The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 488
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Phoenix, connecting the desert
community to the outside world. Boosters claimed a major victory. Two
years later political leaders moved the territorial capital from Prescott
to Phoenix, further enhancing its image to outsiders. The author aptly
characterizes Phoenicians at the turn of the century as entrepreneurial
In contrast to the modest gains of the nineteenth century, the twenti-
eth century has been an era of unrelenting and often explosive growth.
With clarity and precision Luckingham analyzes the beneficial impact
of World War I and the New Deal on the urban economy. Yet, one of
the most crucial factors in the emergence of Phoenix as a twentieth-
century "growth machine" (p. Lo), according to the author, was the
advent of federal reclamation. With the passage of the Newlands Rec-
lamation Act of 1902 federal reclamation became a reality and local
leaders responded with the formation of the Salt River Valley Water
Users Association. The forerunner of today's Salt River Project proved
successful in attracting one of the first federal reclamation projects and
by February 1911, Roosevelt Dam provided Phoenix with a stable and
regulated water supply.
Without the stabilizing influence of federal reclamation, the mid-
twentieth century boom could not have taken place. In chapter 6, "The
Boom Years, 1941-1 96o," Luckingham outlines some of the major in-
fluences comprising this two-decade period of unprecedented growth.
A dynamic Anglo-dominated private sector, continued federal aid for
water, transportation, and military facilities, and advances in modern
technology were the key factors that shaped Phoenix in the post-
World War II period. In addition, this was an "age of refrigeration,"
when air conditioning helped conquer, to an extent, the blistering sum-
mer heat. Moreover, the nearly 2,500 people who settled in the city
each month in the 1950s came from all over the United States. During
this decade Phoenix attained the highest rate of growth among the fifty
largest metropolitan areas in the nation. Furthermore, by 1960, half of
the state's population lived in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Luckingham is at his best in his final two chapters. He analyzes the
last three decades of growth and concludes that Phoenix has become a
major sunbelt center facing critical future challenges. He describes
shifting political trends and urban politics, economic and demographic
patterns, and social and cultural developments. Yet, how will local lead-
ers respond to further massive population influx? Luckingham posits
that between 1985 and 2000, the desert metropolis will add 1.4 million
people-an imposing 77 percent increase. Will existing institutions
manage this growth and maintain the quality of life at the same time?
Indeed students and scholars of the modern West, urban history, and
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/552/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.