Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Phoenix and Los Angeles in the 1960s


I didn't get to see Phoenix, or Los Angeles, in the 1960s. And it really must have been a wonderful place. I'm not kidding here, it was the era of The Beach Boys, and of many freedoms that have gone away. It was an explosion of the use of cars, and of brand new suburbia. I really do wish I had seen it, but all I saw was the after-effects, that Phoenix and Los Angeles are still working to clean up.

By the time I saw Phoenix and Los Angeles, they were in a mess. The air was so filthy that you could barely breathe. Neighborhoods that really weren't that old yet had been abandoned. I used to drive around and look at places and wonder why?

I still have no real answers to why it all went so terribly wrong by the 1980s, but I am pleased to see that there has been real progress on the cleanup in both Phoenix and Los Angeles. It has cost some freedoms, but they were the freedom to drive cars without emission controls, to burn garbage in open air, and to generally make a mess of the city in order to have personal convenience. I had never been the "throwing the cigarette out of the car window" type, so these types of freedoms being lost did not bother me.

For people like me who remember Phoenix and Los Angeles from 20-30 years ago, it is a treat to see them now. The sky is so much bluer. Neighborhoods that had been abandoned have been brought back to life.

Sure, there is still a lot of work to be done, but the horrific future of these cities as predicted by movies like "Blade Runner" didn't happen. I remember a time when I imagined it would, but it didn't. And Phoenix and Los Angles are so beautiful to me.


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Time traveling along the Gila River


Time-travel with me. We are Pima Indians, centuries ago, walking along the Gila River. But no, there are no centuries, only seasons, and the river is simply the river. And we are the people. You can leave your history books behind. Labels, and sharp edges, only exist in those books.

The river that we are walking along has looked the same for many, many, generations of our people. It floods, bringing life-giving water in the spring, which is now, and in the summer, it goes underground. This is the river that our people discovered when we first arrived here so many generations ago that there is no memory. The desert is a harsh place, but we survive here. This is our home. Like people all over the world, we have learned the art of agriculture, and as long as the water returns every season, we will stay here.

Different people visit our home. They are of different tribes, dressed strangely, speaking strange languages. If they come in peace, we welcome them. If not, we don't.

Thank you for time-traveling with me. If you'd like to return to your history books, your labels, and your sharp edges, that's fine, but I think I'll stay here a while.

The trees of Cactus Park, Phoenix, Arizona


I walked under the trees at Cactus Park yesterday. It's just a typical, ordinary park in Phoenix, on Cactus Road and 39th Avenue. It's one of those ordinary parks that people drive past every day. But yesterday I got to stop.

I was returning from a visit to Metrocenter with a good friend of mine who had grown up in that area, and as we passed Cactus Park, he said what I've been hearing him say for years - how amazing the trees are.

Really, they're just ordinary trees. They were planted as tiny saplings in 1972, and are now pretty darn big. They really aren't exceptional, except that this is Phoenix, where trees have become precious.

If you get a chance to walk under the trees in Cactus Park. I highly recommend it. Then look around you at the neighborhoods, and imagine if the trees there had all been allowed to grow. The neighborhoods would be cool and shady, and they would have that indescribable feeling that you only get with shade trees.

Yeah, I'll admit it, I'm a tree-hugger. And whenever I look at old photos of Phoenix I see trees. By the time I got to Phoenix, the trees were mostly gone. You can see trees in parks, at apartment complexes, but that's about it. Even in my nice little suburban neighborhood in Glendale you don't see very many nice big shade trees.

Cactus Park was filled with life. There were people playing soccer, and people just enjoying the day, and enjoying life. And that life includes trees.

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The building, and rebuilding, of Metrocenter Mall, Phoenix, Arizona


For people who grew up in Phoenix, or even people like me who have lived there for a long time, the name of Metrocenter is really just something we take for granted. Of course, when the mall was built, in 1973, at I-17 and Dunlap, it was very far from being the center of the metropolitan area. Of course, the developers had high hopes.

Time travel with me. Although Metrocenter Mall opened in the 1970s, it was clearly a 1960s design. The kind of design that was inspired by science fiction movies, like "2001, a Space Odyssey". The way the future was supposed to look. It must have absolutely blown people away, especially kids who saw it when it was new.

I visited Metrocenter Mall yesterday with a friend of mine who grew up in that neighborhood in the 1970s. It was fascinating to see all of it from his point of view, from riding his bike with his friends past the farmland and open fields, to seeing the construction of what must have been astonishing to see.

I asked my friend to describe all of it from his point of view, which started when his family moved to the area near Cactus Park (which is next to Moon Valley High School, at 35th Avenue and Cactus Road). I enjoyed picturing my friend, who has recently became a grandfather, zooming around there on his bike, when Cactus Road was pretty much the edge of everything.

But not really. There was a place called WesTown, which had been there since the 1960s. But the area south of there was still mostly open farmland, empty desert, and new subdivisions. His parents bought a brand new house in 1972.

In 1973, my friend got to see Metrocenter Mall when it first opened. It was easy for him to get to, even on his bike, and he worked at several places there, including Sears Auto Repair.

As we walked through the mall yesterday, I asked him to describe it through his eyes. His Metrocenter was the one from the seventies and eighties, and every once in a while I would recall things from the nineties that I knew. Of course, I never saw the indoor skating rink, or most of the cool stuff that he described, and it must have been amazing.

As we walked, I told him about my interest in Phoenix history, and how I'm learning that the city of Phoenix seems to re-invent itself just about every generation. It's as if there's a recognizable city, then it all gets torn down and rebuilt, and another city grows on top of it, and again and again. The old-timers have been seeing their city suddenly become something entirely different as long as Phoenix has been around, since 1870. And Metrocenter Mall is now doing the exact same thing. There was a major interior renovation in 1996, and a major exterior renovation in 2007. Yesterday we could see some very serious construction beginning again.

For the kids in the future, Metrocenter Mall will always look the way it did in the 21st Century. There will be places to hang out, places to buy stuff, places to see movies. When they themselves become old-timers, they will probably see it reinvented for the next generation, and the next. This is what Phoenix does, it rises from the ashes and is reborn.

Thank you for walking around Metrocenter Mall with me.

Metrocenter Mall in 2016

Metrocenter Mall under construction in 1972

Metrocenter Mall in 1975 

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Why you should conserve water if you live in Phoenix, Arizona


Yes, you should conserve water, even if you live in Phoenix, Arizona. The reason is different from what most people have heard, but water conservation really is a good thing. I do it myself, and I recommend for my neighbors. My garden is a xeriscape, shaded by trees, with no grass.

