For Throwback Thursday, this photo shows the Sperry Flight Systems plant at 19th Avenue and Rose Garden Lane in far north Phoenix, 1966.
This was an era when the density of Phoenix's technology economy reached its apogee. City leaders, starting in the 1940s, had attracted such companies as AiResearch, Goodyear Aircraft, Kaiser, General Electric, Honeywell, Digital, GTE, Western Electric, and Motorola.
Lawyer Frank Snell was especially effective as a recruiter; his goal was "clean industry" that provided well-paying jobs for the growing population. The effort was helped by immense defense spending in the Cold War. Motorola was the most important — even in the 1990s, it employed 20,000.
Although Intel arrived in 1979 and Phoenix sold itself as a semiconductor hub, it never again reached this level of intensity. Motorola largely withered. The metro area was not even a finalist for the coveted Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp. in 1983, or for Sematech — both went to Austin. Most of the "legacy" companies closed or slimmed down, and Phoenix never again competed as a major center for tech companies.
Not surprisingly, Phoenix's income levels began trailing competing cities after 1980.
Read more of Phoenix's surprising, inspiring, and mad history on Rogue's Phoenix 101 archive.