Arizona Memories from the ’50s

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Americans have always seen the West as a land of opportunity — the place people went to reinvent themselves. In the 1950s, the Valley of the Sun was transformed by young veterans, entrepreneurs and families looking for a new lifestyle. The economic boom that began with WWII launched a decade of change, and growth continues until this day. This is the story of the people who launched the boom years and turned the desert into the Valley of their dreams.

During WWII, Arizona was deemed the perfect spot for the military to send soldiers to train. They built new air bases and camps for the wave of incoming soldiers. Fear of another coastal invasion also saw the creation of defense bases in the area. Because of the increase in jobs, the war brought the first economic boom to the Valley. 

Many thought that after the war, Phoenix would go back to the quiet, little city it was before. Thanks to the abundant water source behind Roosevelt Dam, farming became the principal industry of the Valley. 

With the efficient automobile allowing people to live further away from downtown, Phoenix made a giant leap in expansion. Developer John F. Long pioneered the idea of a master-planned community. What started out as Long building a house for himself, turned into a community built from the ground up.  

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