This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Phoenix, Arizona - from sleepy little town to explosive growth

If you've lived in Phoenix for very long, you've seen some explosive growth. I came here as a teenager in the 1980s and I hardly recognize the place nowadays. And what I've found interesting is that it seems to be the experience of everyone who has ever lived in Phoenix, from the 1860s to modern times.

The first explosion started in 1870, when the town of Phoenix was platted. Lots sold as fast as they were offered. In the 1860s the area that became the town had been a mass of mesquite trees and desert sand, and in a few years building had begun. Fast!

Road construction in downtown Phoenix, 1890s
The second explosion started in 1887 when the railroad came to Phoenix. The days of a sleepy little town were definitely over! The railroad brought the one thing that Phoenix needed: bricks. Where there had been little adobe buildings before, there were suddenly big brick buildings. The old-timers must have been amazed. By the 1890s Phoenix had electricity, telephones, and most importantly, ice.

The third explosion happened in 1911 when the Roosevelt Dam was completed. Before that, privately-funded dams had repeatedly failed, making investment and agriculture pretty risky. After the Federal Government stepped in, thanks in part to ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, confidence soared, and so did investment. Phoenix grew like wildfire with a series of *Additions* (what we call subdivisions nowadays). It must have seemed like a blink of an eye to the people who were used to going hunting *out in the country*, north of Van Buren, to see miles and miles of new houses.

But the explosion of the 1920s pretty much wiped out everything that proceeded it in Phoenix. The old brick territorial buildings were torn town, and new *skyscrapers* (many of which remain today) replaced them. The only time that things slowed down in Phoenix was during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when the whole country, and the world, slowed down.

To call the next explosion merely an explosion doesn't even begin to do it justice. That was when World War II ended and the Phoenix area grew so fast that it just seems beyond belief. Before World War II, an argument could be made that Phoenix was still a sleepy little town, after the 1950s, it was a gigantic sprawl.

Road construction on Camelback Road in the 1960s
Like Los Angeles, the suburbs of Phoenix started growing together in the 1960s. People didn't drive from town to town, they simply crossed over a line. Where I live, the city of Phoenix becomes the city of Glendale at 43rd and Peoria, then becomes the city of Peoria at 67th Avenue. Other than a *Welcome* sign or two, you really wouldn't know that you were entering another city. Well, the police cars are different.

I love living here. And when I first moved here, I wondered if I had arrived at a time when there was a lot of road construction? Then I found out that it's always been that way, and it probably always will. I guess nowadays it will seem like a sleepy little town compared to the future.
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