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

The lost Phoenix of the 1960s


I've been posting a lot of images lately on my Facebook Phoenix Historical Images page, of the 1960s in Phoenix, and I am coming to the conclusion that it is pretty much all gone. I started this project just with the idea in mind of finding a lot of cool old photos of Phoenix, but I am learning something that is making me sad - the lost childhood of many people who grew up in Phoenix.

I didn't get to see the Phoenix of the 1960s. By the time I got here, it was all being torn down and made into parking lots. But the images that I am finding are haunting. Many of them show a place full of vitality and people, with homes, business, and activity, that have now been bulldozed and are just dirt.

Take a look at this image of Grand Avenue and 20th Avenue in the 1960s and then go compare it to the Google satellite view. It's now nothing but dirt. In this photo there is a flurry of activity. I imagine a grouchy old guy sitting behind the desk at the repair shop, maybe smoking a cigar. The "exit only" sign is ignored as the cars pile up out front. There's a ratty old white picket fence in front of the house on the right.

Sure, it wasn't pretty. But it was the Phoenix of many people's childhood, and it's gone now. I will keep looking for more images to share. At least those are still around, and hopefully always will be.


Image at the top of this post: Grand Avenue and 20th Avenue in the 1960s.

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