At the turn of the twentieth century, it was determined that a rail line between Phoenix and Florence was necessary. The land used to accomplish that objective was owned by a man named William "Bobby" Gilbert. Gilbert was an agricultural community and remained a farming town for many years. Gilbert incorporated on July 6, 1920. It was known as the "Hay Capital of the World" until the late 1920s. Gilbert has transitioned from an agricultural town to a young, family oriented affluent city. Gilbert, Arizona was recognized as the fastest growing city in America between 1990 and 2005 with a growth rate of nearly 500%.
The Town of Gilbert doesn't really have an official response for what a person who lives in Gilbert is called. A Gilbertonian? A Gilbertite? I guess it's up to you!
Gilbert is located in the southeast part of the Greater Phoenix area. It is one of the cities that is included in a general area referred to as the East Valley. The town offices of Gilbert are about 20 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Generally, Chandler is to the west and south, Mesa is to the west and north, Queen Creek is to the east and south.
Gilbert, Arizona covers about 76 square miles, and the elevation of Gilbert is about 1,273 feet.
Area Code: 480
Zip Codes: 85233, 85234, 85295, 85296, 85297, 85298, 85299
Here is a zip code map of Gilbert, AZ.
Gilbert Population Statistics
Gilbert is not a city, it's a town. What's the difference? Usually when a town gets as large as Gilbert, they adopt a city charter and change to a city structure. The voters in Gilbert have chosen not to do so; they like the small community flavor that the word "town" imparts. Is there a functional difference for a resident? Not that I can tell.
The population of Gilbert is 229,972 (2013 estimate, U.S. Census Bureau). That makes it the 5th largest city/town in Maricopa County, moving up one spot since 2010 and overtaking Scottsdale.
Percentage White: 83.3%
Percentage African American: 3.7%
Percentage Asian: 6%
Percentage Latino/a or Hispanic (of any race): 14.7%
Percentage of people under 5 years old: 8.3%
Percentage of people over 65+ years old: 6.5%
Median age: 32.2
Percentage of people 25 years old and older that graduated from 4-year college: 40.5%
Median family income: $86,271
Percentage of people below poverty level: 6.4%
All statistics mentioned here were obtained from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey census estimates unless otherwise specified.
Gilbert Attractions, Special Events, Malls
Gilbert doesn't have a traditional mall, but huge shopping complexes like the SanTan Village Regional Shopping Center and the surrounding businesses, stores and restaurants support the residents' needs to spend their money in their town. The closest indoor mall would be in Mesa.
At the Riparian Preserve over 200 species of birds can be seen throughout the year. There are 4.5 miles of walking trails, and fishing at the recreation lake at Water Ranch. This unique area was designed to utilize recycled water to create community wetland wildlife sanctuaries for recreation, education, and research. The Riparian Institute also offers programs and classes to the public, like birds walks, kids camps and programs, and public viewings at the observatory.
Freestone Park and Recreation Center
Gilbert's flagship park truly is a wonderful place to visit and play. Freestone Park features ball fields, sport courts, a train, batting cage concession, playgrounds and picnic ramadas for visitors to enjoy. Located at the park you will also find and amphitheater, Gilbert's Skate Park and the Freestone Recreation Center.
Gilbert Largest Employers
The largest employer in Gilbert, Arizona is the Gilbert Unified School District. The Town of Gilbert and State of Arizona are in the top five. The largest non-government employers in the Town of Gilbert are:
- Banner Health Care
- Orbital Sciences Corporation
- Mercy Gilbert Medical Center
- B H Drywall, Stucco & Painting
- Structures Inc.
The Chandler/Gilbert Community College is the only institution of higher learning in Gilbert (and it's really in Chandler).
What's Special About Gilbert
As we already discussed, Gilbert is growing fast. Just a few years ago, there were bargains to be had for people looking for a new home, but not so much anymore; Gilbert prices have gone up with its reputation. Although there are some older, large custom homes with big front lawns, most of the homes you'll see are of the newer variety, so they will be more energy efficient and modern. Yes, you'll find seas of pink tiled-roof homes built close together in subdivisions like in many other newer parts of the Valley, but you'll also still find some horse property, acreage, and agricultural areas in the eastern part of Gilbert--at least for a couple more years until developers swallow those up. There are, naturally, older sections of Gilbert, but generally it is one of the safer parts of the Greater Phoenix area.
The 202 Loop/Santan Loop has helped move traffic around the area. A walk down main street will take you back to the old days of a quaint, small town. Beware when driving downtown -- the speed limit is 25 mph and enforced.
You might ask, what happened to Higley? It was basically swallowed up by Gilbert, although a few Higley-ites would tell you otherwise. In 2007, Higley's zip code (85236) was even taken away. If you stand at the intersection of Higley Road and Williams Field Road, you could probably say you were in Higley (or what used to be Higley). Higley was never a city or a town.
There is no plan at this time for Gilbert to participate in the light rail project. Future Mesa alignments will be the closest access to light rail for Gilbert residents.
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