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Celebrate Tempe's 150th!

Welcome to 2021, a very special year for the City of Tempe. Over the course of the year you can expect a variety of happenings to punctuate Tempe's Sesquicentennial. Tempe History Museum will feature exhibitions and activities sharing Tempe's story from a variety of voices and perspectives, local "Legends" will be celebrated, tours around town will highlight Tempe's fascinating past and present, all culminating in a festival on November 7 at Tempe Beach Park – on the footstep of where it all started 150 years ago. 



In 1869, a former teacher, probate judge, merchant, and freighter on a journey from Tucson to Prescott, took advantage of a delay caused by high water in the Salt River to scale a butte on its shore, and survey the surrounding countryside.

From his elevated position, Charles Trumbull Hayden envisioned the farming potential the irrigable land offered. He soon began planning to relocate from Tucson to oversee the construction of a mill to process grains grown in the vicinity.

By 1871, Hayden was working to bring water to his prospective mill at the west base of the butte he had climbed earlier, as well constructing a store and living quarters.. thereby establishing the Salt River Valley second settlement – what today is known as Tempe.

Now, in Tempe's Sesquicentennial year, the once tiny village of farmers and ranchers has grown into a thriving metropolis knocking on the door of 200,000 – making Tempe the state's 8th-largest city. Tempe’s original 1.8 square miles has ballooned to just over 40.

This momentous year gives time to pause and reflect on just how far Tempeans have come and celebrate where we're headed. Happy 150 Tempe!

Listen to Tempe's Mayor and Council Members share stories about our city's history and this year's sesquicentennial.



  • Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021 at Tempe Town Lake (Times and activities TBA)

  • More to come...


  • Tempe 150 Perspectives. Tempe History Museum invited local community partners to help create an exhibit marking Tempe’s 150-year history by describing their most important milestone, important event or unique happening, to capture what Tempe means for them. View the Tempe 150 Perspectives exhibit.

  • Tempe History Society will feature local Tempe "legends" each month throughout 2021 in it"Stories of Tempe" blog.

  • Celebrate Tempe's Sesquicentennial with a scavenger hunt throughout the city. Check here for hints to find Scavenger Hunt 150 canisters full of Tempe-themed photos, facts, freebies, and fun. 



  • Tempe History Society celebrates “Legends” of Tempe. 

  • Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation is planning tours around town.

  • Tempe Sister Cities celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021 with an exhibit and activities as part of that milestone. 

  • Tempe History Museum will have a featured exhibit within the museum, in addition to a panel exhibit of community members' perspectives displayed in its Community Room. A pop-up exhibit will also be available by request for display in public places including community centers and businesses. 


  • Tempe History Society was incorporated in 1969 as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization devoted to the preservation of local community history. Since that time the Society has taken a leadership role in preserving Tempe’s community history. Today the Society presents programs and events, and continues to support the Tempe History Museum and the community of Tempe.

  • Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)3 volunteer organization committed to the preservation of Tempe's heritage structures and historic sites.

  • Tempe Sister Cities provides person to person citizen diplomacy through cultural, educational, and professional exchange programs, to develop global leaders and promote mutual respect and friendships for the city of Tempe and its Sister Cities.


Get your own piece of Tempe (150) history at Tempe History Society's online store. Unique Tempe and sesquicentennial-themed merchandise make the perfect gifts or personal splurge. All proceeds will go to the Society in support of the Tempe History Museum and its programs. Find your new favorite thing at

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