If you've lived in Phoenix for a few years, you know that the valley gets not only a fair amount of rain, both in winter and summer, and it gets flooding from the uplifted areas north, and especially northeast of it. In fact, so much water has flowed through the valley over the years that the main concern that Phoenix historically has had to face was flooding. And thankfully the Maricopa County Engineers have mostly fixed that, so much so that most people who live in the valley are unaware of the gigantic flood control projects everywhere. My favorite is the diversion channel which runs north of the Arizona Canal, and was completed in 1994. It's so gigantic that you could stand there throwing football stadiums into it all day, and most people who goes past it all of the time have no idea it's even there. Out in the west valley, where I am, it's the Thunderbird Paseo.

Unlike other desert cities, like Las Vegas or Los Angeles, the city of Phoenix sits in a basin where flood waters have poured in for the past ten thousand years (since the last ice age). There's no need for Phoenix to bring water in with aqueducts, from miles away. The water is right there. The Salt River was channeled into canals in the days of the Hohokams, hundreds of years ago, and has been channeled since 1883 by Phoenix pioneers. So there's no doubt about it, there's plenty of water.

But waitaminute, that doesn't mean that Phoenicians should waste it. Yes, there's plenty of water, but that water has to be stored, and delivered. That means the use of electricity, and money - lots of it. But conserving power, or money, doesn't seem to be as attractive a thought to people as conserving water. So I conserve water (I live in Glendale) and it saves me money, and saves the infrastructure that surrounds me.

Channeling the water that has historically flowed right through the valley has turned Phoenix from a desert to an oasis. And using it wisely will allow the city to grow, and the people who share that city to flourish.

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One of the most historically significant places in Phoenix, Arizona - that looks like nothing at all


I like Phoenix. It's my town. I've lived there for a long time, and I've collected a lot of old photos. I know about its history, good and bad. And yeah, I know that compared to places back east, which have places like Liberty Bells, or Europe, which has stuff like castles, the history of Phoenix isn't really all that impressive. But like I say, it's my town.

So I don't expect tourists to crowd into some of the places that I consider historically significant in Phoenix, like where the candy store was. I know that the city isn't going to spend a lot of money on an elaborate plaque when there are a whole lot more important things it needs to spend its budget on. So, I'm not trying to convince anyone anything here, I just like these places. And one of the most historically significant places in Phoenix that I know of is Washington at Cactus Alley.

If you're a hardcore Phoenix history buff, you've heard of Cactus Alley. It was never listed that way anywhere on Phoenix maps, but people in Phoenix knew where it was - halfway between Central and 1st Street. It's where Donofrios Cactus Candy store was, in the Ellingson Building. It's where George Loring had his store, which he called "Loring's Bazar" (yep, he spelled it that way), which was in an adobe building in the 1870s.

It's an entrance to a parking garage now. If you want to stand there, and soak up some history, watch out for turning cars.

There are a lot of places like that around Phoenix. Sometimes I wish that a plaque was put up, but it really doesn't matter to me. Phoenix is a place of growth and progress, always has been, and hopefully always will be.

Washington and Cactus Alley (called Cactus Way by that time) in 1917. Donofrios Cactus Candy.

Why you (probably) shouldn't ask for a senior discount at museums


As an old marketing guy (and I really do mean old here, my hair has gone completely grey), I am aware of advertising, coupons, discounts, all of that kind of thing, at museums. And although these things are wonderful for the right people, it may not be for you. It all depends on your financial situation, and your attitude.

I like museums. Even when they're free, I donate a buck or two. Most of the museums that I visit have volunteers working there, or young people who may be working for the absolute minimum that the law allows. I look at the list of people who have donated, maybe written into the bricks on the sidewalk, or on displays hanging somewhere in the museum, and I want to be that guy.

Of course, I'm not wealthy, so there's no question of any museum naming its latest wing after me. And I am very much in favor of museums doing what they can to make their collections accessible to people who don't really have much money to throw around, like students, or maybe seniors on a fixed income. So, if that's you, then by all means take advantage of the discount, or a coupon. Museums are great places.

But if your financial situation has been good, as a lot of people who have worked hard to earn their grey hair is, then please rethink asking for that senior discount. That seventy cents may mean a lot to someone who really can't afford it, but if you can, give it. No, they won't be naming a wing after you, or giving speeches praising your generosity, but it's a little bit that you can do that can help.

Thank you.


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Why a magazine about Arizona Highways was first published


As a kid in Minnesota, I remember seeing Arizona Highways magazine. Like many people all over the world, it was hard for me to imagine a place that could possibly be so beautiful. And it's only recently that I learned the real reason that the magazine was published in the first place.

In 1925, when the first issue of Arizona Highways was published, it was a "wish list" for good highways that could take people to these beautiful places. The Federal Government was just barely getting into the road-building business, and it was important to get the word out. So a magazine was created just to show how beautiful Arizona is, and how cool it would to be able to have good highways to get around there. By the way, California Highways and Public Works magazine came out at about the same time.

But Arizona Highways has evolved to a point undreamed of by the original publishers. It became more than a magazine that was recommending highways, it became a showcase for the beauty and splendor of Arizona. New printing technology, combined with the latest photography, allowed people to fantasize about seeing such a glorious place, even if they never visited there.

I've lived in Arizona, and California, for all of my adult life. I have never stopped being astonished by the beauty of Arizona, and I am always saddened by people (many of whom grew up there) who really don't seem to see it. And if you're wondering where to go in Arizona to see magnificent sunsets, and beautiful mountains, all you need is an Arizona Highway. And be sure to take me along!

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The West of the Imagination, and the Real West at Scottsdale's Museum of the West


I visited Scottsdale's Museum of the West today and I loved it.

I enjoy learning about history, especially of the West, and I appreciated the balance between the West of the Imagination, and the Real West presented at this museum. No, I'm not kidding here, please let me explain.

The West of the Imagination is that wonderful thing created by Buffalo Bill, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne. It's a glamorous West of daring cowboys and noble Indians. And I gotta admit, I just love it. But please understand that I know it's just fiction. But that's OK - it's great fiction.

The museum I visited today was an awesome balance of both the West of the Imagination and the Real West. There were signed photos of John Wayne, and a genuine Winchester '73.

