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!

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 kind'a 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.

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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.