|The beginning of Sky Harbor Airport (Source: http://theterryfitzpatrick.com/2011/03/29/history-of-phoenix-arizona/)|
|Sign for Sky Harbor Airport (photo by Briana Tyson, April 2011)|
|The building of the new train (photo by Briana Tyson, April 2011)|
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is located 3 miles east of downtown Phoenix between Washington Street and 24th Street. Sky Harbor Airport was named by J. Parker Vanzant who owned Scenic Airlines. In 1928 Parker bought 278 acres of cotton fields east of 24th Street and created Sky Harbor Airport although there were a few airports already in Phoenix. Unfortunately in 1929 the stock market crashed and Scenic Airlines was forced to sell Sky Harbor Airport to Acme Investment Company in 1930. Then in 1930 Acme Investment Company persuaded Phoenix to buy the airport in 1935. This was great for Phoenix because during World War II Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport would receive a magnificent amount of growth making them the number one airport in the nation.
The problem with this magnificent amount of growth is that it meant Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport would need to expand and the first community that would be affected would be the poor Mexican community, the Golden Gate Barrio (Dimas, 93). The Golden Gate Barrio was located in South East Phoenix and during the 1930’s was a thriving Latino community filled with adobe building and many small shops. The formation of the Golden Gate Barrio is similar to an ethnoburb, which is a suburban, ethnic residential and business cluster in a large metropolitan area (Li, 77). Ethnoburbs are usually formed in order to preserve a culture as was seen with the Golden Gate Barrio. The problem with ethnoburbs is they receive a lot of criticism because they go against the conventional forms of assimilation (Li, 78) and can lead the dominant group to shut them down. This is exactly what happened to the Golden Gate Barrio. Although this was a thriving community, the federal government decided to relocate the residents of Golden Gate Barrio in order to expand Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in order to gain economic growth (Dimas, 95). This was devastating because 1600 houses were lost due to this expansion (Collins, 165) along with small businesses being forced to close their doors. Now the area of the Golden Gate Barrio is used as a rental car center and the only thing left is the Sacred Heart Church.
The Western Land Acquisition Project (WALA) through the city of Phoenix, were responsible for the land grab from the community. The project was slotted to create a half a billion dollars in investment, 14,000 jobs, and annual payroll to the city of $250 million. The area has been theorized to have been taken over in order to rid the city of low income residential neighborhoods, to be replaced with a high tax based, higher income generating, less municipally dependant businesses. Currently the entire area formerly known as the Golden Gate Barrio is considered a slum by the city of Phoenix. (Dimas 172)
Another problem with the location of Sky Harbor airport is that its flight pattern is located so close to South Phoenix which is a minority neighborhood. The majority of the residents in South Phoenix are Latino and African Americans which puts them at a risk for environmental racism. African Americans as well as Latinos were forced to live in South Phoenix because of red lining in the past and still make up the majority of the population today. There was no mistake making Sky Harbor so close to this neighborhood because white neighborhoods would not allow it (Bolin, 2). Therefore these neighborhoods have become a toxic wasteland for Sky Harbor Airport making them prone to environmental racism, which is the idea that people of color are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards such as pollution (Pulido, 17). Environmental racism tends to affect people in poorer neighborhoods because it is cheaper to put business such as factories in those neighborhood and people in poorer neighborhoods are seen to not have a voice. This is the view the federal government had with the people who resided in South East Phoenix, it was believed they did not have a voice and that is why the government was shocked when they complained (Collins, 163). The resident of South East Phoenix complained about the noise and smog that was coming from the airport and instead of taking action to reduce this problem the government just relocated the residents.Today Sky Harbor ranked number 18 for the busiest airports in the nation with 3 main terminals and 1700 acres of runway. Sky Harbor Airport is also considered and International airport and is a major stop between many different countries throughout the world but especially Mexico. Because of Phoenix’s rising population, Sky Harbor Airport is still planning more expansions such as the railway which would help people with transportation throughout Phoenix.
- Brian Simpson, Briana Tyson, and Lysandra Whitlow
1940, December. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. <http://skyharbor.com/about/earlyYears.html>.
Bolin, Bob. "The Geography of Despair: Environmental Racism." Research in Human Ecology 12.2 (2005): 156-68. Print.
Phoenix Airport (PHX) Information: Airport in Phoenix Area, AZ, USA. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. <http://www.phoenix-phx.airports-guides.com/>.
Ruber, LLana. "Sky Harbor Lobbies Feds for $12 Million." The Business Journal (1996): 11. Print.
Dimas, Pete R. Progress and A Mexican American Community''s Struggle for Existence. New York: Peter Lang, 1999. Print.
Li, Wei. From Urban Enclave to Ethnic Suburb: New Asian Communities in Pacific Rim Countries. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i, 2006. Print.
Pulido, Laura. "Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 90.1 (2000): 12-40. Print.