The area around what is now known as Arizona City was used as a resting area for Juan Bautista de Anza's expedition party after they emerged from Apache land in 1775. The area is considered an official part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. This historic trail begins in Sonora, Mexico, and ends at the Presidio in San Francisco, California.
The census-designated place was founded in 1959 when Jack McRae, president of the Arizona City Development Corporation, purchased and developed 2.5 acres (1 ha) of land in the Santa Cruz Valley in the area that would eventually grow to become the 6.2 square-mile modern day townsite. The location was selected because of the abundance of deep water from the Santa Cruz River found in the valley. At the time, the water was considered some of the purest in Arizona; every 14 days samples were sent to the state Health Department and would come back consistently rated 100% pure. As the community grew, a United States Post Office was established on April 1, 1962, and Arizona City began appearing on Rand McNally road atlases in 1963. It is uncertain how the name of the community was chosen.
From time to time, most recently in 2007, attempts have been made to incorporate as a municipality, but they have so far always been defeated at the ballot box, except for the first effort in the early 1980s, which succeeded at the ballot box but was overturned in court because there were not enough residents at that time to incorporate.
The area in and around Arizona City contained several of the 272 concrete Corona Satellite Calibration Targets, which were used to calibrate cameras on the satellites in the Corona Satellite Program that lasted from 1959 to 1972. These satellites were used for espionage on the Soviet Union (USSR) and China during the Cold War. Many of these have since been removed, but one still exists at the corner of West Alsdorf Road and South Sunland Gin Road in the center of the community.
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Listing Information Current As Of Oct 18, 2021 1:55:pm