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Chandler is more than a Phoenix suburb; it’s a growing, high-tech city of a quarter-of-a-million people.

The city once relied on farming, ranching and dairies for its economic livelihood but in the past two decades has evolved into a popular shopping destination with a high-tech employment base, planned neighborhoods that range from quaint to custom, and a historic downtown in the midst of an active redevelopment plan.

The name can be traced back to its roots with a veterinarian named Dr. Alexander J. Chandler, who arrived in the Valley in 1887. Utilizing the existing canal system of the Native Americans as a blueprint, he created one of the most advanced irrigation systems in the country, converting the dry desert into farmable land. Water brought new life to the desert, and the new town was founded in 1912.

Businesses sprang up quickly, anchored by the San Marcos Hotel, which opened the next year and was one of the first winter-destination resorts in the country. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright also spent some time here, becoming close friends with Dr. Chandler.

Chandler hosts an annual Ostrich Festival that pays homage to a time when ostrich farms, driven by a fashion fad in ostrich feathers, dotted the surrounding area.

The city of Chandler also was a home for the Goodyear Tire Co., which leased 8,000 acres locally and was growing a strain of Egyptian cotton used for its products in the early 20th century.

In the 1950s and ’60s Chandler was a sleepy suburb with a focus on farming, but the economy began to take a turn when the Rogers Corp. opened an electronics plant in the city in the 1970s. In the decade that followed, Motorola and Microchip set up shop, moving the city from agricultural community to high-tech oasis that provides a solid employment base and has attracted an educated workforce.

Chandler has its own arts center, and in 2001, it saw the opening of the Chandler Fashion Center Mall and several villages of surrounding shops. These destinations make the area around Chandler Boulevard and the Loop 101 a regional shopping hub. The Santan Freeway portion of Loop 202 opened in segments in the next few years, connecting east with west.

The city continues to grow toward its southeastern border with Gilbert, but is projected to reach build-out in the next few years.

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