Q&AZ: How Did Tempe Get Its Name?

By Scott Bourque
Published: Monday, November 18, 2019 - 8:57am
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 11:39am

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Q&AZ is supported in part by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Tempe Town Lake bridges
Joe Grana
Two bridges crossing Tempe Town Lake near Mill Avenue.

In the 1870s, the area south of the Salt River that is now Tempe was known for its abundant farmlands.

When an Englishman named Darrel Dupa saw the wide swath of green south of the river, it reminded him of the Vale of Tempe in ancient Greece. The name stuck.

Charles Hayden established the flour mill — where Mill Avenue gets its name — in the 1870s.

In 1885, the territorial legislature decided the Territorial Normal School would be built in Tempe. That school is now Arizona State University.

The city reached its current boundaries in 1974, and is now the most densely populated city in Arizona.

For more information on Tempe's history, read this brief history of Tempe written by the Tempe History Museum.

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