Growing up in Tempe in the 60's and 70's, all I really knew about Gilbert back then was that it was a little town, way out east, where all the farmers and cowboys lived. The population of Gilbert back then was about 5000.
The US60 Superstition Freeway ended at Gilbert Rd. because there just wasn't much after that until you got all the way out to Apache Junction.
Once a farming community known as the "Hay Capital of the World", Gilbert got its boost with the building of the Roosevelt Dam. The dam helped regulate water for farming. In 1920, when the town was incorporated, there were 500 hundred families farming in Gilbert.
The town is named for William Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert was a farmer who offered up his own land to the railroad and soon had a rail siding on his property. What is a rail siding? A rail siding was an off shoot, or spur of rail, off of the main line that allowed the loading and unloading of material without blocking the main tracks. Mr. Gilbert essentially had customers coming right to his property and buying his crops.
Ayer's Grocery Store, the first store in Gilbert, opened in 1910 and became the location of the first post office in 1912. Gilbert Elementary School opened in 1913.
Today, Gilbert is currently the most populous incorporated town in the United States. It encompasses 76 square miles and has made a rapid transformation from an agriculture-based community to an economically diverse suburban center.
In the last two decades, Gilbert has grown at an extremely high rate, increasing in population from 5,717 in 1980 to more than 239,000 residents today.
The above information barely scratches the surface of all that is Gilbert. Come check out this wonderful town I and many others call home. There is a place for you here too!
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