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

The changing attitude towards mountain views, and open spaces


OK, I'll admit it, I love mountain views and wide open spaces. That's part of why I live in Arizona, with its sweeping views and majestic vistas. And, at the risk of sounding like the Chamber of Commerce, there is still a lot of it, just minutes from Phoenix. You can get in your car, and in a few miles, you are seeing stuff that looks like a photo from Arizona Highways.

But attitudes about mountain views and open spaces have changed in the past few generations. If you drive around the Phoenix area, you see that mountains in the past were just convenient places for practical stuff, like radio towers, and water tanks. Open spaces were torn up by off-road vehicles, or digging for gold.

The photo above shows the owner of the Spur Cross Ranch, Francis Shaw, in 1905, and what the Spur Cross Conservation Area looks like nowadays. Back when Shaw owned the land, its value was for for the gold and silver that could be dug up. He would have laughed at the thought that the land and the mountains had any value beyond that. If you put on some hiking shoes and a backpack, he would have (after shooting at you to get off his land) thought you were crazy.

I collect old photos of Phoenix, and I often hear people comment on how wonderful it must have been in the good old days. But often what I see tells me that the good old days are now.


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