This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Phoenix, Arizona during the Population Boom


This past weekend I heard a song that I hadn't heard for a long time that mentioned something that I recall from when I was a kid - the "Population Boom". The song was from 1972, and it was called "Stone in Love with You" if you want to go listen to it. And it makes me think of the various things at the time that were warnings that the population of the earth was just too much, that we were all gonna die, run out of food, have to stand on each other's heads. There were other cultural references to it, such as movies about over-population, such as "Soylent Green", which came out at about the same time. And what it was was the Baby Boom Generation, born after World War II, coming of age. Many Baby Boomers, who are now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, still think a lot about the Population Boom. You don't hear much about it nowadays, so let's go back to the 1970s in Phoenix, Arizona.

There are few cities in the world that grew as quickly as Phoenix, Arizona did after World War II. Phoenix had always had a steadily-growing population, but in the late 1940s through the 1950s it did more than boom, it exploded. It started with severe housing shortages right after the war to some of the greatest building booms ever seen, and by the 1960s and early 1970s people were really starting to notice.

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I'm too young to have seen all of this happen in Phoenix, but it must have been amazing, and more than a little bit frightening. What was once a city with plenty of space seems to have been jammed with people, and traffic, virtually overnight. I have friends who remember the days before the 1960s and '70s, and what they have seen in their lifetime tells me everything I need to know about the Population Boom of Phoenix.

Unfortunately, many of these people see no other solution than time-traveling, and miraculously going back to a time before their generation (the Baby Boomers) grew up and started needing houses, and cars, and freeways. And while it's nice to time-travel in your imagination (I do it all of the time) it makes me sad to think that so many people my age have given up, and see no future for Phoenix, because it's so big and crowded.

I respectfully disagree with these people. The Population Boom happened, and the world didn't come to an end. The world didn't run out of food, or space. Yes, Phoenix is much, much larger than it was in the 1960s, and many people have chosen to move away, maybe to somewhere less crowded - and there are plenty of places to go (Montana springs to my mind, for example). But I like it here. I see a bright future for my favorite city, which continues to grow. Before the "Population Boom" the word boom was a good thing, as in a "booming city" or a "building boom". It meant that a particular place was where people wanted to live, to raise their families.

I'm part of the Population Boom, I'm proud of it, and glad to be in Phoenix.