I like historical accuracy, but I'm not one of those people who says, "well actually..." and then ruins everything for everyone. I don't want to be that guy. So I embrace the West of Imagination. Everything is bigger and bolder there. It's a good feeling.

Winchester '73 at Scottsdale's Museum of the West.


Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West
3830 N. Marshall Way
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Hours
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday:
9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday: 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Monday


Admission Prices
Adults: $13
Seniors (65+) and Active Military: $11
Students (Full-time with ID) and Children (6-17): $8
Members and Children 5 and Under: FREE

Where to see the water of the Salt River in Phoenix, Arizona


I just feel better around water. I grew up in Minneapolis, the city of lakes, I lived in Santa Barbara, which is on the Pacific Ocean. And since I live in Phoenix now, I seek out the water of the Salt River.

But if you've made the mistake of looking for the water of the Salt River by reading a map that shows “Salt River” on it, you are only seeing where the water used to be. Since 1883 it has been re-channeled into the canals, which are the true rivers of Phoenix.

Yes, the canals are the water of the Salt River, that flow all year 'round. Before the canals were built, the Salt River would flood and dry up every year (technically that's called a riparian area). But nowadays the water flows gently all of the time.

The water flows from northeast to southwest. And yes, there are fish in it. Also the stray shopping cart or two, as it flows through the city, because people do that kind of stuff. It's a gentle current, and if you really want to see it, go to the Arizona Falls, which is on 56th Street and Indian School Road. Yes, there is a waterfall there, and yes, it has been there since 1885.

One of the most common misconceptions that I hear is that, before people diverted the water, that the Salt River was a quiet, continual, meandering river. It wasn't. It was a typical riparian area that dried up in the summer, and flooded in the spring. And there must have been a time when the thought of taming that river just sounded ridiculous. But it was done, and has been that way for so long that most people take it for granted. I know that I do.

Pictured above: the Arizona Falls in 1905, on the Arizona Canal at 56th Street and Indian School Road. Still worth visiting today. Don't worry, they've put railings there now.


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Walking along the Arizona Canal in 1895


Let's walk along the Arizona Canal in 1895. We're at the Granite Reef Dam, which is on the Salt River, on the Salt River Pima Indian Community. We're walking west.

The canal was completed in 1885, so it's been there for ten years. It's used by, and protected by the Pimas, and goes all of the way across the northern part of the Salt River Valley to Peoria, Arizona. We'd better get going, it's a long walk!

The Arizona Canal was privately funded, and dug by hand, using man and mule-power. More about the men who build the Arizona Canal. And even ten years after its completion, it's waaaayyyyy out in the desert. As we cross over what is now Pima Road out of the Indian Reservation to what is now Scottsdale, there's hardly a trace of life, except cactus and Gila Monsters. Watch where you step!

The canal does a sharp bend right about there and starts heading south where it goes around the base of Camelback Mountain. At about where 56th Street and Indian School Road will be someday, we stop at the falls and eat lunch. The water from the canal tastes muddy, but it's fresh.

From there the canal begins to curve around the west side of Camelback Mountain and starts going northwest. We stop and look south towards Phoenix, which has been there since 1870. Not a lot of tall buildings yet, but it's just visible. The city limits are Van Buren and 7th Street, so it's quite a distance to town. There are scattered ranches in the valley, but not a lot yet. Some people say that a great city will be built here someday. It's hard to believe.

At about where 24th Street will be someday, we climb up onto a hill which gives an awesome view of the valley. This would be a great place to build a mansion some day!

When we get to about where 19th Avenue will be someday, we see a lot of damage from flooding, where the Cave Creek overflows into the canal. Hopefully that will be fixed someday!

We finish up at New River, near where 73rd Avenue will be someday. We're just north of Peoria, and Glendale, which are little towns that the Arizona Canal Company has optimistically promised will be real cities some day. Time will tell.

Thank you for walking with me.

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Driving on the old highway in 1940s Phoenix


Ride along with me, and let's drive along the highway all the way through the greater Phoenix area in the 1940s. I'm going to just call it "the highway" because it had a lot of names. In fact, if you tried to follow the signs, it would have been a confusing muddle, but since there was no other road anything like that road anywhere near that road, you knew that you were on the right road.

Take a look at a map and run your finger between the town of Buckeye all of the way to Apache Junction. If you've chosen a perfectly-straight route, or a freeway, you aren't really in the 1940s in your imagination. The first thing that you need to think about is the need to have reliable auto service just about every few miles.

One of the things that we take for granted today is how reliable our cars are, and how little maintenance they need, as compared to the cars of the old days. So, just jumping in your car, getting on a freeway, turning on the A/C, and plugging in your iPhone to listen to a podcast may be the way to go now, but it would have been unthinkable in the 1940s. Even the most reliable of cars didn't have steel-belted radials, and computer sensors that kept the engine running smoothly. Those cars needed a lot of expert attention.

Let's start waaaaayyyyyy out east in Apache Junction. Out there, the old highway still kind'a looks like it did in the 1940s - just a big stretch of road in the desert with gas stations along the way. Of course in the 1940s, gas stations wouldn't have been enough - these would have been Service Stations. If it seems mind-boggling now to imagine how much effort it took to keep cars running back then, you have to remember that many of these people could remember when horses were all that they had for personal transportation.

OK, we're headed west on the highway (nowadays it's called the Apache Trail there) at about 25 miles an hour. And that's pretty darn fast! If grandma is riding along with you, she probably never saw a speed like that in her life before then, maybe in a galloping horse, or in a train. And although there was a highway, the pavement wasn't smooth - it was more like driving over a washboard than anything else. So a top speed of 25 would be pretty good. Some "speed maniacs" would push it to over forty!

As we enter Mesa, the name of the highway changes to Main. Now we're seeing a lot more businesses. We've been on the road for quite a while now, and the car could use a quick inspection, and we should probably grab a bite to eat. There are a lot of diners! While we're eating a leisurely meal, the Service Station is changing a tire, and doing some other small repairs.

In Tempe, the name of the highway changes back to Apache. We're still going west, but we're going to need to cross the Salt River in order to get to Phoenix. So at 8th Street (now called Terrace Road), we angle over to Mill Avenue, and turn north at 5th Street. We stop at the Laird and Dines Drugstore and have a chocolate malted - to keep our strength up! The Mill Avenue Bridge, which was built in 1931, takes us over the river. We stay on Mill Avenue, going north,  and it starts to curve and turn into Van Buren (which was originally called the Tempe Road). We're heading west again.

