Mill Avenue is a historic street in Tempe. In north Tempe near Arizona State University, the street runs through a popular, pedestrian-friendly shopping and nightlife district. Mill Avenue was originally centered around the Hayden Flour Mill, which while disused still stands on the north end of the Avenue. Today, the avenue plays host to many bars, designer shopping stores, as wells as many fairs, and city festivals. It was described in 2010 by a New York Times reporter as "a bohemian commercial strip next to Arizona State University".
At the northern end of the shopping district, the two Mill Avenue bridges cross the Salt River at Tempe Town Lake. One bridge was completed in 1931, the other in 1994.
Named after Charles T. Hayden, the Hayden Mill lends its name to Mill Avenue in Tempe, AZ. In the foreground is Tempe Town Lake, a popular recreation area.
After the founding of Fort McDowell on the east side of central Arizona’s Salt River Valley in 1865, farmers moved into the area. These early settlers further developed the irrigation canals that the Hohokam people originally created and built new ones to carry Salt River water to their farms. Agriculture in the Salt River valley soon gave food to Arizona’s military posts and mining towns. In 1871, Hiram C. Hodge commented that there were two stores and a population of about 100 in Tempe.
A substantial addition to the Tempe economy was established in 1877, when Charles T. Hayden, a business man from Connecticut, opened a flour-mill operation that was supplied with water from the Tempe Irrigating Canal. Charles T. Hayden, and his family operated the mill for three full generations, and it was the crucial to Tempe's community industry.
Also in 1877, Charles' son Carl Hayden, who was to become a congressman and then senator from Arizona, was born in the Hayden family home, a building which is still a landmark on Mill Avenue today, now known as the western steakhouse Monti's La Casa Vieja ("The Old House").
Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium
The Hayden's Ferry Post Office was renamed the Tempe Post Office in 1879. In 1889, the new Phoenix and Maricopa Railroad linked Tempe with Phoenix. In 1894, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors incorporated the town of Tempe. Tempe finally became a city after being inhabited for over 30 years.
In 1962, the Laird and Dines Drug Store closed after 68 years of operation at the corner of Mill Avenue and Fifth Street. This drug store was one of the original fixtures on the commercial district of Mill Avenue. Tempe’s commercial center along Mill Avenue declined during these years.
In 1964, construction of the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was completed at the intersection of Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard on the campus of Arizona State University.
Prompted by Tempe’s centennial in 1971, Mill Avenue was revitalized into an entertainment and shopping district that attracts people from throughout the Phoenix Valley.
In 1997, the Hayden Flour Mill closed after 123 years of continuous operation. The mill's last operator was Bay State Milling, which had purchased it in 1981. It is significant as the oldest continuously used industrial site in the Salt River Valley.
The Valley Art Theater (operated by Harkins Theatres) is located on Mill Avenue as a comfortable single screen theater that typically shows art house and occasionally foreign films. The current building was built in 1938, although it underwent substantial internal renovations in the 1990s. Harkins Centerpoint was located on the avenue for a long time, however, with the completion of the Tempe Marketplace, which provided a modern Harkins building, it had to close.
Tempe Arizona vacations are not complete without a visit to the Mill Avenue District.
The Mill Avenue District is Tempe’s unique pedestrian-friendly downtown that captures the spirit of this college town. Shady red brick sidewalks, turn of the century buildings, restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, Arizona State University, "A" Mountain and Tempe Town Lake all make the Mill Avenue District a necessary stop during Tempe Arizona vacations - great dining, shopping and nightlife!
Mill Avenue offers all types of entertainment options for all types of Tempe Arizona vacations:
Families on Arizona vacations will enjoy Cox Splash Playground at Tempe Beach Park or renting pedal boats or kayaks on Tempe Town Lake.
Experience a Broadway Show at ASU Gammage, a Frank Lloyd Wright designed theatre, contemporary art at the ASU Art Museum and live music performances.
Plan your Arizona vacations around an ASU football game at Sun Devil Stadium or one of the numerous collegiate sporting events year round.
Choose from more than 100 restaurants, nightlife venues and shops along Mill Avenue.
Climb “A” mountain, also known as Hayden Butte Preserve
Take in an independent film at Harkins Valley Art Theatre or stroll through public art displays.
Enjoy one of the many annual festivals and events, such as the Tempe Festivals of the Arts, Oktoberfest and Tempe Town Lake and Ford Ironman Arizona.
Mill Ave, 411 S Mill Ave, Tempe, 85281