The City of Peoria was established in the 1880’s when William J. Murphy’s vision of fertile farm lands fed by water from the Salt River became reality with the completion of the Arizona Canal in 1885. Once this canal was completed, Murphy went East to interest people in settling in this new community. Mr. Murphy was successful in catching people’s attention – over 5,000 acres of land in the new district was purchased by citizens from Peoria, Illinois. Four families from Peoria, Illinois were among the first to move to Arizona to occupy and work their land.
Residences in the new community sprang up, and a school and Post Office were established by 1889. More people followed the original families and Peoria continued to grow as a farming community. The farmlands were fertile and the people made a good living, despite having to battle swarms of red ants and the occasional rattlesnake in the kitchen.
Peoria was incorporated in 1954, with boundaries covering one square mile of land. The warm climate and small-town atmosphere of Peoria continued to attract people, and still do today. Currently, Peoria covers 162 square miles, and is home to over 120,000 residents. Peoria is Arizona's 4th largest city in terms of incorporated area, and 9th largest city in terms of population. From a simple visionary farming community, Peoria, Arizona - a dynamic desert city, has grown.
Between 1990 and 2000 Peoria was the fifth fastest growing city in the United States with a population of over 100,000, increasing in population 114 percent. In 2004 Peoria was home to over 130,000 residents spread out over 170 square miles. Growth, however, does pay for growth. Peoria charges impact fees to developers and requires economic impact analyses on major development projects.
Peoria is said to in the future identify much more with resort and leisure living than the past, as that type of lifestyle migrates from the northeast Valley to Peoria. Peoria’s economic plan focuses on establishing the under-construction Loop 303 freeway as an industrial, commercial, mixed development use, unlike the Loop 101, Agua Fria Freeway, which has many housing developments up against it.