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

Walking past the Gooding Building and the Adams Hotel in 1908, Phoenix, Arizona


Let's take a walk in Phoenix in 1908. It's been hot lately, but it's cooler this morning, so let's walk east down Adams towards Center Street.

That big building is the Adams Hotel, and it's quite a place. It was built by a local businessman, John C. Adams, and I guess he thought that building it on Adams Street would help people to find it. Not that they'd have any difficulty - it's the tallest building in town. What a place! I'll bet it costs a lot to stay there, and look at those electrical wires, these rooms must have every convenience! I'm sure some of them even have baths!

John C. Adams

That's the Gooding Building there on the left, although I usually just call it the Santa Fe building. I sure would like to take a ride on a train some day! I'll save my pennies. I wonder who owns that dogcart parked there? Someone with a lot of money, I'm sure! Beautiful horse.

The Gooding Building in 1908, Phoenix, Arizona

Not many people out and about right now, but it's early. I think I'll go over there and take a closer look at the hotel, maybe stand in the shade of the awnings. It's getting hot already.

Thank you for walking with me.

The Adams Hotel burned down in 1910, and another Adams Hotel was built on that spot, the northeast corner of Central and Adams, in 1911. It was demolished in 1973, and the hotel which is currently there, the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown, which was built in 1975, was the third Adams Hotel built on that spot.

The Gooding Building, on the northwest corner of Central and Adams, is still there, but was "modernized" in the 1950s. Some of the original brick can still be seen from the back, along Central.



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Hanging out in front of the Gold Hotel in 1908, Phoenix, Arizona


It's 1908, and I don't really have much to do today, so I think I'll hang out in front of the Gold Hotel on Washington and 3rd Street in Phoenix.

Martin Gold, the owner, is a friend of mine, and he won't mind if I hang around here. I see that they serve meals at all hours, and since I have a nickel in my pocket, I'm sure that I could go in there and get something to eat. But I'm not hungry now, so I'll just lean against this railing.

Washington looks pretty muddy, so if I need to walk across it, I'll use the wooden planks. These are some nice boots I'm wearing! There are also planks across the lateral, near the hitching post, which would be handy for me if I had a horse. Well, I've got the cowboy hat, and that's all I really need.

Martin Gold is Yugoslavian, but his wife is Hispanic, and he spends a lot of time in the Hispanic community. I understand that he plans to buy some land just southeast of here, and will call the neighborhood "Gold Alley". That might be a good neighborhood for me to move to, once I get out of these furnished rooms. Phoenix has been thriving since the railroad got here in '87, so maybe I'll make my fortune here, start a family.

1909 ad for the Gold Hotel, 3rd Street and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona. Martin Gold was kidding here about the name of the proprietor, Anton was his baby son.

The Gold Hotel became the Ramona Theater, and is now where the Phoenix Convention Center is. And the neighborhood that came to be called "Gold Alley", between Madison and Jackson, and 5th and 7th Streets, is where Chase Field is now.

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From Los Angeles to Calabasas, California in 1912


Let's go for a drive in 1912. We're going from Los Angeles to Calabasas. I like to sight-see, so maybe you should drive.

We'll take Beaudry Avenue to Sunset Boulevard, which becomes Hollywood Avenue. Hey, I think they're making movies here now. Yeah, I see some cameras over there, and some crazy antics. Wow! Those stunt drivers are good! Keep your eyes on the road, please.

OK, looking at the map, we're gonna need to go through a mountain pass called Caheunga. There it is! Look at that mountain to our right. That would be a good place to build an observatory some day, don't you think? I don't suppose land would ever get so valuable that they would build houses up there, but maybe someday they will. I wonder if they'll call it Hollywoodland? Maybe put up a big sign on the mountain? Probably not at least until the 1920s!

OK, we're through the Cahuenga Pass, going due west (this map is crooked!) and it looks like this is the road to Calabasas. But let's take a detour up Van Nuys Boulevard - I understand that they're doing a lot of construction up there, planning for water to come in from the Owens Valley next year. There's even a town called Owensmouth, which I guess means that that's where the mouth of the Owens River will be? But I suppose they'll just call the town Canoga Park. Hey, let's go see what's there in Chatsworth! Interesting scenery here, looks like just the place to make a Western movie!

OK, back on Calabasas Road and into Calabasas. We made it! Hmmm... not much here, do you want to take Topanga Canyon and then take the Malibu Beach Road to Santa Monica? Or Ocean Park? Or Venice! Let's go!

Map from the University of Southern California (USC) Digital Collection.


