This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

How to do history adventuring in Phoenix IRL (In Real Life)


I just love history adventuring in Phoenix, and while I usually do it in my imagination, with the help of old photos that I find, sometimes I like to do it IRL (In Real Life), which is what I'm gonna do today with the help of a fellow adventurer (who calls it "Urban Spelunking").

Of course, just being in the Phoenix area I see a lot of stuff. I know that the moment my feet hit the ground, even in my house in Glendale, I'm walking where the Hohokam people walked - every inch of this valley belonged to them, not just the tiny preserved area around 44th Street and Washington. I also know that I'm looking at the mountains that the Apaches protected, and the routes that the gold miners struggled on, especially north of me here in Glendale. When I pedal over to the Fitness Center at my local community college, I go through the Sahuaro Ranch park, past some impressive history there.

But today will be special, as I will be covering more ground that I usually do. The plan is to do a loop that includes Tempe. My fellow adventurer, whom I'll call Mick (because that's his name) has worked out a map that will allow us to go to places without having to zig-zap back and forth. It's good to have a plan, but of course if we don't get to all of the places marked, that would be OK, too.

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In preparation for this I've created a little snack bag, and have checked to see that I have some cash in my pocket. I've always had the tendency to forget to think about food (which is why I was such a sickly, skinny kid) but I'm older and wiser now and I know that I will need to interrupt my fun every once in a while to refuel my body. Most people plan their adventures around food, I have to stop and think: food. With any luck today there will be a cheeseburger at the Chuckbox, too!

One of things that I just love to do when I'm doing this is to create a "then and now" photo. I have tried doing the search command on my phone, but it's more trouble than it's worth, so now I set aside a photo or two that I'd like to match up. Today in Tempe I'd like to do a "now" photo by one of the original buildings on campus to match up with a "then" photo from 1915. So I've sent the photo to Mick, and we'll both have it on our phones in our message app. Nowadays I don't need to remember to bring a camera, it's already in my pocket, as part of my phone. I just love new technology!

I just love this kind of adventuring, and I'm grateful to have someone to drive. I love looking out the window, and have no real interest in traffic lights, left turn signals, that sort of thing. I like looking at mountains, and have given over the driving to airplane pilots, shuttle drivers, buses, Light Rail, friends, and hopefully in the future, self-driving cars.

I promise to report back on this history adventure IRL! This is too much fun, and I love to share it!

The Hanny name in Phoenix, Arizona


If you've lived in Phoenix anytime after the 1880s, you've seen the Hanny name. If you're a real old-timer, you may remember Christian Hanny, but you probably are more familiar with his son Vic, who started a clothing store in 1912. His original store was on Central Avenue, and the store that most people know about today (which is now a restaurant) was built in 1949, at 1st Street and Adams.

Hanny's Menswear in 1949, when the building was brand new, 1st Street and Adams, Phoenix, Arizona. Now Hanny's Restaurant.

And yes, there are still members of the Hanny family around Phoenix. By the way, it's pronounced like Danny - Hanny. I had the pleasure of meeting some of those people recently (no, their last name isn't Hanny, it's been several generations along the maternal line) and taking a look at some of the interesting documents that have been preserved from all of the way back to the 1880s, just before the family moved to the brand new town of Phoenix.

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History Adventuring blog posts are shared there daily, also there's "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, and super high-resolution photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona

Anyway, if you live in Phoenix you know that much of its history gets erased. It's not a conspiracy, man, it's just that Phoenix has grown so quickly that it outgrows the tiny buildings that once were big enough, and new buildings get built. If you visit the restaurant that used to be the clothing store, it will probably amaze you that it was once considered a sizable business. Nowadays it's smaller than just one section of your local Walmart.

I don't expect buildings to be preserved in Phoenix, I understand that the city is bigger than it was back in the day, so I'm delighted when I see a building "re-purposed", and it's even cooler to me to see the name retained.

If you go to Hanny's, take a look down at the entrance when you walk in. It's a name that's just about as old as Phoenix, Arizona itself, and it's nice to see it preserved.


Image at the top of this post: Photo of the entrance to Hanny's 1st Street and Adams, 2017.