Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

The heat island effect in Phoenix, Arizona


Territorial Phoenix didn't have air conditioning, but it had trees. From the 1860s until the 1920s, which is when air-conditioning started to become popular, the city was a forest of trees. The canals were lined with trees. Houses almost disappeared behind trees. Tall trees arched over roads casting deep shade. I'm not suggesting that the summers were even close to being comfortable in territorial Phoenix, but at least the city wasn't actually heating itself up. That started with the two things - air conditioning, and cars.

The Evans House in 1904, 11th Avenue and Washington. The house is still there, but the trees are gone.

If you've ever stood next to an air conditioner, or a car, you know that the vast majority of the energy that they consume is expelled as heat. And if you multiply that by millions of these heat-generating machines operating at the same time, you would see that it brings up the air temperature quite a bit. But that is just the beginning of the *heat island effect*. When cars became popular in Phoenix, in the late teens and early twenties, more paved roads had to be built. It may not rain often in Phoenix, but when it does, you don't want mud-clogged roads! And those paved roads reflect and hold in the heat generated by the machines traveling on them.

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The greater number of cars meant that roads had to be widened. And when a road widens, it means that the trees that were originally along the edges, and making shade, have to go. Take a look at Central Avenue between of Bethany Home Road and the Arizona Canal and you will see what streets in Phoenix used to look like, lined with trees.

Looking north on Central Avenue from Monroe in 1919. This photo was taken from the Heard Building.

The modern era came to Phoenix in the 1920s. And that spelled the end Phoenix as a city of trees. As new buildings and houses were built, a few decorative trees were planted, but the original function, which was shade, was lost, to be replaced by air conditioning. Old-timers who knew territorial Phoenix would have been shocked at how stripped bare their city had become after the 1920s.

Phoenix was once a city of trees, and hopefully that day will return.

Why Valley National Bank abandoned its headquarters in downtown Phoenix


When I first started working as a Graphic Designer for Bank One, in 1992, our department floor in Bank One Center (now Chase Tower) looked down on a building that I found fascinating. It was an old Art Deco building, which had the look of a building in a Batman movie, all weird angles, stained, and abandoned. Nobody seemed to know anything about it, so I started asking around.

As of this writing, this building, originally called The Professional Building, is being restored as a Hilton Hotel. And if you're wondering why Valley National Bank abandoned it, and turned its back on it so long ago, you just need to look at their slogan, "Progressing with Arizona".

When this building was new, in 1931, people were more than just a bit suspicious of banks. If you know your history, you know that the 1929 crash on Wall Street closed a lot of banks, and people were more inclined to keep their money safe under the bed than in a bank. So the first thing banks needed to do was to show strength and stability. When the Professional Building was new, it did just that. But the next step was even more important to the building of Arizona, branches.

Valley Bank branch in the 1960s, 44th Street and Camelback Road. Now a Chase branch.

Although we take it for granted now, before the 1940s, branch managers didn't have much authority to approve loans. Valley National Bank changed that. By the 1950s, customers could walk into any branch, anywhere in Arizona, and get a loan. They didn't need to go downtown. And so, through the 1950s and 60s, the emphasis was on creating branches that didn't seem as if they were "backwater".

In 1973, the tallest building in Arizona, Valley Center, was built as the new headquarters for Valley National Bank. By then, Arizona and Valley National Bank were one and the same. The building was never called "Valley Bank Center" and it never had a Valley Bank logo on it. The size and the design of the building said everything that it needed to say. And all traces of the old Valley Bank headquarters, in the old Professional Building, were taken away.

Valley National Bank executives inspecting the model for the new Valley Center building in the 1960s. President Earl Bimson is pointing to the parking garage.

Valley Center under construction in 1972, Central and Monroe. Now Chase Tower. The building at right, the original headquarters, known as the Professional Building, which was built in 1931, was abandoned not long after the new building went up and has remained empty and boarded up since then.

Phoenix, and Arizona, was built by people who have had a progressive attitude. And unfortunately, their forward thinking has often left the past behind, to be thrown away. Nowadays, people in Phoenix want to live in a city that looks forward and also respects the past.


