Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Bringing human-scale architecture back to Phoenix, Arizona


As much as I've loved living in Phoenix, I miss human scale architecture. And if you're not sure what I'm talking about, get out of your car.

Even in my nice suburban neighborhood here in Glendale, everything is scaled for cars. And that means roads as wide as the length of a football field, blank walls next to sidewalks that are inches from gigantic vehicles rocketing by at freeway speeds, and parking lots that seem to stretch for miles.

Compare this to the city I lived in in the mid-1980s, Santa Barbara, California. Sure, there are cars - it's California, after all, but they're separated from the humans. Sidewalks along State Street aren't just afterthoughts. There are parking garages, nicely designed into the backgrounds, that allow people to walk with a few steps down to a human scale world. There are trees, and flowers.

OK, let's see a show of hands as to how many people have commuted to work on their bicycles in Phoenix! OK, that's a few, but mostly I'd say you're all suicidal - I knew that I must have been back in the 90s. Riding a bike to work shouldn't be a suicide mission. And it takes more than painting a few lines along the edge of high-speed traffic - it means creating an infrastructure that encourages bicycling. Safe places to lock bikes, that sort of thing. And for those of you who haven't ridden a bike in Phoenix, because it's too hot, the only thing that kept me from biking to work was the cold mornings in January! And I was lucky as I had access to a locker where I worked, so I could change, and shower. Yeah, you bicyclists who don't have access to that can put your hands down now, please. If you see what I mean.

Dragging around a 2,000-pound chunk of metal back and forth to work every day (I'm talking about a car now) is just a hassle. Still, it's nice to have a car so that you can go to a restaurant, or go shopping. But human scale architecture has that. Places to eat, places to shop. And not just trendy restaurants, but a place to buy a pack of chewing gum, a little place to grab a hot dog, or a taco.

I'm starting to see human scale architecture return to Phoenix. I see bicycle racks downtown, I see trees, I see light rail. Maybe in a few years people won't even remember how unfriendly the architecture of places like Phoenix used to be to humans. I'd like to see that.

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A 1980s detail that just about all movies get wrong - bluejeans


The first time that I saw a movie that was set in the 1980s, as a period piece, with appropriate costumes, etc., I was amused. Nowadays, I see them all of the time. And as someone who was alive in the 1980s, I can easily see how accurate they are, or aren't. And mostly the movies I've seen that are supposed to be set way back in the 1980s are correct, but the one thing that I see wrong over and over is how men more their jeans.

Correct length for modern day, wrong for the 1980s.

For the past twenty years, men have worn their bluejeans very long. That is, instead of just a slight break on the instep, like like the photo of the guys from the 1980s at the top of this post, they are worn all bunched up at the bottom, which is correct for the 21st Century.

In the 1980s, if you wore jeans that were so obviously the wrong length that they bunched up like crazy at the bottom, you looked ridiculous. Kind'a like wearing your dad's jacket, if it was way too big for you. Of course, you didn't want your jeans to be too short (which were called "high waters"), but you didn't want them so long that they dragged on your heels, or bunched up.

The "all bunched up at the bottom" style of wearing bluejeans has been around so long that showing men wearing bluejeans of the correct length in a 1980s period movie would look ridiculous to most people nowadays, so maybe the movies aren't doing it wrong, maybe they just don't want people to be giggling.

Peace on earth, good will towards men


Even though the old expression, "Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men", meant all of mankind, if you take it literally today, it's a worthy goal. A world where men don't kill each other, or hurt each other, is a good goal for mankind. And of course we must start with our children.

When I was a kid, children were taught that it was OK to hurt other children. Games were organized that encouraged pushing other children, and hitting them. Adults put children in uniforms and cheered at the brutality. It made me to ill to think of it then, and it still does. Because in my lifetime nothing has really changed.

Sure, bare-knuckled fist-fighting is a thing of the past, and we cringe when we imagine crowds of people standing around and cheering as the opponents got bloodied up and bruised.

No, I don't have any children, and they would probably be embarrassed by their old man's wimpy attitude towards violence. And no, I wouldn't go and protest against violent sports, children don't notice that. But I would do the one thing that children do notice, I wouldn't support violence. I would ignore violent sports. Because when children see adults watching violence, and cheering, the message to them is that it's all right.

