Map of the Month: October 2023

Published Oct. 25, 2023
Updated Nov. 13, 2023

The Salt River Valley of Arizona as drawn from a high-angle aerial view, like that from an airplane looking down at the Valley. Roosevelt Lake is seen off to the upper right, and the Phoenix Valley is represented by a dark blue showing the build-up of farmland.
Salt River Valley, Arizona, 1934. Cartography by T.A. Hayden.

In 1934, the Phoenix valley was mostly farmland thanks to the incredibly successful damming of the Salt River with the Roosevelt Dam via the Salt River Project in the early 1900s and the later dams along the Salt and Verde River. Drawn by T.A. Hayden, Our October Map of the Month gives us a very unique view of the valley and its surrounding environs. The cartography, in a beautiful blue, is drawn as though it were taken from far above the ground.

 The Phoenix Valley. South Mountain is prominent, and Camelback can be seen at the top center. Canals are labeled, as are Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Scottsdale, Laveen, and Phoenix
The Phoenix Valley. South Mountain is prominent, and Camelback can be seen at the top center.

Here, we can see the size of the various cities in the Valley. Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Scottsdale, Laveen, and Phoenix are all visible, albeit as a small collection of buildings; especially when compared to the current urban sprawl that is the Phoenix Metro Area today, thanks to the advent of air conditioning. They’re all surrounded by farmlands, displayed by various hashes, lines, or other little variations that all serve to make the land look vibrant.  Each canal is labeled, and even the distinct form of Camelback Mountain can be seen just north of Scottsdale. 

The dams of the Salt River Project within the Superstition Wilderness as seen in the trademark blue of the map.
The Dams of the Salt River Project. The Superstition ridgeline is seen bottom center-right.

Off in the rugged terrain of the Superstition Wilderness, the five dams along the Salt River are apparent. Granite Reef, Stewart Mountain, Mormon Flat, Horse Mesa, and Roosevelt Dam can all be seen, along with the two dams along the Verde River. Bartlett Dam is seen at the very top of that screenshot above, while horseshoe dam is further to the north.

The mountains north of phoenix. Prescott can be seen near the edge of the map, along with Camp Verde, The mines and industry near Cottonwood and Clarkdale are represented by smokestacks and buildings.
The Mountains North of Phoenix.

The map doesn’t just cover the Salt River Valley, though. It extends north by a significant amount, reaching as far as Prescott. Various roads can be seen snaking through the mountains, and the refineries of Clarkdale can be seen by their high-reaching smokestacks. The Mogollon Rim can be seen at the very top right, while Casa Grande is at the very bottom. Similarly, off to the central right edge of the map, the same industrial buildings can be seen in Superior. 

Lake Pleasant and the Lake Pleasant Dam drawn in beautiful detail. The mountaintop settlement of Crown King is seen within the mountains north of the lake.
The Lake Pleasant Dam, with the town of Crown King at the very top.

We hope you enjoyed our October Map of the Month! These were just some highlights of what can be found in this gorgeous hand-drawn map. To request a high resolution scan of this map or to schedule an appointment to view the collection in person, please submit a service request to the Map and Geospatial Hub. Additionally, This map and its accompanying details are now available to view in Drawer 18 of our 3D Explorer application. If you would like to see a detailed view of Phoenix during this period of time, please check out our 1933 Lot Map of Phoenix WebApp!

     - Eric Friesenhahn, Map and GIS Specialist