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Historic air quality in Phoenix, Arizona



Most of the people that I talk to nowadays have no recollection of poor air quality in Phoenix. In fact, it seems that most people seem to recall that Phoenix had better air quality *back in the day* than it does now. But apparently Phoenix the 1970s and early 1980s had some of the worst air quality in the country.

Luckily, this situation only lasted for a few years. By the mid-1980s new laws concerning pollution control for homes, businesses, and especially cars, had started to make the difference. And attitudes about the polluting of the air, which had been so casual before the 1970s, was starting to change.

When I moved to Phoenix from Los Angeles, in 1989, I spent a lot of time just admiring the blue skies. I had lived in the San Fernando Valley, where the air was always brown and it was an exceptional day when the mountains, only a couple of miles away, could even be seen. In Phoenix I could always see the mountains, and on some days it was so clear that I felt that I could reach out and touch them, especially after a rain.


Brad draws custom cartoon illustrations for publications, blogs, presentations, anything you want. You can contact him at his website BradHallArt.com



The men who built the Arizona Canal in Phoenix, Arizona


If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, anywhere from the northwest valley, past the Biltmore, south of Camelback Mountain, or near Indian Bend Road in Scottsdale, you have crossed over the Arizona Canal. Or you may have biked, or walked along it. To me, it's amazing that it starts way up north of Apache Junction and ends west of me, in Peoria. And what's even more astonishing to me is that it was built in 1885, dug by hand, and privately financed.

I have a pretty good imagination for time traveling, but it's hard to imagine anyone building a canal that long way out in the middle of the desert like that. And in addition to the back-breaking work, I am amazed that anyone would finance something like this.

I don't have the names of the men who actually dug the canal, but I have the names of the men who financed it. Or, to be more precise, raised the money to finance it. These guys must have been incredible at sales! Whether you would call them "founding fathers of Phoenix" or just "get rich quick guys", they had vision. Here they are:

William Hancock

William Christy, Valley Bank

Moses Sherman. Californians will recognize him as the founder of Sherman Oaks.

William John Murphy. His house was (and is) at 10 W. Orangewood.

John Y.T. (Yours Truly) Smith. Yes, he legally changed his middle name to Yours Truly.

Clark Churchill. His mansion on 5th Street and Polk was used as the first Phoenix high school.

So the next time you walk or bike along the Arizona Canal, think of these guys. They must have been crazy! But I'm glad they were.

The Arizona Canal in the 1930s.


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Mexican Food in Phoenix



I was 19 the very first time that I tasted real Mexican Food. Being from Minneapolis, I may have had a taco from Taco Bell, or something like that, but my first taste of the real thing was at La Cucaracha, which was on the southeast corner of Indian School Road and 7th Street. Yeah, it's long gone now, but don't despair, there are still a lot of great Mexican Food places in Phoenix.

The trick, of course, is to go where the locals go, and avoid the touristy places. Well, actually some touristy places are still good, come to think of it. Still, I always followed the recommendations of people who had lived there for a long time.


It was in Los Angeles where I developed a taste for Mexican street tacos. I learned how to hold up two fingers and say *dos tacos* at the Roach Coaches. If you've never had a street taco, it may surprise you, it's a small soft tortilla with chopped up beef, onions, and cilantro. And hot sauce! Some restaurants serve them - just look on the menu for Street Tacos.

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When I moved back to Phoenix, and started working downtown, I discovered El Norteno, which was, and is, just off of the freeway exit on Roosevelt. I haven't been there in years, but when I did go there, I sat outside, enjoying authentic Mexican Food, and an authentic atmosphere. If you've been there, you know what I mean. On Fridays they served Carne Asada freshly grilled in the parking lot, with genuine Mexican Cokes. I would sit there in my shirt and tie, and be in heaven. I wonder if they still do that? I hope so.

When Arizona State University was the Normal School


If you're an ASU alumnus, like me, you may be surprised to find that it was originally a Normal School. A Normal School is an old-fashioned term for a Teachers' School, that taught teaching "norms". The school became the Tempe State Teachers College in 1925, then the Arizona State Teachers College, until it became the Arizona State College in 1948, and Arizona State University in 1958.