We've been on the road for quite a while now, and it's getting dark (it's winter - we aren't crazy enough to be doing this in summer - our car doesn't have air conditioning!). Luckily, there are a LOT of motels to stay at on Van Buren.

In the morning, we continue our journey towards Phoenix. When we get close to downtown, we can see the "skyscrapers", such as the Heard Building, the Professional Building, the Security Building, the Title and Trust Building, and the tallest one of them all, the Westward Ho Hotel. Since we're in Phoenix, we stop for a while to look around. We decide to splurge and have a nice meal at the Adams Hotel. Then back on Van Buren, headed west. We can have the mechanics at the Paul Bennett Service Station on 2nd Avenue take a look at the car before we get back on the road. While we wait, we walk over to the Buick/Chevrolet dealership on 4th Avenue and admire the new cars. The used cars don't look so bad, either!

At 16th Avenue and Van Buren, we stop to ask directions from a man who is standing in front of the Park Lane Motor Hotel with his little daughter. We ask how he likes it here, and he says he likes it just fine, but the summers are miserable. We look at the State Capitol Building, which is right nearby, and he mentions that his family often goes over to the grounds, sometimes to have a picnic.

Now this is where the highway gets kind of strange. The highway (Van Buren) takes a sharp turn south on 17th Avenue. Nowadays, of course, this area just looks like a regular intersection, but in the forties, it would have been very clear that this was the main road. Luckily, there's an underpass at 17th Avenue and Buchanan, so we don't have to wait for the train.

At Buckeye Road the highway curves again to the west, and we're off to Buckeye. This has been a fun trip! Thank you for riding along with me!

Paul Bennett Super Service Station in the 1940s, 2nd Avenue and Van Buren, Phoenix, Arizona


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Why people came to live in Arizona


Every time my friends from California visit me, I see Phoenix, and Arizona, through their eyes. And while there are a lot of things that they like, such the abundance of parking spaces, I do notice that there is always that question hanging in the air - “why would anyone want to live in such a harsh climate?”

Now don't get me wrong, I love Phoenix. And the climate hasn't been a problem for me. My career has been spent in air-conditioned buildings, I have always had an air-conditioned car, etc. It may get to 115 degrees out there, but I'm in cool comfort all of the time.

Yesterday, as I was staring out into the desert at the Casa Grande Ruins, I was asking myself again “what were people doing here?” Yes, the river flowed right nearby, there appeared to be plenty of accommodations for living, and even places where games were played (I love that part!), but really, it was in the Sonoran Desert, which has been an extremely harsh place since the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. And the answer, of course, is the same as the reason people populated the entire planet after wandering out of Africa, they needed space. And yeah, some people were in what are known as “marginal areas”, that is, pretty much the last place that anyone would choose to be, but it's a place. You can put labels on the groups of people who lived in what is now called Arizona, but they're just people.

The next big group of people who arrived in the area that includes Arizona were the Spanish. You know, conquistadors, people looking for gold. And if you remember your history lessons, you remember that even though Christopher Columbus was Italian, he sailed with the financing of Spain. He was looking for the spices of the Orient, didn't find any, and went home. Of course, people who went to the trouble of going to such a disappointing place came back with stories of treasure, especially gold. The conquistadors didn't find the cities of gold (because they never existed), they just pretty much made a mess of things and killed a lot of people.

The next wave of people from Europe were also from Spain, but their interest wasn't gold, it was salvation. People like Father Kino were interested in teaching their religion to the people that the conquistadors had discovered, or what was left of them. Spain established churches, or missions, from what is now modern-day Mexico up through California. Take a look at a map and run your finger up from Mexico, through Tucson, along the Gila River, through Yuma, across the California desert, and then from Los Angeles to Monterey. The Pacific Coast Highway is El Camino Royale, the (Spanish) King's Road.

Nowadays there are so many hard edges, like freeways, and state and county boundaries, that it's just about impossible to imagine Mexico, Arizona, and California as just one continuous place. But it is. And people have lived there for centuries, and for their own reasons.

Image at the top of this post: Pueblo Grande looking southeast towards where Tempe is nowadays.

What cash and carry meant in old time Phoenix - Pay and Take It


If you went shopping with someone in Phoenix before the 1920s, probably you would have seen them go into a store, pay nothing, and leave empty-handed. Today, this seems ridiculous, but it explains the concept of "cash and carry", which replaced the old system of "pay later and have it delivered". In Phoenix, a typical store to do "cash and carry" early was Pay'n Takit.

Unless you rode into town in a buckboard, delivery was expected from any grocery. This is how it worked: You walked into the store with your list, the clerk filled the order (you didn't walk around the store and pick up things), it was put on your "tab", which was credit given by the store itself, free of interest, and delivery was arranged, usually the same day. It was a wonderfully convenient system. Unfortunately, it had costs associated with it, as you can imagine, that 20th century marketing experts saw as wasteful. And if the free delivery, and the free credit, could be eliminated, prices could be lowered while still retaining a reasonable profit. And they were.

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Of course, the first time people saw this they were outraged. "Pay for it now? What? Don't you trust me? And carry it myself? It's unheard of!" But the prices were made lower through this process, so it caught on. So much so that it's hard to imagine a time when people didn't Pay and Take It.

Historic street photography and the slice of life


I love old photos, especially of Phoenix, Arizona. So I collect them, and look at them a lot. Mostly I'm trying to figure out where the buildings were, that sort of thing. I look at buildings, streets, and mountains. And then I started noticing something - life.

In the last couple of years I've discovered some pretty awesome high-resolutions scans from places like the Duke University, and ASU. And while mostly these scans were done to record the buildings, there's life to be seen there, and it's fun to see.

Since I have a nice big 21" iMac, and Photoshop, I can really zoom into these images. And what I am seeing fascinates me, more than just the buildings, the streets, and the mountains. There are all of the ordinary things of life, cars going by, people walking, advertising, signs, businesses, restaurants. When I find these things, I zoom in, crop the photo, and call them a "slice of life".

So I guess this makes kind of like a street photographer. I didn't take the photos - most were taken long before I was born, but I am looking for the things that street photographers cherish. They're the ordinary things of life, which are ultimately the most precious.

Image at the top of this post: Looking west on Washington at 5th Street in the 1960s, Phoenix, Arizona. From the Duke University Libraries. Slice of life.