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Why the Black Sphinx Date Palms of Phoenix will be gone forever


Hidden away in a little Phoenix neighborhood is a cluster of some of the most beautiful, and rare, palm trees in the world. They are called The Black Sphinx Palms, an unusual variety of Phoenix dactylifera. What makes them unusual and rare is the fruit, which is unique to this variety, but what makes them beautiful is what anyone can see in the neighborhood where they have been growing for over 70 years. And they are found nowhere else in the world.

I have visited this neighborhood several times and I can truly say that is well worth stopping to take a look. These giant beauties create a canopy that makes this neighborhood absolutely magical. A few blocks away, where the palms no longer stand majestically, the magic vanishes. These heirloom trees make this neighborhood, and it wouldn't be the same without them.

If you want to visit this neighborhood, go south on 44th Street just below Camelback and look for the biggest cluster of the biggest palm trees you have ever seen in your life. You can't miss it!

By the way, I am informed by a palm tree expert that you can't grow a Black Sphinx Date Palm from the seed of one of the fruits - you need to plant an offshoot, and trees this old don't produce any. When they're gone, they will be gone forever.

The Gilliland Groves in the 1940s, Phoenix, Arizona

1935 ad for Gilliland Groves Phoenix, Arizona. Note the drawing of Camelback Mountain.


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An Arizonan in California


I've only lived in three places in my life, Minnesota (where I grew up), California, and Arizona (where I am now). And if you've moved around a little in your life, you know that you never quite know how to answer people if they ask where you're from. For a while in California I would tell people I was from Minnesota, but they would ask me about it, and I would realize that I hadn't been there for a long time, and I just decided to tell people that I was from Arizona. Because even though I'd only spent a few years there, it was the most recent place I was from. Besides, I had the sweatshirt that said Arizona State University, which I wore just about all of the time.

As I'm sure is true everywhere, the locals weren't too crazy about people from out-of-state. I made a point to get a California license plate as quickly as possible. But other than that, I don't remember much animosity towards Arizonans in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is such an international city that simply being from Arizona didn't seem all that exotic. My apartment complex (which you can see in the background there) was the United Nations. People from all over the world lived there. Mostly you heard English and Spanish, but I heard a lot of other languages spoken.

I spent seven years in California, and then came home to Phoenix. I like being an Arizonan.


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Swimming at Mountain Shadows Resort in the 1960s, Scottsdale, Arizona


Time-travel with me and let's go swimming at Mountain Shadows Resort in Scottsdale. No, I didn't live in Arizona in the 1960s, but a lot of people did, and a lot of people visited Mountain Shadows on their vacation. It was quite a place, although it's gone now.

OK, it's the '60s, and to me, anything north of Camelback Mountain is Paradise Valley, but I guess this is Scottsdale. At least that's what the address says. And since the south side of Camelback Mountain faces the sun, then the northern side must be in the shade. Although it all looks pretty sunny here to me! What a great location, I can't imagine that they would ever tear this place down.

Pool at Mountain Shadows Resort in the 1960s, Scottsdale, Arizona.

This is a great pool! I think I'm gonna go try out the high dive. Wow, I can see forever from up here!

The pool at Mountain Shadows Resort in the1960s, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mountain Shadows Resort in the 1960s, Scottsdale, Arizona. From a postcard.

Image at the top of this post: Still image from the 1960 movie Squad Car.

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Getting a shave and a haircut for two bits (25 cents) in 1895 Phoenix


It's 1895, we're in Phoenix, and I have two bits (25 cents). I'm going to get a shave and a haircut!

Yeah, I know it's a lot of money, and I have other options. I could get a bath, or even a nice meal, but I've never had a shave and a haircut before! And what's the point of paying two bits for a bath, when there's Swilling's Ditch there just north of Van Buren, which I was swimming in just this morning!

25 cent baths at the Commercial Hotel (later the Luhrs Hotel) in 1888, northeast corner of Central and Jefferson, Phoenix, Arizona.

My two bits would buy me a meal at that nice restaurant in Tempe. Wow, I'll bet that's great! Still, it's a long way from downtown Phoenix to Mill Avenue, and I'd have to take a trolley, which would cost me a nickel.



Yeah, I want to get a shave and a haircut. I think that new girl there on Melinda's Alley has been looking at me, and she probably thinks that I'm a mess. I need to get cleaned up! I'm going to the Fashion Barber Shop there on Central just across from the Opera House (between Washington and Jefferson).

There! So what do you think? I clean up pretty good, don't I? And, look, they've used my picture in their ad! Well, it looks like me, don't you think?

