The History of a Southwestern Metropolis

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More than half of all Arizonans live in Phoenix, the center of one of the most urbanized states in the nation. This history of the Sunbelt metropolis traces its growth from its founding in 1867 to its present status as one of the ten largest cities in the United States. Drawing on a wide variety of archival materials, oral accounts, promotional literature, and urban historical studies, Bradford Luckingham presents an urban biography of a thriving city that for more than a century has been an oasis of civilization in the desert Southwest. First homesteaded by pioneers bent on seeing a new agricultural empire rise phoenix-like from ancient Hohokam Indian irrigation ditches and farming settlements, Phoenix became an agricultural oasis in the desert during the late 1800s. With the coming of the railroads and the transfer of the territorial capital to Phoenix, local boosters were already proclaiming it the new commercial center of Arizona. As the city also came to be recognized as a health and tourist mecca, thanks to its favorable climate, the concept of "the good life" became the centerpiece of the city's promotional efforts. Luckingham follows these trends through rapid expansion, the Depression, and the postwar boom years, and shows how economic growth and quality of life have come into conflict in recent times.
"The first comprehensive history of the Southwest's largest city. . . . Encompassed in this study are the region's economic, political, social, and cultural history—the full story from early `boosterism,' with its emphasis on economic and political power, through years of frustration and triumphs, up to the present day's major problem of reconciling growth with the good life." —Booklist

"Solid, straightforward narrative history. . . . The story is a fascinating one, full of ironies and paradoxes—of incessant boosterism and brutal exploitation, of political conservatism masking an unbreakable dependence upon the federal government. . . . Luckingham presents Phoenix's history with admirable balance and comprehensiveness." —Journal of American History

"A splendid biography of the Southwest's largest city . . . An important, scholarly, highly readable contribution to urban history." —Choice

"Not only a much-needed contribution to the history of the American West, but also a significant addition to the canon of urban history." —Southwestern Historical Quarterly
316 Pages 5.5 x 8.5 x 1.4
Published: August 1995Paperback ISBN: 9780816511167
Published: May 2016Ebook ISBN: 9780816534678

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