Central Avenue and Adams in 1908, Phoenix, Arizona.

The northwest corner of Central and Washington in the 1930s, Phoenix, Arizona.


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The invisible signs of Phoenix, Arizona


Take a look at the sign in the photo above, and tell me what you see. No, there's nothing special about it, and there are thousands just like it all over the Phoenix area. And no, I didn't Photoshop anything into it, and there's nothing hidden that you have to squint your eyes to see. But my experience is that to most people who go past these signs a million times, they don't see what I see.

OK, hopefully you see it. These things tend to pop out more in photos than "in real life". It's the name of the shopping center. Of course, no one in their right mind would direct you to the Market Center shopping center, they would just say over by Sprouts, or Brake Masters. If you do see these things, then sorry, you're kind of weird. I see them all of the time. And there are thousands of them.

If you're a neighbor of mine, in Glendale, you may be familiar with Ted's Plaza, which has been on the northwest corner of 47th Avenue and Olive since the 1970s. Or maybe not. My favorite is Peoria Station, on the southwest corner of 67th Avenue and Peoria, which was actually designed to look kind'a like a train station when it was built in the 1980s.

I enjoy looking at old photos of Phoenix and often the only thing that remains the same in a shopping center is its original sign (if it hasn't been torn down). Yeah, it's trivia, but it's fun trivia. No, I don't tell people where someplace is by the name of the shopping center anymore than I would tell them to just go past Skunk Creek (that's where the Arrowhead Mall is, by the way).

If these signs have been invisible to you, believe me, when you start seeing them you'll see a LOT of them, and wonder why you never saw them before.

Thank you for history adventuring with me.


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 the Maryvale Golf Course became the Grand Canyon University Golf Course, Phoenix, Arizona


I dusted the cobwebs off of my golf clubs yesterday and set out with a good friend to go to a driving range. Well, that was the idea. We never actually got to a driving range, but we did get to a golf course. It's a course that I've played many times, on Indian School Road and 59th Avenue. Originally it was built as part of John F. Long's master-planned community, Maryvale, which he named after his wife.

But time had not been kind to the old golf course, and in the last few years it's needed a bit of, uh, freshening up. Like Encanto golf course, it was flat as a pool table, but that never really bothered me. I liked the tall trees, which were often magnets for my ball, and the wide open spaces.

If you go look at the old course now, you will be surprised - it's absolutely gorgeous. Not only is there a shiny new clubhouse, the course itself has been changed by bringing in an enormous amount of dirt, and changing the shape from flat to curvaceous. The fairways and greens are immaculate. Combine that with beautiful old trees and you have a very respectable little golf course there.

If you're wondering why all of this happened, it's because of Grand Canyon University. And it you live in the west valley, or have driven on the I-17 freeway past Camelback Road, you know about them. Their success has been explosive in the last few years and they have plowed a lot of that money back into the area around the school. And the Maryvale Golf Course was the place they chose for their golf team.

I'm fascinated by Phoenix history, and I include history-in-the-making, which is what is happening all around Grand Canyon University. I go take a look at the construction there as often as I can. You may wonder what I'm looking at, but I'm just looking at history. I would have liked to have been there when Jack Swilling starting digging the first pioneer canals in 1867, I would have liked to have watched the construction of the Ash Avenue Bridge in 1913, I would have loved to have seen the Professional Building when it was brand new in 1932.

Phoenix has been growing like this since it began in 1870. The old-timers shake their heads and wonder where everything has gone. Young people can hardly believe that things used to be different. Me, I just love seeing how everything is connected. And if you'd like to see that, go stand by the 10th tee, next to one of the trees originally planted in the middle of an empty field way out "in the middle of nowhere". It has seen a lot, and there is so much more to see!

Thank you for history adventuring with me.




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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Using historic terms when writing about Phoenix, Arizona


As a former teacher, and just plain someone who prides himself on not blurting out offensive stuff, I am naturally very careful about using terms which many people consider offensive, or that have really become very offensive over the years. But my interest in Phoenix history often compels me to use these terms, within context. If you're taking the time to read this, you already understand, but I want to talk about it, anyway.

I'm fascinated by history, particularly the history of Phoenix. And times have really changed. The buildings have changed, the people have changed, the language has changed. And it's been mostly for the better, believe me. The "old days" in Phoenix were extremely harsh, with some nasty and violent behavior. But of course if you've read about that, you already know. And no, I have no desire to go back to those days, I just want to visit them and learn more.

My favorite sources are original documents. You know, old photos, old newspapers, that sort of thing. I dislike having my history all scrubbed clean and interpreted for me. School-book history is great for children, but I'm not a child anymore. I want to see it myself, bad stuff and all. So I immerse myself in it - I call it time-traveling. And it takes a mature perspective.

If you don't do that, if you just glance at things (which is kind of what we all do on the internet), certain things can be very jarring. Terms that are now racist, and offensive, really have no place in the "glance" of the internet. But these terms do have a place in historical context. Without the original names of things, they become lost, and then they become erased. And as bad as things were in old Phoenix, I would prefer that they not be erased.

Image above: Squaw Peak in the 1970s, now called Piestewa Peak.


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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Why the ceilings are just a little bit lower now than when Chase Tower was built - asbestos


If you work inside of the tallest building in Arizona, Chase Tower, at Central Avenue and Monroe, take a look up at the ceilings. They were lowered in 1990, just a bit, because of the asbestos up there, which is still there.

Now, don't panic. The asbestos, which was put there in 1972 when Valley Center was built, is still doing its job, protecting the building from any fires that may spread. And it's only disturbed asbestos that's hazardous (when you breathe in the fibers), so as long as it's sealed up, it's OK. In a building as big as that one, trying to remove asbestos would have made a terrible mess, so they just lowered the ceilings a little and sealed it up.

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The reason I know this is that when I first started working for Valley Bank around that time, different departments were relocated, for months, all over the valley. The Marketing Department, where I started, was at Corporate Center across the freeway from MetroCenter. You know, over by Fajitas. When the asbestos was sealed up and all was safe, the departments were moved back in. For me, it was 1991. That's the first time I saw Valley Center (now Chase Tower).

I'm a Graphic Designer, but a frustrated architect (I couldn't do the math) so I was immediately fascinated by the building, which was called the Bank One building while I was there in the 90s. It's still an amazing building now, and it has been lovingly cared for since the day it was built. The design is really late 1960s, in the way that architects imagined that space stations would look like in the future. Even the fonts used by the elevators are the classic 1960s "space age" fonts. I loved working there, and it really did feel like a space ship.