Shave-and-a-haircut! Twwooooo biiiiitttts!

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Going shopping in 1920s Phoenix


It's the 1920s in Phoenix, so let's go shopping. We won't need to bring any money, we won't need to worry about carrying anything, we won't need to think about a parking spot.

The electric trolley stops right by. It runs so often that no one gives much thought to the schedule, there's another one along in a few minutes. It costs a nickel, which is a lot, but it's well worth it. It's gonna be a warm day, so you'd better take your parasol (which means "for sun" in Spanish). I'll be wearing a lightweight linen suit, and you'd be wise to keep the amount of layered garments to a minimum (allowing for modesty and correctness of dress, of course!). Do you have your nickel? Your shopping list? That's all you'll need! Let's go, here comes the trolley already!

Yeah, I know the trolley is noisy and rough. It's getting to be kind of an antique - I think this line has been running here for over thirty years. I suppose they'll have to replace these cars eventually, but that's expensive, and no one wants to ever pay more than a nickel for a trolley ride.

Here we are downtown. Let's go shopping. There are a lot of stores here, and most of them are the good old-fashioned type that allow you to put things on a tab, and do free delivery. Yeah, I've heard of those "Cash and Carry" places, but I don't like them - you have to pay for things right there, and you have to carry them out yourself. I prefer a tab and free delivery. I hope that "Cash and Carry" never catches on, but it probably will.

Let's go into a store. I need some groceries, so I'd like to start there. I have my list, and the clerk takes a look at it, says that he has everything except "Coca-Cola" in bottles, will fill my order, and will deliver it today. And it all goes on my tab! That was easy.

But now I'd really like one of those Coca-Colas. And how about some ice cream? Let's see, Donofrios is not far from here, at Washington and Cactus Way, which is half-way between Central and 1st Street. Come on!

Donofrios, Washington and Cactus Way, Phoenix, Arizona

That was delicious. You know, I've really got to send something on account on my Donofrios tab. I love that place! And I know that I only went in for a Coca-Cola, but I just had to have some of that Cactus Candy! How was the ice cream?

Goldwaters in the 1930s, Phoenix, Arizona

You've been wanting a new dress, and I understand that you can see the latest fashions from Paris at Goldwaters, so let's go over there, it's in the Dorris-Heyman Building, just north of Washington on 1st Street. Maybe you can get one of them! Do you suppose that your parents have a tab there?

Image at the top of this post: Looking south on Central at Monroe in the 1920s, Phoenix, Arizona.



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Why are you in Phoenix?


Everyone has to live somewhere. I live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, in a suburb called Glendale, where I'm very happy. It is my desire to stay there until, like forever. I like it here. Phoenix is my town. I came here just to get away from the snow and cold of Minnesota when I was 18, went to ASU, and I returned here from California when things just didn't work out for me in Los Angeles. My parents moved to Phoenix many years after I did, after snow-birding for years, when they retired. So that's my story. And it's what I ask people, if I get the chance, and they don't mind telling me.

If they're Phoenix born and raised, or if they came to Phoenix as a kid, I ask why their parents came to Phoenix? Or their parents? Or their great-grandparents? I love hearing about this, and I really can't get enough. There are so many reasons to move to Phoenix!

If they have spent their whole life in Phoenix, I ask why they didn't leave? Most of my high school friends in Minneapolis are still in the old neighborhood, so the fact that they stayed and I wandered away must have meant something, like that they liked it there, and I didn't.

So, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask why are you in Phoenix? And since it will be over 100 degrees today, please don't misunderstand and hear me ask "why in the world are you in Phoenix?" the way my California friends ask me. I love Phoenix, and it's home to me. I can't imagine living anywhere else. That's why I'm here.

Image at the top of this post: Phoenix in 1980. Sunshine! No snow! My own place! Cheap rent! Freedom!


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My Mother's Restaurant, Phoenix, Arizona - 1977 to hopefully forever


If you've lived in Phoenix since 1977, you have probably driven past My Mother's Restaurant, which is just north of Indian School Road on 19th Avenue. Maybe you've even gone in there. I did, for the first time, yesterday. And wow.

OK, I won't talk about the food (but the open face roast beef sandwich!), I just want to talk about the history. And what amazed me the most is that from the street it looks like absolutely nothing, and when you get inside it goes on, and on, as if by magic it just grows. You would think from the outside that it was tiny, but there's not only a large dining area, there's a banquet room (I peeked in).

