The Hohokam village ruin located on the north side of the Salt River and two miles west of the Papago Buttes was given the name Pueblo Grande, Spanish for large town, by City of Phoenix Engineer Omar Turney in the 1920s. He named Pueblo Grande after its most prominent feature, a platform mound, one of the largest of more than forty such structures built by the Hohokam in the Salt River Valley. Besides the platform mound, the village site contained two and possibly three ballcourts, several major irrigation canals, trash mounds, houses, courtyards, plazas, hornos or ovens, compounds, storage pits, cemeteries, and various other cultural features. The village of Pueblo Grande also once included a big house (a large multistory adobe building), similar to the famous big house at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument near Coolidge, southeast of Phoenix. Fed by water from the canals, large cultivated fields of corn, beans, squash, and cotton stretched out from the village in several directions.
Pueblo Grande appears to have been settled sometime before A.D. 500, perhaps related to an early canal system that the Hohokam built at the southern edge of the site in the area known today as the Park of Four Waters. Within a few hundred years, Pueblo Grande had grown into a large, thriving village more than a mile (1.6 km) in diameter. The village was strategically located at the headwaters of a major canal system, called Canal System Two by Omar Turney, and would have held an influential position among the Hohokam communities of the Salt River Valley.
The major features of Pueblo Grande were built over generations of time and show the dynamic growth of the village. Early in the site's history, residential areas consisted of clusters of pithouses and other domestic features. Sometime around A.D. 1000, the northwest ballcourt (the only one at the site excavated by archaeologists) was constructed at Pueblo Grande. A century later, two small mounds existed south of the ballcourt, precursors to the platform mound visible today. Sometime around A.D. 1200, the ballcourt was abandoned and the platform mound, now one mound and rectangular, became the focal point of the village. Houses were now predominately constructed of adobe, built aboveground and surrounded by compound walls. The Pueblo Grande big house probably was built sometime in the 1300s when as many as ten irrigation canals were in use in the Park of Four Waters, south of the platform mound.
As with other major villages in the Salt River Valley, the Hohokam abandoned Pueblo Grande sometime in the mid-15th century. One thousand years of occupation ended as the inhabitants of the village faded into legend, speculation, and scientific inquiry.