But it's not all right with me. Nor is torturing animals, or committing violence to women, or other men. There are so many other things that men can do other than hurting each other. They can spend their time being good fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands.

When people ask me why I don't support wars, or bloodsports, my question to them is always, "Why do you?" And the answer is always the same - because it's always been that way in the history of the human race. But history can change. There's a better world there in the future, and it will be peace on earth, and good will towards men.

How the city of Phoenix lived without light rail from 1948 to 2008


The city of Phoenix, Arizona, which was founded in 1870, had a trolley car system from 1887 until 1948, and then had nothing until the modern light rail system, which is now in operation, began in 2008.

Electric Trolley Car in 1905, 1st Street and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

That means that for over sixty years, the city of Phoenix had trolley cars that took them all over the valley, and to Mesa and Tempe. Then in 1948 the trolley car system was abandoned, and for the next sixty years, light rail did not exist in Phoenix.

The Phoenix that I remember, beginning in the 1980s for me, didn't have light rail. And even most of my expert PhDs (Phoenix History Detectives) aren't old enough to remember the 1940s. And that makes it surprising for people like me to see old photos of the trolleys. The Phoenix that I know just kept widening the roads, building more parking lots, building more freeways.

The city of Phoenix lived with light rail for sixty years and then went without it for sixty years, but now it's back on track. I'm interested to see what happens next!




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The Heard Museum, Dwight and Maie Heard, and the Suburban Realty Company of Phoenix


If you've lived in Phoenix since the 1930s, you've probably know about the Heard Museum, which is a Museum of Indian Art, and is on Central between Thomas and McDowell. You may have even gone there, and if you haven't, I recommend it, it's a great place. And it all started with a young couple named Dwight and Maie (Bartlett) Heard, and the Suburban Realty Company of 1897 in Phoenix.

Now waitaminute, before you jump to any conclusions about a dramatic story of Real Estate, and wild land deals, hang on. That never happened. It was simply a story of two people who got rich by selling Real Estate in Phoenix. And they did it the old-fashioned way, they earned it.

Now, to be fair, Dwight did have the advantage of the Bartlett family, who had a fair amount of money on their own, and invested it with him. He also had the advantage of his wife Maie, who did more than sit around the house looking pretty, she helped run the business.

1913

I have to admit that the first time I saw the name of their company, the Suburban Realty Company, which began in 1897, I was surprised. I hadn't realized that the word Suburban was used that long ago. So the next time someone asks you how long Phoenix has been moving out to suburbia, just say, "over 100 years".

Maie and Dwight Heard having fun at a party in 1915 at their luxurious home "Casa Blanca", which was just south of where the Heard Museum is nowadays.

Dwight became hugely successful. He bought the local newspaper. He encouraged his friend former President Theodore Roosevelt to use some political pull to build a dam in 1911. He and Maie worked hard. And when they went on vacation, they collected art. Maie started showing it off to groups of people, and continued on for many years after Dwight died.

Theodore Roosevelt and Maie Bartlett Heard in Phoenix

The story of Phoenix is the story of people who have been "unrealistically optimistic". The dusty valley that Maie and Dwight saw, which flooded terribly every year, wasn't the sort of place that most people would have invested in. They did, believed in it, worked hard, and became successful.


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Why ASU was called a Normal School when it first began in 1885


As an ASU grad, and someone who is interested in history, I have to admit that the first time I saw the school called “Tempe Normal School”, I thought it was pretty funny. When I went there, it wasn't normal, and I can't imagine that is nowadays.

1911

Anyway, a Normal School is just the old-fashioned name for a school that specialized in teaching teachers, that is, a Teacher's College, which what the name of the school became in 1926, and in 1958 it became Arizona State University.



By the way, in case anyone asks you, and I doubt that they will, the original name of the team was the Normals. That's why the football players in the photo at the top of this post have an "N" on their jerseys. Then when the school changed its name to the Tempe State Teacher's College, it was the Bulldogs. Then in 1946, they became the Sun Devils, and the cartoon character that we know now was created by an ex-Disney cartoonist named Berk Antony.

Berk Antony and "Sparky"

So there you go. I am proud of being a Sun Devil, as I would have been of being a Bulldog, or being a Normal. Although I have to admit I like the sound of Sun Devil best!

Go Devils!

