This city is the third largest city in Arizona and the most populous city in the East Valley. Whether you’ve used a car service from Sky Harbor Airport to Mesa, or you live in this city, you probably know about the huge number of cultural and recreational attractions it can offer.
The largest park in this area is Red Mountain Park while one of the most famous education facilities is the Polytechnic campus. However, one of the best ways to understand Mesa is to learn more about its history:
The first people to live here were the Hohokam Indians, farmers and canal builders who lived in communities of up to 500 people. Hohokam means the Departed Ones.
They hand dug the first irrigation system that was one of the biggest in the prehistoric world. This helped to spur agricultural growth in the area.
In 1877 the first pioneers settled the Mesa area. They were sent here from Utah to establish “stations on the road” supporting the Church’s expansion into Mexico.
Mesa was founded in 1878 by Mormon colonists John Anderson and Charles Crank. They continued to use the large network of irrigation canals.
In 1883, this city was incorporated with a population of 300 people.
The city was originally named “Lehi” after a biblical figure, but was renamed “Mesa” in 1883 because it was more descriptive of the geography.
The first school in Mesa opened in 1884 with just 12 students.
Mesa became a city in 1925 with a population of just over 3,000 people.
The city continued to grow throughout the 20th century, reaching a population of over 400,000 by 2000.
Today, Mesa is home to over 50,000 businesses and is one of the three largest cities in Arizona.
How did Mesa, AZ get its name?
The name “Mesa” is Spanish for “table” because of its distinctive shape. It refers to the city’s location at the base of three large hills known as Superstition Mountain, Red Mountain, and McDowell Mountain. However, this city changed names throughout the year:
Referred to as Mesa City or Mesaville by early residents
The U.S. postal service rejected this name, so it’s not confused with another city in the region – Mesaville
Since the mail went to Hayden Ferry, the city was called Hayden for a while
At one point its name was Zenos
Since Mesa remained the favorable and popular name, the post office approved the name at the beginning of January, 1889.
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