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All Stories: 141

In the late 1940s and early 50s, Tempe stood on the precipice of rapid expansion. A small farming community prior to the war, Tempe grew rapidly as GIs who had trained in Arizona returned to the Southwest to live. Developers seized on the influx of…

Plummeting property prices beginning in the early 1970s enabled developers to purchase numerous lots along Apache Boulevard and build low priced apartment complexes. This initial wave of apartment construction largely catered to local residents.…

Serving as both a major tourist route and the highway between Tempe and Mesa, Apache Boulevard catered to both travelers and hungry locals. Restaurants, taverns, and food vendors flourished following World War II. Road side fruit stands, such as the…

Fast food restaurants emerged as a vital part of American auto culture, first as drive-in restaurants and later with drive-thru lanes. The term itself appeared in the dictionary for the first time in 1951, about the time that Apache Boulevard’s…

The term motel, coined in 1926, derived from joining the words “motor” and “hotel.” The motels along Apache Boulevard tell us about the growth of the street and the city in the period following World War II. The motels served vacationers…

Prior to the 1930s, the Arizona State Teacher’s College football team played at Irish Field, which had bleachers capable of holding no more than one hundred spectators. Tempe businessman Garfield Goodwin arranged for the purchase of ten acres along…

Apache Boulevard emerged as a vital link between the developing towns of Tempe and Mesa, known locally as the Tempe-Mesa Highway. Eventually, the road became a part of the highway system that linked the Eastern and Western United States. Highways 60,…

Auto culture along Apache Boulevard and Arizona itself was inevitable. Apache was the main route for vacationers who were travelling by car to California. It was inevitable that cars would break down, and oil would need to be changed and flat tires…

With its rapid post-war growth, Apache Boulevard became a hotbed of mid-century modern architectural development. This emerging style found expression in signature projects, such as Gammage Auditorium or the Valley National Bank, and more mundane…

Travel trailers first appeared in the United States in the 1920s as American “tin can tourists” ventured onto the developing highway network to see the nation. Written works such as Trailer Ahoy! by Charles Nash and Touring with Tent and Trailer…

Baker’s Acre Baker’s acre began life in 1947 a John Kielbowski’s Tropical Gardens Motel on the west side of the property where there were brick units surrounding a central grass strip or court. In 1952, Harry Baker developed a nearly identical…

Glittering neon signs lit Apache Boulevard for Westbound travelers along the Tempe Mesa Highway, pointing the way to hotels, restaurants, trailer parts, and various shops. Signs for Harman’s Restaurant, the Tempe Bowl, Catalina Hotel, Pioneer…

Tempe Tavern began its life as a dairy barn. It is a small, square single-story building constructed of concrete and river cobbles, presumably drawn from the Salt River. E. M. White migrated to Arizona from California in 1908, eventually settling in…

Valley National Bank served the Valley from its founding in 1900 through 1992; its iconic logo played a significant role in the region's development and its branches often had iconic architectural design. The Tempe branch was located at the corner of…

The Wigwam design was created by Frank A. Redford, eventually his style became so popular that it became a nationwide phenomenon. His designs depicted Native American architecture through the perspective of the American architecture in the mid 20th…

Opened in 1952 by Dave and Belle Harman along the Tempe-Mesa Highway, the Red Barn served customers for only about twenty years. Among the many items on Harman's menu was "Kentucky Fried Chicken." The family had licensed the recipe from Harland…

Three canals still intersecting Main Street highway were the lifeblood of the farms and ranches that once spanned tens of thousands of acres in east Mesa. The Consolidated, cutting across Main Street just east of Gilbert Road, was built by Dr. A. J.…

Named in honor of pioneer businessman and community leader O. S. Stapley, the road that bears this name today was known as Powerhouse Road prior to 1960. The intersection around Powerhouse and Main was home to numerous pioneers who helped to shape…

El Mirage was first founded 20 miles west of Phoenix near Grand Avenue. It began as a community of farm workers who were struggling to build homes for themselves. Not long after the early settlers setup homes and farms in the area, the the Army Air…

Proposition 400: To fund a Tempe Visual and Performing Arts Center. Many Tempe residents pushed for proposition 400 to be passed because they believed they needed more culture in their city. There was a call for more art, music, theater, painting,…

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