Ahwatukee is an L-shaped neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona bordered on the north by South Mountain Park and Baseline Road, on the east by Interstate 10 and the cities of Chandler, Guadalupe, and Tempe, and on the south and west by the Gila River Indian Community. It is the southernmost of the city’s 15 urban villages. As of 2010, the 35.8 square-mile (92.7 km²) neighborhood has a population of 77,249.
Although annexed by the city of Phoenix between 1978 and 1987, before substantial residential growth, many of Ahwatukee’s residents do not strongly associate their region with the rest of the city, due in part to its geographic isolation (South Mountain and South Mountain Park separate Ahwatukee from the other 14 urban villages of Phoenix, which lie to the north).
Legend has it that in 1921, Dr. and Mrs. W.V.B. Ames built a house on approximately 2,000 acres (810 ha) on the southeast side of South Mountain. They gave the area its original Spanish name, Casa de Sueños, which in English means “House of Dreams”. Dr. Ames died within just three months of moving into the house, and after Mrs. Ames’ death, in 1933, the house and most of the land was willed to St. Luke’s Hospital.
In 1935, the house and land was bought by Miss Helen Brinton, who appeared to have retranslated the name of the house to the Crow word which now serves as the name of the village. The house was demolished in 1979, and parts of it were used to build the Our Lady of Guadalupe church.
As it turns out, the Crow translation for “House of Dreams” (ashe ammeewiawe) sounds nothing like Ahwatukee. More likely, Brinton named the town after the Crow words awe chuuke, meaning “land on the other side of the hill” or “land in the next valley”. This is, at first glance, a curious choice on her part because the Crow are a native northern plains tribe originally based in Wyoming, now residing in southeast Montana, and have never been associated with Arizona where the Apache, Hopi, Pima, and Navajo peoples are indigenous. Brinton, however, actually having spent much time in the Wyoming (Crow) vicinities and finally making her last home there, would have very likely been strongly influenced by her experience in Wyoming enough to use a Crow-derived name for the beloved land she left behind. This seeming inconsistency only serves to add to the lore of Ahwatukee.
In 1971, part of the land was purchased, subdivided, and developed into a HOA by the Presley Development Company.
Marty Gibson was the first to write a book on the history of Ahwatukee, entitled “The History of Ahwatukee”.
Ahwatukee has grown as Phoenix acquired other land parcels to the west, including land owned by International Harvester, which operated a proving ground for earth-moving equipment there from 1947 to 1983. The state of Arizona has bought, sold, or swapped land several times, including transferring state trust land to developers in controversial auctions in which residents and conservationists have lobbied for the space to be converted to parkland.
Surrounded to the northwest by South Mountain Park, and blocked to the east by I-10 and to the south by the Gila River Indian Community, Ahwatukee Foothills is geographically isolated from the city which it is part of, Phoenix. Due to its relatively few access points (mainly through a few bridges across Interstate 10), it has been called the world’s Largest cul-de-sac.