100 Years of Change: From ‘Sesame Street’ to scientific breakthroughs, Arizona’s history impacts the way we live our lives
During Arizona’s first century, every elementary school student in the state learned about the five Cs that drove Arizona’s economy — copper, cotton, cattle, citrus and climate.
There is a chance that if you ask Arizona elementary school students what C words drive the state’s economy now, their best answers might be casinos or Cardinals, whose University of Phoenix Stadium has been filled with fans, and hosted both a Super Bowl and a BCS championship game since it opened in 2006.
A lot has changed since copper and cotton drove the state, but that doesn’t lessen the impact Arizona’s first 100 years had on the way we live our lives today.
Here are a baker’s dozen events, people or projects from Arizona’s history, its first 100 years, that shaped the state or helped the state make history:
In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in response to the proliferation of gambling halls on Indian reservations. IGRA recognized gaming as a way to promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal government.
By the end of 1994, 10 casinos were in operation in Arizona. Currently, 15 tribes operate 22 casinos in the state, creating a huge boost for Arizona tourism and the economy.
To put it into perspective, a study commissioned by the Ak-Chin Indian Community in 2011 showed that Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort alone accounts for 1,094 jobs, $36,713,700 in payroll, and a total economic impact on the community of $205,322,355. And those numbers represent figures before the resort added a 152-room hotel tower in July 2011.
In 1935, the City of Phoenix bought Sky Harbor International Airport for $100,000. In 2010, the airport served 38.55 million passengers, making it the ninth busiest in the U.S. in terms of passengers and one of the top 15 busiest airports in the world, with a $90 million daily economic impact. The airport handles about 1,252 aircraft daily that arrive and depart, along with 103,630 passengers daily, and more than 675 tons of cargo handled.
“As much as anywhere in the U.S., Phoenix is a creature of good air connections,” says Grady Gammage Jr., an expert on Arizona’s history. “There is no good rail service (in Arizona). There are no real transportation corridors. Sky Harbor has had a huge impact.”
Another transportation milestone occurred in 1985 when the Maricopa Association of Governments approved a $6.5 billion regional freeway plan for Phoenix and voters approved a 20-year, one-half cent sales tax to fund it. By 2008, the Arizona Department of Transportation had completed the construction and Phoenix boasted 137 miles of loop freeways that link the metro area.
The loop freeways have had a significant impact on shaping Phoenix and, ultimately, Arizona, says Dennis Smith, MAG executive director.
“The loop freeways resulted in a distribution of job centers around the Valley,” Smith says. “That allows every part of the Valley to achieve its dream and have employment closer to where the homes are. That distributes the wealth throughout the Valley.”
Smith says the freeways also extended the Valley’s reach to Yavapai, Pinal and Pima counties, creating a megapolitan area known as the Sun Corridor.
Arizona is home to countless master-planned residential communities, but the first one — Maryvale — opened in 1955 in West Phoenix as the post-war years exerted their influence. Its developer, John F. Long, wanted to plan and build a community where young people could buy an affordable home, raise a family and work, all in the same area. He named the development after his wife, Mary, and its influence is felt to this day.
“Because Maryvale was a master-planned community and because John did affordable housing, the master plan included a lot of parks, school sites and shopping areas,” says Jim Miller, director of real estate for John F. Long Properties. “It really was where people could live and work. If you lived in Maryvale, you weren’t more than three-quarters of a mile from a park or school. That forced a lot of other builders to adopt the same type of philosophy.”
The first homes sold for as little as $7,400, with a $52-a-month mortgage. The first week the models went on the market, 24,000 people stopped by to take a look.
A year before Maryvale opened, Ben Schleifer introduced a different lifestyle to an older demographic. In 1954, Schleifer opened Youngtown in West Phoenix, the first age-restricted retirement community in the nation, according to research by Melanie Sturgeon, director of the state’s History and Archives Division. No one younger than 50 could live there. By 1963, Youngtown had 1,700 residents and Arizona was on its way to becoming a retirement mecca.
But it was builder Del E. Webb and his construction companies that firmly established the concept of active, age-restricted adult retirement in Arizona with the opening of Sun City on Jan. 1, 1960, next to Youngtown and along Grand Avenue. According to Sturgeon’s research and a magazine observing Sun City’s 50th anniversary, about 100,000 people showed up the first three days to see the golf course, recreation center, swimming pool, shopping center and five model homes. Traffic was backed up for miles. The first homes sold for between $8,500 and $11,750. Sun City had 7,500 residents by 1964 and 42,000 by 1977, the same year Webb decided the community was big enough and he began construction on Sun City West.