I was hanging out with some of my PhDs (Phoenix History Detectives) and of course I wanted to know all about this place, which has been there, like forever. And as amazing as its being there serving that great food continuously since 1977, the restaurant has been there since the 1960s, as Roma Restaurant. Did I mention how great the pizza is?

OK, I don't want to sound like a commercial here. No one is paying me to talk about this place, I'm just glad it's there. And if you go there, take me along! It's a good place to be.

Manager Geodran Guillen in 1991. And yes, it's all about the ovens.

Ad for Roma Restaurant in 1962. It became My Mother's Restaurant in 1977.


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Mecham Pontiac, and the Macho T/A of the 1980s


I remember the name Mecham. But to me, it was a Pontiac dealership. And it was the Macho T/A, which was a Pontiac Trans-Am that had been modified by the Mecham dealership. I saw them around Phoenix before I left for Los Angeles in 1982, and sometimes I would see them in California, too. They had a badge on the back that said MP, for Mecham Pontiac, and graphics along the side that said Macho T/A. And since I missed Arizona, whenever I saw one, it reminded me of home.

Ev Mecham in the 1980s

And then I moved back to Phoenix, in 1989, and suddenly Mecham wasn't about a car dealership anymore, or the Macho T/A. If you lived through the Ev Mecham era, you know the story. It was a mess. And no, I'm not going to talk about it here, you can Google it and find a LOT of stuff. In fact, just about everyone that you mention the name Mecham to will probably have a lot to say about that political mess. But I never hear anyone talking about the Macho T/A.

To me, it was the Macho T/A. They were way cool, and very fast. If you remember the Macho T/A, you know what I mean, and if you owned one, I'm jealous.

1979 article about the DKM Macho T/A Turbo

Macho T/As in the Mecham lot in 1978, Glendale, Arizona.


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Writing about Indians, Mexicans, Blacks, Asians, Women, and everyone in Phoenix, Arizona


My interest in Phoenix history includes everyone. So I do research on everyone, and I write about everyone. Everyone is important to Phoenix history. And no, I don't mean almost everyone, I mean everyone. And a common thing that I hear is that I can't write about Indians because I'm not Indian, or I can't write about women because I'm a man, that sort of thing. And maybe, since most people only write about themselves, and most people who write history are like me, white men, there's a reason that so much important history is ignored, and the stories of so many people are passed by. I want to learn those stories, and I want to share what I learn.

So, if you're puzzled as to why I would write about being Black in Old-Time Phoenix, since I'm not Black, I just ask you to look again. And that's all I ask. I'm not telling you what to see, I'm asking you to look. I have given myself permission to look, and to explore. Please come along with me.

I resent history written as if certain people didn't matter, or didn't exist. To me, they matter. And I will write about them. We are all who we are, and we can't change that. I am proud of who I am, and I would like to believe that everyone feels that way.

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My journey of discovery is just beginning, and I have to admit that I'm pretty darned surprised at how much I'm finding about how diverse the history of Phoenix, Arizona is. And if you didn't know, it's not surprising, because it's not that the people weren't there, it just that their stories weren't told. I want to learn those stories, and tell them.

Image at the top of this post: Poster for Bank One from 1994.

A fascination with construction in Phoenix, Arizona - Legacy Traditional School, Glendale


Let's go history adventuring to the future of Glendale, Arizona. We're looking waaaaayyy back to July of 2016, when the Legacy Traditional School was under construction at Thunderbird Road and 67th Avenue. Well, the the school isn't really at Thunderbird Road, it's way north of it, but since there's nothing there but any empty lot, people are describing it as 67th Avenue and Thunderbird.

The view at the top of this post, by the way, of mostly nothing is looking southeast towards Thunderbird on 67th Avenue. The gas station way back there is actually on Thunderbird. The school is to the left, so it's out of the frame of the photo. Yeah, I like to take photos of absolutely nothing. In the future, they will be as fascinating to people as photos of buildings under construction in Phoenix in the 1950s when they were surrounded by absolutely nothing.

Legacy Traditional School in Glendale under construction, July 16, 2016

In the future, people who have graduated from the Legacy Traditional School in Glendale will enjoy seeing it under construction, way back when, because to them it will have been there "forever". I hope they find these photos, and enjoy them. And I'm sure they'll tell the young folks how things were so much better "back in the day", way back in 2016.


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Remembering ASU from the 1980s


Like everyone who went to ASU, I have fond memories of it. I had grown up in Minneapolis, left home at 18 just to get away from the snow and cold, and just kind'a randomly found myself in Phoenix. When I got myself organized, a little bit, I took classes at Phoenix College, and then transferred to ASU.

