When it comes to unique experiences, Scottsdale has you covered with options that run the gamut from world-class museums and a renowned botanical garden to the nation’s largest wilderness preserve. Amusement parks, an award-winning zoo and a railroad museum appeal to all ages. And if you’re hankering for a taste of the Old West, the state’s largest remake of an 1880s Western town is just minutes away.
The Scottsdale area was originally inhabited by the Hohokam, one of the four major prehistoric archeological cultures in the region that is now the American Southwest. From 800 AD to 1400 AD, this ancient civilization farmed the area and built irrigation canals, constructing more than 125 miles (201 km) of canals, much of which remains extant today.
Before European settlement, Scottsdale was a Pima village known as Vaṣai S-vaṣonĭ, meaning “rotting hay.”Some Pima remained in their original homes well into the 20th century. For example, until the late 1960s, there was a still-occupied traditional dwelling on the southeast corner of Indian Bend Road and Hayden Road. Currently, those Pima who live within Scottsdale reside in newer homes rather than traditional dwellings. Many Pima and Maricopa people continue to reside on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which borders Scottsdale directly to the east.
The first white company staked claim in the region in 1868. Jack Swilling set up the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company to refurbish and improve upon the ancient irrigation system originally constructed by the Hohokam. However, the influx of Anglos would not significantly increase until twenty years later. In the early 1880s, U.S. Army Chaplain, Winfield Scott, who was lured in to help promote Phoenix and the surrounding area, was impressed with the region and paid the paltry sum of $2.50 an acre for a 640-acre (2.6 km2) stretch of land where the city is now located. Winfield’s brother, George Washington Scott, became the first resident of the town, which was then known as Orangedale. The Scott brothers were known as adept farmers, capable of cultivating citrus fruits, figs, potatoes, peanuts and almonds in the desert town. Scott was known to have encouraged others to create a desert farming community in the region. The town’s name was changed to Scottsdale in 1894.
By 1912, the Ingleside Inn, located just south of the Arizona Canal and west of the Crosscut Canal (Indian School Road at about 64th Street) in what is today Scottsdale was billed as metro Phoenix’s first resort.
Also in 1912, both the Phoenix Street Railway Company and a competitor, the Salt River Valley Electric Railway Company, proposed building streetcar lines to Scottsdale but due to an economic downturn, neither was built.
In 1937, internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright set up his “winter camp” at the foot of the McDowell Mountains, establishing what is now known as Taliesin West. Scottsdale and the rest of Phoenix have seen an everlasting influence from Frank Lloyd Wright. Many buildings throughout the region were designed by the famous architect. His significant influence on the regional architecture is commemorated through a major street which bears his name and a 125-foot (38 m) spire memorial in North Scottsdale.
The city was incorporated on June 25, 1951. The seal, depicting a mounted cowboy surrounded by a 64-pointed starburst, was designed by Mrs. Gene Brown Pennington.