90s Parade

An introduction to the 1990s

America’s economy reaped the benefits of low unemployment and low inflation throughout most of the nineties. “Growth” could well be the buzzword for this memorable decade, which was underscored by exciting real estate expansion, both here at home and throughout the nation. Internet truly became a global phenomenon, inviting the world into homes and businesses everywhere. Oh, and 1992 was named The Year of the Woman—which at least half the planet thought was long overdue (cue the Spice Girls singing “Girl Power”). Sadly, there were low points too, including the Gulf War and the Oklahoma City bombing.

If you’re clueless about this decade, read on for fun facts on Arizona, BCBSAZ, pop culture and the cost of living in the 1990s!

Group of People in the 90s

Arizona facts and national milestones

Speaking of growth…Arizona’s population went on a sharp rise in the 1990s, the gaming industry gained ground around the state, and the Phoenix area strengthened its reputation for world-class sports and entertainment offerings. Here are a few highlights from happenings near and far in the 1990s:

  • Arizona’s population surges by 40 percent during the 1990s—the second-fastest growth rate among the 50 states—to more than 5.1 million residents.
  • After the setbacks of the 1980s savings and loan collapse, as well as the commercial real-estate slump, Arizona’s real-estate market makes a recovery in the nineties with a housing boom that stays strong until the latter part of the decade.
  • Score one for capitalism: The first MacDonald’s restaurant opens its doors in Moscow (1990).
  • The Year of the Woman takes place in 1992. In short order, Janet Reno becomes the first female Attorney General (1993) and Madeleine Albright is confirmed the first female Secretary of State (1996).
  • Under Saddam Hussein’s leadership, Iraq invades oil-rich Kuwait in 1990, launching the Gulf War.
  • The nineties see a global technology explosion. Surfing the Internet via the World Wide Web transforms the way we live and do business, while personal pagers and cellular phones keep people on the move and in touch with each other 24/7.
  • Arizona’s lucrative gaming industry is born in 1994, as Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino Hotel becomes the first of numerous casinos to operate on Native American tribal lands around the state.
  • President Bill Clinton takes office Jan. 20, 1993, and serves two terms, during which the country enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in modern times as well as the lowest inflation in 30 years. The president did not…well, we won’t go there.
  • US Airways Center opens in 1992 as America West Arena, Sun Devil Stadium hosts Super Bowl XXX in 1996, and Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark) is completed in 1998—cementing the Phoenix metropolitan area as a sports and entertainment destination.
  • On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb rips apart the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The nation’s horror at the devastation and loss of life is intensified when the attack is revealed as domestic terrorism.
  • Barely 21 years old, golfer Tiger Woods wins the 1997 Masters Tournament by an amazing 12 strokes, scoring a lot of firsts in the process. In his first major tournament as a professional golfer, Woods becomes the first African-American major champion and earns the first of his 14 victories in the majors.
  • Diana, Princess of Wales, is fatally injured in a car crash in Paris (August 1997).
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90s Safari Van

BCBSAZ fun facts

BCBSAZ also did a lot of growing during the 1990s—including launching a new entity that won a long-term Department of Defense (DOD) contract, and increasing its work force by 52 percent.

  • BCBSAZ begins the 1990s with 809 employees. By mid-decade, that number increases to 900, and the company enters the new millennium with 1,231 employees.
  • After a trial period testing connectivity, BCBSAZ announces in the June 1996 Planorama employee newsletter that it will soon launch the company’s connection with the Internet, which is expected to greatly enhance business operations.
  • “Knowing that the changes to our country’s healthcare system will be bigger and more dramatic than the incremental changes we’ve seen in the past, we’ve responded by seizing an opportunity to create a unique position for ourselves.” Characteristically forward-thinking and proactive, Executive Vice President and COO Rich Boals prepares for the Clinton administration’s health care reform package in 1993. The Health Security Act is ultimately defeated in 1994.
  • Launching Sept. 4, 1990, with six members, a new Claims Administration unit dedicated to coordination of benefits (COB) consolidates operations to increase accuracy and refine and enhance processing.
  • In 1996, BCBSAZ, along with other hospital systems and Blue plans, founds TriWest Healthcare Alliance. As a DOD contractor, TriWest proudly serves beneficiaries in the military’s active duty—including reserves, retirees, and eligible family members and survivors across a 21-state region—for 17 years.
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Halloween Costumes in the 90s

Pop culture fun facts

What can we say, it was the nineties! Hip hop became mainstream…aimless kids became serious gamers…movies influenced our clothing, culture and everyday vernacular (“No way! Way!”). A musical theme might sum up this decade’s laidback vibe best—from friendship (“I’ll Be There for You”), to love (“I Will Always Love You”), to loss (“My Heart Will Go On”). Keep chillin’…here’s the 411 on a decade to remember.

  • The National Football League 1990s All-Decade Team sports a line-up that includes greats (and now Hall of Famers) John Elway, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders and Arizona Cardinal Aeneas Williams.
  • Toy Story takes delighted kids and adults alike to infinity and beyond in 1995. Titanic, Braveheart, Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Clueless, Pretty Woman, The Lion King and Dances with Wolves also fill theater seats in the nineties.
  • Mega-hit Friends first airs in 1994, keeping its promise to “be there for you” for 10 seasons.
  • More nineties TV craves include The X-Files, Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sex and the City. The kiddos can’t get enough of X-Men, fashion-forward SpongeBob Square Pants, and loveable nerd Steve Urkel’s antics on Family Matters.
  • Boy bands rule the airwaves—young girls everywhere crush on New Kids on the Block, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees and Hanson. Acts like Nirvana, Mariah Carey, Green Day, Blink-182, Snoop Dogg and Arizona’s own Gin Blossoms fuel other musical tastes. And somewhere in the world, it’s Hammer time!
  • Kids play Pogs, Beanie Babies become a hot commodity, and young gamers can’t wait to get their hands on Pokémon, which is launched by Nintendo in 1996.
  • Nineties fashion mixes it up: grunge looks with the ever-present Doc Martens, neon-bright rave attire, short and long overalls (don’t forget to leave one strap undone), crop tops and skorts (skirt + shorts) and jellies footwear. Guys sport gelled spikes in their hair, while the girls are rocking butterfly hair clips, slap bracelets and lots of bling bling.
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Man of the 90s

1990s: what did it cost?

With famously low inflation and a bull stock market, consumers enjoyed a decade-long period of relative economic stability. Check out the cost of living large in the 1990s.

  • A new house that goes for $153,100 in October 1990 sells for, on average, $200,200 in October 1999.
  • In the mid-nineties, Zonies can fly from Phoenix to Burbank, Calif., for just $19 on hometown airline America West (now US Airways).
  • What’s for dinner? Pork chops ($2.99), potatoes (31 cents) and frozen peas (97 cents)…based on per-pound prices in the late nineties.
  • A stylin’ Ford Mustang convertible can be yours for $14,289.
  • The price of a gallon of gas is $1.34 in 1990 and—amazingly—dips to $1.22 by 1999.
  • It costs $159 to get Super Nintendo and be the coolest family on the block.
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