I wish I could tell stories of being a "party animal", or going to the games, but I was a starving student. A starving art student. I didn't live in Sin City, or in a Frat House, I lived in a tiny converted garage over by Price and Apache near Mesa. Just say "Wildermuth" to me, and to this day, I shudder. My parents helped to pay my tuition, but otherwise I was on my own, paying rent, buying food, and paying for repair bills on my unreliable car.

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They must have taught me something there, although I don't really have very clear memories of going to classes, which I'm sure I did. It took me, uh, seven years to get my four-year degree, so I really had that "old man on campus" feeling, being 25 when I graduated. Many of the friends I've stayed in touch with over the years were in the same situation, for whatever reason, graduating years later than most of their peers. My excuse was that I took a year off to "find myself", but mostly I just didn't focus very well on what classes I should have taken. I took a lot of classes just because they interested me, not because they applied to my major. Looking back, I'm glad that I did.

In the sculpture room at ASU, 1981

The photo at the top of this post is behind the art building, which is next-door to the architecture building, and more importantly, across from the Chuckbox. To get my Graphic Design degree, a lot of fine art was required, included sculpture. Presumably I had driven around the building to pick up a sculpture, the area was a loading area, not a parking place.

It seems to me that there was a place where we all went over for ice cream right nearby, in a shopping center that also had a grocery store. I had started my freelance business, which I called Brad Hall Advertising Art, by then, and when I got work, I saved what I needed to, and splurged on ice cream, and a burger at the Chuckbox. Yes, I remember the Chuckbox well! I still go there, and there's still only 278 sold (which was a slam against McDonalds, who at the time was saying "over 10 million burgers sold" or something like that).

I went to go look for work in Los Angeles after I graduated, and I have to admit that I wondered if my "Arizona State University" degree would get sneered at. Luckily, it wasn't. I'd say mostly because I was in an business that relied on doing the work (which I could), and showing a portfolio (and my teachers did a great job making sure that I had the best one I could do). I did get the job in Los Angles, and it was great. But after it ended, with a layoff, in 1989, I came home to Phoenix, and nothing in my life has ever felt so good.

The day the music died for me in 1982, Tempe, Arizona


When I moved to Phoenix, at age 18, I didn't listen to the radio much. I had an old MG, and although it had a radio, it was only AM, and the car wasn't really built for listening to the radio (if you've ever been in an MG, you know what I mean). But at age 20 I bought a car that had an FM radio. And it was the era of progressive music, of long-playing albums and long-playing songs that were played uninterrupted by FM DJs. I remember it well.

Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the radio station. And I've been talking to people about this for at least a decade now, even on the internet. So, I'll describe it to you, because it went off the air in 1982, and that was probably because so few people were listening to it! But I was.

I was going to ASU at the time, and I was outraged that my favorite radio station was about to go away. Back in those days, people signed petitions, which was just about as useless as anything people do today to rescue a business that's failing financially.

My car had one of the push-buttons set to the station, and I was listening to the station as I drove to school in the morning. That afternoon, after class, when I turned my radio on, all I heard was a hiss. It was gone. I remember sitting in my car and just listening to the hiss, as if I had lost a friend, there in the student parking by the stadium. And the next day some "easy listening" music had taken its place, just like they said it would.

It must have been a very obscure little FM station, that didn't last very long, because no one I've ever talked to, who remembers back to 1982, remembers it. And maybe it was an early lesson for me - if no one listens, the radio station goes away.


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Going for a tour on the Apache Trail in 1919


Let's go history adventuring. I feel like going for a ride on the Apache Trail between Phoenix and Globe in 1919. Luckily, those fancy "horseless carriages", which have been around for a long time, are available to tour, and if a whole bunch of us help pay for the tour, it shouldn't be so terribly expensive. The company is the Apache Trail Stage Company, and they've been doing this for a long time! I wonder if the driver is annoyed that the advertising is right there on the windshield? I guess he can look through the top part, or fold it down.

Sorry, but you'll have to squash in the back. I like sitting "shotgun", next to the driver. I'm sure you'll be comfortable! Well, maybe not, but the scenery will be great!


I suppose some day it will be common for people will drive around the Phoenix area in vehicles like this. I know that I have a vivid imagination, I think that someday there will be a way to cool the air right inside of the car, and maybe listen to music, too (although someone would probably have to crank the gramophone!).

It's winter (no one is crazy enough to do this in the heat of the summer), but the sun is warmer than I had thought, so the driver has taken my coat and tied it to the side of the car. The bag there probably has a lot of stuff that the driver can use to fix the car if it breaks down, but I really don't know. It's one of those new Packard Twin Sixes, so it should be pretty reliable! They're expensive!

