In 1911, a Canadian born veterinarian named Dr. A.J. Chandler began to divide up his 18,000-acre ranch into plots for sale. With the completion of the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River and the Consolidated Canal drawing water south to his desert ranch, he knew he could entice prospective farmers and businessmen to buy land. In the middle of his ranch he envisioned a town, carefully planned and landscaped. And in the center of the town he would design a central park surrounded by a business plaza, and a large resort, the San Marcos Hotel, all designed in the latest Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival styles.
When Dr. A.J. Chandler and his Improvement Company laid out Chandler’s town site in May of 1912, the boundaries ran from Galveston Street on the north, Denver Street (now Frye Road) on the south, Hartford Street on the west, and Hamilton Street on the east. Most of the north and south streets in the original town site were named after states, and most of the east and west streets were named after American cities.
Today’s Chandler Boulevard was originally named Cleveland Street. Arizona Avenue actually split at Buffalo Street, looped around the central park in the town’s original design, and then came back together at Boston Street, and headed south.
In Chandler’s early years, bumpy, dusty roads formed along the grid created by parcels of farmland. Only the streets in town were paved, with concrete, not asphalt. Early residents remember the “thunk- thunk” sound as they drove down these streets. Today, the only concrete paved road left in Chandler is along Washington Street, north of Chandler Boulvard..
Julia Knox, who married into one of the earliest families to settle in the Chandler area, helped name some Chandler roads in the late 1920s. The first street signs in rural Chandler were five-gallon paint can lids nailed onto posts. In the 1940s, Maricopa County gave the Arizona Machinery Company (the John Deere dealership) permission to name the rural roads in Chandler, mainly in association with local farming families. Their signs included the company’s logo at the bottom. Around 1950, the County officially adopted the road names. Over time, more and more of the rural streets leading into the small town of Chandler were paved.
Other streets that eventually led into Chandler were associated with the towns they came from. Some streets have names associated with places or families in nearby cities like Mesa and Tempe. As the city grew and neighborhoods expanded, developers began naming the streets in their subdivisions. In the 1980s, the City created street naming guidelines. Vange Archuleta, who worked in the Planning and Development Department for many years, remembers that most new street were named after relatives, friends, and others associated with the owners of the land under development.
As the group of students who researched Chandler Boulevard wrote, “There are landmarks all around the city that tell of its birth and growth; monuments of cement and stucco that hold the tale of the thousands who have called this city home. History is in the storefronts we walk by, the schools in which we study and even the roads we drive on daily. “
Read on to discover the stories behind some of the names of major streets in Chandler.
Images on this page courtesy of Chandler Museum.