SunWest Blog

The History of Sun City

The Phoenix suburb of Sun City covers 14 square miles, bounded by Olive Avenue, Beardsley Road and 91st and 111th avenues. A planned city from the start, Sun City has become home to many baby boomers, the largest wave of retirees in history. Here’s a glimpse at the 55 year history of the original Sun City.

How Sun City Came to Be

Created by Del E. Webb, Sun City was a development designed to give the first generation of middle-income Americans retiring with Social Security to move from their hometown and mingle with their peers. Built on the former site of Marinette, Arizona, Sun City opened to the public on January 1, 1960, with five home models, a shopping center, a recreation center, and a golf course. The opening weekend was wildly successful, drawing 100,000 people, ten times the number of people expected, which resulted in a Time magazine cover story. In the following months, more than 100,000 people visited Sun City.

If you attended law school, then you’re probably familiar with the case of Spur Industries vs. Del E. Webb Development. The case involves the owner of a livestock feedlot, Spur Industries, and Webb Development, the developer of the retirement community. At the time, both enterprises were small, but eventually grew larger and close enough to each other that the manure and flies from the feedlot began affecting the current residents of Sun City and putting a damper on future sales. Webb brought suit for an injunction against the further operation of the feedlot and the Supreme Court of Arizona granted the injunction, ordering Spur to shut down operations.

Today, retirees are not rushing in droves to buy homes in Sun City, but it still remains an idyllic place to rest on your laurels. For a deeper look at the history of Sun City, including photos and personal histories, go to www.delwebbsuncitiesmuseum.org.