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

When Phoenix was a city of trees

Even I remember the trees in Phoenix. I collect old photos of Phoenix, and from 1870 to about the 1980s the city had trees. There were a LOT of them back before air conditioning was invented, but the trees really started disappearing after the 1980s.

I guess I can understand why people have cut down the trees. I suppose with the very efficient air conditioning in cars and buildings nowadays trees aren't really necessary. And they do take up space that can be used for more parking spots, or lanes of traffic.

To my surprise, I've even seen people comment on social media that apparently trees can't be grown in Phoenix, and that's why there's so few. I wish that I could take them back in time to the trees that I remember, and have them see the trees in the old photographs of Phoenix.

Trees along a canal in the 1920s, Phoenix, Arizona

Yeah, I'm a tree-hugger. I hate to see trees being cut down. I give a sad smile when someone proudly tells me that they've cut a tree down because the leaves were too messy, or that they thought that it was good for the environment. And then these same people will drive around a parking lot, looking for the shade of what sparse trees there are.

I have a couple of big trees on my property. Their shade is delicious. And I'm no good at math, so I have no idea how much money they save me on my air conditioning versus how much money it costs me to maintain them.

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When I drive around Phoenix I look at trees. When I see new construction I am overjoyed when it includes trees. Yes, I know all of the reasons people give for not planting, and caring for, trees. I've heard them all. But I live in Phoenix, and I like shade. And I like trees.

Eucalyptus trees along the Arizona Canal, 7th Street and Northern.