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!

How to amaze people with Phoenix, and Los Angeles, history


Phoenix and Los Angeles are both very modern cities. And, in spite of arguments that I've heard from locals, most people who live there didn't grow up there. And even for people who did, chances are pretty slim that their parents, or grandparents, did. And this leads inevitably into the common misconception about my two favorite cities, which I call "Back in the day, when the mall was built". And since Phoenix predates Park Central Mall by nearly 100 years, and Los Angeles predates the Sherman Oaks gallery by even longer, it really doesn't take much to amaze many people about the history of these cities.

I have a particular fascination for Phoenix, and Los Angeles, history. For me, it just has always made me more comfortable in these adopted homes (I grew up in Minneapolis). I moved to Phoenix when I was 19, all alone, and it was a pretty scary place for a Midwestern boy on his own. And Los Angeles was even scarier to me! So I took ownership of these places by learning about them. I learned about Hollywoodland in Los Angeles, I learned about Jack Swilling in Phoenix.

Nowadays, I obsessively collect old photos and post them onto the web. I've been doing it for a very long time now, and there are still things that I'm uncovering, and still looking for. And every once in a while I see a nice color photo, like on a postcard, and I post it even if it's not too old or historically significant, to the amazement of many people who kind'a figured that the city that they lived in was only about as old as when the mall was built.

So, really, you don't need to go as far as mentioning that Los Angeles was once part of New Spain, or that Arizona was once a Confederate territory. Most people are amazed, and delighted, to find out what their city was like just a few generations ago.

For me, I'm always amazed, and overjoyed, to learn more about my favorite cities.

Image above: Eastlake Park in Phoenix, and Westlake Park in Los Angeles, at about the same time. The lake in Phoenix is gone, but the park is still there, and the park in Los Angeles is now called MacArthur Park, in the community of Westlake.

The connection between Sherman Oaks, California, and Phoenix, Arizona