The History of Glendale, Arizona, Home to Thunderbird Senior Living

Today, around 250,000 people live in Glendale, Arizona, a city that neighbors the state’s capital of Phoenix. Fans of the National Football League are likely familiar with the city, which is home to the country’s oldest football team, the Arizona Cardinals. Glendale’s State Farm Stadium, which hosts the Arizona Cardinals games, as well as concerts by artists like Taylor Swift, has also hosted the Super Bowl twice and does so again in 2023.

Besides sports and live entertainment at some of the state’s biggest concert and entertainment venues, like Gila River Arena, this city is also home to tons of fun things to do and outdoor activities.

Arizona officially became the 48th state in 1912, but the history of Glendale, Arizona, extends far beyond that. Here’s a look at how this popular city has evolved over the years.

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The History of Glendale, AZ

According to the official Glendale Visitor Center, the first residents of the Glendale area were Hispanic settlers, who came to the area in 1884. In 1886, construction of the Arizona Canal was completed. The canal spanned 44 miles across the Phoenix area, stretching into what’s known as Glendale today. Local land speculators started to spread the word about the Salt River Valley in central Arizona that includes Glendale, due to its agricultural potential.

Glendale became a destination for settlers shortly after. In 1886, William Henry Bartlett and his brother Samuel Colcord Bartlett came as part of a group of businessmen from Peoria, Illinois, to homestead land near Phoenix. They wanted to invest in farming and fruit ranching. They each homesteaded one section of land in an area north of the future town of Glendale.

William homesteaded what remains the historic Sahuaro Ranch in 1886. By 1891, he held control of more than 2,000 acres of farmland near Glendale.

Some of the other first settlements in Glendale took place in 1892. Farmers came to the area to use the fertile land and canal-fed water supply for their farming, which covered industries from cotton to sugar beets. Farmers exported goods like livestock, fruits and vegetables to national markets.

The year 1892 was also when the Glendale Temperance Colony was founded, on Feb. 27. William J. Murphy’s New England Land Company and Burgess Hadsell completed a survey and plat of Glendale’s first area for residences. This date is celebrated as the city’s official birthday.

Becoming an Official Town

In 1895, a Sante Fe Railroad link connected Glendale to Phoenix along Grand Avenue, a road that remains today that was constructed back in 1888 by Murphy and others. The railroad also linked Glendale to Prescott and northern Arizona.

After that, Glendale became the largest town in the northwest Salt River Valley, with farmers, ranchers and cowboys settling in the area and providing goods and services to fellow residents. The town’s first elementary school, the Glendale Grammar School, debuted in 1895. So did the town’s first library, founded by Stanford University graduate Victor E. Messinger, who donated 400 books from his own collection.

In 1897, Herbert W. Hamilton built a home for his family that remains a historic site in Glendale today. Known as Manistee Ranch after Louis M. Sands purchased it, the land became one of the largest working cattle ranches in the area. The historic site includes the main house, a barn, a garage, an office building, a small field and a date orchard that’s more than 85 years old.

In 1909, Murphy donated a downtown park. The same year, the Glendale State Bank opened.

In 1910, Glendale incorporated as a town, with A.W. Bennet serving as the first mayor. The town developed a downtown with businesses including banks, department and grocery stores, and theaters.

Thriving Businesses

As Arizona became a state, Glendale continued to develop as a town. The year of Arizona’s statehood, 1912, the first “Glendale News” was published. This was also the year Glendale High School was built.

Farms and orchards continued to grow, and Russian and Japanese migrants came to Glendale from California. Telephones were introduced. The town government gained control of the city’s water system in 1915.

Some of the notable early businesses in Glendale included:

  • Beet Sugar Factory
  • Glendale Ice Co.
  • Glendale Milling Co.
  • Pacific Creamery Co.
  • Southwest Flour and Feed Co.

During World War I, the Glendale area experienced more economic growth, due to demand for cotton and food. More homes were built from 1915 to 1930 in what’s known today as the historic Catlin Court, an area with historic homes and boutique shopping. In 1926, “The Glendale Herald” newspaper debuted to capture more of the town’s news and happenings.

City Continues to Grow

More homes continued to be built in Catlin Court through 1942, due to assistance from the Federal Housing Administration during the Great Depression. From 1935 to 1940, Glendale’s population grew from 3,500 to more than 4,800.

During World War II, construction began on Thunderbird Field, which was used to train Army civilian pilots. After the war ended, in 1946, the field became the Thunderbird American Graduate School for International Management.

In 1960, Glendale debuted Northwest Hospital. Glendale Community College opened in 1965.

>> Read “The Outdoor Activities of Glendale, AZ

Through to the 21st century, Glendale added:

  • A landfill
  • An aerospace facility
  • An operations center
  • Sewage plants
  • A water treatment plant
  • More libraries and parks
  • Shopping centers
  • Public safety facilities
  • A city hall
  • A civic center
  • An airport

Arizona State University also expanded its presence into Glendale. Midwestern University also calls Glendale home today.

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Find Out More About Senior Life in Glendale

Today, Glendale continues to be an in-demand area for people looking for friendly neighbors, enjoyable activities and lots of history and culture to explore.

>> Read “15 Fun Things to Do in Glendale, Arizona

Thunderbird Senior Living provides independent living, assisted living and memory care to senior citizens in Glendale, AZ. If you or a loved one are interested in senior living in Glendale, AZ, learn about Thunderbird Senior Living.

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