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From Sun Cities to The Villages: A History of Active Adult, Age-Restricted Communities

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Youngtown, Arizona, opened in 1954 and was the first development community to have a minimum age requirement (then 65) and to ban underage children as permanent residents. Developer Del Webb unveiled Sun City six years later. Adjacent to Youngtown, it offered modest homes abutting a golf course. In the ensuing decades, active adult communities have proliferated, including Youngtown, Arizona, opened in 1954 and was the first development community to have a minimum age requirement (then 65) and to ban underage children as permanent residents. Developer Del Webb unveiled Sun City six years later. Adjacent to Youngtown, it offered modest homes abutting a golf course. In the ensuing decades, active adult communities have proliferated, including Harold Schwartz’s "The Villages" in central Florida, today the nation’s single largest retirement community. For nearly sixty years, the success of these and similar communities have changed the image of retirees from frail, impoverished old people to energetic, well-off adults enjoying a resort-like lifestyle. While some experts predicted these communities would fail or undermine the obligations between generations, they are now firmly embedded as one possible extension of the American dream. Judith Ann Trolander has written the first book-length history of the "active adult" lifestyle. Examining the origins, development, failures, and challenges facing these communities as the baby boomer population continues to age, she offers a truly original defense of a sometimes controversial aspect of American life.


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Youngtown, Arizona, opened in 1954 and was the first development community to have a minimum age requirement (then 65) and to ban underage children as permanent residents. Developer Del Webb unveiled Sun City six years later. Adjacent to Youngtown, it offered modest homes abutting a golf course. In the ensuing decades, active adult communities have proliferated, including Youngtown, Arizona, opened in 1954 and was the first development community to have a minimum age requirement (then 65) and to ban underage children as permanent residents. Developer Del Webb unveiled Sun City six years later. Adjacent to Youngtown, it offered modest homes abutting a golf course. In the ensuing decades, active adult communities have proliferated, including Harold Schwartz’s "The Villages" in central Florida, today the nation’s single largest retirement community. For nearly sixty years, the success of these and similar communities have changed the image of retirees from frail, impoverished old people to energetic, well-off adults enjoying a resort-like lifestyle. While some experts predicted these communities would fail or undermine the obligations between generations, they are now firmly embedded as one possible extension of the American dream. Judith Ann Trolander has written the first book-length history of the "active adult" lifestyle. Examining the origins, development, failures, and challenges facing these communities as the baby boomer population continues to age, she offers a truly original defense of a sometimes controversial aspect of American life.

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