Oh look! It's the McColluch Brothers photographers! Smile for the camera!






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The Phoenix Settlement, also known as Mill City


If you're a fan of Phoenix history, you know that Phoenix didn't start at where downtown is today, it started about where Van Buren and 32nd Street is. It was called the Phoenix Settlement, also Mill City, and even Pumpkinville.

It all started in the 1860s, after the Civil War, when a group led by Jack Swilling dug a canal, inspired by the abandoned canals that they had seen in the Salt River Valley. That canal was called Swilling's Ditch, and later the Salt River Valley Canal. The canal started about where the Mill Avenue bridge is on the north side of the Salt River, and angled up northwest past where the Celebrity Theater is nowadays. Eventually it was extended west to where the Phoenix Townsite was established in 1870 (where downtown Phoenix is now).

The reason for the name "Mill City" is the importance of preparing grain for bread for the soldiers at Fort McDowell. The wheat was grown in the riverbed, harvested, and milled, and sold to the U.S. Government. Jack Swilling was a good businessman! The name Phoenix, by the way, was just a fanciful name that Jack's friend Darrell Duppa liked, as it conjured up images of ancient myths. Darrell also named Tempe, by the way, which is the valley next to Mount Olympus (you know, where the Greek Gods lived). By the way, the mill in Mill City wasn't the one in Tempe, that was their competition. The mill in Mill City was Helling's Mill, where the El Molino (Spanish for The Mill) Golf Course was, north of Van Buren, west of 32nd Street.

Aerial view of the El Molino Golf Course in the 1930s, Van Buren west of 32nd Street. It's gone, but the State Hospital there on the left is still there, on 24th Street. This is where Helling's Mill was, in Mill City.

The official Phoenix Townsite was selected by William Hancock and settlers who probably wanted to distance themselves (literally and figuratively) from Jack Swilling. If you look on the left at the map for the cross-hatched area that says Phoenix Townsite, you can see Washington in the center and Van Buren as the city limits to the north. It went from 7th Avenue to 7th Street, by the way.

Whether this was a wise place to plat the town is a matter of opinion. As you can see by the map at the top of this post, there was a dense grove of mesquite covering part of the townsite, and if you've ever seen mesquite growing wild in riparian areas, you know that it's difficult to get rid of. Or maybe it was the fact that mesquite was growing there that was encouraging - indicating groundwater.

Of course, the Phoenix Townsite became Phoenix, the one we know now, and the Phoenix Settlement (Mill City, Pumpkinville) just faded out of memory. I'm sure that they were some hard feelings for a long time, though! And no, there are no signs, no markers, nothing at all to indicate the original Phoenix Settlement. If you want to find out exactly where it is, this is how to do it: How to find the original Phoenix Settlement today

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Confused memories of Los Angeles and Phoenix in the 1980s


My memories of the 1980s are hazy. And not just because it was so long ago, because I watched TV and listened to the radio in Phoenix and in Los Angeles at that time. So if you ask me if I remember something from the 1980s, I often have no clear memory of whether it was Southern California or Phoenix.

I moved to Phoenix when I was eighteen, eventually got my degree at ASU (after seven years!) and then moved to Los Angeles. Of course I remember Cal Worthington (and his dog spot), and Pete Ellis Dodge. But since these dealerships advertised just as heavily in Los Angeles as in Phoenix at the time, I really can't tell you where I remember it from.

I have to admit it's kind'a disconcerting that I can do the Pete Ellis jingle:

Pete Ellis Dodge, 17 Freeway, Camelback Exit, Phoenix (which is the first way that I heard it) and then the one from So Cal:

Pete Ellis Dodge, Long Beach Freeway, Firestone exit, Southgate.

And of course Cal Worthington (and his dog spot, which as I recall was sometimes a tiger) used the same commercials in Phoenix and Los Angeles. Phoenix had Tex Earnhardt, who looked kind'a the same as Cal Worthington, but I'm pretty sure that he was only in Phoenix. Well, that's what I remember!

I try not to let this kind of stuff worry me, but sometimes it does, and it helps me to write it in this blog. I'm hoping that someone with a better memory than mine will either confirm or deny what I remember.

Bill Andres and John Giese in the 1980s, KDKB radio, Phoenix, Arizona

And, to make it even worse, when I visited Minneapolis (where I grew up) in 1982, I heard a radio station do the distinctive KDKB ROOOOOCCCCKKKKS Arizona (except that it wasn't KDKB and it rocked Minnesota).

