s affiliation with the earliest area resorts. Scott’s original homestead lay adjacent to the new Arizona Canal, which tapped the Salt River, ad the development of a reliable water supply was crucial to the early growth of the community and the valley. The construction of the Granite Reef Dam in 1908 and the Roosevelt Dam in 1911 transformed the Salt River Valley and allowed Scottsdale to share in a population boom.
Scottsdale soon became known as the”West’s Most Western Town”. In 1916, a large cattle ranch, which would eventually cover over 44,000 acres, was established. The DC Ranch operated through the 1950s. The Depression Era saw an influx of artists and architects to Scottsdale including Frank Lloyd Wright who purchased 600 acres and built his winter home.
In 1950, Motorola Corp. opened a plant near Scottsdale’s western border, signaling the beginning of an advanced teleology industry that has continued to grow up to the present.
The town continued to grow rapidly during the 1950s with more than 10,000 population occupying an area of about 5 square miles. By the end of the 60s, Scottsdale’s population had increased six fold to nearly 68,000 and its land area increased to 62 square miles.
The following decades brought even more growth in population and land area, as the city pushed northward into the high Sonoran Desert and experienced several building booms. By 1980, its population of more than 88,000 covered 88.6 square miles. By 1990, it had reached more than 130,000 in population and expanded to roughly its present size – about 185 square miles. By 2000, the city was home to more than 202,000. The city saw a corresponding boom in its tourism industry, as new resorts appeared along the Scottsdale Road corridor and then farther north. Today, the city is a renowned destination and draws more than 6 million visitors annually.