City/Town Snapshot: City of Scottsdale

From "Western Town" to Modern City: Scottsdale Continues Its Evolution

Early in the history of Scottsdale, town leaders decided that a particular image, with infrastructure to back it up, would be important to the city's future.

"The West's Most Western Town" was born as a marketing slogan in the late 1940s to convey the city's Western spirit to visitors and residents. Merchants hopped onboard, voluntarily redesigning storefronts to reflect a Western motif, complete with hitching posts and shake roof overhangs.

It worked. National media gave the city's Western image plenty of attention and by the time Scottsdale incorporated in 1951, tourism was an integral part of the community's identity and economy.

Fast forward 65 years and a lot has changed in Scottsdale. What has not changed is the city's commitment to investing in programs and facilities that foster community pride while attracting the attention and admiration of residents and millions of visitors from around the world.

Scottsdale Public Art adds beauty and interest through dozens of permanent works and temporary installations throughout the community. Galloping steeds abound alongside abstract visions and popup storefront displays. The program is funded in large part through the city's Percent for Arts program, which requires the city to spend 1 percent of the budget for each capital project on public art.

Canal Convergence has become a centerpiece of the community's public art program and an international draw. This year's installation attracted 50,000 to the Scottsdale Waterfront for a weekend of inspiring and engaging displays and performances. Plans are underway to expand the event in the future.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West opened its doors in January 2015. It was an idea 50 years in the making, first suggested in the 1964 Scottsdale Town Enrichment Program, a community planning effort that identified many of the iconic features enjoyed in Scottsdale today, like the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt and Civic Center Mall.

The museum is thoroughly modern, yet transports visitors into the history and beauty of the American West through a collection of rarely seen art and artifacts. The museum has already established itself as a destination unto itself, earning affiliate status with the Smithsonian Institution in record time. The city-owned facility was built with hotel bed-tax revenues and is operated by a nonprofit organization.

The city has also invested bed tax dollars in larger venues with different missions. 2014 saw the completion of a $50 million expansion of WestWorld's dusty Equidome into the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center, 300,000 square feet of climate-controlled, flexible event space. The investment benefits signature events like the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction and Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, but is also attracting a host of new event partners.In 2015, the city completed a major renovation to the TPC Scottsdale, home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open - the most attended golf event on the planet. The investment brought the city's 20-year old public golf course up to modern standards and cemented an agreement to keep a PGA event in Scottsdale through 2022.

And one should not forget the city's biggest investment: Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The preserve is more than 30,000 acres of permanently protected mountains and Sonoran Desert, thanks to the city voters who approved three separate sales taxes to fund its purchase, and thanks to the nonprofit McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, who helps the city manage all those acres with the power of hundreds of community volunteers.

Art, museums, event centers, golf courses and mountain preserves are all part of Scottsdale's identity. While most of it was not specifically envisioned by the folks who coined that western slogan all those years ago, they set the wheels in motion for today's Scottsdale - a vibrant and beautiful desert city enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

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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