Tempe Normal School baseball team in 1907

The original name for the teams was, you guessed it, the "Normals". Every once in a while I've seen reference to the team as the "Teachers", but contrary to popular belief, they were never the Owls. They became the Bulldogs in 1925, after the name of a popular dog on campus (yes, Pete the bulldog was real), and then in 1946 the Sun Angel Foundation suggested the Sun Devils, which remains to this day.

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The Main Street of the Phoenix, Arizona area - the Apache Trail


If you live in the Phoenix area, it's hard to imagine just one road that goes all the way through the entire area, from Wickenburg to Apache Junction, but there is one, and it's still there. It goes by many names, but originally it was just 60. And if you go back further in time, Highway 60 was the Apache Trail.

If you start from the east, it's still called the Apache Trail. It becomes Main Street in Mesa, Apache Boulevard in Tempe, crosses the Salt River as Mill Avenue (originally at Ash), goes through Phoenix as Van Buren, then goes north by northwest as Grand Avenue and on to Wickenburg.

The Ash Avenue Bridge in Tempe

Old postcards tell the story. Long before freeways, the route through Phoenix was lined with motels. For those motels that were in the east valley, the confusion as to whether the main street was Apache Boulevard, Main Street, or Apache Trail, was solved by just using numbers. The main number, of course, was U.S. 60. In fact, before the late 20th century, there really wasn't any way that you could go far wrong, that was the trail. Anywhere else was just desert and small roads. If it had good pavement, chances are you were on 60. And since it was the only road through the area, it was also highway called 70, 80 and 89.

Take a look at the motel in the photo at the top of this post. In the 1950s, do you think that you would have had any doubt that you were on the right road? This motel, called The Sand Tanks Motel, gave its address as six miles east of Apache Junction on U.S. 60, 79, 80, 89. You can't miss it.

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Whatever happened to Valley National Bank of Arizona


If you lived in Phoenix any time between the 1890s and 1992, you probably remember Valley Bank. No, that's not a typo, 1890s, eighteen-nineties. And even if you didn't bank there, there were branches all over Arizona, and chances are very good that someone you knew financed their house, car, or business, through VNB.

I've spent many years trying to figure out the story of what went wrong, and what went right, with Valley National Bank of Arizona. And what went wrong was, well, the 1980s in Arizona.

If you know about the financial disasters that hit Arizona in the 1980s, a lot of things spring to mind. The Savings and Loan failures, Charlie Keating, the list goes on and on. And apparently the shock waves were enough to even affect a solid institution like Valley National Bank.

By the time I started at VNB, in their marketing department, in 1989, the company was in terrible trouble. I really didn't understand, and still don't today, but I knew that it was not paying dividends to its shareholders (it's called freezing). People who did understand were genuinely concerned for the future of Phoenix, and of Arizona. The fact was that VNB had pretty much financed most of Phoenix since the 1890s, and its collapse would have a devastating effect on the city. Sure, there was the FDIC, but that wasn't going to be enough to protect the crushing effect of a bankrupt Valley National Bank on the city that it had helped to create.

From my selfish point of view, I just remember thinking how unfortunate it would be for me, after getting this great job, to watch it wash away as the company failed. I really had no idea how important Valley Bank was, not just to me.

For the rest of the story, you have to appreciate that true national banking was on its way. That is, banking over state lines, which we take for granted today. Before national banking was legalized in 1996, no bank could operate over state lines. The idea went back to the Great Depression. If a bank should fail, at least its failure would be contained within a state. And that's why Bank One had been buying up banks all over the country, and it probably got Valley National Bank, in 1992, at a bargain price.

I was a Bank One employee from 1992 to 1996 and it was a glorious time. They brought in the much-needed capital to keep the bank running. And, really, other than the name, nothing else changed at that time. The bank kept the same employees, like me. Even the Valley Bank commercials, which had the head coaches from ASU and the U of A, remained the same. The logo changed from Valley National Bank to Bank One, but that's all. Bank One was wise enough to let the bank continue running. And it came back strong. So strong that in 2002 JP Morgan Chase bought it, and Chase continues the legacy of "financing the frontier".

And that's what happened to Valley Bank.

