As one of the fastest growing communities in the country and in Arizona, Gilbert is meeting the many challenges of preserving small town atmosphere while promoting high tech industry and progressive planning for our future.
The Hay Capital of the World
In 1902, the Arizona Eastern Railway asked for donations of right of way in order to establish a rail line between Phoenix and Florence. A rail siding was established on property owned by William “Bobby” Gilbert. The siding, and the town that sprung up around it, eventually became known as Gilbert. Gilbert was a prime farming community, fueled by the construction of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Consolidated Canals in 1911. It remained an agriculture town for many years, and was known as the “Hay Capital of the World” until the late 1920s. Gilbert began to take its current shape during the 1970s when the Town Council approved a strip annexation that encompassed 53 square miles of county land. Although the population was only 1,971 in 1970 the Council realized that Gilbert would eventually grow and develop much like the neighboring communities of Tempe, Mesa, and Chandler. This proved to be a farsighted decision as Gilbert positioned itself for growth in the 1980s and beyond.
Gilbert has experienced a rapid transition from a historically agriculture-based community to an urban center and suburb in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. In the last two decades, Gilbert has grown at a pace unparalleled by most communities in the United States, increasing in population from 5,717 in 1980 to approximately 240,000 today. Gilbert’s planning area now encompasses approximately 76 square miles. As Gilbert has grown, the community has recognized the need to develop a strong, diverse economy while preserving its highly desirable quality of life. To proactively direct the growth and development of the community, the voters overwhelmingly approved to update the General Plan in May 2011, which revised existing elements and incorporated new land use and economic growth considerations.
Gilbert is continuously planning for the future in order to meet the needs of tomorrow. As Gilbert continues to grow, so does its commitment to providing residents, businesses and employees with the best possible services, programs and accommodations. New projects include numerous roadway improvements, Gilbert’s continued investment in the Heritage District, and the rapid growth in the healthcare industry. One of the most exciting new projects is the new Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center campus which brings a state-of-the-art facility to the community.
For more information, log onto Gilbert’s official website!