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Sycamore Station

Farming gave Mesa its early identity. The legacies live on in street names, such as Dobson Road. Cliff Dobson co-owned the Baseline Cattle Company and Sheep Springs Sheep Company that was started in the early 1900s. The companies, known as Dobson Ranch, were bounded thousands of acres in Mesa and Chandler. Dobson Ranch and other farm activities sustained their farming through building an elaborate system of canals that, from the Salt River. Drinking water came from large wells that tapped underground aquifers and which were readily identifiable by well towers through the city.

Until well into the 1950s, farming was common throughout the valley, and agricultural experimentation occurred throughout the region. In Mesa, the University of Arizona's experimental farm occupied over 160 acres near Main Street and Alma School Road. Many different experiments on cotton, grains, grasses and other plants happened on the farm between 1914 and 1960.

Eventually, as Mesa and the region grew in population, farm land became more valuable to developers for commercial and housing development. For example, in the 1970s, Dobson Ranch was sold and become Mesa's largest master-planned community to date (and one of the largest in the region.) The Dobson Ranch residential community, as well Today portions of Dobson Ranch are now Fiesta Mall, Mesa Community College, and Banner Desert Hospital.

Just North of Dobson Ranch, the Tri-City Mall opened in 1968 to great acclaim as the largest enclosed mall in the region. Located in Mesa, Arizona, at the northeast corner of Main Street and Dobson Road. It was named Tri-City because it was intended to draw shoppers from three East Valley cities: Mesa, Tempe and Chandler.

Nearly 500,000 square feet contained 55 stores, including Hanny’s Apparel, Zale’s Jewelers, Walgreen’s and Basha’s Supermarket. J. C. Penny and Diamond’s were anchors. Initially ensconced amongst farmland and housing developments, Tri City Mall helped accelerate the shift from rural to suburban. It ultimately succumbed in 1998 to newer shopping centers like Fiesta Mall and Superstition Springs Center. The last piece of the mall, the J. C. Penny building was demolished in 2006 to make way for Tri-City Pavilions.

Images

Nepali School Students & Teachers
Nepali School Students & Teachers Completed in 1898 on the west side of Dobson about a quarter mile south of where the Motorola Plant once stood at Broadway Road, this red brick building replaced an earlier schoolhouse destroyed by fire. Source: Ralph Openshaw/ W. Earl Merrill; Mesa Preservation Foundation Date: 1903
Tri-City Mall
Tri-City Mall Built by the Malouf family at a cost of more than $10 million, the Tri City Mall opened with great fanfare in 1968. It was the East Valley’s first fully enclosed shopping center. Built on a 40-acre alfalfa field, across from the Sycamore platform, the mall primarily served the “tri-cities” of Mesa, Tempe, and Chandler. More than 30,000 people are estimated to have turned out to see what was described as “one of America’s finest, most modern retail marketplaces.” Source: Wikimedia Commons, Tri-City Mall, Mesa, Arizona Date: 1968
Tri-City Mall Constructing
Tri-City Mall Constructing In 1968 the Tri-City Mall was built to great acclaim on a former alfalfa field. The first enclosed mall in the valley covered more than 500,000 square feet. The opening was a big deal. “Move over P.T. Barnum, the grand opening of Tri-City Mall today just took your place!” the Mesa Tribune crowed as Arizona Gov. Jack Williams turned out, along with Mayors Jack Taylor of Mesa, Elmer Bradley of Tempe and George Nader of Chandler. Source: Mesa Preservation Foundation Date: 1968
Cliff Dobson
Cliff Dobson Cliff Dobson co-owned the Baseline Cattle Company and Sheep Springs Sheep Company. Dobson Ranch encompassed thousands of acres in southwest Mesa and Chandler. Today, the planned community of Dobson Ranch, Fiesta Mall, Mesa Community College, and Banner Desert Hospital all occupy portions of the old Dobson Ranch empire. Source: Mesa Historical Museum Date: ca. 1960

Location

Metadata

Mesa Preservation Foundation, Jay Mark, and Mark Tebeau, “Sycamore Station,” Salt River Stories, accessed July 21, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/109.