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Osborn Road, John Preston Osborn, and the Osborn family in Phoenix


My fascination with the history of Phoenix started with trying to figure out the names of the streets. It turns out that many of them, such as Bell, Thomas, and of course, Osborn, are named for the persons who owned the farm on that property. The roads were probably just called "the road to the Osborn place", which just got shortened when they started making maps.

Anyway, John P. Osborn (pictured above) started his farm right around the time of the establishment of the Phoenix townsite, in the 1870s. His son Neri was born in 1864 in Tennessee, so they weren't in Arizona that early. Neri's son, Sidney, was born on the farm in Phoenix in 1884.

Sidney Osborn, grandson of John P. Osborn

By the way, Sidney Osborn was the 7th Governor of Arizona, so you history buffs know about him. So, to keep the family records straight, Sidney was the grandson of John P. Osborn, for whom the street was named.

Neri Osborn, son of John, father of Sidney

The Osborn family was a large and influential family in Phoenix. So much so that some people around the turn of the century complained that they were overly-influencing the politics. And this concentration of power is something that always happened with wealthy and well-connected families. My research is that the Osborns were good for the city of Phoenix, and the state of Arizona. Sidney served four terms in office, and died while still in office, of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

John Preston Osborn is buried at the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park Cemetery at 15th Avenue and Jefferson. There is an active organization, of which I am a member, called The Pioneers' Cemetery Association, that helps preserve the memories of the people who made Phoenix.

So there you go. If someone tells you that the city of Phoenix isn't that old, just show them John P. Osborn's beard!

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History adventuring in Phoenix, Arizona


I just love history adventuring, and I've been doing it since I was a kid. When I was a starving student going to ASU, I would go history adventuring in Tempe when everyone else seemed to be flying off somewhere. When I began my professional career in Los Angeles, I went history adventuring to calm my jangled nerves, which happened a lot. Usually I just went alone.

In the last few years I have been going history adventuring with fellow adventurers, and while the experience has been positive for my friends, I realize that my point of view is a little puzzling. And the main problem that I've found is that most people become grown-ups after living for a certain number of years, and it's something that I've managed to avoid.

I used to say this kind of stuff to my art students - you knew how to do this back when you were a kid. It was when you became a grown-up that you forgot. When you were a kid, you could go somewhere just to go somewhere. You didn't need tour guides, or brochures. You could sit there watching the water go by in the creek, and imagine a time when only Indians lived there. I did that in Minneapolis.

When I go history adventuring, I don't go to museums, I don't go to gift shops, I don't read brochures. Yeah, that sounds kind of weird, but my friends understand. I wander off.

If you're lucky enough to live in Phoenix, Arizona, you don't have to drive for hundreds of miles, and visit historic sites with tour guides, gift shops, and brochures. You can, of course, but you don't have to. Just look around. There were Cowboys and Indians in Echo Canyon, and you can still see them, if you want to.



Image at the top of this post: Cudia Studios in the 1950s. Note the Praying Monk on Camelback Mountain. You can see that rock formation on the "nose" of the camel, when you are driving east towards the mountain on Camelback Road. Squint your eyes and you can see the Cowboys, too.

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A celebration of peace in Arizona - the Five Tribes Treaty of Peace Celebration


If you've never heard of the Five Tribes Treaty of Peace Celebration, it's not surprising. In my journey of learning about the history of Phoenix, and Arizona, which I have been on for many years now, I only heard of it for the first time two days ago.

I've been thinking about it, and trying to figure out why it's mostly unknown, even to people who profess to have expertise on Indian history in Arizona. I guess maybe it's not dramatic enough. Maybe peace doesn't make an interesting story. But it's interesting to me.

This alliance, which was created in 1863 between the United States Military and the the five tribes, the Pima (Akimel O’odham), Maricopa (Pee Posh), Yuma, Hualapai, and Chemehuevi people, has stood for over 150 years. It is celebrated every April at the Gila River Indian Community. Yes, a celebration of peace.

The more I learn of this, the more surprised I am to learn of the alliance that helped to create my favorite city. Like just about everyone else I know, I grew up knowing about nothing but conflict. And maybe conflict makes a better story, and maybe a peace treaty doesn't make for drama, but it's an important part of Arizona history, and it is worth remembering, and celebrating.