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Self-driving cars and the end of parking spots


Time travel with me to the near future. Self-driving cars are as unremarkable as cell phones. No one is gasping in amazement at them any more than anyone is gasping in amazement that I am able to make a phone call without a cord on my phone, miles away from my house. It's a complex system of computers, ground positioning satellites (GPS), that sort of thing, but everyone is just taking it for granted. Cell phones and self-driving cars. And it will be the end of parking spots.

I've lived in Phoenix and Los Angeles (mostly Phoenix) all of my adult life. And most of the people I've known have driven cars. And one of the most important things in their lives has been a parking spot. It's the first thing that eager eyes look for at a destination. It's the subject of conversation. When my California friends visit me, sometimes they just can't help looking at amazement at a parking spot. Look! Right there! Near the store, or restaurant!

In Phoenix in the summer the primo parking spot is in the shade. And the summer lasts into November, so finding a parking spot like that is important!

But in the future, self-driving cars will be like elevators. You get into them, get out of them, and they go somewhere else. Seeing no driver in them will be as unremarkable as seeing no elevator operator is nowadays. I sometimes wonder how freaked out people were the first time they were asked to push a button and have an elevator throw them up several stories. No driver? Just buttons? For something that's going up hundreds of feet? I'm sure a lot of people said, "no thank you, I'll take the stairs." I've always been an early adopter to technology, I'd like to believe that I would have been among the first people to use an "automatic elevator" in Phoenix in the late '40s and early '50s.

I like to time travel. I like to imagine Phoenix when electricity first arrived, and how amazing it must have been at first, and how quickly people got used to it. And when the first car arrived in Phoenix, in 1902, there must have been a lot of people who were genuinely puzzled by it. A horseless carriage? How could that be? But in just a few years there were so many cars in Phoenix that parking spots became vitally important. And in the near future, with self-driving cars, people will wonder why there was this fascination with parking spots "back in the day".

Thanks for riding along with me.

Water in Phoenix, Arizona


Every once in a while someone mentions to me that the water in Phoenix is drying up, and that the city is near a crisis state. Then inevitably they mention the droughts in California, and the Colorado River and the Hoover Dam. And then, at the risk of hurting feelings, I mention that Phoenix has been around since 1870, that the Hoover Dam was built in 1939, and that the water from the Colorado River didn't even reach Phoenix until the 1980s. And that's when people ask me "then where does the water come from?", and I point to the canals.

Yes, a small percentage of water for Phoenix comes from the Colorado River, but the vast majority comes from the Salt River. And if you look at a map of Phoenix and look at that big empty thing labelled "The Salt River", just south of the airport, I can understand your concern. There's no water in it (well, maybe a little around Tempe), but the river is still there, in the canals.

The canal just north of me, the Arizona Canal, was completed in 1885. And the water in it is snowmelt and rainwater from the uplifted areas northeast of Phoenix. The water is captured by a series of dams north of Apache Junction, and the water flows to just west of where I am right now, to flow into the Agua Fria River. And along the way there are water treatment plants to process fresh water so that I can make coffee and take a shower.

Phoenix is in the desert. But it wasn't plunked down in the middle of the desert hundreds of miles away from water. The Salt River flowed right past it. The Hohokams knew this, and so did the pioneers. Water didn't need to flow through miles of aqueducts, it just needed to be dammed and channeled. And over the years more dams were built, until the biggest one, the Roosevelt Dam, was built in 1911.

Phoenix manages its water well. Water here in the desert isn't an afterthought, it's something that was critically important from the day that Phoenix was founded. The engineering is spectacular, for bringing water in, and taking it away. And if you've never noticed it, that's not surprising. Many huge engineering projects are virtually invisible, like the Diversion Channel, or Tres Rios, which is for sewage treatment. And those big tanks on Lincoln Drive just south of Piestewa Peak are for fresh water treatment. I've driven past them a million times, and they aren't hidden, but very few people I talk to even realize that they're there.

Conserving water and managing it well is vitally important to the city of Phoenix. I wish that I could say thank you to the people who have done it so we'll, like SRP and the Maricopa County Flood Control District. I think I will - thank you! Great job! Keep up the good work for at least another 100 years!


Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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The Phoenix Mountains


OK, to be fair, the Phoenix Mountains, which run east and west from 7th Avenue to 44th Street, aren't really mountains. You know, like the Rocky Mountains. In fact, Omar Turney, who named Squaw Peak, refused to call it a "mountain", so he just called it a peak. Nowadays it's Piestewa Peak, but that's just part of the range of the Phoenix Mountains.

