Between 1940 and 1980, the Sunbelt region of the United States grew in population by 112 percent, while the older, graying Northeast and Midwest together grew by only 42 percent. Phoenix expanded by an astonishing 1,138 percent. San Diego, Houston, Dallas–Fort Worth, Tampa, Miami, and Atlanta quadrupled in size. Even a Sunbelt laggard such as New Orleans more than doubled its population.
Sunbelt Cities brings together a collection of outstanding original essays on the growth and late-twentieth-century political development of the major metropolitan areas below the thirty-seventh parallel. The cities surveyed are Albuquerque, Atlanta, Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, and Tampa. Each author examines the economic and social causes of postwar population growth in the city under consideration and the resulting changes in its political climate. Major causes of growth such as changing economic conditions, industrial recruitment, lifestyle preferences, and climate are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the role of the federal government, especially the Pentagon, in encouraging development in the Sunbelt. Describing characteristic political developments of many of these cities, the authors note shifting political alliances, the ouster of machines and business elites from political power, and the rise of minority and neighborhood groups in local politics.
Sunbelt Cities is the first full-scale scholarly examination of the region popularly conceived as the Sunbelt. As one of the first works to thoroughly examine a wide range of cities within the region, it has served as a standard reference on the area for some time.
Richard M. Bernard is Dean of the Jackson College of Graduate Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman
Bradley R. Rice is Professor Emeritus of History at Clayton Junior College in Morrow, Georgia.