Thursday, January 14, 2010

{Historic Downtown Chandler}

I've really fallen in love with downtown Chandler.

It's close. It's quaint. It's filled with independent business that carry local art and make real
food. You couldn't ask for a nicer, happier, sweeter group of people. And it has something you don't find just anywhere in the Phoenix area -- historical value that's been preserved by a community of people that care about it.

I set a January goal to go on at least two adventures, one in and one out of the valley. Then, I read about this free tour on historic, downtown Chandler. I've been down there a lot, but this
was something different and fun. So, it fit nicely into my plan. :)

Barb and Gavin were excited to go, too.

We learned that Dr. Chandler, who established our town, was a veterinarian. His arrival was
met with a desert drought. He couldn't imagine this would be a good place to raise cattle and
for development. So, he decided to go to California -- the land of opportunity. But just before
he was to leave, a monsoon came and washed out part of the railroad tracks. So, he had to stay for awhile longer. After the rains, he noticed the hard, dry desert landscape softened. Cacti flowered and greenery popped up. It convinced him to stay.

In 1891, he bought 80 acres of land from the federal government. Within ten years, he had 18,000 acres, and he was busy developing it. He subdivided his ranch and got people to come out here and buy land to do their own ranching. He had a big hand in creating out first system of canals, and he worked with architects to design the town of Chandler. He opened the town office (Chandler's first business) in 1912. On that day, 300 people showed up and spent a combined $50,000 on land -- brought in by Dr. Chandler's advertising and the rail roads. Within a year, Chandler was a full blown town.

We learned the history of each building in the town -- who it was named after
and what the business in each building was originally. The San Tan Brewery on
the corner started off as a bank.

The original safety deposit boxes now serve as a seating area when patrons are
waiting for their table. They use the vault as a store room for their brewing supplies.

If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see a little bit of the town.

This is the Tumbleweed Christmas tree. It's made of real tumbleweeds!
There used to be a regular tree for the annual tree lighting in town. But many years ago,
just before they planned to put the tree up, the storage place that held the decorations burned down. They had to come up with a new plan fast. Someone suggested they gather tumbleweeds and make their own. A new tradition was born.

We ran into this group of 4th and 5th graders playing music on our way back to the car.
They were good! It was a nice capper to a very cool tour and a great evening.

It was a good reminder for me that there's stuff out there to be seen, if you just get out to
see it. And with a little planning, you can find free, fabulous things to do. That night, we got to enjoy some company of people in the community, learn the history of Chandler and catch a
little music. We also got to check out local, hand made art. They all set up on the sidewalks
on the first Wednesday of every month. (We heard they might switch that to the third Friday, fyi.) None of that cost us a penny. Then, we grabbed a lovely dinner and amazing service at
The Urban Tea Loft. Plus, I had a great time catching up with Barb and kissing on Gavin. :)
It was a nice night!

If you want to do the tour yourself, it's at 5PM on the first Wednesday of every month.
(I don't think they do it in the summer.) Meet in front of the Starbucks by the San Marcos
Hotel. It's a one hour walking tour.


Miss M! said...

Next time you're down there, you have to try the nachos with shredded chicken at El Zocalo. They're SOOOO good!

Kristi said...

Cool history! I have never been to Chandler in all my time down there, I must visit soon!

Diane and Joe Baldo said...

We went to San Tan on New Years!! Now the band was called Angry Jon and they played all of the tunes from my generation only angry!! :)

Trujen said...

What a great way to spend an evening! Love the history! It's so cool to learn the little things that made something big! Just think if that monsoon didn't flood the tracks then none of that might even be there! Fun!

Um, I'm in love with Gavin, by the way!!! He's so cute!

And I'm so glad to have read about the tumbleweed tree. So cool! I saw it in your Holiday post but forgot to ask. What a great idea! Perfect for the south! BTW, is it spray painted white or is that the color of tried tumbleweeds?