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The town's development began in the 1960s on farmland that was purchased by a group of investors from San Francisco. The name Gilbert was adopted after a former resident, Charles Trumbull Gilbert, who had been an engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. He later worked as chief engineer for several other railroads including the New York Central Railroad and Illinois Central Railroad before opening his own engineering consulting firm in California. Gilbert is located southeast of Phoenix within Maricopa County at (33.310082, −111.943146). It is bordered to the west by Mesa; to the north by Queen Creek; to east with Apache Junction; and it has an international border with Mexico along its southernmost point where it meets Sonora state across from Eloy in Pinal County. According to Census 2010, there are 243,254 people living within its administrative boundaries spread over , making it one of Arizona's largest municipalities. The town center lies at approximately .