Peoria is a city located in the territory of Arizona. Peoria is located within two counties - Maricopa and Yavapai. Most of the city is located in Maricopa County. The city is a major suburb of Phoenix. Peoria's population is about 154 000 people. The name of the town comes from the ancient Indian word for prairie fire.
Peoria is located on the desert terrain in the Salt River Valley. Seasonal rains fill the Salt River, which sometimes causes flooding in the valley. The pioneers who arrived here in 1868, began to control this through irrigation systems.
In 1872, the region already had a settlement. Irrigation companies were growing, because of the site permits. This attracted many people in the region as it became clear that the desert landscape can become a blooming garden.
Arizona Canal Company was hired to build a channel with a length of sixty-six km. They hired a young engineer, William J. Murphy, whom they could not pay cash, so they paid with a portion of land in the area. In 1885 the canal was completed, but Murphy took up the task to gather enough willing people to settle in the area and turn it into a thriving farm town.
He managed to convince four families to buy land in the area. In 1887 a new road was built that connected the village with many important routes. In 1890 two men from Peoria, IL (Illinois) bought land in the newly formed city. They named the new town after their birthplace. In 1888, a post office was built, which was named after Peoria. In the city was built a school, which was initially attended by only nine students.
In the late nineteenth century, a railroad was laid. This greatly contributed to the development of Peoria. In 1899 the city had established an atmosphere of stability and this attracted new residents. A church was built in 1900, which today is one of the historical landmarks of the city as the oldest Presbyterian church in Arizona.
In the early twentieth century, Peoria emerged as a modest town that was a commercial and agricultural center. The original wooden houses were replaced by much more stable brick houses.
1917, it was unclear how a huge fire broke out, but it none the less destroyed most buildings in Peoria, as most of them were still wooden. Ironically, the fire destroyed the brick store. After the fire started a new era of construction - building were being constructed to be stable and resist fire. During the First World War the city's economy developed, as there was great demand for agricultural produce. The fresh money could be invested in new business projects. This led to the prosperity of Peoria.
In the early twentieth century many new buildings were built. In 1918, a Women's Club opened in Peoria. In 1920 came the first city library, which worked within the Women's Club of Peoria. In 1959 a Peoria sorority donated the building to the city to enable people to have a place to meet.
In 1906 the Central School was built. At that time, agricultural business prospered. The Great Depression severely damaged Peoria. After World War II, however, the economy stabilized again after in the city was built an airbase.