The Phoenix Mountains are exactly the kind of places that I've gone to all of my life, right there in the city and seemingly hundreds of miles away. And the best places in the Phoenix Mountains are easy to find - just look where everyone is going, and go somewhere else.

When I first moved to Phoenix, in the 1980s, I would park my car in the park and go wander over the southern slopes, in an area where there was a tiny old sidewalk. I called it the "pink sidewalk". Nowadays, of course, there are luxury homes there, so I don't go there anymore. But there are a lot of other places, such as a place that I call "Dinosaur Ridge" off of 7th Avenue just south of Peoria. I'm not sure why I call it that, I may have been watching some documentaries on dinosaurs at the time, or I may have always been looking for dinosaurs ever since I was a kid.

My goal is not to climb to the top of anywhere. I will glance at the view of the city that I love, but mostly I'll keep my eyes on the trail. I've been trying to learn the names of native plants, and I'm still not making much headway on figuring out the rocks. I have friends who can identify this stuff, so I'm working on it.

As someone who is interested in Phoenix history, I time travel. If you want to see what Phoenix looked like to the Hohokams, or the pioneers, just walk around the Phoenix Mountains. And all I can think of is how harsh it must have been for them. Sure, it's beautiful desert scenery to us now, but hundreds of years ago it would be have been a terribly difficult place for humans to live.

So if you have some spare time, go visit the Phoenix Mountains. Carry a bottle of water with you, and wear a hat, but you don't have to make it a chore, or a serious workout. Find your own place, and take all of the time you need. And as always, take only photographs and leave only footprints.


Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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The culture of Phoenix, Arizona


I've lived in Phoenix, Arizona (with the exception of a few years in Los Angeles) since I was a teenager. And since I grew up in Minneapolis, there wasn't much of a “culture shock” for me. Most of the people I've known in Phoenix are from the midwest, such as Iowa, or Minnesota. Or their parents, or grandparents, were. And if their family goes back in Phoenix beyond that, they have been in a city that has been immersed in Midwestern culture for a very long time, so they don't find midwestern behavior, or culture, all that unusual.

Of course, if you've never lived anywhere else in your life, you will deny that there is any culture at all. I am a believer that people all live in tribes and just call themselves “the people” and never consider that they have a “culture” or an “etiquette” at all - that's just the way things are done.

But if you've lived elsewhere, you know that every place has its own etiquette, and culture. That is, acceptable behavior. And since most of us don't want to feel stupid, or make social mistakes, it's important to learn the culture for a particular area. The good news is that if you're from Iowa, or Minnesota, or anywhere in the midwest, Phoenix will be immediately comfortable. If you're from elsewhere, you need to look out for a few things. Here they are:

• In Phoenix, we don't honk the horn of our cars. Whether this is the exaggerated courtesy of the midwest, or whether it's because it's a good way to get shot at, people don't honk in Phoenix. If you've lived in New York City, for example, honking is an acceptable behavior. I've even known Phoenicians who were reluctant to honk even if someone was backing up into them. When you hear honking horns in Phoenix, you are hearing outsiders.

In Phoenix, we don't hug. Even though Arizona is right next door to Hollywood, going around hugging everyone will mark you as an outsider. In Phoenix, we give a hearty handshake. This is Western, and Midwestern, behavior. If you like to hug, this may seem kind of stand-offish. It is.

• In Phoenix, family is important. This is a the strong influence of Hispanic culture. This was the only “culture shock” that I experienced when I moved from Minneapolis. Where I grew up, relatives were to be avoided, as people who would want to borrow money, or something. In Phoenix, I watched my friend Miguel walk down the street by his house and point to where a cousin lived, an uncle, etc. And I never heard the term “shirt-tail relative” in Phoenix. If family is important to you, you will do fine in Phoenix. If not, try it, it's kind of nice.

I've made it a point to hang out with “locals” whenever I have moved to a new city. But really, you'll never actually fit in. You'll always be a little bit of an outsider. Here in Phoenix, even after all of these years, I am still very Minneapolis to the locals. When I go back to Minneapolis, I am very Phoenix.


