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

Sunnyslope, a place of compassion

There are a lot of reasons why people chose to live in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The story that most of us know is of the GIs who saw it and chose to move there after World War II, saying good-bye to snow and cold. And yes, that accounts for the largest increase in population in Maricopa county, and if that's all you've ever heard about, it's not surprising. But there is so much more to the story.

Yes, most of the people who came to the Phoenix area in the late 1800s were farmers and entrepreneurs. And in the Phoenix area, there was a thriving community of farmers and businesspeople many years before the The Roosevelt Dam was built on the Salt River.

But the Sunnyslope area was different. There was no steady supply of water there until 1959, only wells. So it didn't attract farmers. There were some, of course, but very few. The rich farmland with the steady supply of water was down by The Salt River. And not only was the farmland rich, the people there were, too. And that wealth attracted men like Dwight Heard, the greatest entrepreneur of Phoenix history, who sold land, encouraged investment, that sort of thing. His company, the Suburban Land Company, was established in 1897.

The Sunnyslope area was not a place that attracted farmers, or entrepreneurs. Farming was nearly impossible without a steady supply of water, and the people who lived there were not wealthy, so there was no attraction to entrepreneurs. There was no train service to the Sunnyslope area, and in fact, even the roads were crude by comparison to Phoenix. But Sunnyslope was a place of compassion, and it still is.

It's hard for us to imagine a time when the only thing that a doctor could recommend to you if you have a breathing ailment was to go live where the air was dry. At the turn of the century, many people who had lost all hope of recovering from tuberculosis came to the desert. These people were not seeking fame and fortune, they were desperate to live. And Sunnyslope became a welcoming place for people who were not welcome elsewhere.

This compassion evolved into a place called The Desert Mission, and eventually into John C. Lincoln Hospital, which is now called the HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center. The compassion continues to this day.

Sunnyslope in the late 1950s

The Desert Mission in the 1940s

John C. Lincoln Hospital in the 1960s

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