City/Town Snapshot: City of Peoria, AZ

City of Peoria - A History of Farming to Families

Not every city in Arizona can claim to have an "official" cattle branding iron. Peoria does. In 1999 longtime developer, John F. Long offered the city the grazing rights for eight square miles of state lands located in north Peoria. These rights would allow the city to maintain some authority over the future preservation of the lands, a critical consideration given the fact that much of this area falls within the city's Desert Lands Conservation Master Plan.

In order for the transfer of grazing rights to occur, however, Peoria had to have an official livestock brand registered with the Arizona State Department of Agriculture. Although the city has no plans to actually acquire cattle, the brand remains ready for use should it be required one day.

This is just one of the many fascinating stories in Peoria's history. Peoria is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2014. When the city was incorporated on June 7, 1954 Peoria had a population of 1,925 residents and an area of 1.2 miles. Now, the city has more than 160,000 residents and over 175 square miles of incorporated land. Peoria has definitely come a long way since the four farming families from Peoria, Illinois settled here in 1886.

In a 2013 community survey conducted by the National Research Center, Peoria had one of the highest quality of life scores compared to benchmark cities. It's this quality of life which draws residents to Peoria today. With more than 35 neighborhood city parks, and two community parks with ball fields, large playgrounds, splash pads, and urban fishing lakes, Peoria offers recreation opportunities for its residents throughout the city. In addition, Peoria has more than 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, which includes 15 miles of uninterrupted trail along the New River corridor.

In addition to the outdoor recreation for residents, Peoria is also the spring training home of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres Major League Baseball teams. The city uses the Peoria Sports Complex year round for community events like the All-American 4th of July which draws nearly 30,000 people annually, as well as youth baseball tournaments, car shows and concerts.

Water from the Arizona Canal is what drew settlers to Peoria's farmlands, and today, water is one of Peoria's biggest tourist attractions. Lake Pleasant, located in north Peoria, is recognized as one of the most scenic water recreation areas in the "Valley of the Sun." Lake Pleasant Regional Park is managed by the Maricopa County Park System and is a recreationist's dream. The park offers many activities, such as camping, boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

It's not all recreation and sports in Peoria. The city is recognized for its cultural attractions, too. The Challenger Space Center of Arizona is one of only three Smithsonian Institution Affiliates in the greater Phoenix Valley, offering quality exhibits and programs for families and people of all ages amidst an exciting backdrop of space exploration. The Arizona Broadway Theater produces major musical theatre productions in its state-of-the-art venue, encompassing a wide spectrum of Broadway favorites becoming the highest attended live, year-round theatre in the Valley of the Sun. The Peoria Center for Performing Arts, located in historic Old Town, is home to the critically acclaimed community theater group, Theater Works.

When the first settlers from Illinois planned the future of Peoria, it is safe to say that their legacy would today be recognized for its highly rated schools, national rankings for outstanding communities, low crime and for being one of the best cities to live.

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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