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

When Phoenix was a city of trees


Although I seem to spend most of my time nowadays in cyberspace, when I do get the opportunity to sight-see in my favorite city, Phoenix, IRL (In Real Life), I am most attracted to the neighborhoods with trees. If I drive downtown, I will make a point to take Central Avenue, going south from Dunlap.

The Evans House on 11th Avenue and Washington

I collect old photos of Phoenix and one of the things that amazes me is that it used to be a city of trees. From territorial times until the mid-twentieth century (when air conditioning came into common use), the city was practically a forest.

Tempe in 1895

I like trees. Not only do they gave shade, they just kinda make me feel good. They give "curb appeal" to a house. In a city like Phoenix, with such burning heat and glaring sun, they soften it.

But I understand why people cut down trees. Trees are messy, trees cost money to maintain. I've known a lot of people who have proudly told me that they have cut down the trees in their yard and no longer have to worry about cleaning up the leaves, or paying to have them trimmed, or watering them. And I guess I understand. Still, I wish that they wouldn't do that.

The good news is that it seems like I'm not the only one who likes trees. I am seeing more and more of them. And yeah, they block the signs when you're looking for a particular place in a strip mall, they drop leaves that have to be swept up. I won't argue with people who think that they use too much water. They need to be maintained, either by the city or by the homeowner, which costs money.

For most of its history, Phoenix was a city of trees. Maybe in the future people who look at old photos of Phoenix in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century will wonder what happened. And hopefully the trees will return.

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1 comment:

  1. I agree with all the assessments you make here. I remember when the trees along North Central were so big and tall their branches seemed to almost touch in the middle. And then, if I remember right, they were cut down in the late 1960s or early 1970s because an occasional branch would break off in a monsoon storm and land in the street. But people missed them and saplings were soon replanted in their stead. They've grown up again, but still not like they were back in the day.

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