Town of Florence
Florence is located in Central Arizona at the junction of State Highway 70 and State Highway 287, just south of Phoenix. The town is part of Pinal County. Florence has held the title of Pinal county seat since 1875.
Although Florence sits outside of Maricopa County, it is still considered part of the Valley of the Sun. The fast development of the East Valley has caused many cities and towns, such as Florence to become much closer and more a part of the metropolitan area.
The town is also situated inside Arizona’s Golden Corridor. This corridor stretches from Tucson to Phoenix, spreading out on each side along Interstate 10. This strip of land is a growing and expanding area. It is believed that this corridor will eventually connect both big cities with smaller towns and cities in between.
A variety of people have come to Florence to live. Properties can be found in any size, ranging from large ranches and farms to small ranch homes. Retirees are also drawn to the town’s ideal climate and clean air. Others come for the rural life and beautiful desert landscapes. Florence is continuing to grow. This growth and expansion has created new master-planned communities located on the fringes of town.
Florence offers its residents the convenience and lifestyle perfect for any lifestyle. It is a small western community which is located only minutes away from either Phoenix or Tucson. This town is an attractive and affordable alternative to the bustling crowds in nearby cities.
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The residents of Florence are proud of their town’s past. Rich in history, Florence is the fifth oldest town in Arizona. Just two years after Arizona was established as a territory, the community of Florence was created. In the town’s early years, a post office and general store were all that existed.
Today, Florence is moving toward the future by preserving is rich heritage. It is an Arizona town that has many stories to tell.
Florence is actively involved in restoring and preserving establishments to help reclaim its glory years. The downtown district is one of the largest historic districts, compared to any other Arizona towns. Florence’s main street has continued to retain its original architecture and beauty. There are many territorial era homes and businesses in Florence. It is said that the town has more buildings listed on the National Register than any other town in the state. Residents enjoy walking the sidewalk and passing by false storefronts, which give Florence its authentic Old West feel. Visitors always take part in the walking tour of the historic district.
One unique spot in town is the territorial courthouse. The McFarland Courthouse was constructed in 1890 and was named after Ernest W. McFarland. McFarland served in the United State Senate, governor of Arizona, and Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. The courthouse was the only one built in town. Many historic trials took place in the McFarland Courthouse. Today, the courthouse still stands and it is a main feature of the town of Florence. Today, the McFarland State Park includes the courthouse and other historic features.
Florence can tell many famous stories of past gunfights, mining incidents, and political strategizing, which all took place in town long ago. A great story is told about how Florence received the nickname the “Cowboy Cradle of the Southwest.” During the Depression, Charlie Whittlow, a Florence rancher came up with an excellent idea. Because of the Depression, many ranchers had been forced to dump their milk rather than sell it for a loss. Whittlow suggested that instead of dumping the milk, he would give it to schoolchildren. Soon, other ranchers joined in the milk contributions. Not long afterward, the National Milk and Free Lunch Program was created. Due to Whittlow’s creative idea, the town received its nickname. However, the name is a bit misleading; Whittlow was a rancher, not a cowboy.