Old Gilbert, Arizona: How one of the fastest-growing cities in the US started out small

Gilbert water tower

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


In 1914, there was a lot of hype about a new little town near Phoenix called Gilbert — “the fastest growing and most prosperous community in the Southwest,” said ads in the Arizona Republican (Phoenix, Arizona) newspaper between June and November 1914.

Amazingly, old Gilbert really did live up to its promise… but it took about a century longer than the early landholders probably anticipated.

As of 1980, the town’s population was just 5,717, but that number blossomed to 233,028 by 2014 — earning the suburb several spots on the list of fastest-growing communities in the US (along with numerous other accolades) along the way.

Gilbert Arizona - Riparian preserve

Old Gilbert, Arizona: On the Main-Line (June 7, 1914)

WHAT are your prospects? What chances have you to add to your fortune? What are you doing to make that “talent” of ancient lore, add to itself… 10 fold? Was there ever a better time than today, to invest?

A number of years ago, Judge Wells of Prescott, invested $150 in two lots on West Adams Street in the then country town of Phoenix; a few days ago he sold them for $85,000.

TODAY you have the same opportunity to buy business property in a country town that is just commencing. The new town site of Gilbert is right in the heart of the finest agricultural section of the Southwest; right on the railroad — on what is destined to be the greatest traffic artery in Arizona.

Gilbert has every function — is the logical position for a prosperous new town. Here is the shipping and trading center for miles upon miles of the highest cultivated land in the Salt River Valley.

IMPROVEMENTS alone, will put Gilbert on the map. A large new depot is to be erected, a concrete store building is to be built, to be occupied by merchants already located there; streets graded, trees planted and sidewalks laid; a bank building is almost completed, and a $25,000 hotel also being planned.

Gilbert already has a branch of the Pacific Creamery Co., and a railway switch that is the scene of much activity. Gilbert spells opportunity for you. Can you afford to overlook this chance to invest in a real live new town?

Phone 3513 For Appointment to Visit Gilbert

Choose Your Lot Now!

Murphy & Irvin – 302 National Bank of Arizona Building

Gilbert, Arizona On the Main-Line (June 7, 1914)

Yesterday, a railroad switch – Today, a town (October 18, 1914)

WHAT can beat such wonderful growth? What can equal a town, that just a few months ago was non-existent — that had its start in a little shipping switch recently built by the Southern Pacific Railway. Today, a few months after building this switch, the same railway company has built a brand new Passenger and Freight Depot; and the town of GILBERT is on the map.

Is this not significant of their faith? Is this not proof in itself of what Gilbert is doing — of what will be done in the future? With the greatest farming country in the Salt River Valley to draw upon; situated right on the Main-Line; with 3 stores, 2 blacksmith shops, a branch of the Pacific Creamery Co., a Hay and Grain Warehouse, a post office, a $20,000 school, and now a bank; Gilbert offers you an investment in the fastest growing town in the Southwest. And, mind you, all this marvelous growth within the last few months.

See Phoenix, Arizona in 1885: A birds-eye map of the city

BANK JUST COMPLETED: A great farming community — bay, cattle, dairy produce and fruit — the virgin soil of the West; has just built itself a bank. Its first bank has just been completed; the office fixtures have arrived, and the big steel safe is being placed in position. Gilbert does not have to wait for the coming of the settler; the farmer is there now, with the money ready for the bank.

CITY IMPROVEMENTS: Everything is imbued with the spirit of progress; streets are being graded, 5 ft. sidewalks are being laid, and GILBERT — a few months ago a mere Railway Switch — is fast becoming the trading center far miles upon miles of the greatest farming country in Arizona. GILBERT has just commenced; has accomplished wonders within a few months. What are you going to do with its growth in the future?

FORTUNES MADE IN NEW TOWNS: How many fortunes have been made by the small investor in the country towns of the West. Time and again, for every $100 invested a $1,000 has been taken out; and that within a few years. Are you going to let this opportunity slip? A chance that comes but once in a lifetime — a chance to own business property in a town that’s just commencing.

Yesterday, a railroad switch - Today, a town (October 18, 1914)

Gilbert, Arizona: But four years ago, the desert (October 25, 1914)

Gilbert, Arizona But four years ago, the desert (October 25, 1914)

Gilbert: The chance of a lifetime (November 1, 1914)

WHAT does the difference between $500 and $10,000 mean to you? $9,500 made within the last few years by investors in property in a neighboring town of Arizona, and all made on an original investment of only $500 paid on easy terms.

You missed that chance of four or five years ago — the chance to buy in a new town that was just commencing. Are you going to do it again? Or seize this opportunity  — the chance of a lifetime.

GILBERT on the main-line is booming ahead. Transformed from a mere shipping switch to the trading center of the richest farming country of the Southwest; and mind you, only came into existence — put on the map — within the last few months.

Are you going to be the owner of business property in a town that’s marvelous growth, supported by a rich country, has not only forced the S. P. Railway Co. to build a shipping switch, but now a brand new depot.

TIME TO BUY IS NOW: Compare this opportunity with that of any other investments in Arizona. Compare the prices of business property now, with those of but a few years ago. Never again will you have such a chance. Will you buy today, or wait till $10,000 tells you your chance has gone? A small beginning that means big returns.

