Aerial Photography of Williams AFB / ASU Poly

Maricopa County has a surprisingly nice GIS resource available to the public, of aerial photography in the Valley. Williams/ASU-Poly appear in some, though not all, of that imagery. The site is available here:

The base/campus area appear in the following sets of images:

  • 1937 (Jan.-Dec.) -- note: base had not yet been constructed
  • 1949 (Feb.-April)
  • 1953 (Mar.-May) -- dark, with relatively poor resolution compared to the others
  • 1976 (Feb.-Apr.)
  • 1979 (Dec.) -- partial, cuts off southern portion of base
  • 1986 (Jan.-Dec.)
  • 1993 (Jan.-Feb.)
  • 1996-1997 (Dec. 1996-Jan. 1997)
  • 1998-1999 (Dec. 1998-Oct. 1999)
  • 2000 (Jan.-Apr.)
  • 2000-2001 (Dec. 2000-Mar. 2001)
  • 2001-2002 (Dec.-Feb.)
  • 2002 (Dec.)
  • 2003-2004 (Dec.-Jan.)
  • 2004 (Nov.-Dec.)
  • 2006 (Jan.-Feb.)
  • 2006 (Oct.-Nov.)
  • 2007 (Jun.-Jul.)
  • 2007-2008 (Oct.-Jan.)
  • 2008 (Oct.-Dec)
  • 2009 (May-Jun.)
  • 2009 (Oct.-Nov.)
  • 2010 (Jun.-Sep.)
  • 2010 (Sep.-Oct.)
  • 2011 (Sep.-Oct.)
  • 2012 (Oct.-Dec.)
  • 2013 (Sep.-Nov.)

In 1949, the base would presumably be much as it was during its initial World War II years; the heart of today's campus has seen substantial change since then, but several buildings remain from that period, and the grid of streets -- now represented by sidewalks -- still patterns campus development.

Housing offers an interesting example of continuity and change. In the 1949 photo, a cluster of houses can be seen south of the present heart of campus, in an area bounded roughly by Avery, Union, Clearview, and Upton Streets. Present-day Upton Street in this area seems to have been a common grassy area. In the 1953 set, these World War II-era houses are joined by development in the area that is today called "South Desert Village," though it is unclear whether the South Desert Village homes were all actually constructed at this time. The older housing persists through 1976, 1979, and 1986 photos, but are apparently gone by 1993 when the base is closed. At that time, however, what appears to be mature landscaping from the former houses seems to have been left in place temporarily. The Korean War-era housing of South Desert Village remains in use today as student housing.