Image at the top of this post: downtown Phoenix in the 1980s


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Bill Heywood, the voice of Phoenix radio in the 1970s and '80s


I remember the voice of Bill Heywood. I moved to Phoenix in 1977, and he was not only on KOY radio, but I also heard his voice on commercials. It was a great voice.

If you lived in Phoenix in the 1970s and '80s, you should remember him, too. I was young then, and didn't realized that I ever listened to a station like KOY back then, but I must have. And it didn't take me long to realize that his was the voice of Phoenix radio.

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Bill and his wife Susan died a few years ago, and I'd rather not talk about that. You can Google about it if you want to, but I'd rather focus on their lives. I would like to believe that someday I would be remembered by what I did with my life, not the circumstances of my death.

I didn't know Bill personally, but Susan was one of my teachers at Phoenix College. She taught a class called "Principles of Salesmanship". Yes, that was the name of the class - Principles of Salesmanship, taught by a woman. It was an excellent class, and of course people asked about her famous husband. The only thing that I can recall is that since Bill did the early morning show, they didn't stay up very late.

1980s billboard, Phoenix, Arizona. Heywood, Classic Mornings, 55 KOY.

I wish I could say more, but that's all that I know. I'm sure that there's more out there on the web if you want to look it up. I was just thinking today about the great voices I remember on Phoenix radio, from Toad Hall to Bill Austin. And then I heard the voice of Bill Heywood. It's a nice memory.


Image at the top of this post: Ad for the Music Men, including Bill Heywood, KTAR Radio / 620, 1971.

Take Five with Lou Grubb, Phoenix, Arizona


If you lived in Phoenix in the 1970s and '80s, you remember the Lou Grubb commercials.

Lou Grubb had a Chevrolet dealership, and mostly I remember his radio commercials, which were so low-key that sounded more like he was trying to lull you to sleep rather than talk you into buying a car.

The commercials started with some very soft music. And since I was young, listening to rock-and-roll, the music sounded VERY soft. The announcer would introduce Lou Grubb, who would sound kind'a like your slightly-sleepy uncle who just happened to wander into your living room and decided to talk about whatever was on his mind. I was new to Phoenix, and his commercials puzzled me. What was he selling? At the end of the commercial, the announcer would say the words "Lou Grubb Chevrolet", so it must have gotten through to me. Off the top of my head, I can't remember any other Chevrolet dealerships, so his commercials must have been effective.

In the early 1980s I was studying Marketing, Advertising, and Graphic Design at ASU. And ultimately I went into a field that is known as image advertising. That is, low-key, no hard sell, just showing that a company is in business, and has a product at a reasonable price that you may be interested in. And I have to admit that I was very much influenced by Lou Grubb.

My understanding, from talking to people who knew him personally, was that Lou was the same in real life as he was on his commercials. I call this type of advertising "showing customers who you really are". And yes, there are copywriters creating the exact phrasing, but these are the words that a reputable company speaks.

I'm sure that if you Google it, you can find videos of Lou Grubb commercials. And they look like absolutely nothing today. It was just him, sitting there, talking into the camera, the same way that a lot of people who do YouTube videos are doing today. But at the time it was amazing, because the other commercials were annoying, screaming, and shouting. Lou spoke softly. I can still hear his voice.

Lou Grubb, Phoenix, Arizona

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In defense of historic architecture, even, uh, the 1970s


I'm a defender of historic architectural design. That is, I like to see old buildings kept as close to their original state as possible. I dislike seeing stucco over original old bricks. However, if the building was originally stucco, I defend that. It's about design integrity, not about a particular person's taste. And if you've ever wondered why old buildings were "modernized", or why Victorian houses had all of their elaborate decorations stripped off of them, all you have to do is to understand that things go out of style, and tastes change.

It's always a cycle, and it's what I call "garage sale" ugliness. That is, whatever becomes so common that people laugh at it. It could be a color, it could be a texture. It changes with every generation, and every generation knows what's "ugly". So they destroy it, with the best intentions. And it makes me sad.

Yesterday I was talking to someone who is preparing a house for sale in Moon Valley in Phoenix. Well, actually south of Thunderbird (the original Moon Valley Subdivision was north of Thunderbird), but still a wonderful 1978 home with very little "improvements". As I wandered around it I time-traveled back to 1978. The kitchen was particularly fascinating, with the distinctive colors of the era and even the original inset ceiling fan. Of course, the plan was to tear it all out and modernize it. This is a house to be sold, after all, and that's what most people want!

