Sun City Arizona Celebrates 50th Anniversary

An estimated 100,000 people showed up for the grand opening of Sun City Arizona on January 1, 1960.
An estimated 100,000 people showed up for the grand opening of Sun City Arizona on January 1, 1960
An estimated 100,000 people showed up for the grand opening of Sun City Arizona on January 1, 1960.

On January 1, 1960, Sun City Arizona began selling homes to active adults. This was the first planned retirement community in the country and it inspired a new trend in retirement housing. Adults today can now find beautiful communities throughout the country that offer an active lifestyle and meet their unique needs.

And fifty years after its grand opening, Sun City Arizona is celebrating its success with anniversary festivities scheduled throughout 2010. Founder Del Webb first envisioned a thriving community with affordable housing and recreation specifically designed for older adults.

Though increasingly common this day in age, Webb’s all-inclusive planned community was a novel idea when he broke ground in 1959. His initial community design began with a shopping center, a golf course, a recreation center, and five beautiful and distinct model homes. A nationwide contest was launched to christen the new community and the name “Sun City Arizona” was chosen only one month before its Grand Opening.

Though Del Webb believed in his vision, he and his partners had doubts about how well the project would be received. Webb hoped that Sun City Arizona’s grand opening would draw 10,000 visitors. Instead, over 100,000 people toured the new community and an incredible 237 homes were sold over the three day weekend.

Today Sun City is a bustling active adult community with over 26,000 homes.
Today Sun City is a bustling active adult community with over 26,000 homes.

From that moment on, Sun City Arizona grew rapidly as active adults clamored to become residents. The first phase of homes quickly sold out and the company hurried to schedule another phase, and then another. By the end of 1960, 2,000 homes had been sold.

According to the book, “Jubilee: The 25th Anniversary of Sun City,” the community was billed as Arizona’s “fastest growing city” a mere 59 days after it had opened. Following the success of Sun City Arizona, Del Webb has built more than 50 active adult communities across 20 states. With their continued innovations, these communities have helped revolutionize the retirement lifestyle.

Retirees and empty nesters today can find communities which recognize their desires to live life actively, both physically and mentally. And in addition to recreational activities, many active adult communities offer lifelong learning programs, social clubs, and activist opportunities.

Residents at Sun City Arizona also give back to others around them. Known as the “City of Volunteers,” Sun City Arizona promotes a culture of volunteerism among its residents. However, with more residents today who have not yet retired, or who are working after retirement, the approach toward volunteering must adapt.

Paul Herrmann, Executive Director of the Sun City Visitors Center, acknowledges that even community giving evolves with the times: “Volunteerism is still a vital part of our community; however it is, in some cases, taking new directions.” Many of the homes in Sun City Arizona are also changing with the times. According to the Sun City Visitors Center, many of the community’s well-constructed homes – built in the 1960’s and 1970’s – are being remodeled and updated with the latest amenities.

Herrmann adds, “A nice feature of our homes is that they have no interior load bearing walls. This allows the homeowner a lot of flexibility while remodeling, since any interior wall can be removed.” The community itself has greatly evolved from its original design. Today, Sun City Arizona boasts 11 golf courses, seven recreation centers, countless amenities and social clubs, and over 26,000 homes.

And even with its impressive array of features and facilities, Sun City Arizona is still the best value around. Low property taxes and annual fees, affordable homes, and extensive amenities continue to draw new residents to this ideal community.

The continuing evolution of Sun City is being celebrated during its 50th Anniversary year, with the slogan, “An Extraordinary Past — A Brilliant Future.” Anniversary events planned throughout the year are open to all residents and their guests.

The festivities were kicked off at a Grand Opening Ceremony on December 9, 2009 and will culminate in the 50th Anniversary Grand Finale on January 14, 2009. On January 1, 2010, the Sun City Anniversary Party provided captivating entertainment and invited residents to ring the Sun City Liberty Bell and participate in a grand release of 50 balloons.

Upcoming events include a semi-formal dance, the 50th Anniversary Community Parade, two variety shows, and multiple parties. The Sun City 50th Inaugural Golf Tournament was held on December 10, 2009, and two more anniversary golf tournaments are scheduled for April and December of 2010. 

As the first active adult community in America, Sun City Arizona set the stage for a new trend in retirement living. And when asked what he would say to prospective residents, Executive Director Paul Herrmann simply replied, “If someone is looking for a retirement community, we can’t be beat in terms of value

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and
Details here.

Share this post:

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

Call us to speak with a customer service representative.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Updates

I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting [email protected] Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Best Places to Snowbird in 2021

We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

A group of older adults socialize within their 55+ community.

Top 10 FAQs About Living in 55+ Communities

We’re here to answer all of your questions about joining a mature living community, so you can feel empowered in your decision. This is the next great adventure of your life, and we’re firm believers in leaving the stress out. Check out these top 10 FAQs about living in 55+ communities.

A senior couple takes a hike in a low-humidity state they chose for their retirement.

Retirement: What Are the Top 5 States With the Lowest Humidity?

There are many factors in deciding where to retire, and the weather can be one of them. Luckily, many of the states with nice weather also offer additional benefits for people over 60 and have several exciting active adult communities. Here are the four best states for a low-humidity retirement.

Lake view during autumn at dusk of Table Rock Mountain in Pickens, South Carolina.

5 Reasons To Consider a South Carolina Retirement

What does South Carolina have to offer active adults? A selection of over 80 active adult communities is just the beginning. These five reasons to consider a South Carolina retirement just might convince you that this southern coastal state has everything you’re looking for in a 55+ community.

The Best Places to Retire in South Carolina

South Carolina is known for having some of the best golf courses in the country, but that’s not all it has to offer active adults. The state has a rich history and culture, a wide selection of entertainment and recreation, and miles of beaches and coastal living.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina

The Carolinas are a power couple when it comes to maintaining an active lifestyle in an amazing climate, but they’re separated by more than just a border. A side-by-side comparison of the two can quickly show which is better for you when it comes to your interests and needs.

Exterior view of a model home at Del Webb Carolina Gardens, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina on a sunny day.

55+ Communities With New Homes for Sale Near Raleigh

If you’re in the market for a new construction home in Raleigh, North Carolina there are plenty of options to consider. We’ve put together a list to help you start your search for the perfect neighborhood with new homes.

About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

Scroll to Top