I doubt anyone nowadays cares that the ceilings are slightly lower than when the building was built, or that there's sealed asbestos up there, and it really doesn't matter. People, and buildings, learn over time.

Image above: Valley Center under construction in 1972. You are looking northeast. The original headquarters for Valley Bank was in the Professional Building, which you can see at right, and which is now the Hilton Garden Inn.

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The advantage of living where the weather gets harsh, Phoenix, Arizona


I live Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, which is in the Sonoran Desert. Most of the year the weather is glorious. It never snows here, the sun shines just about every day. I think the Chamber of Commerce says 360 days a year, but it may be only 359 days. People come from all over the world to visit the resorts here, and to play golf. But for three to four months of the year, it's insanely hot.

And surprisingly, that's an advantage to people like me. I've lived where the weather is nice all of the time, like Southern California, and have seen some very serious drawbacks. Of course, if you've only lived in wealthy neighborhoods, this won't matter, but I've lived in some, uh, sketchy, places. And while my house in the suburbs is pretty respectable, I'm certainly not one of the "rich folks".

Harsh conditions means that a fair amount of upkeep is needed on your house just to keep it comfortable. In Southern California, you can have everything from broken windows to great big cracks in your wall, and it really won't make all that much difference. Especially in Santa Barbara, where I lived for a couple of years. And where the weather is always nice, you don't need air conditioning, or heat, in your car or house. Except when you do, and you don't have it. I have been the most miserable in my life when the Santa Anna winds drove up the temperature of my un-air-conditioned apartment in Santa Barbara. And did I mention how difficult is is for someone like me to sleep when it's cold? Yep, no heat in that apartment, either. And the gas wall heater that I had in my place in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles might just as well have been nothing but sound effects. It just went "bang-bang!" and didn't really warm up the place. I left it off and slept under an electric blanket. Getting out of that bed on cold mornings was excruciatingly painful.

Here in Phoenix I have a 5-ton air-conditioning unit on the roof of my house. I have double-insulated windows. I am outrageously comfortable. My car was made by the nice people at General Motors, and the air conditioning is fantastic. I have expensive shades on my windows. I have a nice garage, where I park my car. Even the doggy door is double-insulated. And I can do all of these things without appearing eccentric. In Southern California, this level of investment in comfort would seem absolutely ridiculous for a modest house like this. Here, it's a necessity.

I'm glad I'm here.

Image above: Walking through the cactus garden at the Glendale Main Library, 59th Avenue and Brown (just south of Peoria).

What Phoenix, Arizona was like in the late 1970s and early 1980s


I moved to Phoenix from Minneapolis in 1977. I was alone, determined to make it on my own, so I lived in some pretty, uh, inexpensive neighborhoods. So, my memory of Phoenix of that time is not one of the perfection of youth, it was the shock of just how horrible Phoenix was.

First of all, it was hot. Unbelievably, unbearably, hot. My little apartment (the Saguaro Apartments, pictured above, near 7th Street and Indian School Road) had an "air conditioner" that just rattled and made noise (and did nothing else), so sometimes I would hang out at the public library just to be cool. I wish I could have slept there!

The streets flooded when it rained. It didn't take much to turn the streets into lakes. I wondered why there were no storm drains. Even the parking lots flooded. It was as if whoever built all of this had never seen rain.

The bridges fell down when there was water in the river. I got to see the "100-year flood" and the "500-year flood" in 1981, and 1982, respectively. The concept of having a bridge that worked while there was water underneath it had apparently escaped the engineers.

There was only one freeway. And, yes, you guessed it, it flooded when it rained.

Downtown Phoenix was a horror. I went downtown just to see what it was like in 1977, and it looked like someplace that should have been closed off and surrounded with barbed-wire fences. All cities have a little urban decay, but downtown Phoenix was just a rat-hole of dirty old buildings in the 1970s and early 1980s. I wondered how it had gotten so bad.

My research has shown that the city of Phoenix is far older than I had ever imagined. There have been many generations of people in this city since its founding in 1870 who have lived here, worked here, and died here. Some of it's good and some of it's bad. I am trying to focus on the good, but sometimes the bad just gets really, really bad.


3rd Street and Washington in 1977, Phoenix, Arizona.

Image at the top of this post: the Saguaro Apartments in 1981, 4205-4201 N. 9th Street, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Phoenix, Arizona version 6.1


One of the things that everybody who lives in Phoenix, Arizona agrees on is that it's always changing. You turn around and the old buildings you recognized are gone. But unless you are over 150 years old, or are an obsessive history-buff like me, you don't realize that the version of the city you see has changed several times. And each time it is has changed, the city has become virtually unrecognizable to the people who knew it "back in the day".

Phoenix version 1.0 - Oddly enough, Phoenix didn't even start where downtown Phoenix is today. In 1868, it started with a settlement at where 40th Street and Van Buren is now. Google "Mill City" or "Pumpkinville". Really.

Phoenix version 1.1 - Then the Phoenix Townsite was established in 1870, several miles west of the original settlement. There really wasn't all that much of a difference between the Townsite and the Settlement, mostly adobe buildings. Whatever building materials had to be found in the local mud, mesquite trees, or if there was money to spend, it was hauled down by teams of oxen from places like Prescott.

Phoenix version 2.0 - The arrival of the Phoenix and Maricopa Railroad on July 4th, 1887 changed everything. The railroad meant that timber, and more importantly, bricks, were now available, and relatively inexpensive. The old adobe buildings were abandoned, some were knocked down, and the huge building boom of the 1890s changed the face of Phoenix from looking like a sad "mud hut" place to a real town with real brick buildings.

Phoenix version 3.0 - The prosperity of the 1920s was the time that Phoenix knocked down most of it's old brick territorial buildings and started replacing them with modern skyscrapers. It actually started in 1919, with the Heard Building, and the building boom went on through the early 1930s, and only stopped because of the great depression.

Phoenix version 4.0 - After World War II ended, in 1945, Phoenix grew explosively. But at this time there was less need to knock down old buildings. Instead, they were abandoned as the city spread towards the north and east.

Phoenix version 5.0 - By the 1960s, many of old buildings in downtown Phoenix were beyond saving. Efforts began to clear out the squalor, starting with Valley Center in 1972. But the real activity was happening in midtown on Central, around the new Park Central Mall.

