This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Paradise Valley, Arizona, when it was a terrible place to live


The 1920s are so long ago that no one I know of can think of Paradise Valley as ever being anything but an expensive, and exclusive, community. But before reliable water was brought in, it was just a place of random shacks in the desert. Just dust and Gila Monsters, not even reliable groundwater. The article above is from 1921. And yes, that was Paradise Valley.

By comparison, life was good to the south of Camelback Mountain, and the Phoenix Mountains, because there had been reliable water, through the Arizona Canal, since 1885. And since the valley slants southwest, and water doesn't run uphill, the area north of the canal had no water. Yes, you could have purchased all of the land that you wanted, for cheap, north of the canal, and people would have thought you were crazy.

But there have been a lot of "unreasonably optimistic" people in the Phoenix area. In the article there from 1921, people were hanging on, hoping for the best, waiting for the Paradise-Verde Dam. And then, of course, the Bartlett Dam was built, and the people who owned some of that "worthless desert land" became wealthy. And they went from being thought of as crazy to being visionaries. How about that?

Obviously, if you have the money, it would be wise to invest in Paradise Valley. If not, you may need to do what they did before the 1930s, invest in something that no one in their right mind would, hang on, and hope for the best. It's happened before.


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