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Tempe Celebrates 150 Years!

Welcome to 2021, a very special year for the city of Tempe. It is our Sesquicentennial!

In 1869, a former teacher, probate judge, merchant, and freighter on a journey from Tucson to Prescott, took advantage of a delay caused by high water in the Salt River to scale a butte on its shore, and survey the surrounding countryside.

From his elevated position, Charles Trumbull Hayden envisioned the farming potential the irrigable land offered. He soon began planning to relocate from Tucson to oversee the construction of a mill to process grains grown in the vicinity.

By 1871, Hayden was working to bring water to his prospective mill at the west base of rise he had climbed earlier, as well constructing a store and living quarters…thereby establishing the second settlement in the Salt River Valley.

One-hundred-and-fifty years have passed since the modest beginning when a handful of hardy souls took a chance on building a new community. With all the challenges they immediately faced, none could have imagined far in to the future what their efforts would ultimately lead to.

Now, in our Sesquicentennial year, the once tiny village of farmers and ranchers has grown into a thriving metropolis knocking on the door of 200,000 – making us the 8th largest city in Arizona. Tempe’s original 1.8 square miles has ballooned to just over forty.

This momentous year gives time to pause and reflect just how far we have come. Longtime resident, or newcomer, this is the moment to let the world know our love for and pride in Tempe.

Over the course of the year, the museum will feature exhibitions and activities telling the Tempe story. A year-long, wide variety of celebratory activities will punctuate our Sesquicentennial, culminating in November with a festival in Tempe Beach Park, on the footstep of where it all started 150 years ago. Keep up with all the happenings through the Museum’s and Society’s Facebook and website pages.

No Sesquicentennial year would be complete without memorabilia commemorating the celebration. Visit our online shop and continue to come back as items will be added, in limited quantities, as they are developed. All proceeds from the sale of these items will go to the Society to support the Sesquicentennial activities.

Happy 150 Tempe!

What Part Of Tempe History Do You Belong To?

Are you a member of a family whose Tempe roots go back as far as the community’s beginnings in the 1870s – or earlier? There were, after all, quite a few families around here even before the area became part of a new Territorial addition to the United States of America. One could say you “inherited” Tempe history – and have helped build upon it, generation after generation after generation.

Perhaps you are part of that intrepid group of “newcomers” who began swarming into Tempe in the post-World War II era (some of you may have used the G.I. Bill to attend Arizona State College). Your generation started an overwhelming population growth that tripled the town’s population in a decade, then more than double it again over the next 10 years.  Now you’ve been here long enough to not only consider yourself a Tempe oldtimer but to have added kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to the mix. You have taken your place as a major part of a change in the course of Tempe history, from a small rural agricultural town to a manufacturing/big business/university city.

Then, again, maybe you are fairly new to Tempe – coming here from somewhere else, but have already decided this is where you want to stay (and maybe raise another generation or two of Tempeans!). You are adding the new “chapters” to Tempe’s history and we will see what your contributions will bring to this city by the Salt River banks.

No matter which of the groups you belong to, Tempe History Society recognizes you as a key element to the essence of what is Tempe. You and your family will continue to add to the ever-changing chapters of Tempe’s history. And you can preserve and share those chapters by becoming a Tempe History Society new or continuing member. By doing so, you will become a partner in efforts to preserve, celebrate and educate present and future generations about Tempe’s amazing history and the people who made it.

Upcoming Events

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

February 2, 2021


The African American Experience in Tempe





Visit this historic walk through the history of African Americans in Tempe. This rich, complex and often challenging story spans over a century. Today, more than 10,000 Tempeans are of African American ancestry. This exhibit is brought to you by the African American Advisory Committee of the Tempe History Museum. Their mission is “to create a forum to collect and preserve the African American history of Tempe and to promote those historical stories for the benefit of the community of Tempe.”
*This panel exhibit will run through Feb. 28.


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The African American Experience in Tempe





Visit this historic walk through the history of African Americans in Tempe. This rich, complex and often challenging story spans over a century. Today, more than 10,000 Tempeans are of African American ancestry. This exhibit is brought to you by the African American Advisory Committee of the Tempe History Museum. Their mission is “to create a forum to collect and preserve the African American history of Tempe and to promote those historical stories for the benefit of the community of Tempe.”
*This panel exhibit will run through Feb. 28.


THS Lunch Talk

February 10, 202111:30 am
Tempe History Museum
809 E Southern Ave, Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 350-5100


DAN HARKINS
2020 Tempe Legend
"Reliving Tempe 1933-1993"
Stories, Memories, and Dreams From Yester-Year


Heir, at 21, of his father Red Harkins’ five theaters, Dan, already general manager, developed what today are 500 screens in Arizona and other states.  An industry trailblazer for innovation, digital sound, plush seating, and gourmet snack bars. Renovated Valley Art Theatre in downtown Tempe, the original Harkins theater. 





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PERFORMANCES at the MUSEUM

February 13, 20215:00 pm - 8:00 pm


LOUD X: An outdoor celebration of LOUD Bands and Food Trucks
Dead Hot Workshop, Sugar Thieves, the Pistoleros





The Tempe History Museum presents a family-friendly event with LOUD music and bold flavors. Join us on February 13 for LOUD X, an evening outdoor concert featuring 3 of Tempe’s best bands. Sweet Magnolia food truck will be selling BBQ and Coffee Run will sell drinks.





Dead Hot Workshop has been a popular fixture of the Tempe music scene since ...

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PERFORMANCES at the MUSEUM

February 27, 20217:00 pm


Geibral Elisha Movement





Geibral Elisha is the band leader of The Geibral Elisha Movement. He is a masterful entertainer and a virtuoso performer. He always impresses audiences with an astounding technique, imagination and beauty in his ability to paint vivid pictures with his music. The Geibral Elisha Movement (GEM) was founded in 2016. GEM is an otherworldly ensemble with a modern twist on free jazz. Come hear their music and the stories behind the songs. As always, meet the band in a Q-n-A session after the show. Free, fun and family friendly~





Geibral Elisha Movement





Geibral Elisha is the band leader of The Geibral Elisha Movement. He is a masterful entertainer and a virtuoso performer. He always impresses audiences with an astounding technique, imagination and beauty in his ability to paint vivid pictures with his music. The Geibral Elisha Movement (GEM) was founded in 2016. GEM is an otherworldly ensemble with a modern twist on free jazz. Come hear their music and the stories behind the songs. As always, meet the band in a Q-n-A session after the show. Free, fun and family friendly~







Stories

JANUARY “LEGEND”: Peggy Bryant

   Peggy Bryant left her mark in the ink on newsprint in the pages of the Tempe Daily News. Her journalism tracked the events and rhythm of the Tempe community for 30 years. This prolific journalist left an immense body of work – features, news items and her weekly Ferry Tales columns that retraced the city’s history. As editor, Peggy …

Tree of Lights Stories: Eduarda Harter Yates (THS Board Member)

EARLY CHILDHOOD CHRISTMAS MEMORIES IN TEMPE:We moved from Forest Avenue to Van Ness, when I was five and my sister Susan was seven. Our new neighbors from across the street, Carolyn and Kay, invited us to their house to decorate Christmas sugar cookies. It became a yearly tradition.Every year we looked forward to seeing the star and three kings on …