With a population of 158,000 Tempe is one of Metro Phoenix's major cities. It is east of the City of Phoenix, South of Scottsdale, West of Mesa, and north of Chandler. I have always looked at it as a college town (in addition to the resident population, Tempe boasts about 44,000 Arizona State University students), but there is quite a bit more to it than that. Tempe is the corporate headquarters for America West Airlines and MicroAge, as well as a location claimed by Allied Signal, Chase Bankcard, Motorola, and others. Tempe is home for the Arizona Cardinals NFL football team, the Fiesta Bowl, and the Spring Training Anaheim Angels. But to me, most of the fun stuff is near ASU.
In the mid 1800's the Salt River was a navigable waterway, and a desert expeditioner noticed that the double butte by the level south bank looked to him like Mount Olympus and the "Vale of Tempe." he started referring to the area that way over in Phoenix, and others started using the name. A short while later, a gent by the name of Trumbell Hayden fell in love with the place after noticing that there were about 125 miles of ancient irrigation canals, and spending some time dreaming of the area's possibilities (it turns out that these canals were the work of the Hohokam Indians, dug starting around 200 B.C.). In November 1870 he formed a company known as Hayden Milling and Farming Ditch Company, right off of what is now Mill Avenue. Today, the Hayden flour mills can claim to be the oldest continuously operating business in the state. Mr. Hayden soon built a cable operated ferry across the river, and the locale picked up the name Hayden's Ferry. The town was incorporated in 1872. However the name Tempe was more widely used, and in 1880, with Mr. Hayden's consent, the name was officially changed.
Things to Do:
Mill Avenue: The thing Tempe is most appreciated for by the locals is Mill Avenue, starting from University Drive and heading North till it ends (not very far). This is sort of an artsy recreational district, within walking distance of ASU. Just cruising around here on foot is fun, and you will find coffee shops, antique stores, bars and nightclubs, restaurants, everything. The panhandlers are a hassle if you let them be (word among runaway kids is that this is the place to be, and they come from all over the country) but otherwise there is no real downside. Local hot rods and lowriders cruise the street as often as they dare and the police try to stop them, yuppies hang out here for lunch (does anyone still use the term yuppies anymore?), college kids are everywhere... This is just a really cool place to hang out if you have the time.
Arizona Mills Mall: Try shopping at the 1.2 million square foot shopping center known as Arizona Mills. The place just opened before Christmas of 1997, and has everything you can think of. Look for it where I-10 meets US 60.
In Spring of 1999 Tempe Rio Salado is set to open, which is going to transform two miles of the dry Salt River bed into a town lake, with stores, promenades, and all kinds of other neat stuff. The lake itself is filling as you read this, but will take a few more months to be completely filled.
Arizona State University Art Museum: Emphasis on modern art. Well worth it if you like museums. Free, Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday - Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 10th street and Mill on ASU campus. Call (480) 965-2787.
Places to Stay:
Tempe Mission Palms Hotel: My top recommendation in Tempe. Located right off of Mill where all the action is, this is a modern hotel designed to look like a mission. Walking distance to ASU Stadium, where the Cardinals play. Prices start at $65. 60 East 5th Street, call (480)894-1400
The Buttes: Great views from this hotel, because it really does sit on top of a Butte. Top of the Rock restaurant has live music on weekends. Prices start from about $125.00. 2000 Westcourt Way. (480) 225-9000
Places to Eat:
Marketplace at the Buttes: Located at the Buttes Hotel. Great view, good food, and excellent Sunday brunches.
Plum Creek Ranch Steakhouse: Located inside the Plum Creek Ranch, they offer one of the better western cookout style meals, with live music Tuesdays through Sundays. On the Southwest corner of Price and Southern, at 3300 S. Price. Call (480) 756-2480.
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Last revised: October 30, 1998