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Owning a car in territorial Phoenix


I love having a car and living in Phoenix. The car I own now is smooth and quiet, and best of all it has some awesome air conditioning! I push a button, my garage door opens, and before I've gone more than a block, no matter how hot it is out there, my little "technology bubble" is keeping me comfortable. And did I mention that it has an awesome sound system, too?

With this point of view, I've had a lot of trouble picturing owning a car in territorial Phoenix, right after the turn of the century, say from 1902 to 1912. But I think I'm figuring it out. It was a transitional time from relying on horses to relying on machines, and it must have been kinda crazy.

I like technology. I'm an early adopter. My career grew up with computers. I've used them at work and at home, so to me they're kind of like cars. It's hard for me to imagine a world without them, or people who don't like them. But comparing computers to cars helps me to understand.

Let's face it, in 1902 you would have had to have been pretty crazy to put up with the hassle and expense of owning a car in Phoenix. Horses were plentiful, and there were a lot of people who knew how to care for them. Yes, they required maintenance, but mostly you put hay in one end, and cleaned up what came out the other end. There were no gears, or machinery to fiddle with. And when I look back on those days I just wonder why people put up with cars. They broke down all of the time, there were no gas stations, and in order to even drive them around a bit, you had to be pretty much of a mechanic yourself, and you had to rely heavily on mechanics, and machine shops. Google the song "Get out and get under" if you want to know how unreliable cars were, and how funny it must have been to people who watched them go by, break down, start up again, break down, etc.

And the noise must have been horrific! The tiny engines of those cars had no mufflers, no pollution controls. The sound of the backfires must have sounded like gunfire on the streets of Phoenix. If you've ever been to a car show of old cars, you know what I mean. Noise and belching black smoke. It must have made the old-timers crazy. Get a horse!


Automotive technology existed alongside of horse and buggies in Phoenix for a very long time, the way that some people still have land lines along with their cellphones nowadays. You can also compare it to digital music and vinyl records nowadays. Sometimes an old technology is kinda nice.

Yeah, automobiles won out. There are a lot of them in Phoenix. And nowadays it's hard to imagine how awful it was back in the day. But the next time you drive up Central Avenue north of Bethany Home Road, take a look at the "old technology" walking by on the bridal trail. And get a horse.


Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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The story behind Osborn Road in Phoenix, Arizona


Like a lot of the roads in Phoenix, like Bell, or Thomas, Osborn Road is named after a farmer. He was John Preston Osborn, and that's his photo at the top of this post. His farm was waaaayyyy north of the Phoenix city limits in the 1800s (the city limits ended at Van Buren, by the way).

Of course, not much is left of the Osborn farm except the name. If you stop for a Starbucks at 7th Street and Osborn, you can see where the original Osborn school was, which was right next to Smith's Chapel, which became Bethel Methodist Church. There have actually been four churches there, and the one from the 1940s, which is still there, is the newest.


The Osborn family had a lot of influence on Phoenix. John's grandson, Sidney, became Governor of Arizona. Sidney's middle name was the same as his grandpa's, which, as a person who enjoys genealogical research, I like. Just to keep the record straight, Sidney's father was Neri.

I've always been fascinated by the names of things, even back when I was a kid. And I learned at an early age to tell whether the grownups were making stuff up to shut me up, so I became cynical. I have a lot of documentation on the Osborn family, and if you're wondering why I do this kind'a stuff, I'm wondering, too? They are no relatives of mine, but they helped to build the city that I love, Phoenix, so that makes them part of my Phoenix family.

Time capsule from 1893 at the Osborn farm


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Del Webb in Phoenix, and Sun City, Arizona


If you've lived in Phoenix for a while, you've seen the name Del Webb. I'm not gonna try to make a list of all of the places I've seen the name Del Webb stamped into a building, and if you've noticed them, you know why - too many for me to count!

But I like to focus on what made him famous, and got him on the cover of Time Magazine in 1962: Sun City. Yes, Del bought up a ghost town called Marinette along Grand Avenue in the 1950s and built a retirement city there.

Article about Marinette, Arizona in 1911

Now, waitaminute, Sun City wasn't the first retirement community around there, Youngtown preceeded it by several years (I don't want you Youngtown people throwing chairs at me here!). But Del really went all out. If you look at old photos of Sun City, you will see that he didn't just build some stray houses out there (and it was waaaaayy out there in 1960!), he built hotels, grocery stores, community centers, golf courses, just about everything that the people in the community would need. It really was, and still is, a self-contained little city in the sun.