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Attitudes towards whiskey in old-time Phoenix


My fascination with history, specifically Phoenix, makes me wonder about how people lived day-by-day. History books, which really don't interest me, tend to talk about people as if all they ever did was heroic, noble deeds with a keen eye towards the future. But I know that a lot of them were drinking whiskey.

Now waitaminute here, I'm not saying that Phoenix was populated with a bunch of drunks. On the contrary, territorial Phoenix never had a reputation as a wide-open town, with drunken brawls, that sort of thing. But that doesn't mean that the people didn't drink a lot of whiskey.

If you know your United States history, you know that the sale of intoxicating beverages became illegal in 1920. It was called prohibition, and it lasted until the law was repealed in 1933. Arizona prohibited intoxicating beverages six years earlier, in 1914. And in Glendale, where I am typing this right now, the sale of intoxicating beverages was prohibited from the founding of the town, in 1910. It was a temperance colony. That is, no alcohol to be sold in the city limits of Glendale, Arizona, forever. Yeah, that was repealed in 1933, too.

Time-travel with me. Attitudes about drugs, like alcohol, have changed in 100 years. And there is still a lot of consumption of alcoholic beverages in the Phoenix area, even to this day. And now, as then, it created problems for law enforcement, health care professionals, and families.

1911 ad for whiskey in Phoenix

Whiskey was an all-purpose drug in the old west. Mothers would use it to sooth crying babies who had teething pain, by rubbing a little on their teeth. And speaking of teeth, remember that dentistry was pretty crude in territorial Phoenix (meaning no disrespect to the fine dentists of the time, it's just that the technology wasn't as good as it is today), so whiskey was used by people who suffered from the type of nagging pain that we don't much think about nowadays.

I often joke with my friends while we're history adventuring that a lot of the people that we are talking about probably kept a flask of whiskey in their pocket. From a modern point of view, it seems to be very strange, but if you time-travel, it would have been strange not to always have some whiskey. You know, for medicinal purposes!

By the way, if you're wondering if territorial Phoenix had cold beer, it did. Phoenix had electricity, and ice plants, as early as the 1890s, so important things, like beer, could be kept cold. In towns that didn't have that technology, usually all you could get was whiskey.


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Walking along the Arizona Canal in the 1890s, Phoenix, Arizona


Walk with me along the Arizona Canal in the 1890s. It will be a long walk, nearly fifty miles, and it will begin east of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which is east of Scottsdale, and it will end in Peoria.

The canal, which was privately funded, was dug by hand. In 1885 the only horsepower available was from horses, and mules. It's a gravity-fed system, as the water flows southwest, along the slight tilt of the Salt River Valley.

Falls on the Arizona Canal. Yes, it's still there, and yes, you can still visit it.

We are walking west. As we approach what will someday be 56th Street and Indian School Road, there is a waterfall on the canal. Looking south across the empty and dry valley, we imagine that some day there will be a city there. It seems a stretch of the imagination! Maybe farms, orchards, businesses, maybe even golf courses!

Thank you for walking with me.

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From San Francisco, California to Wickenburg, Arizona in the 1860s, via Yuma


When gold was discovered in Wickenburg in 1862, it suddenly became very important to find the best route between there and San Francisco. And that route, which went through Yuma, only makes sense if you time travel, and follow the water.

With due respect to places like Los Angeles and San Diego, in the 1860s the only city that really mattered in California was San Francisco. It was the most important seaport on the west coast, and everything went through there, including a lot of money. And the amount of gold in Arizona got a lot of attention, you can be sure!

Ships sailed in and out of San Francisco constantly, to and from every port in the world. Getting a ship to Arizona took a bit of work, but they did it. Actually Arizona isn't really all that far away from the ocean - take a look at a map and zoom out. Something that people rarely think about nowadays is the Gulf of California, which comes within a few miles of Arizona. In fact, the United States tried to buy that bit of land from Mexico to use as a seaport in 1853, and failed. The Mexican Government snipped the lower left edge off to stop that. You can Google the Gadsen Purchase if you wanna find out more.

