From the prehistoric Native Americans to the first wave of pioneers in 1877 and all who came later, the desert lands east of Phoenix have been a rich and fertile home to a wide diversity of people. Surmounting the early challenges of settling the mesa top and moving water uphill gave rise to a resilient agricultural community famous for cotton, citrus, grapes, and other crops. The boom years that began in the 1950s ushered in a new wave of industry and change to the city of Mesa. Large corporations created jobs, new freeways formed a corridor into the heart of the community, educational and health care facilities improved and expanded, and the advent of air conditioning brought tourists from all over the world. Now boasting a population of over 450,000, Mesa has truly evolved from its pioneer beginnings to a modern city in the Valley of the Sun.