Chandler, Arizona has a very diverse history. It was founded by Dr. Alexander John Chandler. He was the very first veterinarian in the state. He came to Arizona in 1891. He started by purchasing 80 acres from the government. At the time, this was just arid desert. Dr. Chandler was the main push in changing that.
He had studied the engineering of irrigation systems. He used this knowledge to solve the water problem. He was able to do this by building a system of canals that brought water to this parched land. His efforts allowed him to expand his land holdings. By 1900, he owned 18,000 acres. This was a very sizeable ranch.
He soon ran into problems with the Salt River Land Charter. It only allowed each person to irrigate 160 acres. This meant that he was no allowed to irrigate his ranch. He put his ingenuity to work again to solve this problem. He enlisted the help of architects and planners to divide up his ranch.
They produced a township map. It was this map that would become the city of Chandler. But, before he could found this city, he had to attract people to the land. He attracted potential buyers by placing ads in national publications. The response was overwhelming.
He opened his own township office in 1912. Over 300 people came to his office in that day alone. By the end of the day, he had brought in $50,000 in land purchases. This was the humble beginnings of this beautiful city.
The town wasn’t much to look at. In fact, it was only a few small shacks, Dr. Chandler’s office, a small grocery store, and a restaurant. There was one other thing. There was a billboard that advertised the site to potential residents.
Dr. Chandler’s plan for the city was considered very ambitious according to standards of the time. He wanted to build a park in the center of the city. This park would be surrounded by businesses. Today, we recognize this as a basic city planning model. It is what many cities used to create downtown areas. However, at the time it was a novel idea.
It did not take long for Chandler to grow. By the next year, businesses dotted two sides of the central park. This included a Railroad Depot. Dr. Chandler had put in dirt roads that were graded around the park. People moved freely and busily in a mix of Model Ts, carts, and wagons. The park brought a beautiful place to relax with trees and lush grass.
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The first hotel also opened in 1913. That was the beginning of the grand Hotel San Marcos. 500 people attended their grand opening. It was an immediate draw. Wealthy people from around the country came to stay in this beautiful hotel. Dr. Chandler had truly turned this arid dessert into a quickly growing city. We are sure he would be proud if he could see the city that he helped to found today.