Apache Boulevard emerged as a vital link between the developing towns of Tempe and Mesa, known locally as the Tempe-Mesa Highway. Eventually, the road became a part of the highway system that linked the Eastern and Western United States. Highways 60, 70, 80, and 89 all connected East of Mesa, followed Apache Boulevard to Mill Avenue, and continued on Van Buren Street in Phoenix toward Grand Avenue, where they dispersed. Tourists flocked to the Apache Trail in the Superstition Mountains, and used the highway to take them to destinations throughout Arizona.
The passage of the Interstate Highway Defense Act in 1956 called for the creation of a new high-speed Interstate Highway system throughout the United States. With the completion and extension of the Superstition Freeway in the 1970s, the traffic from US Highways 60, 70, 80, and 89 was rerouted away from Apache Boulevard, creating economic hardships for many property owners whose livelihoods depended on tourism and traffic.
A new mode of transportation dramatically transformed Apache Boulevard beginning in 2008. Valley Metro Light Rail connects Apache Boulevard to Phoenix, Mesa, and Arizona State University. Businesses on Apache no longer have to depend solely on auto traffic, and developers are building tall student apartment complexes that are changing the character of the street.