Dr. Alexander J. Chandler, a veterinarian, entrepreneur and the first mayor of the city that bears his name, had big plans for the development of a farming community at the base of the San Tan Mountains, just 13 miles southeast of Chandler.
A. J. called the area the Chandler Heights Citrus Tracts. In 1928, he and his sales associates started to develop a farming community. Dr. Chandler hoped to attract middle-income families to settle in his “green valley.”
According to Virginia Minor, Treasurer of the San Tan Historical Society, “my Uncle Roy Murdock was hired by A.J. as his foreman to level the land and to start the planting.” At that time, you got there by driving the new Hunt Highway that ran from Phoenix and Chandler to Tucson, via Florence. The road was described as “an excellent highway all the way, part of it being cement-paved.”
According to an early 1929 Chandler Improvement Company bulletin for the Chandler Heights Citrus Tract, “Of all lands in the Salt River Valley now planted to citrus fruits or being prepared for the planting of citrus fruits, the expressed opinions of an impressive group of citrus experts are virtually unanimous in agreement that the new Chandler Heights tract of 5,000 acres of oranges and grapefruit land, recently subdivided and opened to investment, is the finest body of such land ever opened to development in the entire Salt River Valley.”
This same bulletin also states, “During January 1929, in the middle of one of the worst winters recorded in world history for many decades, when citrus growers in other states were working overtime with “smudge-pots” and other artificial outdoor heating devices to combat frost, the young orange trees of the Chandler Heights official test grove in the heart of the tract came through with virtually a zero showing of yellow leaves – not enough signs of frost effect to warrant recording.”
Because of the Stock Market crash in October 1929, Dr. Chandler’s grand vision was never realized; but, the present community of Chandler Heights holds a significant role in the history and folklore of the area, and is treasured by its residents and neighbors.