Since a ship can't sail up the Colorado River, whatever had to be shipped had to be transferred there at the mouth of the Colorado, onto something else. It must have been brutally difficult! But there was a lot of money in gold, so it was done. And there a couple of other things to consider, water, and defense.

The water was the Gila River, and the defense came from an alliance of the Indians who lived along the Gila, including the Yuma, Maricopa, and Pima people. And if you know your Arizona history, you know that north of the Gila River, in the Salt River Valley, was the war zone. Apaches.

The route crossed the Salt River at about where Phoenix International Raceway is nowadays and went along the eastern edge of the White Tank Mountains, not too far from where I'm typing this now in Glendale. Every once in a while I look at those mountains and wonder about how people did it, and why. Gold. As it's done for thousands of years, gold brought wealth, even at the risk of death. And without that gold, Phoenix would not have succeeded, and without the alliance, there would have been no gold.

The best resource I've found for figuring out all of this is the 1915 History of Arizona by Thomas Farish.

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My name in Spanish


If you only speak one language, it may seem a terrible mystery as to why someone who speaks a different language from yours can't pronounce certain words. And the reason is that not all languages use the same sounds. In some languages certain sounds simply don't exist.

When friends of mine, who spoke mainly Spanish, heard my name, Brad, the flat A made no sense. If you speak English, you can hear, and pronounce, the flat A. To exaggerate, it's Braaaaaaad.

Since there is no such sound in Spanish, my friends usually heard *Bread*. They weren't making fun of me, or comparing me to a loaf of bread, that's just what they heard, and what they said. And so, my nickname became Pan, or Pano Duro!


Brad draws custom cartoon illustrations for publications, blogs, presentations, anything you want. You can contact him at his website BradHallArt.com

Why there is an Indian Reservation next to Scottsdale, Arizona


I am reluctant to share what I am learning about Indians and the history of Phoenix. Even well-meaning people interrupt me, as they think that they already know all about it. I am saddened by this, as I have no interest in arguing with anyone. The real story, however, is so much more interesting than the racist comments that I hear. And I am willing to take the time to learn why certain things are, to this day, slightly mysterious about the relationship between the city of Phoenix and the Indian people who live there, and around there. If you are willing to take the time, walk with me.

If you know your Arizona history, you know that the Pima Indians lived as far south as Mexico, but only as far north as the Gila River, which is just south of Phoenix. The Pimas did not live in the Salt River Valley. Since the Hohokams had left there, no one did. It had become a war zone.

This was a centuries-old war between Indians, the Pimas and the Apaches, neither of which lived in the Salt River Valley. This is where they fought. Yes, the wounds have long since healed, but in the days of the founding of the city of Phoenix, the late 1860s, this war was ongoing.

The Phoenix pioneers, who wanted to settle in the Salt River Valley, allied with the Pimas. Their alliance was based on a common goal, which was to grow crops along the rivers, the Salt, and the Gila. The Pimas had been doing that for hundreds of years along the Gila, and they knew how to use the yearly cycles of the river. And they also knew how important it was to defend.

Of course, the logical place for the Pima Indian Reservation was where they were, which was along the Gila River. But a strategic place was also selected, along the Salt River. This was between the city of Phoenix and the Apaches, in the war zone.

The best information that I have found so far is the 1916 book by James McClintock Arizona, the Youngest State. His point of view is, of course, that of the people who finally won the war. If you take the time to read it, you will understand what that really means, and why it included Indian people, and does to this day.

Thank you for walking with me.


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The wisdom of the Pima Indians


Time-travel with me, back two hundred years in Arizona, near where the city of Phoenix will someday be. In our imagination we are Pima Indians, standing by the Gila River. No, we don't call ourselves that, we are simply the people. And the Gila is simply the river.

Our families have lived here for many, many generations. We survive in the desert not only because we are strong, but because we are wise. We know how to use the cycles of the river to cultivate crops. We thrive in a place where very few people could survive, and have done so for many generations.

In addition to speaking our native language, we speak Spanish, and English. Spanish-speaking people have lived nearby, and traveled through this area, for hundred of years, and while the English-speaking people are newcomers, we are learning their language, too. We defend our land against those who would hurt us, and we ally with those who would help us.

