By Joan Fudala
Calling all cartographers: There’s so much to learn and enjoy by studying old Scottsdale area maps.
From showing sites of former guest ranches to locating now-retired street names, to getting glimpses of how we’ve annexed and expanded our municipal boundaries, maps can create hours of interesting insight.
Consider mapping these bits of Scottsdale history:
• One of the earliest maps of Scottsdale was a 1913 townsite plan of what is now Old Town Scottsdale. Titled “Scottsdale a subdivision of Maricopa County,” the map showed east-west streets named Scott, Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Garfield avenues and north-south roads named Paradise (now Scottsdale Road), First, Second and Third streets.
• A map found on the Arizona Memory Project website from 1911 shows who owned land in the T2N/R4E plat (comprised of 36 sections). Among the landowners in what is now the greater Old Town Scottsdale area: W. Scott, W.D. Fulwiler, E.O. Brown, Harry Serviss, A. Utley and Chas. Miller as well as the Scottsdale Post Office and the Ingleside Co. The map also shows a wagon bridge and powerhouse at Arizona Falls and a wagon bridge across the Arizona Canal at Scottsdale and Camelback roads (which were unpaved at the time).
• Dr. Omar A. Turney, through his research of the Hohokam People of the Salt River Valley, created a map in 1929 that depicted the routes of the ancient Hohokam canal system, branching off the Salt River. The legend on his map declares it to show “The largest single body of land irrigated in prehistoric times in North or South America and perhaps in the world.”
• One of the goals of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, when it received its charter in March 1947, was to erect street signs and publish a map. The chamber’s first president, Wes Segner, an accomplished artist, designed the first maps in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Over the decades, the Scottsdale Chamber and Experience Scottsdale (formerly part of the chamber and the independent Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau) has published a variety of general and specific maps — overall Scottsdale, Old Town Scottsdale, golf courses, resorts, restaurants, Arabian horse ranches and, now, maps of an Old Town Historic Walking Tour, Old Town Parking, the Ale Trail, the Coffee Trail and the Wine Trail — all found at experiencescottsdale.com/maps-guides.
• Within a year of incorporation in June 1951, the town council had appointed a zoning commission and developed its first zoning ordinance and map.
• At incorporation, Scottsdale was a mere one-half square mile in municipal territory (only part of what is now Old Town). As Scottsdale town and city councils — enabled by petitions of supporting landowners — annexed land in all directions, Scottsdale’s maps needed constant updating. In 1962, as Scottsdale attempted to annex land that included the former World War II Thunderbird II Airfield (for a future municipal airport and to gain a corridor to the McDowell Mountains), Phoenix — which also wanted to annex that large plot of land — objected and filed a lawsuit, claiming that the annexation map published in local newspapers was inaccurate. Scottsdale prevailed; the Scottsdale Airport/Airpark opened in 1967; and the area became a major employer, economic asset and site of residential, retail and recreation for Scottsdale.
• Maps in the Mullin-Kille ConSurvey Scottsdale city directories of the late 1950s/early 1960s show Old Town Scottsdale that have been renamed, rerouted or retired, like Taylor, Orange, Hinton, George, West Park, Grammar School and Ball Park Plaza.
• A blurb in the February 7, 1958, Scottsdale Progress reported that a huge map on the Scottsdale Woman’s Club Parada Del Sol float went missing. “On the back of the float were two large cardboard maps of Scottsdale depicting Scottsdale as it was and Scottsdale as it is now. … It is unfortunate that the map of the present Scottsdale disappeared after the parade. This map was intended for future use and it is desireous (sic) that it is located.” No follow-up information on the Woman’s Club map was found; however, for those needing orientation to town streets in 1958, Earl’s Grocery Store on Scottsdale Road displayed a large, indexed map showing key landmarks, compliments of the Scottsdale Sheriff’s Posse (of which Earl Shipp was a member).
• An ad in the 1960 Scottsdale High School Camelback yearbook for Pinnacle Peak Patio showed what that area not yet annexed into Scottsdale was like. Landmarks on the map included Curry’s Corner (intersection of Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak roads), the Rancho Vista Bonita guest ranch (southwest corner of Pinnacle Peak and Pima roads) and Crescent Moon Ranch (present site of the Four Seasons Resort and a location for the filming of “Raising Arizona” in 1987).
• From the July 21,1965, Arizona Republic: “When Dick Van Dyke was being introduced to the press and city and state officials at a reception Saturday, one of the officials who walked to the rostrum to greet the gifted performer was Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce president Dale Anderson — smartly attired in a jacket of mad plaid. Pointing to the jacket, Van Dyke snapped: ‘Is that a map of Scottsdale?’”
• During his first term as mayor, the Arizona Republic interviewed Herb Drinkwater for a major feature in the newspaper October 20, 1982. The article reported “On a mock arrest warrant hanging in his city hall office, Drinkwater’s identifying characteristic is listed as a map of Scottsdale tattooed on his chest.” Mayor Drinkwater underscored the words on that humorous plaque (probably from his beloved Scottsdale Jaycees, who held annual mock arrests during promotions for Parada del Sol), saying “I’m proud of Scottsdale. There’s not a street or part that’s bad…”
• In the 1980s, the Scottsdale Airpark News began publishing a monthly map of the Scottsdale Airport/Airpark area, invaluable to customers and visitors not sure which side of the airport runway their destination might be located. For years, the publication also offered detailed maps of the Scottsdale/Shea intersection. Past editions located in the Scottsdale Heritage Connection Messinger Family Research Room at Civic Center Library offer a visual history of businesses and development in the airpark and Shea corridor.
• Scottsdale final annexation — and major alteration to the municipal map — came in summer 1984 when the Scottsdale City Council voted to annex 36 square miles to the far north — then mostly vacant desert land. Effective August 1, 1984, that brought the municipal boundaries to 181.6 square miles.
• Arizona State University graduate students in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design helped bring Scottsdale’s map into the computer age in 1992 by creating a 3D model of the Downtown (Old Town) area. This new mapping capability allowed city planners to study the much-discussed beautification, renovation of the Arizona Canal area. The following year, Scottsdale and the Maricopa County Flood Control District shared the cost of producing computerized topographic maps for the city’s geographical information system (GIS).
• In 1994, the city of Scottsdale teamed up with NASA and ASU to map the McDowells. Funded by a NASA grant, a specially equipped Lear jet over-flew the McDowells and collected data via remote sending, image processing and digital simulation. The city incorporated the new data into its GIS database. As reported in the August 1994 edition of Scottsdale Airpark News, “The resulting portable system will portray information regarding vegetation, soils, geology and wildlife in the McDowell Mountains. This will be helpful to staff, citizens and commissions working to preserve the mountains.”
• In 1993 and 1994, the city of Scottsdale and its McDowell Sonoran Preserve Task Force and Commission drew up the Recommended Study Boundary for the then-proposed McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Preserve historic and current maps are available at scottsdaleaz.gov/preserve.
• Today, Google Earth can entertain us for hours on end with “real-time” aerial and street-view “maps,” while printed maps have become the stuff in archives as we use our smartphones or in-vehicle GPS for way finding. Regardless of the format, maps are fascinating as a window to the past and an orientation to the present.
Hope you find your way!