When Edward A. Tovrea opened his stockyard operation in 1919, its location was far removed from the neighborhoods and commercial districts of Phoenix. Tovrea's impressive sprawling complex processed more than 300,000 head of cattle every year. The odiferous nature of Tovrea's enterprise soon began to pose serious challenges to surrounding development.
Italian immigrant Alessio Carraro initiated construction of an architecturally unique resort on a hilltop adjacent to the Tovrea property in 1928. Though well-planned and skillfully built, the wedding cake-like structure ,now known as Tovrea Castle, stood little chance of success as a place of lodging given its proximity to the foul smelling neighboring sheep and cattle lot. Defeated, Carraro abandoned his dream and sold the then uncompleted project to the Tovrea family in 1931.
Similar challenges would plague J. Parker Van Zandt's nearby airport project, although the outcome was very different. Opened in 1929 as a base of operations for Van Zandt's Scenic Airways and acquired by the City of Phoenix in 1935, the airfield was often jokingly referred to as "The Farm" due to its location outside of the city. The rapid post-World War II growth of the Valley brought development to the area around Tovrea's cattle yard and the bustling airports. Nonetheless, the airport retained some degree of rural feeling as a result of the overpowering stench of manure wafting westward from the expansive Tovrea feedlot. When combined with the blistering Arizona sun, the potent aroma provided visitors and newly arrived residents deplaning at Sky Harbor with a quick and altogether unpleasant introduction to the Valley. This Chamber of Commerce nightmare continued throughout most of the 1950s, during which time the population of Phoenix increased by more than three hundred percent. Economic factors brought about the closure of the foul smelling cattle lot in the late 1950s, thereby preventing future Sky Harbor arrivals from being greeted with the unforgettable aroma of cattle waste and the stench of a noxious rendering plant.