City Spotlight: Mesa, Arizona
The beautiful community of Mesa, Arizona is a suburb of the city of Phoenix, Arizona, located in the East Valley portion of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Mesa is the third largest city in Arizona, after Phoenix and Tucson, and the 38th largest city in the United States. The city is located in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. The city’s climate is overall dry, with mild winters and hot summers. Mesa is home to several nationally renowned universities and technological institutes and an award-winning K-12 public education system. The area’s rich history is celebrated in its many museums and historical locations.
- State: Arizona
- County: Maricopa
- Established: 1878
- Elevation: 1,243 ft
- Area (total): 133.13 square miles
- Area (land): 132.93 sq mi
- Area (water): 0.2 sq mi
- Population (2010 census): 439,041
- Population (2015 estimate): 471,825
- Zip codes: 85200-85299
- Area codes: 480 and 602
Attractions and Things to Do
Mesa is home to numerous historic properties that have been included either in the National Register of Historic Places or in the Mesa Historic Properties listings. Many date to the early 1900s or late 1800s. Several of the historic properties offer tours, making Mesa a wonderful place to bring the family and explore.
The Commemorative Air Force Aircraft Museum offers hands-on educational exhibits about the history of combat aviation, including flights over the Sonoran Desert in one of seven historic warbirds. The museum has planes from 1912 through the Vietnam War in its collection, alongside exhibits on wartime artifacts, historic and noteworthy people and groups, mechanics, bombers, and a special rotating exhibit.
The i.d.e.a Museum, once the Arizona Museum for Youth, includes exhibits and activities focused around art, engineering, science, and design, with many hands-on exhibits for learning and exploring. The museum has three galleries, with over 20,000 square feet of interactive space between them. The museum’s exhibits offer something for everyone and are fun for the whole family.
The Mesa Arts Center, the largest arts center in the state, has four theaters, a museum, and fourteen arts studios. The center hosts shows, concerts, festivals, galas, and classes in a variety of fields, including ceramics, painting, jewelry, sculpture, photography, printmaking, glass, dance, music, and acting, as well as classes geared towards children. The Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, located in the center, has five galleries with over five thousand square feet of exhibits between them, all with free admission.
The city of Mesa created their innovative Public Art Program in 1997. The program includes three works integrated into the exterior of the Mesa Arts Center, artistic bus stops, and public art installations scattered throughout the city.
The Arizona Museum of Natural History is home to eighteen exhibits on natural history, cultures of the Southwest, and Arizona history. The related Mesa Grande Cultural Park is centered around the Mesa Grande ruins, the site of a historic Hohokam temple mound. The Mesa Grande mound is one of only two “great mounds” in the Salt River Valley.
Mesa’s outdoor and athletics scene is vibrant and active, with two hundred and four parks (including several pocket parks downtown), nine aquatic centers, five recreation centers, two professional baseball stadiums, a golf course, a tennis center, a convention center, and an amphitheater all run by the Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department. The department also offers a large number of adaptive leisure programs intended for children, youth, and adults with intellectual disabilities year round, including sports and recreation program, special interest classes, social groups, and summer camps. The department is partnered with Arizona Disabled Sports to offer adaptive sports and recreation programs to people with physical and visual disabilities.
Mesa has several areas for the community to gather for shows, games, and events. Hohokam Stadium is the spring training facility for The Oakland Athletics, and provides a year-round venue for baseball games, concerts, weddings and receptions, and charity fundraisers. Sloan Park serves as the spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs. The Mesa Amphitheatre is an open-air concert venue that has a tiered lawn for seating.
The city also has a vibrant dining scene, including five dinner theaters. Mesa’s fun dinner theaters are the Barleens Arizona Opry Dinner Show, the Carnival of Illusion, the Mine Camp Restaurant and Trading Post, Organ Stop Pizza, and Rockin’ R Ranch. Mesa also has a number of unique local eateries, cafes, and restaurants.
Mesa’s largest and fastest growing industries are healthcare, education, aerospace and aviation, tourism, and technology.
The healthcare industry in Arizona is experiencing rapid growth, with well-paying jobs. According to a report by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, Life Science jobs increased by 49% across Arizona from 2012 to 2014, well above the national growth rate of 14%. The Phoenix-Mesa metro area has 84 hospitals employing more than 54,800 people.
The Mesa public school system is the largest in Arizona, with nationally-recognized educational and student achievements, including several award-winning K-12 schools. There are also over 40,000 students enrolled in Mesa’s institutes of higher education, including some of the nation’s best engineering and technology colleges. Mesa’s education sector is growing swiftly, with the city government committed to expanding access to higher education.
Mesa is in the top ten cities nationwide for employment in aviation and aerospace services. The city is ranked number two in employment numbers for space and defense systems manufacturing, as well as guided missile systems manufacturing. The city is number four in employment numbers for aviation and aerospace manufacturing. The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is growing rapidly in size and passenger capacity, with service expected to grow from 1.3 million passengers in 2015 to 10 million passengers by 2030. The airport is among the fastest growing in the country.
Mesa’s tourism industry has been growing at a sustainable rate, with 42.1 million people visiting the state in 2015, up from 39.1 million overnight visitors in 2014. Mesa’s hospitality sector is large and vibrant, with 63 hotels that have 5,455 rooms between them.The Mesa Arts Center (MAC), drawing well over 400,000 patrons annually, is Arizona’s largest arts center. The city also serves as the spring training home of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics.
Several major technology firms have a home in Mesa, including Apple, Boeing, Bridgestone, FUJIFILM, Mitel, Infineon, Ulthera, Guided Therapy Systems, PCT International, Telonics, Orbital ATK, and many more. In 2014, TechAmerica Cyberstates ranked Arizona in the Top Ten states for high-technology manufacturing employment. The city government is investing heavily in further job development and growth.
According to Mesa’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2015, the largest single employers are, in order, Banner Health System, Mesa Public Schools, Boeing, the City of Mesa, Walmart, Gilbert Public Schools, Fry’s Food and Drug, Mesa Community College, Home Depot, and Maricopa County Government.
The city is also conveniently located for commuting into Phoenix, Arizona, with the city centers only about thirty minutes apart.