Charles Trumbull Hayden was one of the entrepreneurial pioneers who founded Tempe. His flour mill made use of the water from the river through a canal. The water ran through the mill, over a large screw that turned the mill. Leaving the mill, water fell over a 25-foot waterfall to the base of Hayden Butte. Charles Hayden built his home as a port for his ferry service, across from the mill. His son, Carl Hayden, later became a United States senator.
Tempe was officially named after the Greek Vale of Tempe in mythology in 1879.
The Hayden Flour Mill burned down and was rebuilt in 1917.
In the 1920s, the Salt River provided cool escape from the desert heat. Individuals gathered near Tempe Beach Park and swam at the base of the State Bridge. Red Harkins built a theater in Tempe Beach Park where he showed summer movies for five cents. Harkins built wooden bleachers from which patrons viewed the films.
In 1931, crews constructed the Mill Avenue bridge across the Salt River where Hayden's Ferry had crossed 60 years earlier. It served as the main connection over the river for the horseless carriages.
In the 1930's, the Tuberculosis Sanitarium was built on Curry Road, overlooking the Salt River. This luxurious facility served wealthy TB patients who moved to Arizona because of the dry climate and low allergens. These visitors became the first of what would become a booming tourist industry.
In 1954, the Hayden family sold its home across from the mill to the Leonard Monti family. The family opened the house as a steak house known as Monti's La Casa Vieja. This landmark restaurant is located on the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, across from Tempe Beach Park.
In 1958, Sun Devil Stadium was built at the base of Hayden Butte. This was also the year that the Tempe Normal School (the original name) officially became Arizona State University.
In the early 1980's, floods divided the Valley by damaging bridges across the river. The old Mill Avenue Bridge was the only bridge that remained open. Employees and residents used boats and trains to cross the river. The Rio Salado Development District formed and began developing a Valley-wide master plan from Granite Reef to Agua Fria within the 100 year flood plain. Redevelopment started in the downtown Tempe area around Mill Avenue.
In 1985, the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel opened as the “Tempe Mission Palms Hotel”
• 303 rooms; 6 suites; 4 story building in the heart of Tempe
• Indoor and outdoor meeting space = 30,000 sq ft
• January 1992 the hotel began it’s very successful relationship with Destination Hotels & Resorts, the 4th largest privately owned hotel management company in the country and a subsidiary of Lowe Enterprises.
• January 28, 1992 Ken McKenzie became the General Manager of the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center and continues to be to this day. He is the most tenured General Manager with Destination Hotels and Resorts from the Hotel Division.
By 1990, the Mill Avenue bridge studies were nearly completed. Plans for wildlife management, water treatment, recreation, flood control channelization and commercial development ensued. Tempe began negotiating leases with the Bureau of Land Management, and began the selection process for development of reclaimed land from the floodplain. The Rio Salado Master Plan showed a Town Lake concept with a continuous body of water between the north and south shores. Previously, the lake concept included islands; this concept was modified to meet the flow capacity of the river channel.
On Nov. 7, 1999, Tempe Town Lake was opened to the public.
On July 20, 2010 Tempe Town Lake Dam bursts, one of the eight inflatable bladders that hold back the waters of Tempe Town Lake burst at 9:44 p.m. The City of Tempe was already in the process of replacing the bladders when this occurred. Nearly one billion gallons of water drained from the lake.
On October 26, 2010 Tempe Town Lake reopened to the public just in time for the Ford Arizona Ironman in November.