A Look Back on AZ’s Construction Legacy by Decade
February 08, 2020
Happy Statehood Arizona!
What do we mean when we say the trade professions in Arizona are “HIGH LEGACY?” The truth is, we mean a lot.
As we celebrate another anniversary of Arizona statehood on February 14th, we here at Build Your Future Arizona are reflecting on more than a century of high legacy building projects in our great state.
Arizona’s construction legacy started in 1963 when it became an official territory of the United States. The gold rush brought thousands of migrants in wagons and caravans to the West, hoping to find fortunes buried deep in the mountains of Wickenburg, Prescott, Quartzite, and more. The rush of new arrivals necessitated decades of infrastructure building in what would become the 48th state of the union.
In 1875, construction on the Yuma Territorial Prison was authorized at a project budget of $25,000. It remained open for only thirty-three years, and was then leased as a high school, a hospital, and a clubhouse for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. AZ trade professionals preserved the historical site, which is now a state park open to visitors.
Phoenix, Arizona was established. It was the site of a steam mill, a post office, a streetcar line, a public library, and a newly built city hall, all constructed by the city’s first trade professionals.
Miners on Bradshaw Mountain struck gold, but there was no way to transport the millions of dollars in precious metal back down to the bustling cities. To solve the problem, Frank Murphy constructed the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad. The railroad was one of the greatest feats in engineering the nation had ever seen.
The Theodore Roosevelt Dam was the first major construction project undertaken by the Bureau of Reclamation on the Salt River Project. It established a large reservoir of water, which was used from Phoenix to Globe.
In 1912, Arizona became a state!
A federal construction grant of $3.7 million funded the paving of AZ State Route 66, officially putting the state of Arizona on the map for the first generation of automobile tourists.
The Hoover Dam was dedicated in 1936 after a five-year-long construction effort. At the time, it was the largest dam in the world, supplying enough water to irrigate two million acres of land.
The Del E Webb Construction Company (Del Webb is now Pulte Group) began work on Luke Air Force Base in 1941. The base remained in construction for decades and now serves as a training center and resource for our nation’s highly respected air force members and their families.
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport was put on the map in 1952 with the completion of Terminal 1. Over the subsequent decades, four additional terminals were built by multiple generations of trade professionals.
Sun City opened its first retirement community. The Phoenix Zoo, then known as the Maytag Zoo, was constructed. Most importantly, in 1968, the Central Arizona Project was authorized.
Construction began on the Central Arizona Project. The twenty-year long project cost more than $4 billion dollars and established 336 miles of canal systems to carry water into the state from the Colorado River.
Arizona experienced an infrastructure boom. New highways, suburban housing developments, and the ever-popular water park, Big Surf, were constructed during this decade.
The Papago Freeway Tunnel opened in Central Phoenix, linking the I10 to the state of California. Meanwhile, construction was underway on the Bank One Ballpark. It opened in 1998, and was later renamed Chase Field.
The Phoenix Metro lightrail system was constructed at a cost of $1.4 billion dollars. It continues to offer affordable, sustainable transportation to the city of Phoenix.
Historic economic booms and new housing developments made Phoenix, Arizona the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country. State Route 189, the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino, and ongoing improvements to Loop 202 were the construction hallmarks of this decade.
What will Arizona’s legacy be in 2020?