THE SAFEST INVESTMENT: A bank just completed, 3 stores, 2 blacksmith shops, a branch of the Pacific Creamery Co., a hay and grain warehouse, and a new depot. All have had their start, and all completed within the last few months. Now, 5 ft. sidewalks are being laid, trees planted, and GILBERT is on the map.

GILBERT TODAY: For the family — the little boy or girl — a small monthly payment in their name will be a “nest-egg” for the future. For the saving man or woman, money invested in GILBERT will pay big interest — will pay you a hundred-fold.

Let us show the wonderful surrounding country; the logical location for a new town. Call us today.

Phone 3513 for appointment to visit Gilbert Lots $250 to $500 — Easy Terms

Gilbert The chance of a lifetime (November 1, 1914)

Arizona becomes the 48th state of the United States of America

Old Gilbert, Arizona: On the Main-Line (October 11, 1914)

OF course, you must agree with us when we say “A good beginning is half the work” — that “Progress and prosperity go hand in hand.”

Today, there has come to be the new town of Gilbert the center of the most fertile and greatest farming country of the Salt River Valley. Gilbert on the Main-line; Gilbert, that within the last few months has grown from a mere shipping switch to a town of such importance, that the S. P. Railroad Company has deemed it necessary, and have built a large freight and passenger depot.

AND, here’s the history of this wonderful town. First, there came the Railroad; then a country store; next a Hay and Grain Warehouse, followed by a branch of the Pacific Creamery Co. Two more stores were opened, with Uncle Sam ordering himself a brand new post office; then Gilbert built a $20,000 School House.

Horses had to be shod and Machinery repaired, so two Blacksmith Shops were necessary; the people built themselves a bank, and last of all came a big depot.

NOW, they are laying 5 ft. cement sidewalks, planting shade trees, and grading the streets. Today, you have the opportunity to buy business property; today, is your chance to invest in the fastest growing and most prosperous community in the Southwest.

Gilbert will surprise you. To see it convinces you. We have given you proof of what has been done; now, get in at the start and reap your harvest in the near future. Get your pick of the business lots now.

Phone 3513 for Appointment to Visit Gilbert Lots $250 to $500 — Easy Terms

Gilbert water tower

The young town of Gilbert, Arizona in 1927 – Leading alfalfa center

Gilbert Arizona in 1927 - Alfalfa capital (2)

Gilbert Arizona in 1927 - Alfalfa capital (1)

Old Gilbert, Arizona Farm Home Distinctive, Practical (1956)

From the Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona) July 29, 1956

The J H Sawyers, of Gilbert, wanted a farm home built exactly to fit them, not one they’d have to adjust themselves to. It had to combine beauty with comfort, he distinctive but not impractical, and large enough for their frequent gatherings of family and friends.

After examining a number of house plans and finding none that quite satisfied them, they decided to become their own architects. When the new home materialized, their careful planning was evident in every detail.

THE EXTERIOR of the home is redwood and pink sandstone, with a long porch at the front and the garage attached. Five outside entrances open conveniently to the living room, family room, garage, utility room, and a room Sawyer uses for a farm office.

The house has a total of 128 electrical outlets, closet space for almost unlimited wardrobe expansion, and enough cabinet space to keep the most avid china-and-linen hoarder contented. A built-in desk is in every bedroom, the utility room, and even the kitchen. All interior woodwork is blond ash, and a pale rose carpet extends throughout the house.

What did a typical 1950s suburban house look like? Feast your eyes on this fab prefab home built in 1958

Most of the wall space is painted with a relatively new product, applied with a spray gun, that contains tiny globules in a base color paint. In the globules are bits of contrasting color, so that when they hit the wall they burst, leaving small flecks of gold or brown on an aqua background, or brown and white on a coral sand background.

THE MASTER bedroom is furnished in elm, with no exposed hardware. A dressing room and bath, with aqua and brown as its color scheme, adjoin it. A large bathroom serves the two other bedrooms and combines aqua, yellow, and brown in its tile and fixtures.

The kitchen has an open view of the family room between the high wall cabinets and the counter so that working in the kitchen will not prevent Mrs. Sawyer from taking part in the family activities. The L-shaped kitchen counter contains a double sink and six-burner range and is tiled in mottled brown and aqua. Both the range and a built-in oven are coppertoned.

COMFORTABLE lounges, a television-phono-graph combination, books, magazines, and a piano provide a Variety of activities for the family room. Focal point of the living room is the ceiling-high fireplace, built of cut yellow stone. A two-level planter separates the room from the front entrance.

Furnishings are a gold chair, two sectionals in deep rose, and two in a green, brown, salmon, and gold combination. The entire room has indirect lighting, and at the far end the dining area is furnished in mahogany with light green leather-covered chairs.

Vintage '50s homes in Gilbert Arizona - 1956

9 colorful mid-century kitchen remodels & retro floorplans from 1954

Vintage '50s homes in Gilbert Arizona - 1956

Vintage '50s homes in Gilbert Arizona - 1956

Vintage '50s homes in Gilbert Arizona - 1956

Vintage '50s homes in Gilbert Arizona - 1956

See 130 vintage '50s house plans used to build millions of mid-century homes that we still live in today

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

One Response

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.