Income inequality proliferates across the West

When John Long established Maryvale, Phoenix’s first suburb, in 1955, the nation’s economic topography was about as flat as the desert valley floor. There were pockets of poverty and enclaves of wealth, but huge disparities — even in those freewheeling Mad Men days — were kept in check by progressive taxes, New Deal-era policies and powerful labor unions. The result was a strong, sizeable middle class hungry for housing. Maryvale provided just that, its modest homes with their all-electric kitchens affordable for everyone from the unionized construction workers who built the homes and the defense industry workers buoyed by Cold War federal spending to the public schoolteachers who taught their children.

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