AKA “The Silicon Desert”
DOCTOR’S ORDERS: Chandler was founded by veterinarian Alexander John (A.J.) Chandler on May 17, 1912, when he opened a townsite office to sell parcels of his 18,000-acre ranch south of Mesa. Chandler incorporated as a town in 1920, and was recognized as a city in 1954.
BELLA CITTA: Thanks to Dr. Chandler’s interest in the “City Beautiful Movement” popular in the late 1890s and early 1900s, downtown Chandler boasts a park embellished with fountains and exotic trees, landscaped squares, and monumental buildings.
COTTON TO COMPUTERS: Once an agricultural epicenter known for its ostrich feathers and cotton, Chandler’s big industry today is manufacturing and electronics, with more than 51 electronics companies in residence.
END OF THE ROAD: In the 1930s, Arizona Avenue ended at the town plaza. Many drivers were caught off guard by the terminus and drove right into the park, so the state extended Route 87 through the middle of the park.
El Zocalo Mexican Grille
Housed in the historic Monroe building (constructed in 1912), this family-owned eatery offers Mexican staples like chile rellenos, mole de pollo, and chile verde, plus a selection of more than 200 tequilas. There’s also live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, from the likes of local folk rocker Freddie Duran, jam band Powerdrive, and Latin funk purveyors Aztex. 28 S. San Marcos Place, 480-722-0303, elzocalo.com
Community Centennial Bash
In celebration of its 100 year anniversary, Chandler hosts this family-friendly fete featuring games (including a pie eating contest and potato sack races), calf roping, hay rides, a Chandler history exhibit, fireworks, and mooving pioneer pastimes like cow pie tosses and cow patty bingo. No alcohol sales. 4-10 p.m. Saturday, May 19 at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Rd., 480-782-2727, downtownchandler.org
Arizona Railway Museum
Dedicated to the railways of the Southwest, ARM showcases tons of locomotives, including Southern Pacific locomotive No. 2562, built in 1906 and placed on the Arizona State Historic Register; a Plymouth train built for the U.S. War Department in 1943; and a 1950 “pleasure dome” passenger train featuring swivel chairs and a cocktail lounge. All cars will be open to the public for National Train Day on May 12. 330 E. Ryan Rd., 480-821-1108, azrymuseum.org
The Chandler Cultural Foundation manages this nonprofit gallery, which hosts free art workshops for the public. Previous exhibits include On Paper, a juried exhibition of art made with paper, and an exhibit of Russel Marohnic’s metal and mixed media sculptures. Other artists with work on display include ceramists Sandy Ashbaugh and Tom Budzak, and painters Mary Bruns and Janet Blumenthal. 10 E. Chicago St., 480-782-2695, visiongallery.org