We will not be forced one day to learn agriculture, and civilization, as we already know it. We have been a civilized people for hundreds of years, and will continue to be so, along with the people who are willing to share our knowledge.

Let us walk together along the river. We have a long journey ahead.

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Phoenix, Arizona in the time of Around the World in 80 Days


In the story "Around the World in 80 Days" the characters travel around the world in 1872. When they traveled across the United States, the Transcontinental Railroad was fairly new and had reduced the time it took to travel from San Francisco to New York from several months to several days.

If they hadn't been in a such a hurry and decided to make a detour to Phoenix in 1872, they wouldn't have seen much, but Phoenix was there, and had been for two years. The townsite, which had been laid out in 1870, went from Van Buren to Harrison (where the railroad tracks are now) and from 7th Avenue to 7th Street. A few buildings had been built, mostly of adobe. Lumber had to come from northern Arizona, so it was wildly expensive. The same with bricks, although some were made locally. The railroad arrived in Phoenix in 1887.

I've been re-reading Around the World in 80 Days, and it must have been amazing to see all of that technology that was suddenly appearing at the time: trains, steamships, that sort of thing. Phoenix had some catching up to do, which it did!

Image above: Looking east on Washington from Central in 1872, Phoenix, Arizona.


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The Stockyards Restaurant, Phoenix, Arizona


There are a lot of places to get a great steak in Phoenix, and the Stockyards, which is on Washington at 50th Street, is one of them. It's been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember, and while it's not fancy and expensive, it's a little beyond my budget, except for special occasions.

Don't me wrong, it's not fancy-fancy, but it's not just a place to grab a quick bite. You can see people dressed up there, in business suits, and also in bluejeans. This is Phoenix, after all. If you've been there, you know. If you haven't, the best I can say is that it was the kind of place your grandfather ate when he wanted a good steak, and if your grandfather had a little class, but wasn't pretentious.

No, they don't pay me to say this, I'm just glad that they are still around. Living in Phoenix makes me nervous that at any day another classic restaurant will close. So I do try to get there when I can.

The stockyards in 1920. That is, the stockyards, not the restaurant, which came later.

The name, by the way, comes from the fact that there was actually one of the country's largest stockyards there. It was before my time, but some Phoenix old-timers tell me that the, uh, aroma, was pretty fierce! The cows are gone, but the location of the restaurant has remained in the same place, since 1947.

The Stockyards bar in the 1950s. Yes, it still looks like that nowadays.

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Walking along Melinda's Alley in the 1890s, Phoenix, Arizona


Time-travel with me, and let's walk along Melinda's Alley. It was an alley that ran east and west between Adams and Monroe in downtown Phoenix. If you've spent much time in downtown Phoenix you've seen it, but nowadays it really is just an alley. Let's take a walk in the 1890s.

In the photo above, you should recognize Camelback Mountain back there. We're looking northeast from the tallest building in town at the time, the Adams Hotel. That's where the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel is now, by the way. It's in the same spot, but it's not the same building. There have been three hotel buildings built on that spot, all originally named the Adams Hotel.

That's 1st Street there running past Melinda's Alley. At the time there were houses, and businesses, along Melinda's Alley. The streets of Phoenix had been laid out on such a gigantic scale that these little alleys were all over town, never officially on maps, but known by everyone. You can see references to them in ads in newspapers, in directories.

Look off into the distance, just slightly right of center. That's the old water tower, which was on Van Buren and 9th Street. Don't look for anything elaborate, it just looked like a thin black tower.

No, I have no idea where the name of the alley came from, or who Melinda might have been. Officially, it was never a Phoenix street anyway. She may have had something to do with the businesses that thrived around there at the time, which was the red light district, but I don't know. Just northeast of there was Millionaire's Row, with the big mansions on Monroe (the only one left nowadays is the Rosson House, which is on 7th Street), so Melinda's Alley must have been a little bit of an embarrassment.

Thanks for walking with me.

Image at the top of this post: Looking northeast towards Camelback Mountain past 1st Street just south of Monroe, over Melinda's Alley.


