By Amanda Luberto | Arizona Republic
Tempe Town Lake sits as a small oasis in the middle of the desert, alongside a freeway. The shimmering body of water is one of Arizona’s most visited public attractions, but is more than just a place for music festivals, marathons and regattas.
It all began with James W. Elmore, the founding dean of the College of Architecture at Arizona State University. He challenged the College faculty in 1966 to transform the Salt River, a dry riverbed, from an eyesore into a greenbelt attraction.
One year later, an ASU professor and 16 graduate students proposed The Rio Salado Project, “a vast reservoir of open space unique to the heart of a great city.”
Thirty-three years later, the first developed phase of the project was realized when water from the Central Arizona Project flowed into the dry riverbed and Tempe Town Lake was born.