Exploring The History And Growth Of Gilbert AZ

Gilbert is a thriving city in the state of Arizona that defied all expectations. Nobody expected this tiny piece of land to materialize into anything when it was incorporated in July 1920. Since then, Gilbert AZ has grown into one of the biggest and most attractive cities in the state and the United States of America. From a population of just 2,000 when the city was founded to more than a quarter-million people today, Gilbert has experienced unprecedented growth in less than 100 years. To understand the amazing transformation of this affluent community, you need to go back to its roots and study its history.  

William “Bobby” Gilbert And The Rail Line

The most important figure in the establishment of Gilbert AZ is William “Bobby” Gilbert, from whom the city borrows its name. The town started as a small remote farmers’ center. That is until William donated his land to the Arizona Eastern Railway in 1902 for the construction of a rail line between Phoenix and Florence AZ. This rail line cut across the settlement and boosted the economy of the young Gilbert town. It enabled people to transport all types of agricultural products top other towns in Arizona.

Opening The First Store In 1910

The first store in Gilbert AZ was opened in 1910. It was called Ayer’s Grocery Store and it was the location of the first post office in the town.  This marked the beginning of the town’s economic growth and expansion. By this time, there was no running water, electricity, paved roads, or toilets in the small town. People built sleeping porches outside their houses because there was no ventilation. 

Hay Capital Of The World

The Eastern and Consolidated Canals were expanded in the 1900s and the Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911. This made Gilbert AZ a true agricultural town producing and transporting alfalfa, cotton, and dairy products all over the state. Due to the extensive farming and agricultural production in the town and the fact that the farmers in Gilbert started producing hay to sell to the U.S. Army for their horses, the town earned the title of being the “Hay Capital of The World.” Gilbert maintained this tile from the 1910s to the late 1920s. 

Incorporation In 1920

Gilbert was incorporated on July 6, 1920. Since then, the city has had many mayors who have fought hard to push the town forward. The town continued with its farming and agricultural production for many years after incorporation. Gilbert did not open up until the 1970s. The town had a population of only 1,971 people in 1970 and was relatively tiny compared to the neighboring towns of Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa, AZ. 

Rapid Growth After 1970

Gilbert AZ accelerated its growth at the end of the 20th century. The city’s population grew to 5,717 in 1980 and then catapulted to nearly 210,000 as of the 2010 census. Word spread throughout the United States about the friendly environment and potential economic growth of Gilbert in the 1990s and this led to a population explosion. The city is expected to continue growing in the future. 

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