Sun City, Arizona in the 1960s.

I like learning about the people who built Phoenix. Some of them were visionaries, some of them were finks. All of them were "unrealistically optimistic" about the future of Phoenix. When big money moved around, there were always shady characters in the background. These people were risk-takers, and the ones who didn't succeed have quietly faded away into obscurity. But someone like Del Webb, with his tremendous confidence, and his great ego, built cities, and left their stamp.

Del Webb

Sidewalk plaque on Block 23 from 1952 when the JC Penney's was built by the Del Webb Construction Company. It's still there - look for it on the sidewalk along the south side of Washington, near 2nd street.

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Why they cut down all of the trees in Phoenix, Arizona


I speak for the trees. I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where there are trees that arch over the neighborhood streets. Even though I've lived in Phoenix since I was a teenager, I still need to walk under tall trees sometimes. I don't know if it comes from being a Midwesterner, but I feel better around trees. I would like to think that everyone does.

I collect old photos of Phoenix, and what really catches my eye is the amount of trees that Phoenix used to have. Phoenix is much older than I had ever suspected, going back to 1870. And that's long before the invention of air conditioning, which pretty much made trees unnecessary, I guess.

But trees did more than shade the un-air-conditioned buildings of Phoenix. They were planted along the canals to show off that life could now flourish here in the desert. They were wind breaks along the edges of farms. And the palm trees showed that the valley had been made into an oasis.

Unfortunately, trees are messy. They are expensive to maintain. They use up valuable land that could be used for another lane of traffic, or more parking space. If you want to see the trees of old Phoenix, drive along Central Avenue north of Bethany Home Road. And if someone stops and tries to make a left turn, you can see why an additional lane would keep traffic moving. But here at least, the decision was made to keep the trees, and put up with the inconvenience of not having another lane.

The argument that I often hear against trees are that they take too much water, and that, after all, this is a desert. And then these people who are cutting down trees go and pour thousands of gallons of water on Bermuda grass, or fill their pools.

Take a look at the photos of old Phoenix, and especially look at the trees. And if you want Phoenix to look like that again, plant a tree, and care for it. Speak for the trees.

Image at the top of this post: looking north on Central Avenue in 1919 from the Heard Building, between Adams and Monroe, Phoenix, Arizona.


Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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How Phoenix was affected by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake


Nowadays Phoenix and San Francisco don't seem to have much of a connection. The City by the Bay seems so very far away, both physically and culturally. But in territorial Arizona, San Francisco was very important to Phoenix. It was a lifeline.

Time travel with me to 1906. San Francisco is ultra-modern. It's a busy city, with a busy port. There's nothing else that compares to it. Los Angeles won't really be much of a city for quite a while, certainly not with a port that rivaled San Francisco. The world connected to the western United States through the port of San Francisco.


Now let's go to Phoenix in 1906. And if you're picturing tumbleweeds and a sleepy "old west" town, look again. Phoenix is as up to date as it can be. There is electricity, street cars, modern buildings. There are banks. You can get gourmet meals at the major hotels, including oysters. You can drink champagne, and cold beer. You could buy expensive furniture, and fancy clothes, including the latest hats and dresses for the ladies. And most of it came from San Francisco.

In 1906 the connections between California and Arizona were very strong. People traveled easily back and forth. They had friends and family. So the disaster that hit San Francisco wasn't just something people read about in the newspaper.

1906 was a long time ago. And from a modern perspective it's easy to wonder "what were they thinking?" when you read about the earthquake. You may have read that the fire department blew up buildings, and that the police shot looters. But San Francisco rebuilt. And they learned a lot. It's still a delicate balance, but now as then, people were doing the best that they could.

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Returning home to Phoenix, Arizona


I didn't grow up in Phoenix. I moved there when I was 19 simply because I wanted to get away from the snow and cold of Minneapolis. I had a car, I knew how to read a map, and the rest I knew I could figure out when I got there. When I did get there, I got myself organized, figured out how to pay the rent, attended Phoenix College, and then got my degree at ASU. And I don't recall thinking one way or another about Phoenix. It was just a place to be. I left for Los Angeles a few days after I graduated to go find work in the Big City, which I did for a several years.

But when I returned to Phoenix, just for a visit, just to see some old friends, I knew that I was returning home. I never got that feeling in Minneapolis, and I never got it in Southern California. In Phoenix it washed over me in waves. This was my home.

