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History of Goodyear

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These views of Western Avenue at Litchfield Road in the 1950's show:
  • Bowman's Drug
  • Abraham's Market
  • Goodyear Post Office (with flagpole)
  • Airline Restaurant
  • Goodale Hardware (sign: Dutch Boy Paints)
  • First National Bank

Top: view to southwest Bottom: view to east

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The Goodyear of today exists because of the cotton of yesteryear. It was part of the 16,000 acres purchased in 1917 for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company by executive Paul Litchfield. Cotton used to make rubber tires for airplanes in World War I was in short supply because foreign sources were in war torn countries or disease ridden. When Goodyear found that Arizona's climate and soil was similar to foreign sources, the company sent Litchfield to purchase land.

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In 1941, with the United States on the verge of entering WWII, the Defense Department started construction on an aircraft plant on land they leased from Southwest Cotton Company. The plant was operated by Goodyear Aircraft, a division of Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Most of the engineers and managers were brought to the Goodyear plant from the Akron, Ohio plant and nearby housing was needed for them and the large number of defense workers that would staff the plant. Del Webb started the construction of single family homes on 40 acres of land just north of Western Avenue and east of Litchfield Road.

Southwest Cotton Company built a business district on the north side of Western Avenue that housed Bowman’s Drug and Abraham’s Market facing Western and facing Litchfield Road a barbershop and a beauty salon. In May 1944, the residents and property owners chose the name "Goodyear."
 

hist-image005The Goodyear Post Office was opened on Nov. 22, 1944, and the town of Goodyear was incorporated on Nov. 19, 1946. At that time, the town had 151 homes, 250 apartments, a grocery store, drug store, barber shop, beauty shop and service station. The town became a city in 1985.

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During World War II, Goodyear Aircraft Corporation the Goodyear Aircraft Plant employed as many as 7,668 people at one time and manufactured more than three million pounds of aircraft frames. After the war, the Naval Air Facility served as a storage base for thousands of World War II aircraft that were moth balled and salvaged.

Goodyear Aircraft Corporation was where some of the famous dirigibles or "blimps" were manufactured that hovered over the Rose and Orange Bowl football games and the Indianapolis 500. Goodyear played a key role in a Thanksgiving Day tradition in the 1950s. A group of women who worked at Goodyear Aircraft in Arizona manufactured the huge balloons of cartoon characters that hovered above floats at the Macy’s Department Store Parade in New York. They were known as “The Balloon Girls.”

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In 1963, a long history of aerospace and defense programs began in Goodyear when the Goodyear Aerospace Corporation replaced Goodyear Aircraft Corporation. That plant was later sold to Loral Defense Systems and eventually evolved by merger and acquisition into the current Lockheed Martin Corporation.

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The Litchfield Naval Air Facility was the training base for the Navy Blue Angels aerial demonstration team until 1968. That year, the Navy sold the airfield to the City of Phoenix which named it the Phoenix-Litchfield Airport. In 1986, it was renamed the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport.

In 1986, the 13,000 acres that remained of the original Goodyear Farms was sold to SunCor which developed much of the land into the Palm Valley master-planned, mixed-use community located north of I-10 in Goodyear.

The Three Rivers Historical Society works to preserve the heritage of the cities which grew at the confluence of the Salt, Gila and Agua Fria rivers - Goodyear, Avondale, Litchfield Park and Tolleson.