Images of America: Legend City


John Bueker discusses Legend City,  an 87-acre Western theme park located at the border between Phoenix and Tempe near Papago Park that opened in 1963. At its best, Legend City was a family-friendly oasis filled with fun western rides, talented performers and nostalgic penny arcades.  Weathering both financial shortfalls and the extremes of Arizona’s relentless heat, the park remained open for twenty years, finally closing for good in 1983.

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Conceived and built in the early 1960s by local artist and advertising man, Louis E. Crandall, Legend City was an ambitious and star-crossed mid-century attempt to bring a world-class theme park to the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Despite daunting financial challenges and an unforgiving Arizona sun, the park managed to survive for two full decades, entertaining countless Arizonans and forging an enduring place for itself in the hearts and minds of local residents.

Author John Bueker tells of what seems like a sad tale of broken dreams and economic failure on the surface, Legend City was actually an exhilarating and fascinating chapter in the cultural history of Arizona.

Published by Arcadia Publishing