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Mesa ( ) is a city in Maricopa Countymarker, in the U.S. state of Arizonamarker and is a suburb of Phoenixmarker, within the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is the third-largest city in Arizona, after Phoenix and Tucsonmarker.

The city proper has a larger population than better-known U.S. cities such as St. Louismarker, Miamimarker, Minneapolismarker, or Pittsburghmarker.

Although it has a large population, Mesa is a "bedroom community." Neighborhoods across the city are diverse — some areas have experienced urban blight, while others feature well to do dwellings with elaborate custom homes. Mesa is also best known as having one of the highest check cashing per capita indexes nationwide.


The history of Mesa dates back at least two thousand years to the arrival of the Hohokam people. The Hohokam, whose name means "All Used Up" or "The Departed Ones", built the original canal system. The canals were the largest and most sophisticated in the prehistoric New World. Some were up to wide and ten feet deep at their head gates, extending for as far as across the desert. By A.D.1100 water could be delivered to an area over , transforming the Sonoran Desert into an agricultural oasis. By A.D.1450, the Hohokam had constructed hundreds of miles of canals many of which are still in use today.

After the disappearance of the Hohokam and before the arrival of the early settlers little is known, as explorers did not venture into this area. By the late 19th century near present-day Mesa, U.S. Army troops subdued the Apache opening the way for settlement.

Daniel Webster Jones led an expedition to found a Mormon settlement in Arizona. Leaving St. Georgemarker, Utahmarker in March 1877, Jones and others arrived at Lehimarker, an area just north of present-day Mesa. Jones had been asked by LDS officials to direct a party of people in establishing a settlement in Arizona. This settlement was initially known as Jonesville and Fort Utah and did not receive the name of Lehi until 1883, when it was adopted on the suggestion of Brigham Young, Jr.
Daniel Webster Jones
At the same time, another group dubbed the First Mesa Company arrived from Utah and Idaho. Their leaders were named Crismon, Pomeroy, Robson, and Sirrine. Rather than accepting an invitation to settle at Jones' Lehi settlement, they moved to the top of the mesa that serves as the city's namesake. They dug irrigation canals, some of which were over the original Hohokam canals, and by April 1878, water was flowing through them. The Second Mesa Company arrived in 1879 and settled to the east of where the First Mesa Company settled in 1880, due to lack of available farmland. This settlement was called Stringtown.

On July 17, 1878, Mesa City was registered as a townsite. The first school was built in 1879. In 1883, Mesa City was incorporated with a population of 300 people. Dr. A. J. Chandler, who would later go on to found the City of Chandlermarker, worked on widening the Mesa Canal in 1895 to allow for enough flow to build a power plant. In 1917, the City of Mesa purchased the utility company. The revenues from the company provided enough for capital expenditures until the 1960s. During the Great Depression, WPA funds provided paved streets, a new hospital, a new town hall and a library.

With the opening of Falcon Fieldmarker and Williams Fieldmarker in the early 1940s, more military personnel began to move into the Mesa area. With the advent of air conditioning and the rise of tourism, population growth exploded in Mesa as well as the rest of the Phoenix area. The 1950s and 1960s showed growth of commerce and industry, especially from early aerospace companies. As late as 1960, half of the residents of Mesa made a living with agriculture, but this has declined substantially as Mesa's suburban growth continued on track with the rest of the Phoenix metro area.


At the 2005-2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 86.0% White (66.8% non-Hispanic White alone), 3.1% Black or African American, 2.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.4% Asian, 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 8.1% from some other race and 2.2% from two or more races. 25.6% were Hispanic or Latino of any race. [15663]

As of the census 2001 estimate, there were 442,445 people, 146,643 households, and 99,863 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,171.3 people per square mile (1,224.4/km²). There were 175,701 housing units at an average density of 1,405.7/sq mi (542.8/km²).

The racial make-up of the city was 81.6% White, 2.4% Black or African American, 2.2% Native American, 2.00% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 9.3% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. 24.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 146,643 households out of which 33.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.20.

The population was diversified with respect to age with 27.3% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,817, and the median income for a family was $49,232. Males had a median income of $35,960 versus $27,005 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,601. About 6.2% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.7% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over. Mesa's residents exhibit a great deal of economic diversity, with low-income areas constructed somewhat close to high-scale neighborhoods with expensive custom homes. The neighborhood "Marlborough Mesa", along with many other neighborhoods, has won a community award.

Cultural attractions

LDS Mesa Arizona Temple


The Superstition Springs Center is a shopping mall in East Mesa owned by Westcor. It features an outdoor amphitheatre and fountain which convert to a stage. Anchor stores at the mall are Dillard's, JCPenney, Macy'smarker, a former Mervyn's, and Sears.

An older mall, Fiesta Mallmarker, is located in west Mesa, and also owned by Westcor. The mall's anchors are Dillard's, Macy'smarker, Sears, Best Buy, and Dick's Sporting Goods. It is located near several shopping centers, Mesa's Bank of America, and other retail stores, banks, and restaurants. An expansion of Fiesta Mall has been planned.

Mesa Riverview is a new outdoor destination retail center in the northwestern corner of the city, near Loop 202 and Dobson Road. At build-out the center will include of of retail space. The anchors include Bass Pro Shops, Cinemark Theaters, Wal-Martmarker, and Home Depot. Mesa Riverview also includes restaurants and specialty stores.


Several area freeways serve the Mesa area, such as U.S. Route 60, locally known as the Superstition Freeway, which runs between Apache Junctionmarker and Phoenix. It is also served by SR 87 and bypass loops Loop 101, which skirts the western city limits as the Price Freeway, and Loop 202, which bypasses the city on the north and east. Public transportation is provided by Valley Metro with most buses running Monday through Saturday only; until July 2008, Mesa was the largest U.S. city with no public transit service on Sundays. Mesa is connected to the METRO Light Rail at Main and Sycamoremarker, on the end of line section 5.

Air service in the city is provided by two airports. Falcon Fieldmarker, located in the northeastern part of the city, was established as a training field for British RAF pilots during World War II and was transferred to the city at the end of the war. Boeing builds the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter at a facility adjoining Falcon Field. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airportmarker is located in the far southeastern area of the city, and provides alternate but limited air service to Sky Harbor International Airportmarker. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway was formerly Williams Gateway Airportmarker, and before that, Williams Air Force Basemarker, which closed in 1993. Williams Gateway was announced as a new Focus City for Allegiant Air. Service started October 25, 2007.


Almost all of the city of Mesa is served by public schools operated by Mesa Public Schools; however, a small southern portion is served by the Gilbert Public Schools, and a small western portion is served by the Tempe Elementary School District and the Tempe Union High School District.

Mesa is also home to Mesa Community Collegemarker, the largest of the Maricopa Community Colleges, which enrolls over 24,000 full and part time students. In addition, the Polytechnicmarker campus of Arizona State Universitymarker lies in southeast Mesa. This satellite campus enrolls over 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students in scientific and engineering fields.


Sister cities


Authority Zero and Jimmy Eat World are bands that started in Mesa.


  1. City of Mesa Library.
  2. Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1941) p. 426

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