So all of the original design will be torn out and thrown away. The house already had the modern beige tile floor, and other things that increase the resale value. I looked up at the vaulted ceiling and wondered if the beams had originally not been painted? Certainly the floor didn't originally look like it belonged in a grocery store, with cold, hard tile. It had carpeting that you could wiggle your toes in.

A stylish interior of a 1973 Phoenix home.

Right now we're still too close to the 1970s. I have to admit that green shag carpeting and avocado-colored kitchen appliances aren't to my taste, but that's what the original design was. And hopefully there are people who are preserving them. Because once the design integrity is gone, it's gone forever. And while people stand there and cheer the 1970s ugliness that is being destroyed, I stand there and picture people doing the same thing to Victorian houses in the 1920s. I couldn't say anything back then, but I can say something now.

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Why the palm trees along Palm Walk at ASU are dying


If you've ever been on the campus of ASU, or even just driven on University Drive past it, you may remember a bridge that connects the main campus with the area where the football stadium is. It's called Palm Walk. If you walk onto the campus you will see some very tall palm trees. And many of them are dying.

No, it's not a conspiracy, man. And it's not about global warming, or vandalism. These trees are simply finishing up their lifespan. Yes, they're that old. Some of them are nearly 100 years old.

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In spite of the fact that I have an ASU shirt that says "1885" on it, when I started learning about my Alma mater, I was surprised at how old the campus is. And while none of the palm trees go back quite that far, many were planted right around 1920. In fact, if you're a "tree-hugger" like me, ASU's campus is one of the finest arboretums in Arizona. Trees have been planted there, and cared for, for a loooonnnggg time.

The palms there are Mexican Fan Palms (Washingtonia robusta), the same ones that you see along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. In fact, they're the most common palm tree in Phoenix and Los Angeles. They grow quickly, and you can also see them growing in the cracks of sidewalks as they are planted naturally by birds who, uh, plant them while flying by (if you know what I mean). They are the least expensive palm tree at your local garden center, and many people consider them kind'a weeds (I know that I do).

So the old palm trees are dying. But don't despair! ASU will be replacing them. But not with the weedy palms, but instead with Date Palms (Phoenix dactylifera). Date palms are the kind of palms that grow in an oasis in the Middle East. Instead of being mostly "telephone poles", they have a large, graceful crown that actually produces shade. If you're not familiar with this type of palm tree, go stand under the Black Sphinx Palms on 44th Street just south of Camelback.

By the way, the old palm trees in Los Angeles are dying, too. Whether Beverly Hills will decide to replace them is undecided right now. But Tempe will be replacing the old palm trees, with Date Palms (actually they're dateless, so they don't make a mess), and they will be beautiful for another hundred years!

Image at the top of this post: Palm Walk in 1966, Arizona State University Campus, Tempe, Arizona

Dealing with the painful cold of Phoenix, Arizona


Since it's July, and the temperatures here in Glendale (a suburb of Phoenix) will be over 100 again (probably over 110), I'm thinking about a very common misconception about Phoenix - that it never gets cold. But believe me, it gets very cold. Painfully cold.

If you're an early riser, like me, you know that the the temperatures here in the desert plunge in the wee hours of the morning. For example, this morning at sunrise my patio was about 80 degrees. Two hours later it was 100.

However, in the winter, it's even more extreme. Temperatures can go below freezing, even down into the twenties, or teens. That's why you'll see overnight freeze warnings for plants. And freezing temperatures can be hard on human beings, too. Especially the type that the desert gets, with low humidity.

Back in the early '90s, I rode my bike to work, which was less than two miles away. And while mostly it was a pleasure, it was only the cold temperatures that stopped me, and made me decide to take my car that morning. No one ever asked me about the cold, they always asked me if it got too hot. And from that I knew that they had never been there, never done that.

Yes, it gets hot in Phoenix. I was on my bike riding home on the day Phoenix hit 122 in 1990. I remember feeling my eyes burning. I was anxious to get home. But it wasn't like the cold. And the clear blue skies of Phoenix create some very painful cold. As a kid in Minnesota, clear days that didn't have any cloud cover were very painful - we called them the "look but don't touch" days.

In December and January I tried to bundle up enough to ride to work even in sub-freezing temperatures. I got heavy gloves, and a knit beanie. And if you've ever ridden a bike in temperatures below freezing in Phoenix, you know that the wind just cuts right through you. I would have needed a parka for it to even be reasonably comfortable for me.

But this is Phoenix, and I knew that it would warm up again.


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