Tempe Beach Park hosts outdoor festivals. Rising above the city, Hayden Butte is a mountain dotted with centuries-old rock art. Sporting events and concerts are held at Wells Fargo Arena. The town was named Tempe in 1879. “Lord” Darrell Duppa, an Englishman who helped establish Phoenix, is credited with suggesting the name. The sight of the butte and the wide river, and the nearby expanse of green fields, reminded him of the Vale of Tempe in ancient Greece. Tempe is an affordable place to live within the Phoenix metro! Although the cost of living in Tempe is 2% higher than the national average, you can still find budget-friendly housing with a median home price at $219,900 and median rent at $985.
The Hohokam lived in this area and built canals to support their agriculture. They abandoned their settlements during the 15th century, with a few individuals and families remaining nearby.
Fort McDowell was established approximately 25 mi (40 km) northeast of present downtown Tempe on the upper Salt River in 1865 allowing for new towns to be built farther down the Salt River. US military service members and Hispanic workers were hired to grow food and animal feed to supply the fort, and less than a year later, had set up small camps near the river that were the first permanent communities in the Valley after the fall of the Hohokam. (Phoenix has settled shortly afterward, by 1867–68.) The two settlements were ‘Hayden’s Ferry, named after a ferry service operated by Charles T. Hayden, and ‘San Pablo’, and were located west and east of Hayden Butte respectively. The ferry became the key river crossing in the area. The Tempe Irrigating Canal Company was soon established by William Kirkland and James McKinney to provide water for alfalfa, wheat, barley, oats, and cotton.
Pioneer Darrell Duppa is credited with suggesting Tempe’s name, adopted in 1879, after comparing the Salt River valley near a 300-foot (91 m)-tall butte, to the Vale of Tempe near Mount Olympus in Greece.
Until the early 1960s, Tempe was a sundown town where African Americans were permitted to work but encouraged to live elsewhere. In 1965, Warren and Carol Livingston were the first African Americans to buy property in Tempe.
The completion of the Roosevelt Dam in 1911 guaranteed enough water to meet the growing needs of Valley farmers. On his way to dedicate the dam, former President Theodore Roosevelt applauded the accomplishments of the people of central Arizona and predicted that their towns would be prosperous cities in the future. Less than a year later, Arizona was admitted as the 48th state, and the Salt River Valley continued to develop.
Tempe is an inner suburb, located between the core city of Phoenix and the rest of the East Valley. Due to this as well as being the home of the main campus of Arizona State University, Tempe has a fairly dense, urbanized development pattern in the northern part of the city with a growing skyline. Going south, development becomes less dense, consisting of single-family homes, strip malls, and lower-density office parks.
Within Tempe are the Tempe Buttes. The Salt River runs west through the northern part of Tempe; part of the river is dammed in two places to create Tempe Town Lake.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the landlocked city has a total area of 40.2 square miles (104 km2), of which 40.1 square miles (104 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) is water. The total area is 0.32% water, including Tempe Town Lake. The city of Tempe is bordered by Mesa to the east, Scottsdale and the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community to the north, Phoenix and Guadalupe to the west, and Chandler to the south.
Popular Attractions in Tempe
Tempe Town Lake
Surrounded by leafy parks with fun activities, Tempe Town Lake is a large reservoir running along the northern ridge of the city center. Elegant bridges provide views of high-rises and parkland. The lake is a haven for watersports. Go for a run around the perimeter of the lake, enjoying the vistas of the connecting Salt River.
Tempe Town Lake is spread across the northern side of the city center of Tempe. It stretches east for about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the Tempe Town Lake Dam.
You can travel around the area for other nearby attractions such as Rio Salado Park, the Rolling Hills Golf Course, and the Arizona State University, Tempe Campus.
On the northern side of the reservoir is the LoPiano Bosque Habitat, which has nature trails meandering between mesquite and acacia trees. Head to the western end of the lake to see the dam.
You can also attend one of the many festivals held by the lake, including the Arizona Aloha Festival and the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival, both held in March. Four Peaks Oktoberfest brings three days of fun, food, and music to the park.
Tempe Beach Park
Tempe Beach Park has been the main gathering place for Valley residents and visitors since its development in the early 1920s.
This 25-acre park is the perfect setting for outdoor fun and relaxation for everybody, offering more than five miles of paths and exercise trails, picnic areas, ramadas, and the Luis Gonzalez Arizona Diamondbacks Field of Dreams baseball diamond.
Tempe Beach Park also hosts about 40 events of all shapes and sizes each year, including the Ford Ironman Arizona, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, Fourth of July celebration, Way Out West Oktoberfest, and many, many others.
At its earliest stages, the major attraction at Tempe Beach Park was Arizona’s first Olympic-sized pool, built-in 1923. The pool hosted two women’s national championship swim meets in the 1930s and provided much-needed refreshment for local families. Even though the dark days of the Great Depression, Tempe Beach Park remained the Valley’s most popular recreational venue, expanding to include a baseball diamond, a cobblestone bathhouse, and bleachers. Later in 1934, the new concept of an open-air movie theater came to Tempe Beach Park. It was operated by Red Harkins, father of Valley movie mogul Dan Harkins of Harkins Theaters.
SEA LIFE Aquarium, Tempe
The 26,000 square foot SEA LIFE Aquarium contains thousands of aquatic animals including angelfish, clownfish, jellyfish, lionfish, rays, seahorses, and several species of sharks such as blacktip reef sharks and white tip reef sharks. The aquarium also features an interactive touch pool called the Interactive Rockpool, where children can touch several aquatic creatures, including crabs, lobsters, and sea stars.
The aquarium is also involved in animal conservation, and it rescues and cares for disabled or injured sea animals including an endangered green sea turtle named Ziva, now happily living in the aquarium’s 161,000-gallon display.
Tempe Marketplace is a large open-air shopping center located on East Rio Salado Parkway along the Salt River in Tempe. Opened in 2007, the shopping center consists of more than one million square feet of retail space sitting on 130 acres of land. The shopping center features more than 120 retailers, entertainment venues, and restaurants, and it is divided into two areas: an outer ring that houses large retail stores and an inner ring called the District, which contains smaller shops.
There is a large courtyard in the middle of the District that has a stage where there are musical performances and a large screen showing local sporting events.