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Why the Peoria, Arizona sign says 1954, although the town has been there much longer


This morning I was admiring the brand new sign that welcomes you to Peoria, Arizona at 67th Avenue and Peoria Avenue, and noticed that it says "EST 1954". But if you're a history fan of the area, you know that Peoria was established in 1886. What the sign means to say is that it was incorporated in 1954, which just means that it became a city with all of the appropriate paperwork, etc.

Before it was incorporated, that is, for 68 years, it was there, but the formalities hadn't been observed yet. That's actually quite a long time for a town to be running on a more casual basis, but that's what they did.

It all started with William Murphy (yeah, the guy that the Murphy Bridle Path on Central Avenue is named after, and Murphy Park in Glendale) and his friends when they built (created? It really wasn't paved back then) Grand Avenue, going from what was the outskirts of Phoenix (7th Avenue and Van Buren) at a northwest diagonal up to where the also privately-funded Arizona Canal ended. Yep, all privately funded, and yep, years before the train tracks got there.

The center of Peoria, Arizona is where Grand Avenue, 83rd Avenue, and Peoria Avenue converges. The city limits on Peoria Avenue is at 67th Avenue, which where the new sign is. If you follow me here, if you're west of 67th Avenue you're in Peoria, if you're east of it you're in Glendale. At least where it intersects Peoria Avenue.

And yes, there's a connection with Peoria, Illinois. That's because a lot of the people who moved to Murphy's new town were from there.

Welcome to Peoria!

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