Arizona Memories from the ’70s

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In the 1970s, Arizona experienced unexpected change, unprecedented extremes and unbelievable highs and lows.

Big Surf became Arizona’s beach in the desert where people of all ages would come and enjoy the atmosphere. Big Surf’s artificial waves created a genuine culture amongst Arizonans in the 1970s. Later in the decade, Arizonans turned to tube down the Salt River. People needed two cars for the activity, one in the drop-off zone and one at the end of the river when they were done tubing. Salt River tubing was a fun activity for so many Arizonans. 

The 1970s were a period of change and equality in Arizona. The ‘70s saw the first female news anchor and Arizona’s first Hispanic governor. Women like Mary Jo West and Carol Lynde were true trailblazers in the journalism industry. Cesar Chavez pioneered the equality movement for minorities in Arizona.

While the 1970s had some great moments for Arizona, it wasn’t perfect. December of 1970 saw what is known as Tucson’s worst tragedy in modern history with the Pioneer Hotel Fire. What once was a place of joy and celebration is now a horrific memory. 

The ‘70s were the decade in which sports in Phoenix thrived. Between the time-honored tradition of the University of Arizona vs. Arizona State football rivalry and the Phoenix Suns’ historic NBA Finals run, there was no shortage of excitement.

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