Phoenix version 6.0 - Phoenix began another big push to "revitalize" downtown in the 1990s. Once-classic buildings that had become dive bars and flop houses had been condemned and razed for years, but had only left empty lots, and at best, parking lots.

Phoenix version 6.1 - In the 21st Century, Phoenix started building light rail. If you remember version 6.0, you will be surprised to see how much it has changed already. But that's what Phoenix does!


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How the Pima Indians helped to create Phoenix, Arizona


Like most people who live in Phoenix, Arizona, I have Indian friends. And I drive on Indian School Road. I've even been to some of the casinos, which are on the Indian Reservations. And I know about the Apaches and the Navajos. The Apaches I learned about from watching movies as a kid, and the Navajos I learned about from reading Arizona Highways. But my fascination with the history of Phoenix has lately been leading me to learn about the most important Indian tribe to the success of Phoenix, Arizona, the Pimas.

To really understand the Pimas, you have to turn your Arizona history inside-out, and to try to see it from their point of view. They were a group of people living along the Gila River, just south of present-day Phoenix, for hundreds of years. They watched the invasion of Spain, and then Mexico, and then the United States, to their land. And yes, they fought against violent invasions from anyone, including other Indian tribes, but when they recognized friends, they helped.

In one of the harshest climates on planet earth, the Pimas farmed. They understood the rivers. They knew where to find water, and how to use it.

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The Pimas were not a nomadic tribe, they were settled. They were not hunter-gatherers, they had taken the step that defines civilization, they farmed. They did not attack, they defended. And when the pioneers of Phoenix started straggling in, in the 1860s, they made an alliance.

The pioneers of Phoenix learned a lot from the Pimas. They studied their farming methods, they learned that it was possible to grow food in a place that looked like a barren desert. And they took the basics and applied some of their high technology. They built dams, they built canals. They were successful, and the city of Phoenix was built.

When the United States Indian School at Phoenix was built in 1891, for the Pimas, there had been an alliance for generations. The school was established to teach young people, not the "ways of the white man", but the ways of civilization, which the Pimas had known for a long time.

Image at the top of this post: Group of Pima Pupils at the Indian School in 1916, Central Avenue and Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Why Phoenix, Arizona tears down its old buildings all of the time


If you've lived in the Phoenix, Arizona area for a while, like I have, you will find yourself saying, “whatever happened to the old buildings?” And you don't even have to be all that much interested in history, you may just be wondering what happened to your favorite restaurant, which all of the sudden has disappeared and been replaced by a Walgreens on that corner.

I like to time travel. And if my calculations are correct, future generations of Phoenicians will be asking, “whatever happened to the old Walgreens?” And that's because Phoenix tears down its old buildings all of the time, and has been doing that since it was founded, in 1870.

The reason is growing pains, which Phoenix has had since the day it was founded. It is quite a success story! I collect old photos of Phoenix, and I am seeing a pattern. Buildings go up, more people move in, buildings are torn down down, new buildings are built. It's what I have always called Phoenix “re-inventing itself”.

It started with the original buildings in Phoenix, which were made of adobe and wood. And I'm talking about downtown Phoenix here, in the 1870s. When the railroad arrived in Phoenix, in 1887, those old buildings were torn down and replaced with buildings made of brick.

The next major change in Phoenix happened with the prosperity of the 1920s. A huge building boom happened, and the old territorial buildings were torn down and replaced by "skyscrapers", such as the the Luhrs Building (built in 1925) and the Professional Building (pictured above, which was completed in 1932). Most of the people that I talk to about Phoenix consider these to be the classic old buildings, but really, they were the third wave. Old-timers must have been puzzled every time they rode into town, to see their old buildings had vanished, again and again.

After World War II, everything really gets going in Phoenix. And for most people living in Phoenix today, those are the old buildings of Phoenix. You know, the 1950s neighborhoods. That's “Mid-Century Modern”. That's the fourth wave.

By the early 1970s, downtown Phoenix was a terribly run-down and dangerous place to be. If you look at old photos, it may seem as if the city had just gone and torn down block after block of beautiful Victorian neighborhoods. But really, they were fighting against some serious urban decay by that time. If you remember downtown Phoenix in the 1970s, it was a pretty rough place. Red-light districts, X-rated movie theaters, flophouses. The Phoenix of the late 1970s and early 1980s were the fifth wave. And if you've gone downtown recently, you are seeing the sixth wave, or maybe the seventh wave.

If yours is the Phoenix of the 21st Century, you may not recognize the Phoenix of the twentieth, or nineteenth, century. And if the past record of Phoenix is anything to go by, in another couple of decades, you won't recognize Phoenix, either. And you will be asking, “why did they tear all of the old buildings down?

Above photo - The Professional Building, southeast corner of Central and Monroe. Built in 1932, it’s still there.

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Phoenix history adventuring - take only photographs, leave only footprints


I've done a lot of hiking, and like my brother in California, I take only photographs and leave only footprints. But I've never done the type of wilderness hiking that he does. My hiking is urban, which sound kind'a ridiculous to a lot of people. Nowadays I call it history adventuring, but I bring the same mindset to it.

I don't vandalize, I don't damage, the places I visit. I'm not out to pick up souvenirs, nor do I want to scratch my name on the things that I see. My hiking doesn't take me through precious wilderness, but where I do go I treat with equal respect. I want to see things, I don't want to change them. I don't knock things over, nor do I stack things up. Needless to say, I don't throw my trash all over the hiking trail, nor do I disturb things that ought not to be disturbed.

If this is your mindset, then please walk with me. There is so much to see, once you let your mind separate from the ordinary things that so many other people see. If yours is an attitude of a tomb-raider, or if you think it's pointless to just look at stuff without picking it up and carrying it away, I will just hope that you will change your mind. Take all of the photos you want, and when you leave footprints, be sure to look down before you step, there may be wild lupin (photo above). That photo was taken right in urban Phoenix, next to some dumped concrete and trash. The rocks contain bits of the volcanoes that were once plentiful in the valley, and were trod on by many people, including the Hohokams.

Thank you for walking with me.

Understanding the Hohokams, Phoenix, Arizona


As a history adventurer, I mostly focus on pioneer stuff in Phoenix. That is, from the first canals being dug by Jack Swilling and his crew in 1867, to when Arizona became a state in 1912, and so on. But you really can't walk around Phoenix, and appreciate its history, without understanding a little bit about the Hohokams.

