While Old Town Scottsdale is known today for its old-timey stores and historic art galleries, the history of the Old Town Scottsdale paints a picture of a Western pioneer town, and how far the city has come thus far.
Settled in the late 1880’s, Scottsdale was originally named Orangedale by one of it’s original founder’s, Albert G. Utley. Utley was the main city planner and laid out the streets in exacting fashion. Utley chose Orangedale because he thought the area was a great place to grow citrus.
However, next to Utley’s land, was Winfield Scott’s 64 acres where Old Town Scottsdale now sits. In 1888, Winfield Scott, who is the town’s namesake, purchased the original 640 aces where Old Scottsdale is housed for only $92, equaling $3.50 per acre.
Over the next 50 years, the town of Scottsdale continued to grow. In 1896, the public-school system was founded, with the first post office following shortly after. The area continued to attract artists and writers, with the town’s first resort opening in 1909. The popular Little Red Schoolhouse was built also in 1909 with two classrooms for grades one through eight. It now houses the town’s historical museum.
The town really began booming in 1950 when Motorola came into Scottsdale and built a new plant. They soon followed with another plant in 1956 and the city’s population continued to grow to 2,000. At this point, the city was incorporated and it’s first mayor, Malcom White, developed Scottsdale’s motto of “The West’s Most Western Town.”
Now, local icons like the Sugar Bowl, one of Old Town Scottsdale’s oldest attractions, offers visitors a blast from the past. It opened in 1958 on Christmas Eve and has been serving customer’s ice cream ever since. Other places like Porter’s Western Store still stand today, offering a history lesson for today’s patrons.
Next time you drive through Old Town Scottsdale, think about the history and culture that founded the town. From Western bars and two-room school houses, Old Town Scottsdale is a treasure trove of history right in our backyard.