If you've lived in Phoenix for a while, you've seen the name Del Webb. I'm not gonna try to make a list of all of the places I've seen the name Del Webb stamped into a building, and if you've noticed them, you know why - too many for me to count!
But I like to focus on what made him famous, and got him on the cover of Time Magazine in 1962: Sun City. Yes, Del bought up a ghost town called Marinette along Grand Avenue in the 1950s and built a retirement city there.
|Article about Marinette, Arizona in 1911|
Now, waitaminute, Sun City wasn't the first retirement community around there, Youngtown proceeded it by several years (I don't want you Youngtown people throwing chairs at me here!). But Del really went all out. If you look at old photos of Sun City, you will see that he didn't just build some stray houses out there (and it was waaaaayy out there in 1960!), he built hotels, grocery stores, community centers, golf courses, just about everything that the people in the community would need. It really was, and still is, a self-contained little city in the sun.
|Sun City, Arizona in the 1960s.|
I like learning about the people who built Phoenix. Some of them were visionaries, some of them were finks. All of them were "unrealistically optimistic" about the future of Phoenix. When big money moved around, there were always shady characters in the background. These people were risk-takers, and the ones who didn't succeed have quietly faded away into obscurity. But someone like Del Webb, with his tremendous confidence, and his great ego, built cities, and left their stamp.
|Sidewalk plaque on Block 23 from 1953 when the JC Penney's was built by the Del Webb Construction Company. It's still there - look for it on the sidewalk along the south side of Washington, near 2nd street.|
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