by Mel Fenson with Betty B. Jones
S cottsdale - a popular Mecca in the Arizona desert, where the affluent flock to find fun in the sun, except in the summer, when the Sonoran heat reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. But that doesn't matter, if you have a golf cart equipped with a mister and a nearby service bar on the course stocked with cool libations.

The New York Times named Scottsdale as one of the "hippest and most happening" places in the country. Many wealthy visitors come to enjoy Scottsdale's warm winter weather and abundant sunshine, and some, known as "snowbirds," purchase second homes in the area to escape cold northern winters.

Scottsdale's quaint Old Town district melds urban sophistication with memories of its cowboy past. Its winding streets are lined with southwestern style stucco buildings covered with red tile roofs. Towering palm trees and prickly cactus remind you that you are in the desert, and huge ollas spilling with red geraniums and yellow yew blossoms adorn the sidewalks.

There's never a dull moment in Old Town with its many lively bars and nightclubs - many located within walking distance of the center of Old Town - where music and dancing go full blast all week long.

For art collectors, Old Town is loaded with an interesting array of Native American, Western, and contemporary art galleries, and like Santa Fe, it has become known as major southwestern center for the arts. Each year the city hosts a large annual Scottsdale Arts Festival. The Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is home to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, the Scottsdale Historical Museum, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Upscale boutiques display their fashionable styles in window fronts and other specialty retail shops offer a selection of decorator items and other wares.

Numerous excellent Scottsdale eateries, such as the well known Don & Charlie's Steakhouse, The Village, El Charro, Eli's American Grille, Handle Bar J's Restaurant & Saloon, and the Kokopelli Cafe at the Camelback Inn compete for tourist's attention. If its Mexican food you want, Scottsdale's many Mexican cafes, such as Frank and Lupe's, Los Olivos or Dos Gringos can satisfy your quest with delicious items, such as Quesadillas, Enchiladas, Tacos, honey-filled sopapillas and other wonderful Southwestern dishes - smothered with red or green chili, and accompanied by chilled Margaritas.

You will never be bored in Scottsdale. It is considered to be a premiere destination for tourism and leisure. Noted for its famous golf courses, 5-star hotel/resorts and jumping nightlife, Scottsdale is home to more than 70 resorts and hotels, among which some of the more noted are: The Phoenician, The Canyon Suites, The Boulders, Scottsdale Camelback Inn, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, and the Fairmont Princess Resort and Spa. Many national and international companies consider Scottsdale a top destination for corporate meetings and conventions.

You won't have a problem finding a place to spend money in Scottsdale with its many high-end retail stores and independent boutiques. Old Town's nearby Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall is one of the largest malls in the United States. It is anchored by big retailers, such as Nordstrom, Macy's, Nieman Marcus, and Dillard's. Barneys New York department store is also opening there. The center is home to prestigious fashion names such as, Burberry, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tourneau, Juicy Couture, Tiffany and Co., Ferragamo, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Carolina Herrera, Bvlgari, and Bottega Veneta and others. In conjunction to the city's high fashion retail stores, it plays host to the annual Scottsdale Fashion Week each November. The event features runway shows from influential local, national and international designers. Expensive hotels and upscale condo developments surround Scottsdale's downtown area.

Among Scottsdale's cultural events and fairs are its internationally renowned Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and its popular Scottsdale Jaycees Parada del Sol, an annual month-long cowboy event that has been held in Scottsdale since 1954. The PRCA Rodeo was added in 1956. Cowboys and cowgirls from across the nation converge in Scottsdale to participate in this cultural and historical event, which begins each year with the Parada del Sol Parade, the world's largest horse-drawn parade with over 150 entries in any given year.

The Parada del Sol celebration has been kicked off every year for the last 49 years with a historic Pony Express ride over a 200 mile route that begins in Holbrook, Arizona and runs from the majestic Mogollon Rim through the wilderness of the Mazatzal range to Scottsdale. Each January , the Old West is brought to life as The Hashknife Pony Express, an elite group of more than two dozen riders led by the Navajo County Hashknife Sheriff's Posse thunder through Arizona wearing authentic cowboy attire, carrying the mail and relaying the bags along the route to deliver 20,000 first-class letters by horseback. With each rider sworn in as an honorary mail messenger, this exciting event is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world.

Every January for nearly forty years, the city of Scottsdale has been home to the famous Barrett-Jackson Auto Show. Now held at the expansive West World exhibition complex in North Scottsdale, the event attracts auto enthusiasts and collectors from around the world, who are interested in exotic and antique cars.

The popular Scottsdale Culinary Festival is held annually, during the month of April. It is estimated that the weeklong event draws over 40,000 people. The festival's major attraction is its Great Arizona Picnic, an outdoor event, which features food prepared by well-known local and national chefs and local restaurants. It is held on the lawn of the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall.

Sports-minded Scottsdale is the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants, who practice at Scottsdale Stadium in Downtown Scottsdale. Scottsdale Stadium also hosts the Scottsdale Scorpions, a minor league baseball team in the Arizona Fall League. All of the "Big Four" major league sports organizations - which include the NBA's Phoenix Suns, NFL's Arizona Cardinals, NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, and MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks- have franchises and play in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.

Golf reigns supreme in Scottsdale's warm climate. The city is home to more than 200 area courses. In 2006, the Robb Report cited Scottsdale as, "America's Best Place to Live for Golf." Popular golf courses include: the Boulders Resort & Golden Spa, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Desert Mountain, Grayhawk, and Desert Highlands. Since 1987, the historic FBR Open Golf Tournament - formerly the Phoenix Open, which originally began in 1932 - is held annually each January at the Tournament Players Club, known as the TPC, in North Scottsdale. The TPC is a part of the larger Fairmont Scottsdale Resort. It is the largest-attended stop of the annual PGA Tour. The 4-day event attracts over 500,000 people.

Hiking and rock climbing are also popular local activities, due to Scottsdale’s close proximity to mountain areas, such as Camelback Mountain, which located in the central section of the city, and the McDowell Mountains in the nearby McDowell-Sonoran Preserve, just northeast of the city.

From Scottsdale's simple beginnings as an ancient farming area, inhabited by the Hohokam culture from circa 300 BC to 1400 AD, to its later stage as a Pima Indian village, to its eventual European settlement, and finally to its founding as the town of Scott Dale in 1894 by Winfield Scott and Albert G. Utley.

Winfield Scott, who had been a well-known U.S. Army chaplin and an enthusiastic promoter of the West, was invited in 1888 by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce to come to the Salt River Valley. The Chamber wanted to encourage Winfield to promote the area's many opportunities, during his travels. Scott and his wife, Helen, filed a homestead claim on 640 acres of land along the new Arizona Canal, east of Phoenix and established a ranch. After retiring from the army in 1893, Scott farmed on his ranch and encouraged others to join him in creating a desert community. Among those early settlers was Albert G. Utley, a Rhode Island banker, who bought 40 acres of land south of Scott's ranch. He had plans to create a town, which he named, Orangedale owing to the properous cultivation of lemon, orange and grapefruit trees there. Scott and Utley then joined together in 1894 to lay out the town site, which Utley initially filed under the name Scott. The town later became known as Scott Dale. A school district was formed in 1896 and the first general store, post office and commercial inn were opened in 1897.

Albert Utley’s vision had been to create a Utopian community, and today's Scottsdale has attained that dream, at least for the wealthy.

Edited from information obtained from web sources, the Scottdale Chamber of Commerce, and Arcadia Publishing's Images of America: Scottsdale.



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