Like the rest of the Greater Phoenix area, Maricopa's history has an agricultural base. With available water at Maricopa Wells, this town became an important stop for the Butterfield Overland Mail Line. A rail line from Maricopa to Phoenix, built in the late 19th century, is now a thoroughfare for cars known as Maricopa Road or the John Wayne Parkway.
Maricopa has experienced what the city refers to as hyper-growth in the 20th century. People moving to the Phoenix area looking for cheaper housing and wide-open spaces found Maricopa and began relocating there in droves. Maricopa is in Pinal County, about 35 miles south of Phoenix (which is in Maricopa County), and it's part of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The Gila River Indian Reservation is to the immediate north, with Chandler and Phoenix farther north. The Ak-Chin Indian Reservation is to the immediate southwest, and Casa Grande is southeast.
Maricopa, Arizona, covers about four square miles, and the elevation of Maricopa is about 1,175 feet. The weather in Maricopa is not significantly different from Phoenix.
The City of Maricopa has been in explosive growth mode since 2000. People discovered the town, which became a city in 2003, was reasonably close to Chandler, Tempe, and Phoenix, and decided that much more affordable housing, open spaces, and a small community feel were good trades for a long commute.
The population of Maricopa was 15,934 at the 2005 Special Census. As of 2016, the U.S. Census estimated the population at 46,903.
The median age of a Maricopa resident was 35 years old as of 2014, reports City-Data. The estimated median household income in the city in 2016 was $70,725, according to City-Data.
Life in Maricopa
Maricopa does not have a traditional shopping mall, but there's no problem buying groceries or pharmacy items. Other retail, like clothing and gifts, are gradually entering the market.
There are no attractions in the city of Maricopa. Pacana Park, the first major park in Maricopa, opened in October 2006. A soccer field, football field, tennis courts, a covered playground, and a stocked lake are on-site across its 22 acres.
City-sponsored activities revolve around youth sports and library activities. The Maricopa Salsa Festival, Fishing Derby, Founder’s Day Celebration, and Holiday Homes on Parade are the special events in Maricopa.
Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino is right outside Maricopa on the reservation. Dining, concerts, and, of course, gambling, are offered there.
The largest employers, both government and non-government, in and adjacent to the City of Maricopa are:
- Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino
- Maricopa Unified School District
- City of Maricopa
- Fry's Food Store
- Volkswagen Proving Grounds
The closest areas for people to work outside of Maricopa are Casa Grande and Chandler. Longer commutes take people to Tucson, which is 90 miles away, and other cities in the Phoenix area.
Members of both the Native American tribes of Tohono O'odham and Pima live in the Ak-Chin community. Ak-Chin Farms and the Ak-Chin Tribal Government are major employers, along with the casino.