Most of the people I know who grew up in Phoenix had to go on field trips in school and were taught about Pueblo Grande, the Hohokams, that sort of thing. And I've visited these museums, and read the books, which make a serious effort to understand from what little traces have been left behind. That's archeology, I know. But I'm not an archeologist, I'm a time-traveler, so I'll tell you what I've found.

Nobody really knows much. Sorry, but even the big display signs often say something like "it's difficult to say..." And it is. That there were people living in these places long ago is what we do know. What their buildings really looked like, what the people themselves looked like, what they did, is just an educated guess. But for me, it's enough to know that they were there.

Professional Omar Turney disliked the term "Hohokam", which just means "those who have left". To him, it seemed disgraceful that people who had built such a gigantic place, with canals larger than even the modern ones are now, to called them by such a dismissive name. It's as if a great civilization flourished, and we only called the people "former tenants", or "people who have wandered off". Turney preferred to refer to these people by the tools they used, which were simple hand-held stones. Yes, they dug those gigantic canals with hand-held stones. To me, since we have to call them something, Hohokam is fine. I imagine that nowadays Omar Turney would make comments on Facebook like "don't call them that!" Yeah, this kind of stuff has been going on for a long time.

It's reasonable to assume that these people looked like modern American Indians. But of course, that's just an educated guess - the Hohokam didn't leave any "selfies" behind - unless you look at petroglyphs, and those are open to a lot of interpretation.

But even though we don't know a lot, we know this - they were here. These were people living in one of the harshest environments on planet earth, using their intelligence, controlling the water. And if you think that the climate was any nicer back then, think again. They lived in the Sonoran Desert, which has been pretty inhospitable to anything but cactus and mesquite for the last 10,000 years. If you want to understand them, don't bother with history books, or museums. Go there. And I don't mean a museum, go to Phoenix. I have a tendency to call all of it "Pueblo Grande", and when you look at it that way, from Tempe to the Peoria and beyond, it's astonishing.

Image above: looking southwest over Pueblo Grande towards where Tempe is nowadays. At right is South Mountain.




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Petroglyphs on the rocks along Skunk Creek, Phoenix, Arizona.


Today I visited the petroglyphs along Skunk Creek at the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, which is at 37th Avenue and Deer Valley in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm interested in history, and I live in the west valley, and was surprised to find that I never even realized it was there. It's a pretty cool place, especially if you're a time traveler.

The building itself is simply a bridge over Skunk Creek. There are the usual displays explaining about the Hohokams, but the real attraction is a trail along the edge of volcanic rocks that have symbols on them, called petroglyphs (petro means rock and glyph means symbol). You are walking along the edge of Skunk Creek, and seeing it as it would have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of years ago when the Hohokam people lived there.

Since I'm interested in tying all of this together to historic and modern Phoenix, I also enjoyed seeing the Adobe Dam, which was built in 1982. There's even an interesting movie that shows how the archeologists carefully inspected the site before the dam was built.

If you go there, be sure to spend some quiet time. This is a sacred place, and you should be able to feel it. No, no one is really sure what all of the petroglyphs mean, or exactly how these people lived. You can listen to a lot of theories, and you can discuss it if you'd like. Personally, I just liked being there, and walking with the Hohokams.

Looking south at Skunk Creek from the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve.

Adobe Dam. You're looking north from the Hedgpeth Hills. When Skunk Creek floods, this dam catches most of it. Skunk Creek makes a sharp turn there, goes through the dam in a spillway, under the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, then empties out at New River in Peoria.


This archaeology museum and 47-acre Sonoran Desert preserve is home to the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in the Phoenix area.
Open to the public for tours, the Will Bruder-designed facility serves as the primary exhibition space for the Center for Archaeology and Society. 

The different eras of the city of Phoenix, Arizona


When I moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1977 I was seeing just the latest of the series of “rebirths” of that city. Cities, like people, grow and change all of the time, so creating a label for a particular era is just arbitrary, but it does help to visualize it. And the city of Phoenix has had some amazing rebirths, beginning with the rebirth of the city over the Hohokam ruins. So, at the risk of over-simplifying it, I have tried to create labels for eras. The modern era, of course, is when I arrived (this is my blog, after all!) and spans the 1970s to present. The oldest era that I am going to deal with is the territorial era of Phoenix, which spans from 1870 to 1912. Come along with me and let's take a look.

• The Territorial Era. Territorial Phoenix is from the founding of the city in 1870 until Arizona's admission to statehood in 1912. There are a lot of old documents, and old photos, but most of it is gone if you want to visit it "in person". The best you can do is visit old cemeteries, or a few old buildings that got left behind. Actually Territorial Phoenix lasted until the 1920s if you look at how dramatically the city changed then.

• The prosperity of the 1920s. In the 1920s, before the stock market crash of 1929, there was a lot of money to spend in the U.S. Here in Phoenix it's reflected in the boom of business buildings built then, and some especially nice luxury neighborhoods, too. Most of this was built over territorial Phoenix, which were old adobe and wooden buildings that were mostly about ready to fall down, anyway. And, of course, farms and ranches were converted into subdivisions then as they are now. Air-conditioning was coming into use.

• After The Crash. The stock market crash of 1929 plunged the entire world, including Phoenix, into a depression. Money dried up and the extravagance of the 1920s led to the lean years of the 1930s. Sure, the rich were still getting richer, but most of the world was suffering. Building slowed down in Phoenix. This era goes through the 1930s right up until the end of World War II in 1945.

• Post World War II. This is the era that most people in Phoenix are aware of, and it's mostly what this city looks like today. It's the huge boom in the economy of The United States that we consider "the 50s". In Phoenix, there was an explosion of new houses. And the businesses moved away from downtown and started the march uptown. Maricopa county continued to grow and expand tremendously, making for some serious "growing pains" related to infrastructure, such as roads, freeway, and schools. This boom time continued through the 1960s and 1970s.

• The Modern Era. During the 1970s, Phoenix realized what a tangle this valley had become. By the 1980s there were plans to start revitalizing downtown, build more freeways (there had only been one - the Black Canyon, I-17), and upgrade public transportation. Downtown Phoenix had especially suffered from neglect between the depression era and the modern era. The city planners took a look at the ashes and were determined that the Phoenix would rise again. It has.

Image at the top of this post: Drawing of a Phoenix bird, an ancient symbol of rebirth, rising from the ashes of fire.


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