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!

Driving from Phoenix to Los Angeles - via Wickenburg?


I've driven back and forth between Phoenix and Los Angeles more times than I can count. So each time I would watch the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Psycho” I would scoff at what I considered the obviously very poorly-shot scenes of Janet Leigh's character driving out of Phoenix in 1960. If you look carefully, you will see what looks like Grand Avenue. Which it is, and which was actually the route to Los Angeles at the time. Really.

Grand Avenue looking northwest in 1960. That's the hood of Janet Leigh's car in the movie "Psycho". This is north of Olive, where the railroad tracks switch from the left side of Grand over to the right. At the time, this was the route to Los Angeles.

I collect old photos of Phoenix and old maps and, yep, that's how people drove back and forth between Phoenix and Los Angeles, through Wickenburg. I've been to Wickenburg a couple of times, but I never considered it as a logical route to Los Angeles!

Take a look at a map and go northwest up Grand Avenue. I live in Glendale, so I'll start there. Now stop at Wickenburg, and then go west. The route will take you, along Arizona 60, through Aguila and Salome to where you will exit on I-10 and go into California crossing the Colorado River at Blythe (that part I know).


If you're wondering why people went to Wickenburg, take a look at the empty stretch of desert there between the Phoenix metropolitan area and the next major town due west, which really was Blythe, California. Nowadays we don't give a second thought to heading out into the empty desert for long distances in our modern, reliable cars. But it wasn't always that way!

Old automobile routes, like stage routes, and wagon routes, went from town to town. It was more important to find reliable food, water, and supplies than being concerned about going in a perfectly straight line.


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