Yesterday I was driving around the area of Phoenix that I had returned to, and I could see it the way I saw it back then. California had been so crowded and dirty, even the nice areas where I lived and worked. In Phoenix I lived in an apartment on a golf course for less than the tiny, crowded, better-hope-that-no-one-is-in-your-parking-space apartment in Los Angeles. The air in Phoenix was so clean, people were so friendly, and there were wide-open spaces. There were no lines at gas pumps, and grocery stores. Parking was always available. The signs on the freeways weren't grimy with dirt and encircled with barbed wire. For some reason I was fascinated by the generous amount of room around gas pumps, and the landscaping. The luxury of space made me feel like I could breathe again.

I bought a house in Glendale (the one I still have) back when "the west side" was still considered questionable. But I had seen Arrowhead (I'm, uh, Arrowhead adjacent, near Glendale Community College). I played a LOT of golf.

If people ask me where I grew up, I will say Minneapolis. I still have the Dodgers hat, and I visit friends in LA, but Phoenix is my home.

Image above: The Greens Apartments in 1989, 8445 N. 23rd Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona. 23rd Avenue just south of Dunlap.

Why the Arizona Republic newspaper was originally called the Republican


Unless you're a serious history buff, you may be surprised to find out that during the Civil War, Arizona was Confederate. That is, pro-slavery, and in favor of seceding from the Union.

Of course, Arizona had no real reason to be Confederate. The economy had never been based on slavery, and after the war, most Arizonans were anxious to remove the stigma of having ever been associated with the Confederacy. They were anxious to embrace the Union of the United States, the Republic.

The political party of Abraham Lincoln, which had been in favor of keeping the Union together, and was in favor of a strong Federal policy, were the Republicans. Democrats had been in favor of state's rights over being told what to do by the Federal Government. When the Federal Government started telling the states what to do, they went to war over it. That's the reason for the Civil War.

After the civil war, there were still plenty of pro-Confederate people in Arizona. But, like Confederate money, it was a lost cause. And the progressive people of Arizona wanted to not only side with the Union, they wanted to shout it. And Monday morning, May 19th, 1890, they shouted it with the name of a new newspaper, The Republican.

Arizona was shouting out to the world that they were not Confederate. By the 1911, Arizona had so embraced the Republic that it had attracted the Federal money to build a dam on the Salt River. And by 1912, it had won its statehood.

And if you're wondering whatever happened to the local Democratic paper, it was ultimately purchased by the Arizona Republic. It was called The Gazette.


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The beautiful weather of Phoenix, Arizona


OK, I'll admit it, I moved to Phoenix for the weather. I grew up in Minneapolis, which is wonderfully green because it seems like it's always either raining, or snowing. And while I like trees, and green landscaping, I don't like rain, and I don't like snow.

I collect old photos of Phoenix, and post them on a Google+ page called Phoenix Historical Images. It's a learning experience, and one of the things I've learned is that not everyone agrees with me about how beautiful the weather is in Phoenix. And that group tends to be the people who grew up in Phoenix, and who experienced the terribly hot summers. I have often wondered how these kids could stand the heat, trying to play outside, etc., but I guess kids do what they have to do.

I moved to Phoenix when I was 19, and have spent most of my time in a nice air-conditioned office. In fact, one of the jobs I had was in what I have always considered to be a “space ship” in a tall building downtown, now called Chase Tower. I would drive my air conditioned car into the shade of a parking garage, walk underground to the building, and take an elevator to my floor. The building had just about everything I needed, including a post office, and dry cleaners. Sometimes at lunch I would walk around downtown, but I really didn't have to.

It's October 3rd and I'm already getting that old feeling that has never left me, that winter will not be coming here. It's been a long time since I've seen snow, and sleet, and cold, and believe me, I don't miss it. And this glorious weather will continue for the next six months, with brilliant sunshine, almost no rain (we do get some light rains in December and January), and no snow.

People who grew up here just shake their heads at people like me, who consider the weather in Phoenix to be beautiful. I've tried to explain it, but really, I was never a kid here riding my bike to school in the terrible heat. It must have been awful. But to me, it was all about playing golf in November. You can't do that in Minneapolis!

Photo above: Sahuaro Ranch, Glendale, Arizona.


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