Ernesto Arturo Miranda was a Phoenix laborer whose conviction on kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery charges based on his confession under police interrogation resulted in the landmark 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case (Miranda v. Arizona), which ruled that criminal suspects must be informed of their right against self-incrimination and their right to consult with an attorney prior to questioning by police. This warning is known as a Miranda warning.
After the Supreme Court decision set aside Miranda’s initial conviction, the state of Arizona retried him. At the second trial, with his confession excluded from evidence, he was again convicted, and he spent 11 years in prison.
The first successful surgery and use of an artificial heart as a bridge to a human heart transplant was conducted at the University Medical Center in Tucson by Dr. Jack Copeland in 1985. His patient lived nine days using the Jarvik 7 Total Artificial Heart before he received a donor heart.
It also put the spotlight on Arizona as a place where cutting-edge research and healthcare was taking place.
Copeland made several other contributions to the artificial heart program, including advancing surgical techniques, patient care protocols and anticoagulation. He also performed the state’s first heart-lung transplant and the first U.S. implant of a pediatric ventricular assist device. In 2010, Copeland moved to a facility in San Diego, where he continues to make an impact on health care.
Joan Ganz Cooney, who received her B.A. degree in education from the University of Arizona in 1951, was part of a team who captured the hearts and imaginations of children around the world with the development of Sesame Workshop, creators of the popular “Sesame Street.” Now in its 42nd season, the children’s television show uses puppets, cartoons and live actors to teach literacy, math fundamentals and behavior skills. Today, Cooney serves as a member of Sesame Workshop’s executive committee. In 2007, she was honored by Sesame Workshop with the creation of The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which aims to advance children’s literacy skills and foster innovation in children’s learning through digital media.
Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, which broke ground for its Advanced Flying School on July 16, 1941, allowed more than 26,500 men and women to earn their wings. It was active as a training base for both the U.S. Army Air Forces, as well as the U.S. Air Force from 1941 until its closure in 1993.
It also opened the door for other military training bases in Arizona, including Luke Air Force Base; which employs more than 8,000 personnel and covers 4,200 acres and is home to the largest fighter wing in the world, the 56th Fighter Wing; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, home to the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which was used in combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces; and Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, which specializes in air-to-ground aviation training for U.S. and NATO forces. In 1990, almost every Marine that participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm trained at Yuma.
Solar power has the potential to make Arizona “the Persian Gulf of solar energy,” former Gov. Janet Napolitano once said. But despite the overabundance of sunshine, the industry didn’t take root in the state until the end of the last century.
The first commercial solar power plant in the state came in 1997 when Arizona Public Service (APS) built a 95-kilowatt, single-axis tracking photovoltaic plant in Flagstaff. In 1999, the City of Scottsdale covered an 8,500-square-feet parking lot with photovoltaic panels, to both provide shaded parking and generate 93 kilowatts of solar power.
Arizona installed more than 55 megawatts of solar power in 2010, doubling its 2009 total of 21 megawatts, ranking it behind California (259 megawatts), New Jersey (137 megawatts), Florida (110 megawatts), and Nevada (61 megawatts).
Construction of the Central Arizona Project — which delivers water to areas where 80 percent of Arizonans reside — began in 1973 at Lake Havasu. Twenty years and $4 billion later, it was completed south of Tucson. The CAP delivers an average 1.5 million acre-feet of water annually to municipal, agricultural and Native American users in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.
“Without the CAP, we wouldn’t have the population we have today,” says Pam Pickard, president of the CAP board of directors. “We wouldn’t have our economic base. We wouldn’t have the industry we have.”
But the CAP wouldn’t have been possible without another milestone that occurred nearly 60 years earlier — Hoover Dam and its reservoir, Lake Mead, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Hoover Dam, constructed between 1933 and 1936, tamed the Colorado, which Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official state historian, says was even more erratic than the Salt River. The dam created reliable water supplies for Arizona’s Colorado River Valley and, eventually, Central and Southern Arizona via the CAP.
On April 24, 2000 Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull signed a bill that created the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority (initially known as the TSA). Later, it was renamed to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority.
The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority was instrumental in the constructions of University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals and an anchor of Glendale’s sports complex. The development of the stadium, also home to the Fiesta Bowl, marked a shift in the economic landscape of the West Valley and Arizona sports. The Stadium has already hosted one Super Bowl and will host a second in 2015.
The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority has also been instrumental in Cactus League projects — including Surprise Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Scottsdale Stadium, Goodyear (Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds) and in Glendale (Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.) The economic impact of Cactus League baseball is estimated at $350 million a year.
“There’s no doubt about it, sports is an integral part of any destination tourism package,” says Lorraine Pino, tourism manager at the Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our tourism literally exploded over the past few years.”
Isabelle Novak, Noelle Coyle and Tom Ellis contributed to this story.