Along the bottom of this “plane’s-eye view” of Old Town Scottsdale, taken in 1936, you will note the two blocks between Main Street and 2nd Street. This—the site where Western Spirit now stands—was once Doc Bishop’s cotton and alfalfa fields. T. S. “Doc” Bishop, whose name lives on as Bishop Lane, was the President of the Arizona Citrus Growers Association.
But from 1910 or so through the end of World War II, cotton was a major cash crop in Arizona. Imports of cotton from Egypt were embargoed during World War I, and Pima cotton—still valued today—emerged as a high quality product that was excellent for clothing and cottonseed oil. Importantly—for both the war effort and the the rapidly expanding air industry—Pima cotton also produced superb canvas that was used to cover biplane frames. Though most of the cotton was grown on large fields in the city’s outlying areas, Bishop grew cotton and alfalfa on small parcels in Scottsdale and a cotton gin operated on 2nd Street from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, when real estate began to be more valuable than farmland.