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Gilbert is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located southeast of Phoenix, within the Phoenix metropolitan area. Once known as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World", Gilbert is currently the most populous incorporated town in the United States. It is the sixth-largest municipality in Arizona, and the fifth-largest in the Metropolitan Phoenix Area.
Gilbert encompasses 76 square miles (197 km2) and has made a rapid transformation from an agriculture-based community to an economically diverse suburban center located in the southeast valley of the Greater Phoenix area. In the last three decades, Gilbert has grown at an extremely high rate, increasing in population from 5,717 in 1980 to 208,453 as of the 2010 census. The town grew at an average annual growth rate of nearly 13% during this 30-year period.
Gilbert owes its beginnings to William "Bobby" Gilbert who provided land to the Arizona Eastern Railway in 1902 to construct a rail line between Phoenix and Florence, Arizona. Ayer's Grocery Store, the first store in Gilbert, opened in 1910 and became the location of the first post office in 1912. The location of the town post office moved several times before settling on the east side of Gilbert Road in downtown, where it still stands today. In 1912, many Mormons who had fled the Mormon colonies in Mexico due to the actions of the forces of Pancho Villa settled in Gilbert. By 1915, they began holding church meetings at the Gilbert Elementary School. In 1918, they were organized into the Gilbert Ward.
Incorporated in July 1920, Gilbert was primarily a farming community fueled by the rail line and construction of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Consolidated Canals. It remained an agricultural town for many years and was known as the "Hay Capital of the World" from 1911 until the late 1920s.
According to the United States Census Bureau, in the 2000 Census, the town had an estimated area of 40 square miles (104 km2). As of 2009, and due to annexations the current Municipal Planning Area of Gilbert has a total area of 76.0 square miles (197 km2), of which, 75.76 square miles (196.2 km2) is land and 0.24 square miles (0.6 km2) is water.
Gilbert has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh).
As of the census of 2010, there were 208,453 people, 74,147 housing units, and 3.01 persons per household.
According to Nielsen's Claritas demographics, in 2009 the racial makeup of the town was:
2009 estimated population data by gender/age:
2009 estimated population age 15+ by marital status:
2009 estimated population age 25+ educational attainment:
2009 estimated household by household income:
Various religious denominations are represented in Gilbert. The town has been known for its high Mormon population, a fact evidenced by the LDS church's building of a temple in Gilbert, dedicated March 2, 2014.
According to the town's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Various properties in the town of Gilbert are considered historical and have been included either in the National Register of Historic Places or listed as such in the Gilbert Historic District. In the gallery at the end of the article are images of some of these properties.
These performers have been associated with Gilbert:
Gilbert was recognized in 2010 as the "36th Best Place to Live in the nation", as well as among the nation's "top places to live and learn", by GreatSchools.org. Washington, DC-based CQ Press rated Gilbert the "safest municipality in Arizona, and 25th safest in the nation."
Since Gilbert remains incorporated as a town, it lacks the additional powers possessed by nearby Mesa and Chandler, which are incorporated as cities. For instance, Arizona towns do not have as much power to regulate utilities and construction within their borders as cities possess. Unlike most of its neighboring communities, Gilbert is theoretically vulnerable to annexation.
The town is part of Arizona's 5th congressional district, which is represented by Republican and Gilbert resident Andy Biggs. The mayor of Gilbert is Jenn Daniels.
Gilbert is rated as a town of relatively low crime. According to FBI records, Gilbert was the largest town in the United States with zero murders in 2005, 2007, and 2014.
Most of Gilbert is zoned to schools in the Gilbert Public Schools, while other portions are zoned to districts including the Chandler Unified School District, Mesa Public Schools, and the Higley Unified School District. Also in Gilbert are charter schools such as Edu-Prize (the first charter school in Arizona). The town is also home to Gilbert Christian Schools, a chain of private schools.
Gilbert is primarily served by one area freeway—the Santan Freeway portion of Loop 202. A small section of the US 60 Superstition Freeway also skirts the northern boundary of the town at the Higley Road interchange (Exit 186). Several regional arterials also serve the area, including Williams Field Road, Chandler Boulevard, and Gilbert Road. The town enjoys relative closeness to Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport, which is located in east Mesa, and is a twenty-five-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Recently, a park-and-ride facility was constructed in downtown Gilbert for bus service and future commuter rail service. Although the facility borders the Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) tracks and has provisions for commuter rail service, there is currently no such service. Bus service is limited in Gilbert, with some north-south routes in Mesa dead-ending at Baseline Road before entering Gilbert. Routes that serve portions of Gilbert include the 108-Elliot Road, 112-Country Club/Arizona Avenue, 136-Gilbert Road, 140-Ray Road, 156-Chandler Boulevard/Williams Field Road, 184-Power Road, and 531-Mesa/Gilbert Express, with most of these routes operating at 30 minute frequency on weekdays. Sunday service is only available on Routes 108, 112, 156, and 184. Most people get around by cars or bikes. The city of Gilbert has a low percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 1.9 percent of Gilbert households lacked a car, and the figure was virtually unchanged in 2016 (1.7 percent). The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Gilbert averaged 2.08 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.
Gilbert has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:
Media related to Gilbert, Arizona at Wikimedia Commons
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