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Chandler – Goodyear Connection

As you likely know, within the metro-Phoenix area, Chandler is southeast while Goodyear is southwest, but things didn’t start that way.

Dr. Alexander John Chandler, Canadian-born yet Arizona’s first veterinary surgeon, in 1912 bought 18,000 acres located generally south of Tempe. He had seen and became enamored by a land developement concept at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair involving a town build around a park. As his desert oasis and focal point, Chandler built the San Marcos hotel and golf course, Arizona’s first golf resort … which still exists today. See http://www.sanmarcosresort.com/

Afterwards, with World War I threatening, Akron Ohio based Goodyear Tire and Rubber company leased 8,000 acres south of Chandler’s town limits to grow cotton to be used in the production of tires. The town of Chandler was quite a success, boosted significantly by the workers and their families for the adjacent “Goodyear Ranch”, as it was called. This area is now Ocotillo. Some interesting history of all this can be reviewed here: http://archive.chandlermuseum.org/

In 1917, Goodyear purchased many thousands of acres along the Agua Fria river in the west valley to grow more cotton. The executive who managed this purchase and Goodyear’s initial operations there was Paul Litchfield. Later Goodyear consolidated all of it’s operations around the larger west-side acreage. In addition to growing cotton for tires, Goodyear built an aircraft production plant here.

When World War II erupted, the Goodyear operations and facilities also erupted, requiring many more workers, housing, etc.

Del Webb, same guy who later built the original Sun City about 10 miles north, started building homes on 40 acres northeast of what is now the intersection of Western Avenue and Litchfield Road. Other housing construction was also done in the area.

Part of this development was incorporated to be the town of Goodyear, and another part became Litchfield Park – named after the original Goodyear executive.

Some interesting history for this area can be seen here: http://www.threerivershistoricalsocietyaz.org/ … the three rivers being the Salt, Gila and Aqua Fria. Looking at the Gila river bed in this area now, it’s very difficult to imagine that the Gila here was once the international boundry with Mexico.

Thanks to an article by Jimmy Magahern in the “New Homes” section of the July 18, 2014 issue of the Arizona Republic, we now have “The rest of the story!” as the late/great Paul Harvey used to say.

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