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My Los Angeles


When I moved back to Phoenix from Los Angeles, in 1989, my resume said that I had worked in Woodland Hills. If you're familiar with Los Angeles, especially the San Fernando Valley, you know that Woodland Hills, especially Warner Center, is a place worth bragging about. Unfortunately, if you're looking for a job in Phoenix, it means nothing to most people there. So I changed my resume to say Los Angeles.

Of course, if you know Los Angeles, you know that I didn't really live in Los Angeles. Well, technically I did, but if you say that you live in Los Angeles if you live in the Los Angeles area, you might as well be saying that you live somewhere on planet earth. When someone says that they lived in LA, I always ask "where?" You don't need to do that in Phoenix. If they say they lived in Phoenix, they mean Phoenix.

So, for people who aren't familiar with the greater Los Angeles area, I just say LA. But my Los Angeles, like everyone who has ever lived there, has some very sharp boundaries. My Los Angeles was centered in Woodland Hills and extended all of the way to Santa Barbara (not even in LA County!) to Hollywood. Anything beyond there, I may have known vaguely, but I always say, like on old maps "there be dragons there!" and I really don't know. Yeah, I've been to Anaheim, and Rancho Cucamonga, but only with my trusty map, a compass, and some breadcrumbs sprinkled on the ground so I can get home!

My Los Angeles is Calabasas, Malibu, Woodland Hills, Canoga Park, and Thousand Oaks. Yeah, you real Angelinos are shaking your head now. But since I live in Phoenix, most people just consider that whole area to be Los Angeles, and I try not to argue.

I have friends who live there, mostly the "Car Guys" - the ones who come here yearly to go to car auctions, like the Barrett-Jackson. They have full use of my house for the week or two yearly that they need to that stuff, and all I ask is to be invited to their places, just so I can see my Los Angeles again.

I love LA!

Image above: Topanga Canyon.


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Where the name of Tarzana, California comes from


The community of Tarzana, which is on the southwestern edge of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, was named after Tarzan. Yes, Tarzan of the Apes.

When I lived in Canoga Park, which is right nearby Tarzana, and I mentioned this to people, they just kind'a smiled and edged away from me. Of course, now, with the internet, you can check this out right away. And it still sounds bizarre.

But the San Fernando Valley is much older than most people realize. And when Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of the Tarzan books, moved there in 1919, he named his ranch after his most famous creation. And as the years went by, the name just stuck to the whole community. By the time he moved there, Tarzan of the Apes had been a best seller for years, and Burroughs was becoming a very successful author.

How the people who live in Tarzana nowadays feel about their neighborhood being named after a jungle man who liked to swing through the jungle on vines, I have no idea. I would like to think that those who do know take it with a sense of humor. Of course, very few people do know about it, but since you do, when you visit Tarzana, time-travel back to 1919 when it was just a ranch named after Tarzan.

Sahuaro Ranch, Glendale, Arizona


The Sahuaro Ranch (yes, it's misspelled that way) is an historic farm from the 1890s whose grounds and buildings have been preserved by the City of Glendale. There are also picnic areas, playgrounds, that sort of thing. It's just north of Glendale Community College, between Peoria and Mountain View and 59th and 63rd Avenue. It's part of the reason that I love living in Glendale so much, but chances are very good that if you live anywhere in the Phoenix area you can find places like this.

The peacocks have been at the Sahuaro Ranch since the 1930s

I've always searched out places like this. I rode my bike to the Minnehaha Falls when I was a kid in Minneapolis, I visited Los Encinos when I lived in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. I've always thought that it was my "artistic" nature, but maybe I just need quiet places to go. I sometimes wonder if it's just me?

Date palms, and Canary Island palms

I see my neighbors using the ranch for many things. Sometimes there are weddings there. There are some awesome baseball fields on the property, there is an area with covered tables for parties, there are old buildings to explore. Many of trees there are over 100 years old, including some date palms, and pecan trees.

The foreman's house, next to the corn field

Nowadays I always take my dog, Macintosh, with me to the ranch. When I'm just standing there, enjoying the scenery, and imagining what Glendale looked like 100 years ago, she pulls on the leash and keeps me moving. I visit there as often as I can, even in cyberspace, and it's never enough.

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